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Monday, November 5, 2018

The personal vs. the political

The other day I dropped a relative off at the entrance to a hospital, then drove off to park in the designated lot. While walking back to the hospital I saw a car idling at the exit to the lot; the driver was apparently having a hard time figuring out how to pay.

As I walked by the car, the driver, who looked Central American, gestured at me and asked for help. I walked over, and he communicated to me in broken English that he didn't have a credit card and therefore could not pay. I ended up paying the $2 fee with my credit card and he handed me two one dollar bills. Afterwards, he thanked me profusely.

As I was walking backing toward the entrance where I'd dropped my relative off I saw that the Latino was waiting for me at the corner leading into the street. He gestured at me once again, and offered me a ride to wherever I was going. I thanked him and said I didn't need a ride.

But it was touching how his gratitude for such a minor favor was so palpable. He was obviously a genuinely decent fellow, and it occurred to me that no white person in that situation would ever be nearly as grateful.

It was almost enough to make me feel guilty for favoring The Wall.

The next week we switched cable services, and had two different men -- both Jamaicans -- come out on separate days to install first the satellite dish, then the phone and internet service.

Both men were efficient and polite. And after I'd chatted with each, they were friendly and exuded congeniality in a way that whites in that situation almost never would. (I've said before on this blog that when blacks are friendly, there usually seems to be an actual spirit of genuine goodwill, whereas when whites are friendly, it's usually just a matter of observing social proprieties.)

It was almost enough to make me feel guilty for having written honestly about race and IQ.

I mentioned these experiences to a guy I know who is a bit of a white nationalist. He laughed and said, "On an individual basis, almost everyone is better than whites. But that doesn't mean they should come here."

I knew exactly what he meant.

Whites, per capita, seem to have a far higher rate of pretentiousness and phoniness and entitlement. Instead of being genuine, they'll almost always just say whatever it is they think they're supposed to say in a certain situation, unless they're angry or drunk. ("In vino veritas" was an expression coined by whites.)

On the other hand, people of color don't seem to be capable of producing the sort of society -- well-functioning democracies with technological innovation, state of the art manufacturing, high literacy rates, and low infant mortality rates -- that white people are. (Before you call me racist, name a country that is majority Amerindian or black which fits that description.)

The phoniness and pretentiousness of white people may be best illustrated by virtue signaling. Consider how many of them will deny the obvious truths of the above paragraph, while simultaneously congratulating themselves on their moral superiority over those who do not.

In any case, that seems to be the choice we're facing. We can become more of a warm, friendly, welcoming country -- albeit with a higher murder rate -- or we can remain a First World country.

Did you know that Beto O'Rourke's father-in-law is a billionaire?

A friend just forwarded this article, which I found absolutely astounding. I'd had no idea that O'Rourke's father-in-law was worth $20 billion.

In all the accounts you've read of the skate-boarding, free-spirited, youth culture-representing, Kennedy-evoking, good-looking, hero-of-the-downtrodden Beto O'Rourke, have you read a single one which also described him as gold-digging?

Think the little factoid that his father-in-law is a fabulously wealthy real estate developer might possibly be relevant to his candidacy?

And, do you think the fact that O'Rourke may have married for money might provide an insight into his character?

The MSM obviously does, otherwise why would they remain so deafeningly silent about it?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A tale of two blondes

Megyn Kelly has had an interesting career trajectory. First she was a star-in-the-making at Fox. Unlike most of the perky blondes who populated that network, she seemed to actually think for herself. The execs there were impressed, and after Bill O'Reilly was #MeToo-ed out of his career, she was given the prime 8PM slot.

Then came that fateful Republican debate in which she pointedly asked Donald Trump about how he had treated women in the past. This seemed a legitimate enough question, given his history. And if she hadn't asked it, there were certainly plenty of other people who would have -- and did -- during the course of the campaign.

But, that was the beginning of the end for her at Fox.

The brass at NBC, however, seemed to take her question as proof that she was on their side, so they hired her, with great fanfare, to be a soft news host on their 9AM slot. But to their dismay, she continued to demonstrate independence and outspokenness, and not just at Trump's expense.

Jane Fonda had talked publicly of her plastic surgery earlier; but when Kelly asked her about it, it was considered a gaffe. When Kelly cut off Tom Brokaw because they were up against a commercial break -- a reality that has to be dealt with on every talk show -- that too was considered another gaffe. On other occasions, Kelly was criticized for her awkward dancing.

The last straw for NBC, as has been widely reported, was when she said that kids dressing up in blackface was not necessarily that bad. Her exact words:

"But what is racist? Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character....There was a controversy on The Real Housewives of New York with Luann, and she dressed as Diana Ross, and she made her skin look darker than it really is and people said that that was racist. And I don’t know, I felt like who doesn’t love Diana Ross?"

But the news outlets which reported her comment for the most part didn't analyze exactly what she said, but simply implied that she had condoned Al Jolson-style blackface done for the sake of racial mockery rather than refer to a specific instance of what was essentially a tribute.

So, she's out of a job. 

Meanwhile, it turned out that NBC's own Jimmy Fallon actually dressed up in blackface as Chris Rock. Jimmy Kimmel donned blackface to portray Karl Malone. And NBC's Al Roker donned a wig of straight white hair to portray fictional character Doc Brown. (Roker later said his version was okay because he didn't wear facial makeup; decide for yourself how fine the line being drawn there was.)

None of them, of course, suffered any ill consequences.

Once again, "racism" is defined as however you can hurt your political opponents, hypocrisy be damned.

Elizabeth Warren's claims of Indian ancestry have been well-publicized; you're undoubtedly familiar with that saga. It's certainly harmless enough to mention that one's family lore includes rumors of an Indian ancestor a few generations back. But listing oneself as Native American on the Harvard University faculty when that is obviously untrue is another matter.

Warren is, for all practical purposes, Rachel Dolezaal, Jr.

But instead of being given the Dolezaal treatment -- shameful ignominy -- she is still being touted by the Left as a possible Presidential candidate. (Admittedly, that talk has died down a bit since the latest iteration of her tale.)

Likewise, for Harvard Law School to have proudly proclaimed that Warren was their first "woman of color" on the faculty was simply dishonest.

Given all of which, it was a little surprising to see this early picture of Warren as a brunette:

(She must have dyed her hair blonde later on to emphasize her Indian ancestry.)

You can say that as a media personality, Megyn Kelly should have anticipated that her comment would be taken out of context and willfully misconstrued. You can say that no one should feel sorry for someone as wealthy as her. And you can say that her rumored behind-the-scenes diva-like behavior alienated coworkers. All of those things are probably true. But it's also true that her biggest crime, as far as her detractors are concerned, is to show a common sense and honesty which have gone out of style. (Bear in mind, her independence offended those on the Right as well as Left.)

Elizabeth Warren went a step further than blackface, and actually claimed to be what she is not.

Which is worse?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Elon Musk = Donald Trump

This hasn't been Elon Musk's best year.

Back on May 2nd, at Tesla's quarterly earnings presentation, two analysts dared to ask impertinent questions, and Musk responded by saying, "Boring, bonehead questions are not cool" and These questions are so dry, they're killing me." (The analysts were simply asking the hard questions about Model 3 production that they were supposed to be asking.)

There was that well-publicized incident with the "pedo guy" who dared to call Musk's offer of a submarine to rescue those Thai soccer players a publicity stunt. Musk's PR people convinced him to apologize, but then, a month later, Musk repeated the insult.

On August 2nd, Musk Tweeted that he was pondering taking Tesla private, and had "funding secured." The SEC let him off for that lie with a slap on the wrist: a $20 million fine means little to someone worth $20 billion, and stripping him of his chairmanship while allowing him to remain CEO left him firmly in control. Nonetheless, Musk couldn't even let this "insult" pass, and Tweeted this past week that the SEC now stood for "Shorts Enrichment Commission."

The common thread with all these incidents is that they were sparked by Musk's inability to take an insult without returning one. Musk will get into a spat with anyone, from Wall Street analysts to Pedo guy. None of these people are nearly as rich or famous or powerful as Musk, but that doesn't deter him.

Every time Musk responds to criticism with an insult, it's hard not to be reminded of Donald Trump, who considers no target too small to be the recipient of a scathing Presidential insult delivered via Twitter.

Musk's promises of imminent profitability for Tesla seem farfetched, given that their backlog is diminishing, consumer tax credits are coming to an end, and their cash is being rapidly depleted. There have been production difficulties as well as safety issues at those Jerry-rigged "factories" (some of which are housed in tents). And far fewer Tesla cars pass their initial inspections than at a normal automobile manufacturer (roughly 20% as opposed to 80%).

Musk's other promises regarding the cost of the Hyperloop and having Space X settle Mars starting in 2024 also stretch credulity.

(Trump, too, is given to hyperbole, though he's been far better about delivering on his promises.)

Though it's easy to dislike Musk, he doesn't seem to be a sociopath. There's a certain lack of subterfuge, a certain guilelessness in the way he lashes back at his critics. (Again, like Trump.) A sociopath would be far more likely to disguise his insults as left-handed compliments. And a sociopath would be far more calculating about the image he presented to the public.

There are differences between the two men. Trump, like many relatives of alcoholics, won't touch the stuff. Neither does he take illegal drugs. And it's hard to imagine Trump breaking down and crying during an interview the way Musk reportedly did during an interview with the New York Times in August.

Nonetheless, the parallels are hard to miss. Both men are textbook examples of narcissistic personality disorder.

But neither man lies about who he is, and neither pretends to be something he's not, which is the essence of sociopathy.

Both basically say, here I am, warts and all -- and if you don't like me, screw you. While those warts may be unsightly, at least they're not surreptitiously hidden from view.

Another thing to consider: if they hadn't been narcissists, neither man would have accomplished what he has.

It takes a certain grandiosity to create as many companies as Musk has. And it takes a bold, confident -- perhaps overly confident -- man to think that he can win the Presidency while scoffing at political correctness and antagonizing the media.

So maybe we should just resign ourselves to the fact that a lot of public figures are going to be insufferable.

It pains me to point out the similarities between the two men, as support Trump politically while I think Tesla is headed south. But the likeness in personality is striking.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sexual politics

The nation's attention has been riveted by the Brett Kavanaugh nomination saga, which we'll probably never know the truth about with absolute certainty. Most people's opinions on the matter seem to fall along political lines. Yet politics ought not to bear on the veracity of what may or may not have happened in a suburban bedroom over 30 years ago.

It's certainly possible Ford is telling the truth and Kavanaugh did lay on top of her and try to remove her bathing suit while in high school. The soft-faced Kavanaugh does not appear the sort of overbearing, high testosterone, aggressive guy you'd normally associate with such behavior. But, looks can be deceiving.

In any case, the Kavanaugh situation is not the point of this post. The point is that sex, by its very nature, is an awkward, messy business rife with the potential for blunders, embarrassment, hurt feelings, misinterpretation, insecurity, frustration, and regret.

And, the circumstances surrounding such first time encounters are often sodden with alcohol.

So the politicization of sex is fraught with the potential for misleading tropes and willful misinterpretation.

Consider the idea of an "unwanted sexual advance." That could just be a shy guy who at the end of a date timidly leans forward for a goodnight kiss, and the girl pulls back. Voila, an "unwanted sexual advance." If you want to view it in that light.

You may have heard of "regret rape," when a woman who willingly has intercourse later regrets it, often because the man never phoned her again, so decides to file rape charges.

In a sane world, it would be the filing of those charges, not the sex, which would be regarded as a possible crime.

One of the current battlecries is, "No always means no." You're not supposed to say this, but in reality, it doesn't always mean that. Sometimes it just means "I want to preserve my self-image as a good girl, but if you keep trying, I'll probably give in."

Or, it can mean, "I want you to think me more chaste than I actually am, since you make good money and seem like a good prospect for marriage."

Or, "I love the way you keep coming at me, it validates my attractiveness!"

If these interpretations didn't have a basis in reality, the word "coy" wouldn't be in the dictionary. To deny that some women play these games is simply to be blind to human nature -- in all its wondrous diversity.

Of course, there are times when "no" does mean no. No man is justified in using physical force to overpower a woman. But persistence, or an advance, are not the same as assault, and some of the accusations -- and effectively, convictions -- of the #MeToo era have conflated the two.

There's another basic contradiction which is a little hard to reconcile: who, for the past decade, has been the number one fictional sex object for women? The hero of Fifty Shades of Grey. Would Christian Grey have passed a Senate confirmation hearing? Seems doubtful.

Especially if he'd been nominated by Donald Trump.

It's telling that the men who most vociferously condemn aggressively heterosexual men fall into two main categories.

Some are homosexuals, like Ronan Farrow, who's made his name by exposing the predatory nature of certain men. Or Barack Obama, who did his best to institute kangaroo courts to combat the "campus rape epidemic."

It's hard not to think that the reason they are so vociferously condemnative of heterosexuals is because they have no sense of the types of games some -- not all, but some -- women play. There may be a little resentment against heterosexual men in general at work there as well.

And some are heroic defenders of feminism like Eric Schneiderman, the New York State Attorney General from 2011 to 2018, who in February 2018 brought a civil rights lawsuit against the Weinstein Company for failing to protect its employees from sexual harassment. Turned out his righteousness rang a little hollow.

In fact Harvey Weinstein himself, before his downfall, had long presented himself as a strong supporter of women in the film industry.

As Asia Argento found out, posing as Joan of Arc comes with its own set of risks.

This is not to say there aren't men, like Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby or Bill Clinton, who belong in jail.

Certainly, trying to force yourself on a girl the way Christine Blasey Ford claimed Brett Kavanaugh did would be shameful. But in the world most of us grew up in, not going for sex can result in social shaming as well. How many high school boys have you known who boasted of their virginity? (Though Brett Kavanaugh seems to have been reduced to that.)

To ignore the intrinsic awkwardness of sex, especially among the young and inexperienced, is to set an impossible standard for most men to follow.

Which may, of course, be the entire point of weaponizing #MeToo. To the Left, the beauty of this movement may be that there will always be something to hang someone with.

If there isn't, you can always just make something up. After all, as the feminists say, "I believe women."

But the idea that possession of a vagina confers credibility is as ridiculous as thinking that possession of a penis does the same. (Imagine the silliness of a t-shirt which stated, "I believe men." And, imagine the outrage with which such would be greeted.)

What's most wrong with the politicization of sex is that it ignores the very nature of sex: the physical attraction, the flirtation, the double meanings, the conversational subtexts, the messiness of it all. And most importantly it ignores the hesitancy and awkwardness, or conversely, the pushiness sometimes required for it to happen. And it ignores the forbidden fruit appeal sex can sometimes have, as well as the nature of arousal.

Most men, while having -- or attempting to have -- sex, have thoughts like the following going through their brains: "Look at those beautiful, perky little nipples....that ass is so cute...Yes, she's really juicy!.....Mmm, that feels good."

Apologies for the graphic content. But for sex to occur, these have to be the types of thoughts going through a male mind.

Here, by contrast, are some thought that don't go through men's minds at such times:

"Hmm, I wonder what Gloria Allred will make of this situation in a few months."

"Do third wave feminists approve of spanking?"

"Was I perhaps a touch too aggressive in my initial approach?"

"Is there any chance if I don't phone this woman back there might be repercussions?"

Were these the thoughts consuming men every time such situations arose, arousal would not occur, and the human race would come grinding to a halt.

To make someone's history of awkward teenage groping the crucible upon which suitability for higher office is to be determined is to open up a Pandora's Box of recriminations, petty revenge, half-truths, and outright lies. And it means willfully ignoring human nature.

That no public figure is willing to point this out because they are afraid of becoming the mob's next target shows just how out of control the mob has gotten.

A few decades ago, school administrators used to warn their students that whatever they did in high school would go on their "permanent record." This warning subsequently turned into a sort of joke, and the excessive seriousness with which it was taken was looked back upon with a sort of mirthful regret.

Funny thing, those warnings turned out to be true.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Deleted comments

My apologies, I just deleted the last 200 or so comments that were made on this blog, including all the nice comments people made after the post announcing that this blog was more or less coming to a close. It was an accident. I thought I was just deleting them from an internal control section, but it turned out I deleted them entirely, and I can't figure out how to restore them.

For any of you who made those comments, if you happen to look at this blog again, take my word, it was nothing personal, just a function of stupidity on my part.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Senatorial President

Traditionally, a United States Senator's job has been to do the best he can for his home state's constituency -- if need be, at the expense of other states. Senators lobby to land government contracts for companies located in their states, and to get laws passed which will be favor for their states' industries. An effective Senator will bring home as much federal largesse as possible. 

Donald Trump seems to see himself as the Senator from the United States. Right now he's trying to get fairer trade deals for our country, especially with China. He's looking out for the interests of his constituency, which is basically America's middle class, and is trying to bring companies and jobs back home. 

It's a job which previous Presidents seem to have considered beneath their dignity. Most of them preferred to see themselves as statesmen, or grand visionaries, or, perhaps, leaders of the free world. And they all had a sense of the ruffled feathers and potential chaos that trying to level the economic playing field would bring. So none could be bothered to disrupt the status quo. 

Certainly all of the implicit threats of trade wars emanating from the Trump administration have been creating havoc in the financial markets. And Trump's own shoot-from-the-hip, freewheeling, keep-the-opponent-off-balance negotiating style has not been reassuring. 

But we have long been regarded as a pitiful, helpless giant by other countries which have wanted to protect their own industries while being allowed more or less free access to our markets. And Trump wants to end that imbalance. 

He's also annoyed by the fact that other countries don't pay their fair share for NATO, and is trying to rectify that. He's trying to get a better deal for the US. Which, as our President, is what he should be doing. 

Trump's ego is as obtrusive as a second head on his shoulders, and Presidential decorum ranks low on his list of priorities. But, again unlike previous Presidents, he seems to have meant everything he said while running, and is doing his best to make good on his campaign promises. 

Trump is our Senatorial President. 

Obama seemed to view his job as President as if he were the head of the world's largest foundation, with the power to dole out lots of goodies to his favored constituencies, both here and abroad. He seemed to have little sense of how the money which funded the foundation was originally made. And for that reason, he never seemed to quite get why capitalism is more effective than communism. 

This country is better off with a Senator than a foundation head in the Oval Office. 

A true feminist

A lot of feminists pay lip service to the idea that "whatever a man can do, a woman can do better." But the women who are most inclined to chant that slogan often seem to be those least inclined to live up to it. They are not the ones who join the military, start corporations, or act as the breadwinners for their families.

Instead, they prefer to participate in protests, hold placards, complain about how they are oppressed by the patriarchy, lecture others, and regard themselves as morally superior.

So it's reassuring to see that one woman, Samantha Ray Mears, has actually taken that maxim to heart, and has made an honest effort to outdo men at their own game.

Actions speak louder than words.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The time has come....

I probably won't bring this blog to a complete halt, but I plan to slow it way, way down. The posts, if they come at all, will be much less frequent.

I started it ten years ago as a way to let off steam, and I've done that. But for the last couple years I've found myself saying the same thing over and over, in only slightly different ways.

Maybe more to the point, blogging has recently felt like a chore.

Check back in a month, or a year, I'll probably have written something. And who knows, I may feel the need to vent more than I expect. (Signing up for the email alert will save you the time you'd waste coming here to see if there's anything new.)

To those of you who are newcomers, you should still find plenty of entertaining stuff in the archives.

A big thank you to those of you who've been regular readers, and an even bigger thank you to those of you who've been regular commenters. One of the most gratifying things about writing it has been the high number of smart people -- many smarter than me -- who've read it.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The solution to our Muslim immigration problems

A young man recently suggested to me that the way to solve all the problems that seem to arrive with immigrants from Muslim countries is to accept only their gay men and their hot young women. 

It would be justifiable because gay men are certainly discriminated against in those countries -- to the point of being thrown off rooftops. And women are obviously second class citizens in any Islamic society. So both of these groups can more creditably lay claim to be fleeing persecution than all of those aggressive young men we seem to get stuck with. 

From our point of view, gay men would probably be less prone to violence, and they certainly wouldn't go around raping Western women. Instead of having a repeat of that infamous mass molestation in Cologne, they could have mass fashion critiques instead. ("Plaids and stripes in the same outfit? May Allah be with you!")

As far as the hot young women, well, that's self-explanatory. 

The young man knows, of course, that there's no chance such a policy will be instituted. 

But that's not to say the West wouldn't be far better off if it were.

Monday, February 26, 2018

It's more fun to be black

Black people have a much more appealing, enjoyable way of being.

When blacks laugh, their entire bodies will often convulse, and sometimes they'll even jump up and down to express amusement. The few occasions when I've actually laughed so hard that tears came to my eyes, and the one or two occasions where I literally fell on the floor because I was laughing so hard, were definitely high points in my life.

On a few occasions, I have gleefully and unabashedly and celebrated some personal triumph, not entirely unlike a running back doing a victory dance in the end zone. Others may have resented my display, and I may have later wished I'd been a little more circumspect, or displayed some false modesty. But when I was in the moment, I was unquestionably having a good time.

Being in that moment is harder than it sounds, especially for someone like me, who tends to spend a lot of time thinking about the past or future. But I'd like to be more like Lamar Odom.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: when blacks are being friendly, I've always sensed more genuine goodwill than when whites are, since blacks tend to be more uninhibited about saying what they think, whereas with whites almost always feel obliged to put on some sort of (more or less false) socially acceptable face. On those occasions when I've actually felt warmly towards those I'm with, as opposed to having to feign friendliness, I've enjoyed myself far more.

Inhibitions may be good for keeping people on the straight and narrow path, and for getting them to fulfill their social responsibilities. But they don't make for a good time.

Think of it this way: white people drink in order to become more like black people. They may not think of it in those terms, and they likely don't want to actually be black; but they want to be more like them, i.e., uninhibited.

It has often been noted that when there's a large group of blacks, the noise level tends to be louder. You may have noticed the same of white cocktail parties: the volume gets turned up.

If you could have the relaxed feeling of having had a couple drinks, without the physical side effects, would you not opt for that condition?

How many of your most fun times seem to have come when you've had a couple beverages? Would it not be preferable to just be high on life?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Was Orwell right?

The NY Post ran an article this morning about Sean Miller, the basketball coach at the University of Arizona, who was caught on tape by the FBI offering $100,000 to a sports agent to insure that 7'1" DeAndre Ayton signed with the Wildcats.

One of the more striking things about the article was the picture of the 49-year-old Miller:

His face seems to reflect a combination of dishonesty and greed. He's clapping for someone or something here, and he seems to realize he's supposed to be smiling, but it's a half-hearted smile that barely informs his mouth, and certainly doesn't reach his eyes. The eyes, in fact, look concerned, judging from the knitted brow.

(He looks like a Wall Street banker applauding the right values while wondering how, by paying lip service to those values, he can manipulate others to his own advantage.)

Maybe it's unfair, but it's easier to see greed in the face of a fat person, and Miller has the jowls and round face of a man who doesn't like to limit himself at the dinner table. And he has the well cut, expensive suit of a vain guy who indulges himself sartorially, too.

(There's always something a little questionable about a coach who harangues his athletes about staying in shape while allowing himself to get pudgy.)

As far as the dishonesty goes, here is the statement he released after he fired his assistant for corruption last fall:

“As the head basketball coach at the University of Arizona, I recognize my responsibility is not only to establish a culture of success on the basketball court and in the classroom, but as important, to promote and reinforce a culture of compliance. To the best of my ability, I have worked to demonstrate this over the past eight years and will continue to do so as we move forward.”

(Dishonesty often seems to make its presence known through overemphasis.)

George Orwell once famously said, “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.”

This isn't always true; but it often is. 

Miller, who was born on November 17, 1968, is a year ahead of schedule.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Feminist contradictions

Last week Aly Raisman and Paige Spiranac let nude photos of themselves be released last week, and both stated that doing so was "empowering." That both young women felt obliged to attach this feminist trope to their exhibitionism was a telling sign of the age we live in.

Showing off one's body is perfectly natural, if not quite laudable. And there's always a receptive audience for young women who want to pose that way. But why did they feel the necessity to try to frame their nude photos as an expression of feminism? Had they said it was "exhilarating," or maybe "excitingly exposing," it would probably have been closer to the truth.

Another feminist movement which seems founded at least partly in exhibitionism is the "free the nipple" movement. Some feminists are now saying that if men get to walk around bare-chested, women should have the same right. You see, it's all a matter of equal rights.

But at the same time, feminists say that if women are stared at, and thus made to feel uncomfortable, this is unacceptable. One can't help but be reminded of the woman who wears deep d├ęcolletage and then complains that men gawk at her breasts.

Feminists now say that if a woman is desired, she is being "objectified," a verb intended to convey the vague sense that men think of women as being nothing more than inanimate toys. But why else would a woman pose naked, unless she wanted to be "objectified?"

Most women of course, don't subscribe to that kind of silliness, though a large fraction of those who don't still feel obliged to at least pay lip service to feminism. But given the way some feminists complain about being objectified, one would think there might be an "ugly industry" to protect women against the horror of being viewed as an object. Yet there's no such thing. There's only an immense beauty industry.

The very idea of an "ugly industry" is, of course, silly. But, when you think about it, it's no sillier than complaining about being "objectified," i.e., desired.

We hear feminists talk a lot about how strong and smart and capable women are. But they also say that if a woman has so much as two drinks, she's unable to make a rational decision about whether to have sex, and therefore if she acquiesces, it means she's been raped. How does that show intelligence and strength?

Feminists tell us that women can be Army Rangers, yet they also say that women must be protected from dirty jokes, which are now termed "verbal assault." What will happen when the bullets are flying and some male Ranger, in the heat of battle, makes an obscene comment about the enemy? Will the female Rangers just throw down their weapons and fall apart at that point?

Slut shaming is now a concept: feminists tell us that women should not be criticized for their promiscuity. Yet if a man tries to kiss a woman but is rebuffed, he is now considered to have made "an unwanted sexual advance." Ergo, making passes is cause for shame, but accepting them is not. Does this dichotomy not require men to be mind readers so as not to run afoul of feminist doctrine?

The Left constantly berates conservatives for viewing homosexuality as a "lifestyle choice," as if the gays have any control over whom they're attracted to. Yet if a man is attracted only to slender women, feminists lambaste him for his "patriarchal sense of beauty" -- as if he has any choice about whom he's attracted to. (And doesn't this sound an awful lot as if some feminists are bitter that they're not objectified?)

The idea of gay conversion therapy is anathema to the Left. Yet the Left is constantly trying to get men to think of different types of women -- who are not their type -- as being desirable. Is this not simply gay conversation therapy for heterosexuals?

And it's not as if women don't have their own set of physical standards for men. As the #Metoo movement has made clear, ugly men are far more likely to be accused of unwanted sexual advance than handsome men are. Ought the Harvey Weinsteins of the world have the right to complain about a "matriarchal sense of handsomeness?"

Does a movement with so many inherent contradictions have any chance of standing the test of time?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What if they did try to keep the "mentally ill" from having guns?

Everybody seems to agree in principle that keeping guns away from someone like Nikolas Cruz is a good idea. The problem is, spotting people like him ahead of time.

It seems increasingly likely that some form of autism, probably Aspergers, was part of the lethal mix that added up to Nikolas Cruz's bloodthirsty personality. We've also heard that he was depressed, and that he was suffering from the sting of romantic rejection. He may have been on medication. And it seems fairly apparent he had a generalized resentment against Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School, which had expelled him.

But the common thread between Cruz and a lot of the other recent mass killers -- like Christopher Harper-Mercer, Elliot Rodger, Adam Lanza, and Seung-Hui Cho -- has been that they have been on the autistic spectrum.

So, the most commonsensical way for Congress to approach keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill would be to make it illegal for people with Aspergers, or more severe forms of autism, to have firearms.

Let's pause to consider, just for a moment, what would happen if Congress attempted this.

Aspergers support groups would let forth a primal scream which would be heard coast to coast. They would say that the vast majority of Aspies are law abiding, peaceful citizens -- and they would be right about that.

They would say that Aspies are far more likely to be picked on than they are to pick on other people. They'd be right about that.

The support groups would point out the futility of trying to keep Aspies from having guns, when the vast majority of people who have Aspergers are never even diagnosed. They'd be right about that.

And then, the AMA would point out that such a law might violate the doctor patient confidentiality principle. And the psychiatric industry would claim that such a law would discourage people who suffer from autism from seeking treatment. And they'd both be right.

We would be bombarded with lists of all the famous and successful people with Aspergers who had contributed to the development of civilization. Such lists are widespread; and Aspies seem to like to claim kinship with many great men who may or may not have been members of their club. (As long as you're great, if you have any quirks at all, you must be an Aspie, as far as they're concerned.)

Support groups would run ads featuring productive, good-looking, seemingly well-adjusted Aspies and say, see, this is the face of Aspergers.

They would scream discrimination. And they would be right: preventing any group, no matter how much more statistically violent, from having guns does constitute discrimination of a sort.

I almost wish Congress would try to appease the Left by "discriminating" against the one group which is in fact far more likely to commit mass shootings than any other.

The Left is constantly calling for more gun control, and for guns to be kept out of the hands of the "mentally ill." They are also constantly decrying any form of "discrimination" they can think of.

It would be fun to see them try to reconcile those conflicting goals.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Obama portraits

A lot has been made of the official portrait of Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley:

You've probably heard a lot of opinions about the flowery background, the expression on Obama's face, the "hidden sperm" controversy (to me, it's neither provable nor disprovable), and how Wiley may not actually paint the paintings, even though he takes credit for them.

You've probably also heard about the other works by Wiley, which include paintings of a black woman holding a decapitated white woman's head:

It's barely worth mentioning what would happen if the races were reversed in the case, as such examples are so numerous and so obvious, and have been for a long time.

Kathy Griffin got into big trouble for a similar "work of art," but it's doubtful that Wiley will end up in similar hot water.

What nobody seems to have mentioned so far is how Amy Sherald whitened her official portrait of Michelle Obama, to the point where she is unrecognizable:

Sherald has given Michelle a narrower nose and less prognathous face. She has also made Michelle's eyes less close set, though that trait is less a function of race. For purposes of comparison, here's the real Michelle:

Amy Sherald herself is light-skinned --

-- and historically, light-skinned blacks have often had a sometimes querulous relationship with their darker-skinned brethren. That Sherald effectively made Michelle Obama look as if she would pass the brown paper bag test in her official portrait is telling.

What does that say about Sherald's attitudes toward beauty and attractiveness? And how badly would a white artist have been excoriated for making those changes?

Our short attention spans

The extent to which the media determines what we think about is pretty amazing, when you think about it. We're constantly assaulted by headlines screaming about whatever the latest cause for outrage is, and while we're reading about that, we tend to forget about whatever was deemed important the previous year. Or month.

Marshall McLuhan famous phrase, "The medium is the message," is far truer now than it was in 1964 when he coined it.

Up until the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke this past October, the big cause was tearing down Confederate statues, and maybe even expunging those slaveholders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson from the honor roll of our nation's history.

But when was the last time you thought about Confederate statues? October? Didn't the media portray that as a matter of utmost urgency back then? How did they slip so suddenly, and completely, from the radar? Are our attentions spans really that short?


When was the last time you thought about the unresolved questions about Stephen Paddock and the Las Vegas massacre? Or the London Bridge and Manchester terrorist attacks in Britain? When was the last time you thought about Hurricanes Harvey (which hit Houston) or Maria (Puerto Rico)?

Obviously, some events have more political ramifications, others fewer. And, of course, it's the job of news organizations to report current events, not past ones. Nonetheless, there are issues they prefer to bury, and issues they don't.

If they don't want us to think about something in the first place, they simply drop the subject after barely covering it, if they cover it at all. And it goes right down the memory hole. This is why stonewalling is such a successful tactic. This is what happened to Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi. The Obama administration simply refused to come clean, or release documents, and eventually, with no outrage from the media, we just forgot about them.

As the Russia investigation seems to be gradually morphing from a potential Republican scandal into a Democratic one, the same will undoubtedly happen here. The media will distract us from the matter of Christopher Steele and Fusion with more timely scandals, manufactured or not. And Fusion will slip down the memory hole too.

We all have a certain amount of ADD built into our brains, and the media knows how to take advantage of that to keep us focused on whatever they want us focused on.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Winter Olympics

About six or seven people have asked me this week if I'd been watching the Winter Olympics. After I told them I hadn't been, two of them said something to the effect of, "But what they do is really amazing. The skill those snowboarders show......And the speed skaters, they're really impressive."

They both said this as if somehow I might not have realized that. But I'm well aware that to get to the Olympics, you have to be an incredible athlete in almost any sport. I can neither dance nor skate, so dancing on skates is beyond my comprehension. I'd never have the courage to even attempt the kinds of flips and twists the snowboarders execute. (Mostly because I know I'd never make them, but also because I've simply never been comfortable in midair.)

But, that's not really the issue. The issue is that those sports simply don't grab me.

That said, I'll probably waste a little time Thursday and Friday evenings watching the women's ACC swimming championships on the internet.

Now, you may ask, perfectly reasonably, why would I waste my time watching the third best college conference championship of a boring sport, and the women, at that? (No self-respecting male basketball fan follows the WNBA.) Especially when the best winter sports athletes in the world are on display on hi-definition TV.

It's because for some reason, early on, I just got fixated on swimming. (And, to a lesser extent, track and the martial arts.)

I'm not trying to justify that in any way, or rationalize it. All I can say is, that's who I am.

I'm not using that phrase the way some people say, "That's not who we are," trying to frame people who don't share their particular political motivations as having a lesser morality.

I'm using the phrase in the sense of, that's what turns me on.

Given that swimming was my sport, this may show a lack of imagination, or a lack of flexibility, or an overall lack of adventurousness of spirit.

Honestly, it probably shows all three of those things.

But there's a limit to what we can spend our time appreciating. You could spend your entire life focused on the ballet, on those incredible leaps and balancing acts the dancers are capable of. You could spend an infinite amount of time appreciating the power and range and timing of the voices one can hear at the opera. You could spend endless weekends at museums, marveling over the incredible skill and painstaking workmanship that went into creating the masterpieces on display.

But most of us simply choose to remain within our small circle of interests, and do what we're used to.

Well, some of us more than others, I guess.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Would we be better off with a sociopath as President?

Gethin recently commented that he was starting to wonder whether it really matters whether a political leader is a sociopath or narcissist, since narcissism is ubiquitous amongst bullies, and that most wars could probably have been averted had world leaders been less narcissistic.

The answer is probably yes and no.

You can make the case that at a certain level -- mostly the PR level -- we'd be better off with a sociopath than just a narcissist at the helm. A sociopath of similar intelligence wouldn't make all the faux pas that Trump does. He'd be more skilled at hiding his ego behind a cloak of false nobility. And he wouldn't be in the habit of blurting out his real thoughts in such an impolitic manner.

The downside of having a sociopath is that he wouldn't really care about helping America, or Americans. He'd be focused instead on doing what made him look good, especially in the short run. (Think about how some sociopaths will bask in the glory of falsely claimed accomplishments even as they realize they will be exposed eventually; this is just their nature.) 

A narcissist would be more concerned about how he'll look in the long run. 

And, going back to Gethin's original point about war: sociopaths are, by nature, less concerned about loss of life, more aggressive, and sometimes even more bloodthirsty than narcissists.

We're better off with a narcissist. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Being able to criticize one's own candidate

One difference that becomes apparent to anyone who follows these things, and it was never clearer than it was last year, is that there is a fundamental difference between Right and Left in their ability to acknowledge their own candidates' shortcomings.

Practically everyone I knew who voted for Trump would say something like, "Yeah, I'm going to hold my nose and vote for the guy."

In fact, I know very few people who support Trump politically but are unwilling to admit that he's a narcissistic personality. Most Trump voters will admit that he's vulgar, thin-skinned, boastful, and easily distracted.

Many will also say that they wish he'd put away his Twitter button, or be more diplomatic, or just hold his tongue more and not get in spats with the likes of Rosie O'Donnell.

This presents a striking contrast to Democrats, who rarely if ever admitted that there was anything wrong with Hillary, or Obama, even as both of them exhibited obvious personality syndromes.

If I get into a political discussion with a liberal, I am inevitably lectured on what a horrible man Trump is.

I'll usually say something to the effect of, "Yes, he's a 'hole, but I agree with him on the issues." I might even volunteer that he's a narcissistic personality with ADHD." But then I'll add, "But Hillary is an outright sociopath. You do know she's totally corrupt, don't you?"

At this juncture I'm usually given a look of disbelief and a quick, dismissive shake of the head.

If I ever say, "Are you aware that she sold 20% of all the North American uranium rights to Russia in exchange for a contribution to the Clinton Foundation," I'm greeted by a blank stare and then a dismissive wave of the hand, as if what I was suggesting was too preposterous to be true.

Or, they might respond, "If that's true, then why have I never heard about that?"

When I explain that it's because they only read the mainstream media, which prefers to gloss over her sins, they will shake their heads contemptuously, as if the very thought of Hillary doing anything like that was too ridiculous to be true.

I might say, "What do you make of the fact that Hillary now says that all women who claim to be rape victims deserve to be heard, but that she was in charge of the so called 'bimbo eruptions' caused by her husband Bill? And she did her best to insult and even intimidate the women. Not only that, but earlier in her career she defended a 44-year-old man against charges that he had raped a 12-year-old girl, got him off on an apparently erroneous lie detector test result, and then joked about it afterwards."

At that point I will be given a disbelieving look, as if I'm full of crazy ideas that aren't even worth discussing, and the liberal might say, in an incredulous tone of voice, "Uh, what's your source on that?" Then they might add, sarcastically, "Faux News?"

If I ever say, "You know, Hillary's the type of person who yells and screams at her personal security details and in general treats them like personal servants. The Arkansas State Troopers hated her, Secret Service personnel considered working for her hardship duty, and her State Department security detail actually celebrated when she broke her arm," I'm usually given a look indicating that I'm hopelessly naive to believe such obviously untrue rumors.

If I say something like, "You do realize that Hillary's basically a functional alcoholic, right?" I might be told, "Oh please, everybody drinks. It doesn't mean they're all alcoholics" -- as if I can't tell the difference between little social drinking and full blown alcoholism.

And in all these cases, nobody wants to hear any of the evidence. I always wanted to say, "Hey, here, read this!" But of course I can't just pull out a blog post in the course of conversation and force someone to read it. And even if I were somehow able to, they wouldn't believe any of it anyway, or would dismiss it with a pish-posh gesture.

This isn't true of every last liberal; and certainly every last conservative isn't willing to be critical of Trump. But as a rule, it's true. Many on the Left seem to lack whatever element it is in the personality that allows for sheepishness.

What does it say about the Left that it's composed mostly of people who can never, ever admit fault with their own side? 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

"A Wrong Turn for Drama"

In July '09 I wrote a post about the smartest guy I'd ever met, Jon Leaf. Among other things, he now writes for the National Review. Here is his trenchant and funny review of Sam Shepard's work, which crystallizes every vague feeling I've ever had about Shepard.