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Monday, July 29, 2013

Reaction to surprises in one's ethnicity

Eight posts ago I reported my results from Ancestry.com. The biggest surprise was the 8% Finnish/Volga-Ural ethnicity.

In the earlier post, I mostly made jokes about the 8% "uncertain" part of the results. But on a more serious note: do people, when they see their results, identify more with whatever they find out they are? Do other people's allegiances undergo a subtle shift based on the results of their DNA test?

As I Google-Imaged "Finnish people" after seeing my results, did I feel a faint tug, a sense that these are my people? Not really. It was more just a feeling of mild curiosity. Will I now think of runner Paavo Nurmi, the "Flying Finn," or sniper Simo Hayha, the "White Death," with a small sense of pride? Probably not. But, after all, I'm only 8% Finnish. What if I had turned out to be 50% Finnish? My guess is that I probably would feel more of a sense of identification.

I have yet to meet the person of Irish descent, for instance, who does not make a fairly big deal out of the fact that he is Irish. What if someone who'd been adopted were to find out that he was 100% Irish? (Ancestry.com does not distinguish between the British isles, but for argument's sake, let's say they did.) Would that person then become a semi-professional Irishman like so many others? Would he, mid-life, all of a sudden be tempted to say self-deprecating things like, "It's hard to get anything into my thick Irish skull?" Or "Hey, I can't help it, I'm Irish, I like to drink?"

Or what if someone who had been adopted were to find out that he's 100% Jewish? Would his stance toward Israel become more charitable? Would he be tempted to learn about the religion, and possibly go through some of the rituals (short of a bris)?

After all, our ancestral DNA is who we are, at the most basic level. It's who we tend to identify with, who we root for, and who we side with. It's not coincidence that both Jesse Jackson (in '84 and '88) and Barack Obama (in '08 and '12) got upwards of 98% of the black vote in the primaries.

I recently asked a conservative young white man -- let's call him William -- what he would do if he found out he was part black. He immediately replied, "I'd become a black nationalist."

I asked, would you change your name? He said, "Nah, not really. Well, maybe a little. I'd probably just call myself Billy X."

Saturday, July 27, 2013

London

I'm in London to bet on the world swimming championships, which are taking place in Barcelona this coming week. Unfortunately, the bookmakers are only willing to take very small bets. (Had I known this ahead of time, I wouldn't have come.) When I complained, they told me I was the only one making bets, which made them leery.

Swimming must be such a wholesome activity that its participants and fans are simply averse by nature to an unwholesome activity like gambling.

The betting shops themselves are depressing places, full of broken down old men who obviously have nothing else going on in their lives.

Well, at least I fit in.

London seems even more diverse than the last time I was here, in 2004. So far I have heard Greek, Bulgarian, Russian, French, Chinese, Polish, and Jamaican accents. And fewer British accents.

It's a little weird to hear black people speak with British accents. I know, there shouldn't be anything weird about that, they are British, but somehow, there is. (When they travel stateside, do their brethren think they're putting on airs?)

Everyone I've spoken to, whatever their accent or race, has been very polite and helpful. To that extent, I suppose, they've all been Anglicized.

It's not hard to spot the American tourists. They wear shorts and running shoes and t-shirts with various logos, an outfit most Europeans wouldn't be caught dead in.

One thing Europeans will be caught dead doing, though, is smoking. The Brits don't light up quite as much as the French, but you can never walk far in London without smelling cigarette smoke.

Speaking of which, even though it's a cliche, some Brits really do look as though they just smelled something bad. It's sort of an effete, I'm-so-refined-I-find-everything-distasteful sort of look. (It's subtle, though, and Americans who try to imitate it, like Robert Downey doing Sherlock Holmes, always end up overdoing it.) There's a variant on this expression, the I'm-terribly-afraid-to-inform-you-but-I've-just-cut-one look. It's also vaguely effete, but with a different, less narcissistic flavor. You can almost tell just from their faces that the latter type are always painstakingly polite and take great care to point out that everything that goes wrong is completely their fault.

(I find these people a natural fit for me, since I'm the type who refuses to take blame for anything.)

I only notice these things because I stare at people. People around here seem to consider that bad form, but, hey, I'm an American: I'm supposed to be rude.

I've gotten the hang of their subway system, which they refer to as the Tube, or the Underground. At first it seemed expensive, but then I realized that the ticket I bought for roughly eleven dollars would take me anywhere for the entire day. Another nice thing about the Tube is that unlike the New York subway system, it doesn't smell like stale urine. (New Yorkers are really the ones who should walk around looking as if they just smelled something bad.)

One nice thing about England is that you see fewer chain stores. America has become the land of monopolies: few local bookstores survived the onslaught of Barnes & Noble, and now B&N is struggling to survive the onslaught of Amazon. And so it went for many types of businesses. In London, it seems the vast majority of street-level stores are unique.

England's largest unique store is Harrod's, which I wandered through today. Five minutes was enough to convince me that everything there is overpriced by a multiple of about four. Evidently, you have to pay up for their name. The store was full of Japanese tourists carrying shopping bags. (I don't think there is a Japanese translation for the word "sale.")

Anyway, I've got another eight days of doing my bit to burnish the ugly American image, staring at people and complaining to the betting parlors that they won't take large enough bets. Hmm....maybe I should go back to Harrod's and inform the sale clerks that their prices are too high.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The royal baby name

Evidently there is a fair amount of betting going on in London right now about what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will name their new prince.

The favorites are George, with the odds of that at 9/4, and James, at 11/4. Other names with fairly short odds include Alexander, Henry, and Louis. Long shots are Daniel and Andrew.

I sincerely hope they don't give their baby any of those boring names.

It would be far more interesting and exciting if they would consider naming the prince Jamaal, or Hakeem. Or maybe Dajuan, or Donte, or LeShon, or Majique, or L'Zereck.

The possibilities for creativity in this situation are endless.

They might even, in honor of -- and sympathy with -- a young man who seems on the verge of canonization, name their son Trayvon. That would demonstrate true cross-Atlantic solidarity.

In fact, if I may be so bold, I would appreciate it very much if any of my readers who happen to be members of the British royal family would be willing to pass my suggestions along to William and Kate.

I feel so strongly about this that I am going to fly to London tomorrow to see if I can gain an audience. If not, at least I'll be placing a few bets.

(If I don't write for a few days, it's because I'm in England.)

Out of character

In the previous post I mentioned how Dennis Farina couldn't possibly have been as nasty as his usual movie persona, otherwise he wouldn't have gotten so many roles.

The best example I've ever seen of this dichotomy is probably Ving Rhames. Rhames almost always plays a prototypical black badass; perhaps his best known role was Marcellus Wallace, in Pulp Fiction.

Rhames got a Golden Globe in 1998 for Best Actor in a Television Production for his portrayal of Don King. He got up on stage, started crying, and asked Jack Lemmon -- another nominee -- to come up on stage so he could in turn give the award to him, as the man who really deserved it. It was the most un-Ving Rhames like performance you could possibly have imagined. Marcellus, to be honest, would certainly have been embarrassed.

But it explains why Rhames has gotten so many roles -- he's likable.

Dennis Farina, RIP

Dennis Farina died yesterday. He acted in four of the most enjoyable movies of all time: Midnight Run, Snatch, Get Shorty, and Out of Sight.

Farina excelled at embodying gleeful nastiness, exuberant sadism, and petty vanity. He could make a certain brand of bumbling nastiness humorous, and almost appealing.

Farina was a good enough actor that he made you believe that he was probably pretty mean himself. Before he went to Hollywood, he was a detective with the Chicago Police Department, until he was 41. (It seems a fairly safe bet which role Farina got had he and his partner ever engaged in the good cop-bad cop routine.)

But he couldn't have been truly nasty himself, otherwise he wouldn't have gotten so many roles. (It's vital for an actor to be popular with his coworkers; any actor who develops a reputation for being difficult will soon find himself out of work.)

Farina wasn't a great actor; he didn't have enough range to be considered that. His roles varied from street smart and skeptical to brutish and comically vain, but he always played some variant of tough.

But he also wasn't a vain actor. He didn't mind playing ugly, or stupid, or evil, or the hapless comic foil to someone like John Travolta. In fact, he seemed to relish playing those roles, which is what made him enjoyable to watch.

Check out these clips:

Here's Farina as the intimidating, bullying mob boss Jimmy Serrano in Midnight Run.

Here he is as Ray Barboni, the brutal, no nonsense, vain mobster in Get Shorty.

And here he is as Abraham Denovitz, the crooked diamond dealer in Snatch.

It wasn't coincidence that Farina ended up in such enjoyable films; he was a big part of what made them enjoyable.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Christine Granville

Today's NY Times had a fascinating review of a book about a heroic WWII-era British spy who was quite likely a sociopath. (Italics mine):

Through Enemy Lines
‘The Spy Who Loved,’ by Clare Mulley
By Ben MacIntyre

Christine Granville was one of the bravest, toughest and strangest secret agents of World War II. Her feats of derring-do included acting as a courier in Nazi-occupied Europe, parachuting into France in support of the Allied invasion and rescuing three of her comrades from certain execution. She was said to be Winston Churchill’s favorite spy — a considerable accolade given how much Britain’s wartime prime minister liked spies. She may have been the model for Vesper Lynd, the female agent in Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, “Casino Royale.” She won medals for bravery from both Britain and France. Men found her irresistible, and she did very little to resist them.

Vesper Lynd -- wow! And "The Spy Who Loved" -- get it? One of Ian Fleming's other Bond novels was titled, "The Spy Who Loved Me."


Keystone/Getty Images

Christine Granville, circa 1950.

Yet this woman, so ripe for Hollywood hagiography, is almost unknown today. Her obscurity is the consequence of her gender (spy history is notoriously sexist)...

That's why you've never heard of Mata Hari -- or Vesper Lynd. (The NY Times just has to stick in its politically correct interpretation of practically everything, it just can't help itself.)

...her nationality (she was Polish, and Communist Poland did not encourage praise of British spies)...

Wouldn't it have been Britain which praised her?

...and above all her character. She was a complex and mysterious individual. 

"Complex and mysterious" usually = "difficult," and difficult sometimes = sociopath. 

She survived the war only to be murdered by an obsessed former lover in the lobby of a London hotel. As Clare Mulley reveals in her admirable and overdue biography, “The Spy Who Loved,” Granville was not a straightforward personality, and all the more fascinating for that.

Born Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbek, the daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and a wealthy Jewish heiress, she enjoyed a comfortable, uneventful and spoiled upbringing. Indeed, her main achievement before the war was to be a runner-up in the 1930 Miss Poland beauty contest. War changed her utterly.

She was in South Africa, the wife of a Polish diplomat, when the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939. She immediately headed for London, presented herself to the British secret service and offered to ski over the Carpathian Mountains into Poland in order to take British propaganda into Nazi-occupied Warsaw. “She is absolutely fearless,” a secret service report noted, a “flaming Polish patriot, . . . expert skier and great ­adventuress.”

"Absolutely fearless" and "great adventuress" often = sociopath as well. And whatever happened to that husband?

She was duly recruited into Section D, which would evolve into the fabled Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.), the sabotage, subversion and espionage unit established by Churchill to operate behind enemy lines and “set Europe ablaze.” She adopted the name Christine Granville, received a British passport and shaved several years off her real age on official forms — self-reinvention was part of her makeup, as it is of many spies. The British gave her the code name “Willing,” an apt reflection of her attitude toward sex as well as her readiness to embrace extreme peril.

Self-reinvention is part of the makeup of sociopaths, and a wanton attitude toward sex is often a result of a sociopath's lack of inhibitions and impulsive nature.

Deployed to Hungary, Granville spent the first part of her war ferrying messages and people in and out of Poland. She crossed the mountains between Hungary and Poland no fewer than six times, bringing out Polish resisters and soldiers who would go on to fight for the Allied cause. She was usually accompanied by Andrzej Kowerski, a one-legged Polish patriot who would become her most enduring (and long-suffering) lover.

The stories of her exceptional sang-froid come thick and fast: skiing past the corpses of refugees frozen to death in the mountains, bribing guards, dodging bullets from a Luftwaffe plane on an open hillside and escaping from the Gestapo by biting her own tongue, spitting blood, and thus convincing her captors that she was ill with tuberculosis.

If these stories are true, there is much to admire about Granville; yet "exceptional sang-froid" is something sociopaths specialize in, and the ability to ad lib under pressure is another thing they excel at.

According to one account, she could even charm her way around animals: when a “vicious Alsatian dog, trained to bite and break necks,” found her hiding under a bush with some partisans, she placed her arm around it, and “it lay down beside her, ignoring its handler’s whistles.” Such tales, as Mulley observes, are “the stuff of legend,” and she is too good a historian to take them entirely at face value. Granville was an expert at her own mythologizing, telling her stories of pacifying enemy dogs “right and left, to whoever was willing to listen.”

No one is more of an expert in their "own mythologizing" than a sociopath. Especially when it's only a myth.

Along the way, she picked up lovers at astonishing speed, and dropped them just as fast. Sometimes, they took rejection badly. One hilarious British intelligence report describes how Granville’s “attractiveness appeared to be causing some difficulty in Budapest.” One spurned lover had gone to her flat and threatened to shoot himself “in his genital organs.” He missed, and shot himself in the foot.

Granville was “politically naïve”: “An opportunist, keen on action, who fell in with whichever personal contact would give her an assignment to work for the freedom of her country.” Her patriotism was whole-souled, ferocious and probably the only uncomplicated thing about her.

"Opportunist" is a yellow flag for sociopathy.

In 1944, she was parachuted into southern France to aid Francis Cammaerts, the celebrated (and married) S.O.E. agent who became, inevitably, her lover. She carried vital messages and matériel between resistance groups; she addressed Polish conscripts in the German Army, urging them to change sides; she carried a razor-sharp commando knife and a cyanide tablet sewn into the hem of her skirt.

It takes a certain physical courage to be a paratrooper, and a certain cavalier disregard for one's own well-being to be in a position to have to carry around a cyanide tablet. These are both hallmarks of sociopathy. 

Her crowning achievement was to spring Cammaerts and two other captured agents from the Gestapo jail where they were awaiting execution. She bribed her way into the prison, claiming to be General Montgomery’s niece, and informed the French collaborator in command that if the executions went ahead, he would face swift and lethal reprisal from the advancing Allies. The Frenchman saw the force of this argument, and escaped along with his prisoners.

Sociopaths are nothing if not skillfully manipulative.

Granville’s postwar life was as grim and bleak as her war had been vivid and exhilarating. Dismissed from S.O.E., she was, like so many other exiled Poles, unable to return to a homeland now under Communist rule. She found work as a telephone operator, a sales assistant and finally a stewardess on a shipping line. 

Sales assistant? Telephone operator? After having basically been Mata Hari/Vesper Lynd? What a comedown that must have been. And how contemptuous must she have been of the people she worked with, and for?

Britain’s failure to support a woman who had risked her life so many times was shameful, but in truth Granville was fickle, demanding and virtually unemployable, at least in the way she wanted to be employed. She did not want to be a typist, a wife or a mother; she wanted to be a spy.

"Fickle, demanding and virtually unemployable" are code words for narcissism, a key part of every sociopath's makeup.

Mulley — the author of “The Woman Who Saved the Children: A Biography of Eglantyne Jebb, Founder of Save the Children” — makes excellent use of newly released archive material, the voluminous secondary sources and interviews with former colleagues, friends and lovers. But there is an unavoidable gap at the heart of this book, and that is the missing voice of Christine Granville herself. Only 11 of her letters seem to have survived. She never wrote an account of her exploits or described her own feelings. On the rare occasions that we do hear her voice, it is in fractured English that comes as a jolt: “Tell them that I am honest and clean Polish girl. . . . I like to jump out of a plane even every day.”

Who ever bothers to point out that they are "honest and clean" unless they are dishonest and unclean?

Granville’s story is told, inevitably, through the eyes of others, principally men, who tended to project onto her the fantasy of what they wanted to see. Of no man is this truer than the one who killed her: Dennis Muldowney, an unstable and infatuated ship’s steward unable to cope with Granville’s rejection after a brief affair. Muldowney stalked her, and then stabbed her in the heart in June 1952. He was condemned to death, and went to the gallows proclaiming he was “still very much in love” with the unsung heroine he had killed.

As I said above, there is much to admire Granville for. If she did even a fraction of the things attributed to her, she is an amazing person, and both a British and Polish national heroine as well. But throughout the review, I couldn't help but hear the not-so-faint echo of sociopathy reverberate in the descriptions of her temperament and actions and thirst for thrills. The most successful spies, like the most successful con men, are often sociopaths, for good reason. 

Granville is living proof that in wartime, you want the sociopaths to be on your side. And that there's really no time you want them on the opposing side.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Obama's statement on Zimmerman-Martin"

A hilarious must-read from Steve Sailer.

The new Jesse

Eric Holder (who seems to regard his job description as being pretty much the same as Jesse Jackson's these days) addressed the NAACP on Tuesday and told members attending the group's 104th annual convention to peacefully confront "the unfortunate stereotypes" that sometimes lead police and others to be unduly suspicious of blacks and make "misjudgments" about them.

To describe a stereotype as "unfortunate" is not quite the same as calling it inaccurate; but that's certainly the implication. And it does nothing to explore the question of why such "misjudgments" are commonplace. Let's take a cold-eyed look at the statistics.

Nationwide, according to statistics from the Department of Justice -- headed by Eric Holder -- blacks commit 53% of all homicides. (Note to Eric: better stop keeping those types of records, they encourage "misjudgments.") And the vast majority of homicides committed by blacks are committed by young men. So we're not really talking about the 12% of the population that is black; we're not even talking about the 6% of the population which is both black and male; we're talking about young black males between the ages of 15 and 30, which is roughly 2% of the overall population. The percentage of homicides committed by this group is not quite the 53% number quoted above, but probably in the vicinity of 45%, since females and older blacks do commit some homicides.

With 2% of the population committing 45% of the homicides, what sane person wouldn't be a little more leery of that 2%? How willfully blind would you have to be not to notice this? Especially if your job is in law enforcement.

This is certainly not to say that most young black men are criminals. There was another statistic which got a lot of play a few years ago, which is that of all college age black males, 25% are either in prison, on probation, or on parole. That means that 75% are law-abiding. (Or, at least, haven't yet been convicted of a crime; but let's say for argument's sake they're law-abiding.)

If I were one of the 75%, being harassed by the police would probably get on my nerves -- as I have said in this blog before. I might even grow to hate the police after a while. But I would also resent my criminal brethren who created the suspicion in the first place. This latter reaction seems to be completely anathema to Eric Holder or any other black spokesperson.

If cops went out of their way to stop and frisk old black church ladies, I would be the first to say they were doing so for purely racial reasons. I would even call them racist. But, they don't do that.

They are, however, far more likely to stop and frisk young black men who fit a certain profile. I call that commonsensical.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Ancestry.com results

I got my Ancestry.com results yesterday, and, as I had suspected, I am not quite as advertised.

I am:

49% East Asian
22% British Isles
13% Central European
8% Finnish/Volga-Ural
8% uncertain

So, it looks as though my mother is a touch less than pure Japanese. As a good Japanese (from Japan) she should have been dismayed by this information, but when I conveyed it to her last night, she just laughed and said, "So that's why I have this hook to my nose."

Then she asked me how much I paid to have this test done. When I told her $109, she then asked, well, was it worth it?

Of course it was. I finally found out what I am. Well, 92% of what I am, anyway.

The 13% central European is no great surprise; my father always said he was an eighth German, which would have made me roughly 6% central European; and the British Isles were invaded by plenty of different Continental types over the years.

The big surprise was the 8% Finnish/Volga-Ural. Or maybe it wasn't such a big surprise, at least to me: even though many people take me for Hispanic, maybe the guy who mows their lawn, I've always seen myself more as a Scandinavian beauty.

The eight percent "uncertain" certainly leaves a fair-sized chunk of uncertainty. Oh well, maybe it's better to preserve a little mystery. And a lot of possibilities.

Ancestry.com's explanation for "uncertain" is: "This means that small traces of a specific genetic population may have been found in your DNA, but the probabilities were too low to pinpoint it to a specific ethnicity. This is not uncommon, and as more genetic signatures are discovered with a higher confidence level, we may be able to update this 'uncertain' percentage of your ethnicity over time."

This leaves open the possibility that I am part American Indian or black, as I originally speculated. But those genetic signatures are probably pretty well well documented. The "small traces" and "low probabilities" point toward something more exotic. Like Neanderthal. Or Homo Floriensis.

Or maybe they couldn't figure it out because I'm 8% nonhuman. I'd prefer that mix to be tiger, with a little wolverine mixed in. But, given my cowardly nature, there's more than a little likelihood of worm, as well.

It could just be that the "8% uncertain" is merely a straightforward reference to my personality. (I always seem to feel a tad less sure about things than many people I know. My wife, for instance.)

I'd like to hold out the possibility that I'm 8% immortal. Maybe I'm descended from Hercules (who was only half immortal himself).

My 18-year-old daughter, who is nothing if not topical, suggested we could be part vampire.

I may go to another service (most likely 23andme, which also evidently gives you a profile of your inherited health conditions) just to see if the results match. And if that 8% uncertainty can be cleared up.

In the meantime, I'm planning on a trip to Helsinki, where I can meet Finns like this one --


-- and tell them, 'Hey, we could be cousins!"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Zimmerman, from Left and Right

The jury has given their verdict, and so far there has been a relatively muted reaction. There was some violence in Oakland, where windows were smashed and a few fires lit in the street, but there has been no major rioting so far. And President Obama, no doubt mindful of his hasty words in March ("If I had a son, he's look like Trayvon"), called for calm.

The key question here is, how would the Right and the Left have reacted had the races been reversed in this case?

Had a black neighborhood watchman spotted a suspicious-looking white man, followed him at a discreet distance, and then been attacked by that white man, with the white man getting on top of him, punching him in the face, and pounding his head against the sidewalk, and then had that black man managed to pull out a gun and shoot the white man, I would have had no problem with a not guilty verdict. Especially had the black man ended up with a possibly broken nose, cuts on the back of his head, and grass stains on his pants consistent with that story, and had the eyewitness with the best view of them confirmed that story,

I suspect that most of those on the Right would also have had no problem.

How would the Left have reacted if the races been reversed?

My guess is that their view of the situation would have changed completely. Ignore for the moment the fact that had the races been reversed, you never would have heard of this killing. Let's just say, for argument's sake, that you had heard of it, and that it had gone down exactly as described three paragraphs above. Let's also say -- as the media did -- that the "white guy" is actually white, even though George Zimmerman isn't.

Would Jesse and Al have then sided with the black man, or the white man? (Yes, that was a rhetorical question.)

Would President Obama have initially said of the shooting victim, if I had cousins, they'd look like him? Doubtful.

Would the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media have focused on the "unjustified" shooting, or the fact that a white man was sitting on top of a black man punching him in the face and knocking his head against the sidewalk in yet another egregious instance of white-on-black violence?

The NY Post just ran an article about how various celebrities have weighed in on the verdict. Russell Simmons, Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Solange Knowle tweeted their support for Trayvon. New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz tweeted, "Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn't last a year before the hood catches up to him," though he later deleted and apologized for the tweet. Beyonce asked for a moment of silence for Trayvon during a concert she gave last night.

The only celebrity quoted in the article who differed was Donald Trump, who wrote, "Zimmerman is no angel, but the lack of evidence and the concept of self-defense, especially in Florida, gave the jury little other choice."

Which of them would have been sounding a different tune had the races been reversed?

Now comes word that the Justice Department is considering bringing a criminal civil rights case against Zimmerman.

Would they be doing that if their potential target was a black man?

If you're interested in justice, the key question you have to ask yourself whenever there is a case like this is, what would happen if the races were reversed?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

True hatred

The other day I was talking to a young white man who knows all about racial differences in intelligence, criminality, temperament, and so on. He told me something unexpected and interesting.

He said that although he's known several white guys he's hated enough to want to kill, he's never met a single black guy he's felt that way about.

He said that some white guys who were above him at his company would lord their power over him, and think themselves better than him because of their positions, even if they personally were near worthless as human beings. He said that several caused him to fantasize about following them home and shooting them, or beating them to death.

But he had never met a black man whom he'd fantasized about killing. They just never seemed to reach the necessary level of treachery and pretension for that. He also said that a lot of them, even if you got into fights with them, didn't seem to hold a grudge, and would even greet you congenially the next day.

I asked, what about the sullen, militant ones, the ones who obviously hate whites? He said that they don't bother him, that they're just sticking up for their own kind and he had no problem with that. Maybe it was partly because he'd never gotten close enough to enough of them, but he'd just never felt betrayed or backstabbed by them. And he never got the sense that they'd tried to humiliate him just because they could.

I thought about it, searched through my own personal history, and realized that the same is true with me. I've known several people at various points in my life I would have loved to see die, and whom I've fantasized about killing, and every single one was white. And I've simply never felt that way about a black. (Or a brown, or a yellow, for that matter.)

And I, too, am well versed in -- to the point of being a connoisseur of -- racial differences.

There have been plenty of times when black people in general have angered me, such as when OJ was acquitted and TV newcasts showed black people across the nation jumping up and down and cheering as if their favorite team had just won the NBA championships. And there are black public figures, like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, whom I despise. But I've never personally known an individual black whom I've hated enough to want to see dead.

Yet it took the young man pointing this out to make me realize that the same was true of me.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sociopath alert: Steve Jobs

Any cult of personality -- in the corporate world or elsewhere -- is often accompanied by a strong whiff of sociopathy.

Steve Jobs used to be spoken about in the same hallowed, reverential manner that Saint Lance (Armstrong) was. Even Jobs's obvious flaws were couched in a complimentary context. Temperamental? C'mon, he's just a perfectionist.

I knew people like this at Goldman Sachs. All of them were at the very least narcissistic personalities if not outright sociopaths. They would lose their tempers whenever frustrated, glare at you, and say something along the lines of, hey, I'm losing my temper because I care. In other words, if I didn't lose my temper and act like a hysterical ninny like them, it was only because I didn't care enough about my job.

I was never an Apple fanatic -- I only switched over to a MacBook a year or so ago -- but I always had the vague impression that Jobs deserved credit for every product that came out of the company. Those who were there had a different impression.

From Wikipedia:

According to Apple cofounder, Steve Wozniak, "Steve didn't ever code. He wasn't an engineer and he didn't do any original design... Daniel Kottke, one of Apple's earliest employees and a college friend of Jobs', stated that "Between Woz and Jobs, Woz was the innovator, the inventor. Steve Jobs was the marketing person."

That is the essence of who Jobs was: a marketing person, and the product he was shrewdest about marketing was Steve Jobs.

Walter Isaccson, in his extensive biography of Jobs, made it clear that Jobs was simply not an inventor. Sometimes Jobs didn't even know what he wanted, but would lash subordinates until he got something he liked. And he would often take credit for others' ideas. After Wozniak left, you simply never heard of anyone besides Job at Apple (other than John Sculley, the temporary CEO, and Tim Cook, the heir apparent and current CEO).

Even when it came to marketing, his supposed forte, Jobs still had few ideas of own. He would keep telling his ad agency that what they had shown him wasn't good enough, and that he would know what he wanted when he saw it. In other words: you produce, and I'll take credit.

A revealing incident (also from Wiki) about Jobs' early career, after he had spent time in India engaged in various hippieish pursuits:

Jobs then returned to Atari, and was assigned to create a circuit board for the arcade video game Breakout. According to Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, Atari offered $100 for each chip that was eliminated in the machine. Jobs had little specialized knowledge of circuit board design and made a deal with Wozniak to split the fee evenly between them if Wozniak could minimize the number of chips. Much to the amazement of Atari engineers, Wozniak reduced the number of chips by 50, a design so tight that it was impossible to reproduce on an assembly line. According to Wozniak, Jobs told him that Atari gave them only $700 (instead of the offered $5,000), and that Wozniak's share was thus $350. Wozniak did not learn about the actual bonus until ten years later, but said that if Jobs had told him about it and had said he needed the money, Wozniak would have given it to him.

What kind of person cheats a friend like this, especially when the friend did all the actual work? This wasn't the spur of the moment sort of dishonesty most of us would be capable of: it required planning, or premeditation, if you will. And Jobs had plenty of time in which to change his mind about it, but he didn't. This is a level of treachery that nonsociopaths simply don't rise to.

Another revealing incident (also via Wiki) from when Jobs was in his 20's:

Jobs's first child, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, was born in 1978, the daughter of his longtime partner Chris Ann Brennan, a Bay Area painter. For two years, she raised their daughter on welfare while Jobs denied paternity by claiming he was sterile; he later acknowledged Lisa as his daughter.

Perhaps Jobs learned about parenting responsibilities from his own biological parents, who gave him up for adoption early on. Bear in mind, by 1978 Apple Computer was already big enough that Jobs was able to lure away Mike Scott from National Semiconductor to serve as their CEO that year. And this baby didn't come from a careless, drunken one night stand, but from his longtime partner, whom he tried to con with that lie about being sterile.

As always with sociopaths, it's the people who've actually spent time with them who are least influenced by the PR. When the Apple board decided to fire Jobs in 1985, they did so for good reason -- because he was so difficult.

Jobs cloaked his sociopathy with a heavy layer of hippie mysticism, a mysticism given ostensible credence by the fact that he'd taken LSD and had traveled to Nepal to visit an ashram. But a difficult person is such no matter what countercultural airs he puts on.

One former employee of his talked of the "reality distortion field" you entered when in Jobs's presence. This is a great description of how a successful sociopath operates: using fear of being fired, as well as of being yelled at, and the sheer weight of his outsize reputation to cow and intimidate others into going along with your plan. In such an atmosphere disagreement feels almost suicidal. (Whenever you hear of someone "bending others to his will through sheer force of personality," it's usually this kind of dynamic at work.)

After Jobs died, he was compared with Edison. Obituaries tend to run fulsome, but this was ridiculous. It was almost as if Jobs had reached out from the grave to make people say what he wanted them to -- through sheer force of personality.

A more appropriate comparison for Jobs would have been Akio Morita, who headed Sony during its glory days of the 70's and 80's. (Remember the Walkman?)

An even better comparison would have been the Wizard of Oz. He thundered at people until they quaked in his presence. People weren't allowed to question him ("Who are you to dare to question the great and powerful Oz?!") He was worshipped by mindless acolytes (Munchkins). And he send supplicants on impossible missions, like getting the Wicked Witch's broom. (He may not have known what he wanted, but he'd know it when he saw it.)

The Wizard was actually a pretty good metaphor for every malignant personality who ever lived, including Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sociopath alert: Anna Benson

This blog has mentioned in the past  -- here and here, among other places -- that it's generally only sociopaths who go out of their way to tell you what wonderful, caring, ethically upright people they are.

This morning's Post had a great illustration of that in an article about Anna Benson, the soon-to-be-ex-wife of Mets pitcher Kris Benson:

Crazed “Baseball Wife’’ Anna Benson yesterday told The Post, “I’m all about good, I’m all about love’’ — but she sure has a strange way of showing it.

The 37-year-old mom of four and ex-Penthouse Pet was dressed like a ninja and armed with a revolver, ammo belt and bulletproof vest when she entered the Georgia home of estranged hubby and former Met Kris Benson demanding dough and calling him a “p---y,’’ police records allege.

“I’m not feeling very good, as you can imagine,’’ Anna admitted to a Post reporter from the Cobb County Jail in Marietta.

“None of it is true, but you’ll find that out.

“I’m a good girl, a nice girl,’’ insisted the buxom ex-stripper, who now says she wants to start a bulletproof-vest company. “I would never hurt [Kris]. I am still in love with him."


Good people simply don't go around making pronouncements like, "I'm all about good, I'm all about love."

Nor do nice girls say, "I'm a good girl, a nice girl." Truly nice girls tend to just act shy. If you actually ask them if they're nice, they'll say something like, "I don't know" or "I try to be." They certainly don't go around broadcasting it.

Nor do they call their husbands pussies.

Benson, by the way, not only had a revolver with extra ammunition, but also a folding knife, and an expandable baton. The police also found a hatchet, a Taser, a bag of syringes, and a box full of pills in her car.

All standard equipment for nice girls.

Here's a picture of the still-married couple:


Anna Benson actually does look as if she's all about love. Just maybe not the kind she was trying to imply.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Will there be rioting after the Zimmerman verdict?

A number of observers have raised the specter of civil unrest should George Zimmerman be acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin. After weeks of testimony from Rachel Jeantel and others, the jury, which is comprised of six (nonblack) women, may decide that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

Some have said that merely bringing up the possibility of blacks rioting is itself racist.

We must remember that whites, too, have a long history of rioting when verdicts don't go to their liking. Who can forget the great LA riots of 1995 following OJ Simpson's acquittal?

After David Duke and Tom Metzger led candlelit marches through Watts and Compton, attracting thousands of white marchers, and after Duke solemnly intoned to a gullible media that it was "open
season on young white people," things rapidly spiraled out of control.

The marchers had started out in an orderly fashion, merely bellowing, "No justice, no peace!" But then a splinter group started yelling, "If the glove don't fit, it don't mean shit!" and the larger group took up that cry as well.

Soon after, some of the whites started rampaging through black neighborhoods, smashing store windows and grabbing television sets, designer jeans, and whatever else they could.

Many of the white marchers decided to go "wilding" and engaged in what they referred to as "black bear hunting," which consisted of punching and knocking down any black man they saw. In the ensuing violence seven people were killed and scores injured.

The media, of course, turned a blind eye to much of this behavior. The few newspapers who reported it at all would inevitably bury it in a one or two paragraph article in their back pages, and even then painstakingly try to eliminate any reference to the race of the rioters.

There was, however, one case of a black man who, after being attacked by a group of whites, punched one of his assailants. The white man fell back and hit his head against a fence post; he later died of his injuries.

The media, always hungry to find a white victimized by a black, of course kept that story on the front page for weeks. They found an angelic-looking picture of the dead white man from junior high school and used that to illustrate their articles, many of which quoted his friends about what a "good boy" he had been.  The newspapers put pictures of his grieving relatives on their front pages, and, in their many editorials about the case, lamented it as a classic case of racism.

(It's hard not to become just a tad cynical about this kind of media coverage.)

In the immediate aftermath of the OJ verdict, many blacks were afraid to leave their houses, terrified of the roving white mobs who would set fire to cars, torch abandoned buildings, and loot, while the police, who had been instructed to keep their distance in order not to further inflame tensions, just watched.

So if blacks riot if Zimmerman is found innocent, let's not hear any racist talk. Whites behave the same way.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Joe Biden's fantasy life

Joe Biden ran for the Democratic nomination for President twice, in 1988 and 2008. Being President, of course, is the secret dream of every politician who ever set foot in a legislature. Except in Biden's case, it wasn't so secret.

So the question for today is, how badly does Joe Biden want Barack Obama to be assassinated? It must be one of the first things he thinks about in the morning and one of the last things on his mind as he drifts off at night. He must dream about it when he's sleeping. He must feel a sharp pang of desire every time he sees that chair in the Oval Office.

Between his two Presidential runs in 1988 and 2008, Biden was just biding his time. (His name really ought to be "Joe Bidin'.")

Biden was first elected US Senator in 1972, when Obama was 11. He must hate playing second fiddle to a man 19 years younger. That is probably the first time you've heard that particular statistic -- but how many times do you think it has occurred to Biden himself?

Biden must hate having to pretend to adore Obama. Whenever you see them together, Biden is all smiles and bonhomie, but that has to be an act. (The proof is that Biden is able to produce it so readily, for every occasion).

How often does Biden wish for a fairy godmother (a latter day version of Lee Harvey Oswald or Sirhan Sirhan) who can make his dreams come true? (Where's James Earl Ray when you need him?) How often does Biden look at those Secret Service agents surrounding Obama and think, c'mon, why don't you guys just relax a little?

Biden probably ponders how he would act at Obama's funeral. He's a good actor; he'd be able to put on a properly somber face. He's probably got his eulogy prepared and memorized already. And he knows exactly how he'd phrase his condolences to Michelle; after all, he's already rehearsed the scene in his own mind many times.

Air Force One could always go down in a storm. Or maybe an al Qaeda operative could take it down with a Stinger missile. Hey, stranger things have happened.

Or what if Obama just had a heart attack while playing basketball? (What kind of poetic justice would that be?)

Obama wouldn't even have to die -- maybe he could just have an incapacitating stroke. Then, when people would inevitably say that Biden should take over, he could act as if he were completely offended at the very suggestion that he might in any way even think about being disloyal that way. But, in time, well, maybe he could reluctantly allow himself to be persuaded. Then people would see that in fact he was a much better President than that basketball-playing fool.

A heartbeat away from the Presidency: so near, and yet so far. When you think about it, it really is a refined form of torture.

(By the way, I feel the opposite. I fervently hope that Obama lives long past the possibility of martyrdom, long enough for the public to wake up to his true character.) 

Monday, July 1, 2013

"The Underbelly of Disbelief"

I was about to write a post on how obnoxious the organized atheists are, but then I just saw that Jim Goad has already said everything I was going to say, undoubtedly better than I was going to say it.

I do have one additional question, though: do organized atheists badger religious Jews as much as they do Christians?

And one suggestion: if they feel as strongly about all organized religions as they claim, why not take their act on the road, to some Muslim countries, and see how their brand of suasion is received there?

Anthony Weiner now front runner

The latest polls indicate that Anthony Weiner has now passed Christine Quinn in the polls and is now the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in the New York City mayoral race.

Often, to illustrate articles about politicians, newspapers will dig up appropriate stock photos from the past and use those. For instance, if it's good news for the President, they'll use an old photo of Obama grinning ear to ear and place it near the headline; if it's bad news, they'll find an old photo of him frowning, and so on. The effect is that the politician looks as if he has just experienced the triumph or defeat, even if the photo is years old.

Should Weiner be elected Mayor, what use will the media be able to find for some of his infamous "selfies?"

For instance, what headlines might this photograph accompany?


The first thing to come to mind is the news mentioned in the first paragraph of this post: "Poll shows Weiner in front."

If at any point Weiner's strategists feel he needs to shore up his liberal base: "Weiner's leftward tilt."

Should he drift too far left: "Weiner a tool of the socialists."

Should Weiner appoint any female deputy mayors, "Weiner excited about new aide."

Should he tangle with the powerful Michael Mulgrew: "Weiner gives teachers' union the shaft."

Should he make a strategic move: "Weiner uses head wisely."

Or how about this picture?


After he proposes his legislative agenda: "Weiner presents package to City Council."

On his infamous lack of tact: "Weiner no touchy-feely politician."

On his take charge style: "Weiner grabs control."

On his gun control stance: "Weiner suggests private citizens check weapons."

On his favorable press coverage: "Is Daily News Weiner's house organ?"

I realize that this line of humor could pall rapidly. But I'd still be disappointed if the newspapers don't find any use for these pictures.