Search Box

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Go ahead and get that plastic surgery

If I had my life to live over again, I'd get plastic surgery at age 22 or so. Why not? Everybody judges you by your looks. To say otherwise is naive.

Like it or not, your looks shape your life. Obviously, your appearance has a huge impact on your love life. And of course no corporation would ever admit to this, but the fact is, good-looking people get preference in hiring, too; beautiful young women are rarely on the unemployment line.

So why not put your best face forward?

Most people hold off because they'd feel foolish, and don't want to appear vain, or are worried that something might go wrong.

The biggest problem is when people don't know when to stop. Michael Jackson famously went from looking like this:


To this:


Jackson is always cited as a cautionary tale. But what everybody forgets is that he looked great after the first two or three surgeries, about the time Thriller came out.


He'd had his nose narrowed, and his eyebrows done, and maybe one or two other procedures I can't put my finger on. But, then, he couldn't leave well enough alone. 

The rule of thumb seems to be that one or two or three operations are good. But becoming "addicted" to plastic surgery never ends well.

Jackson is the most widely known cautionary tale; but there are plenty of others who've had bad outcomes. Here are a few more you may be familiar with. 

The operations to avoid seem to be lip plumping, which always seem to go wrong, and cheek implants, which usually look unnatural. (Those two operations in particular, for some reason, always seem to make women look sleazy.)

But go to any plastic surgeon's website, and you'll see a lot of good outcomes. And even if you're not going to have career in show biz, if can correct small imperfections, why not?

Look at these before and after photos of Scarlett Johansson:


Pre-nose job, she has a pleasant face, but doesn't look all that different from half the girls you went to high school with. After, she's pretty enough be a movie star.

The question  you have to ask yourself is, even if you don't plan a career in show business, wouldn't it be preferable -- for all sorts of reasons -- to go through life looking like the girl on the right? We all know she'll get more attention and in general be treated better than the girl on the left.

Or look at Michelle Pfeiffer:


If she hadn't had that original nose job, she never would have become Michelle Pfeiffer. (One strange side effect with both Johansson and Pfeiffer is that both look more intelligent post-nose job; it makes absolutely no sense, I know, but somehow, they do.)

The same principles, by the way, apply to men.

Nice girls would be mortified to have people find out that they'd gotten cosmetic surgery. And, as most nice girls have been taught, it wouldn't speak well of them as people if they cared enough about (superficial) appearances to have the operation.

But, that doesn't mean they shouldn't do it.

And I'd tell the 22-year-old version of myself the same thing.

Think about it this way: you don't feel ashamed if you work out in order to look better, do you? A regular workout routine certainly entails putting more effort into your appearance than a one time medical procedure does. And you don't feel foolish about buying a new outfit. But why not? New clothes express a certain vanity as well.

The truth is, we're all vain, and we all do things to indulge that vanity. Even if that indulgence entails the opposite of what we normally think of as self-indulgence -- like cutting out desserts. Or forcing ourselves to get down to Pilates class every other day.

Some cultures are already more accepting of it. Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela are said to have already gone plastic surgery-crazy. And Seoul, South Korea, is now supposed to be the world capital of cosmetic surgery.

Why let those countries have all the fun?

As it is now, narcissistic personalities and sociopaths are far more likely to have procedures done. Why let them be the only ones who benefit? My general advice to most narcissistic personalities (if they'd ever listen, which of course they wouldn't) would be, be less the way you are, and stop acting as if the world revolves around you, and learn to admit when  you're wrong.

But my advice to "normal" people would be the opposite: be more like narcissistic personalities. Don't let a sense of shame hold you back from enjoying all the advantages that accrue from a better appearance.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Chuck Berry, multitasking

After writing about Chuck Berry three posts ago, I found myself watching more of his old videos.

Here's Berry singing Almost Grown in front of a studio audience. He's simultaneously playing the guitar, singing, dancing, mugging, and making expressive gestures with his hands in order to entertain us.

What's striking about all this is how natural it seems to come to him, and how effortless it appears.

A lot of the old videos were probably lip sync productions, and probably, guitar syncs as well. It's hard to believe that with all that vigorous dancing Berry could continue to sing on pitch and not get out of breath.

But, I'm not sure of that, and it was apparent from some of his later videos that he could do all those things at the same time (though his singing in those later videos is usually off key.)

Here's a video of Berry performing Little Queenie, with a white backup band. His ability to multitask is highlighted here, since his bandmates are doing nothing but playing their instruments. That's by design, but it's also obvious none of the others could have done what he did.

What makes it really amazing is that he's the one who composed the music and wrote the lyrics as well.

(It's a little embarrassing the way these old-time videos would regularly cut back to the white audiences clapping along, as if to show other whites that it was okay to enjoy Berry's music.)

Finally, here's a video of Berry performing Oh Baby Doll. Same thing: playing the guitar, singing, and dancing, all while hamming it up.

It's sort of like watching a circus performer juggling three balls while simultaneously keeping a plate spinning in the air.

Except that at the same time, you know you're watching the guy who actually invented circuses.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Immigrant Nazis

Let's do a little thought experiment:

First, let's compare the radical Muslims of the seven countries from which Trump is trying to suspend immigration to the Nazis.

Both groups hated Jews. Many Islamic clerics in the countries named have said they want Israel wiped off the face of the earth; the Nazis held similar views.

Both groups felt that homosexuals are sick, disgusting individuals who should be persecuted.

And adherents of both movements were completely convinced of their righteousness, and superiority.

One major difference is their attitude toward women. Herman Goering never advocated cutting the clits off young girls; Joseph Goebbels never suggested that women not be allowed to go out in public with uncovered faces. And Adolf Hitler never said that women should not be allowed to drive, or attend school, or leave their houses unaccompanied by a male relative.

In any case, there are some strong parallels, even if the Islamic fundamentalists are far harsher when it comes to treatment of women.

Now, let's imagine that Germany and Austria were still dominated by the Nazis -- and that many of them want to emigrate to the US. And, let's say that the political dividing lines in America regarding the immigration controversy were roughly the same as they are now.

What would the liberals be saying? Ignore for the moment the fact that the Left's favorite insult these days is "Nazi" -- since the Nazis, in both spirit and belief, did have much in common with today's Islamic fundamentalists.

Would they call people opposed to immigration "Naziphobics," as if they had some sort of weird mental disease?

Would they say that we shouldn't discriminate on the basis of creed, or persecute those poor Nazis for their beliefs?

Would they tell the anti-immigration forces that "that's not who we are?"

Would they constantly remind us that we are a nation of immigrants?

Would they have sanctuary cities catering to illegal Nazi immigrants?

Would they accuse those opposed to more immigration of being "haters?"

After all, this is effectively what's going on right now, except for that minor difference of the Islamic attitude toward women.

Think of this parallel the next time you hear a liberal become hysterical over Trump's proposed immigration ban.

Is there anything more pathetic than a guy who never outgrew his sport?

Right now I'm watching the heats of the men's NCAA swimming championships. Tonight I'll watch the finals. And tomorrow I'll probably do the same. This is after having watched all of the women's NCAA swimming championships last week.

It's a complete waste of time, of course. I'm doing absolutely nothing productive, and getting exactly nothing done. But, I still follow the sport closely enough to be curious as to how various swimmers do.

In a way, it's not all that different from following politics: I'm curious about who wins and who loses, how people acquit themselves, and what factors impinged. But while most people would find it incredibly boring to watch a bunch of swimmers go back and forth in a pool, to me, whether it takes a certain competitor 43.7 or 44.1 seconds to complete four lengths is the stuff of high drama.

(That's what I mean by pathetic.)

All of this means I'm no better than the slob you might find in a bar wearing the jersey of his favorite sports team and wanting to talk about how his favorite pro team is doing that year. I've never identified with that guy; but I'm sorta forced to admit, I am him.

For the sake of this blog I'll try to keep the conversation away from swimming and on topics you can identify with.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lack of inhibitions pays off

Just stumbled across this article in the NY Post, If you don't have anything nice to say, you could make $900 a day.

It's about a black man who gave up his job working in a photo lab when he realized he could make more money shining shoes.

I wrote earlier, here, about the difference in inhibition between the races. This guy is a perfect example. He is utterly, completely uninhibited about talking to strangers on the street and jokingly insulting the state of their footwear.

He's likable, congenial, and actually quite witty. He doesn't have any false pride. And, he's making an honest living. But he's a perfect illustration of that basic racial difference.

The video clip of him talking to strangers on the street shows whites reacting as they almost always do in such situations. They keep moving, somewhat warily, and either ignore him or smile as they process what he's said and his harmlessness registers.

It's just a little, telling, slice of life.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chuck Berry's backup dancer

I was going to write a "Chuck Berry RIP" post a couple days ago; he was certainly a groundbreaking musician, and he had always struck me as a cool guy. I had also always been under the vague impression that his Mann Act conviction had been a racially-motived railroading.

But when I looked into that conviction, it turned out to be completely justified. He had in fact brought a 14-year-old Mexican girl up to work as a prostitute at his club in St. Louis (after having sex with her numerous times himself, when he was in his 30's). There had also been a tax fraud conviction, and another lawsuit (which Berry settled) brought by 60 women who claimed that Berry had secretly videotaped them going to the bathroom. And, Berry had a longstanding reputation for being too cheap to pay a regular backup band.

So, I felt a little less motivated to write a paean. 

But there was no question about his musical genius (he wrote his own songs) and his stage presence. Berry, like Snoop Dogg, seemed to have, as his natural default facial expression, a sort of leer, which suited him. Here's Berry:




And here's Snoop Dogg:



The difference was, Berry's leer seemed to be light-hearted, playful, and slightly self-mocking, whereas Snoop's leer is as likely to come across as an arrogant half sneer.

The other difference is, Berry was an incredibly talented musician.

In any case, I was moved, out of a sense of nostalgia, to watch a few clips of Berry on Youtube.

After seeing two or three, I stumbled across this video of him performing Sweet Little Sixteen. What struck me most about it was the backup dancer who appears from around 22 seconds into the clip up to the 45 second mark of the minute and ten second video.

For some reason, she just looked incredibly good to me. She was obviously pretty, though the resolution of the video isn't clear enough to see her face all that well. Her dancing and clothing seem dated now; you might even find them a little silly. Nor was she particularly athletic. But somehow it added up to an overwhelming feminine appeal which seems missing in most of today's overly athletic dancers with their piston-like movements. And, like Berry, she seemed to be enjoying herself while performing, which made her even more irresistable.

Maybe she appealed to me because that's the sort of dancing that was in vogue when I was young. Maybe it was partly the high energy, nostalgia-inducing song. Or, maybe I'm crazy.

But take a look at the video, and I think you'll see what I mean.

Anyway, upon further reflection, Berry, despite the trouble he got into, was not a bad guy. Naughty, yes; evil, no. And frankly, given his persona, given his songs, given the age he lived in, it would actually be a little disappointing if he hadn't been a little bit bad.

And maybe, just maybe, he gets a little more leeway for having been a genius.

Chuck Berry, RIP. 

Filial respect Part XII

I give my son a haircut once a month. After the last one, he complained that I had cut it too short on top.

I said, "Short hair looks good on you; I prefer mine short."

He replied, "You have to have short hair. When yours gets long, you look like Woody Allen. I don't have that problem."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sociopath talk

The Sun ran an article yesterday about Bruno Fernandes de Souza which delivers a great lesson on how sociopaths talk (and think): Goalie who had ex fed to dogs: Get over my 'one mistake.'

When you tell people to "get over" something, you're of course implying that if anyone has a problem with your behavior, the fault lies with them, not with you.

The relevant excerpts from the article, in italics:

The Brazilian goalkeeper who ordered the murder of his girlfriend before feeding her to his Rottweilers has incredibly claimed he’s “not a bad guy.”

De Souza must have a pretty extreme definition of "bad guy." He's probably thinking, well, it's not as if I'm a serial killer, since I'm only responsible for one killing. (Just one -- what's the big fuss?)

Bruno Fernandes de Souza was let out of jail in February on a legal technicality after spending just six years behind bars for his horrendous crime.

The goalie had former model girlfriend Eliza Samudio tortured and beaten before being strangled, chopped into pieces and fed to a pack of Rottweilers, following a dispute over child support.


(Simply being strangled and chopped into pieces was evidently not enough punishment for the crime of getting impregnated by him.)

But in his first interview since leaving jail and controversially signing with Boa Esporte, de Souza is quoted as saying: “Dude, what happened, happened.

(Exactly what intelligence is being conveyed in that statement? It's just another way of saying, hey, no big deal. The utter lack of any shame or guilt is apparent.)

De Souza's use of the word "dude" seems calculated to make him sound like a regular guy.

“I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life — I’m not a bad guy.

De Souza refers to Samudio's torture, beating, and strangulation as a "mistake" -- the same way you or I might refer to taking the wrong exit on the freeway.

And note the passive voice: "mistakes happen." You know, pretty much the same way the weather happens.

“People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude.

What kind of horrible people would try to bury a guy's dream? Let's face it, he's the real victim here. (De Souza might have made a wiser choice of word than "bury" though.)

The implication here is that since the Almighty has forgiven him, you should too. And now he's just "carrying on" -- brave soul that he is.

“I’m starting over.”

In other words, he now has a clean slate. 

De Souza is a good-looking guy --



-- which must help when it comes to getting a girl to sleep with him and then convincing his younger, impressionable cousins to murder her for him. In some pictures de Souza even looks wholesome --


-- which just goes to show that you can't judge a book, or a soccer star, by their covers.

You can, however, judge both by their words. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The World Happiness Report

An article, The 15 happiest countries in the world, appeared on Bloomberg this morning:

Chances are, if you live in the U.S., you feel worse today than you did 10 years ago. Don’t worry, it’s not you. This is a national problem: America’s rank on the happiness scale is falling.

When it comes to happiness, the U.S. ranked 19th among the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2016, down from third among 24 countries on a similar measure in 2007, according to the World Happiness Report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and funded by the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

Money, at least in the U.S., doesn’t buy happiness, the report found. Even as the country pulled off an economic turnaround, with increases in income and unemployment falling to historic lows, Americans are becoming less happy...

The report is based on an annual survey of 1,000 people in more than 150 countries that simply asks them to rank, on a scale of 0 to 10, whether they are living their best life.

Researchers then use six measures to try to understand the results: gross domestic product per capita, life expectancy, support from relatives or friends, charitable giving, freedom to make life choices, and perceived levels of government and corporate corruption.

Rankings are created using the average of three years of surveys. Nordic countries, of course, were the happiest. In the list covering 2014-16, Norway moved into the top spot as the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark and Iceland. The least happy nations: Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic. The U.S. ranked 14th on the most recent rankings average....

Jeffrey Sachs, one of the editors of the report, suggested five means by which to improve social trust: campaign finance reform, policies aimed at reducing income inequality (such as public financing of health), improved social relations between native born and immigrant Americans, working to move past the fear of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and improved access to high-quality education.

The political nature of Sachs' report is transparent: his suggestions for increased happiness are basically a Democratic wish list. And, like any good liberal, he completely ignores the most salient factor distinguishing the happiest countries from the unhappiest ones: their demographics. 

Lists like this pop up from time to time, and I always wonder, how exactly do they measure happiness? I've seen similar lists where people are actually asked whether they're happy or not. But how can people possibly know -- in any remotely objective sense -- how their level of emotional happiness compares to others' unless they've inhabited other peoples' minds? 

What these happiness reports fail to take into account is human nature. You can put two people into the exact same situation, and they would experience different levels of happiness from it. Some peoples' mental equilibrium dials seem to have been set to "happy," and others to "disgruntled." That's just their nature. 

In fact, one's baseline happiness probably has an inverse relationship with one's quality of life. If you're the type to be satisfied with whatever nature has provided, you're less likely to work hard at improving GDP, making headway in medicine, and maintaining a functioning, democratic form of government which guarantees freedoms for its citizens. 

Conversely, those most easily disgruntled would be more likely to work to improve their lot. 

It also seems a little ironic that Scandinavians, who have always had a reputation for being morose -- remember those dour Swedes with their shortened days and the world's highest suicide rate? -- now rank highest in "happiness." 

If you were to call this a "quality of life" index, using the same criteria, its conclusions would be more credible. Otherwise, it seems silly.

Meanwhile, in the interests of further equality -- which seems to be one of Sachs' goals -- Norway should voluntarily decrease its level of happiness by following the lead of its neighbor Sweden and import more Muslims. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

A closer look at the crime described in the previous post

The nature of the assault and robbery committed in that Texas Burger and Chicken restaurant in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn calls for a closer look.

I wrote about the group nature of much of black crime before, here. This crime fits that pattern perfectly. There were five people involved. And they may not even have known each other.

First, there were the two guys at the restaurant who evidently didn't have the money to pay for their meal.  (Who goes into a restaurant and orders a meal they can't pay for?) The white guy, perhaps in order to save them from embarrassment, offered to pay. Somehow, they took offense at this, and started beating him with his own cane. Once he was down on the floor, they started to kick him.

Two more guys -- who just happened to be passing by -- saw what was happening through the restaurant window, and decided to join in the fun. So they came in and stomped him some more. (Why should the first two have all the fun?)

Then, a fifth guy entered the scene, and, seeing his opportunity, went through the pockets of the victim to steal what he could.

When whites commit a crime like this, it's almost always one or maybe two sociopaths. But this incident followed a not uncommon pattern: whatever blacks happened to be in the vicinity at the time, joined in.

You have to wonder what set off the first two. Their white victim offered to pay for their meal, which they somehow found so infuriating that they had to start attacking him? Were they insulted that he thought they were unable to pay for their own meal? (They were a couple dollars short.)

Given that the man whom they assaulted was gay (this article points out that he has AIDS), it's likely he has "gay voice." Perhaps the two blacks felt that he was coming on to them somehow. So the most likely scenario seems to be that it started out as a gay bashing.

But the second set of two guys wouldn't have heard the victim's voice, and probably wouldn't have known he was gay. They just saw a white guy getting stomped and wanted their share of the action.

So the incident was a twofer: the guy was first picked on for his sexuality, then for his race.

Shockingly, there have been no demands from the New York Times as yet demanding that this beating be prosecuted as a hate crime.

(I don't approve of the concept of "hate crimes" in the first place, since we can't read minds, but if you're going to have such laws, they ought to be applied evenly.)

It almost goes without saying these days that if the races were reversed in such an incident the sky would come falling down; but this case seems particularly egregious. Most of the MSM has simply ignored it. Imagine if some black gentleman had offered to help two whites pay for their meal, then those two whites had taken offense and stomped him. Then imagine that two more random whites had come into the restaurant to join in the fun.

Then imagine a fifth white guy had robbed the black man, who was lying on the floor with multiple broken bones.

The hue and cry that would ensue would be deafening. The various news networks would all cover the crime, and act properly aghast at the fiendish nature of the crime. The New York Times would scream for an investigation by the Department of Justice, and would wail about how racism is alive and well in the age of Trump. They might even say that Trump had implicitly encouraged the crime with his encouragement of violence at his rallies and his exclusionary policies.

But, the crime was not white-on-black. So, crickets.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Test for racism:

The following article, Man beaten to pulp after offering to pay for attackers' meal, appeared in this afternoon's NY Post:

A good Samaritan ​who ​offered to lend two men short on cash a couple bucks to cover their meal at a Brooklyn eatery ended up beaten and robbed for trying to help, cops say.

The victim was savagely beaten by four men inside a Flatbush fried-chicken joint — and then robbed by a fifth as he lay helpless on the floor, cops say.

The 37-year-old victim told police that an argument began when he offered to help pay for the two men’s meal, which they were a few dollars short of paying for, inside Texas Chicken and Burgers in Flatbush on March 1.

The two men got angry at the offer and soon grabbed the victim’s cane and began striking him in the head and body with it and their fists, police said.

The men pummeled the victim harder when he tried to defend himself, and soon two other men entered the location to join in the beating.

When the attackers fled, another man entered the Texas Chicken and Burgers spot and emptied the victim’s pockets before fleeing, police said.

The victim was taken to an area hospital, where he was treated for multiple broken bones, contusions and lacerations.


No names were named, and no races were mentioned. If, despite this, you jumped to a conclusion about the races of the perpetrators, then you're a racist.

It doesn't make any difference if any of the various stereotypes have any truth to them. The point is, if you notice patterns at all, you're a bad person

And if you thought anything along the lines of "Aw Christ, when are people going to learn?" -- you're a particularly bad person.

You may not have heretofore realized how bad you are, but, trust me, you are. 

If you are curious as to whether you're right, you can click on the link above and watch a video of the beating. 

And if you're curious as to the identity of the victim, his photograph is in this article

But, again, all of that is irrelevant. If while reading this article you had any thoughts other than, "Our diversity is our strength," you're evil. End of story. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Samantha Ponder strikes out against sexism

Pregnant ESPN reporter Samantha Ponder was in the news this past week for having put the trolls who criticized her appearance in their place.

This article from Womanista.com titled ESPN Reporter Samantha Ponder Shuts Down Trolls Who Criticized Her Body While Pregnant struck a typical tone:

If there's one thing Samantha Ponder won't stand for it is the ridiculous hate from body shamers who are calling out her appearance during her pregnancy.

The 31-year-old sportscaster is expecting her second child with her star athlete husband, Christian Ponder. After receiving multiple nasty comments about her appearance, Ponder finally hit her limit this week, according to Us Weekly.

“Getting sexist/vulgar tweets abt my job/appearance while I’m unable to see my own feet & covered in toddler pee is somethin else I tell ya,” she tweeted Tuesday, March 7.


The barrage of hateful comments sprung up after it was announced that Ponder may be replacing Chris Berman for Sunday NFL Countdown.

“When I can Tell you Women’s Rights, you can tell me about Sports. I never carried a Child, you Never carried a Football,” one hater wrote.

Another came in hot with a simple, “no talent.”

Even though she's had to deal with a lot of unbelievable hate, she's also received sweet messages of support from fans and women who look up to her for paving the way.

“You are an inspiration for young girls like my daughter. She is now a sophomore in college dreaming of being on the sideline,” one man wrote.

Another fan added to the conversation saying, “You inspire me everyday! I really look up to you & you make me realize my dreams are totally possible!! You’re Super Woman!"


Making fun of a woman's appearance because she is pregnant is unquestionably rude, though the two critical Tweets that Womanista.com cited had nothing to do with Ponder's appearance. 

But the entire premise of Ponder's position that she is taking a stance against sexism seems to be built on shaky ground. 

ESPN has always been a liberal organization politically, as one might expect of a channel that focuses on sports dominated by blacks. (They have advocated for more gun control, praised Colin Kaepernick's stance, sided with BLM, given Caitlyn Jenner a heroism award, threatened Chris Broussard for taking a religious view of homosexuality, and fired Curt Schilling for criticizing radical Islam.)

So, one would think they would also be horrified by the sexism implicit in judging women by their looks. After all, they have proven reliably politically correct on every other issue.

But Google "ESPN babes" and you'll come across this article. (I had the feeling that the kind of people who are ESPN fans would use the word "babes" to refer to women.) Take a look at their selection of female sportscasters and judge for yourself what the most important prerequisite is for being a female sportscaster at liberal ESPN seems to be.

Does anyone doubt that Ponder's looks were central to why she was hired in the first place? Here's Samantha:




If you Google-image Samantha Ponder, you won't find a single shot -- not even in her "informal" at home shots -- where her hair, eyebrows, eye makeup, and lipstick have not been done up perfectly.

(By the way, does it not seem that an argument's credibility these days is in inverse proportion to the number of times it relies on using the word "hate?" The Womanista.com article uses either "hate" or "hateful" four separate times in their brief, eleven sentence article.)

It's not as if ESPN is an outlier here. All MSM organizations take politically correct positions, and rail against sexism in tones of horrified outrage whenever the issue arises. But when it comes to whom they hire as on camera talent, well, looks are paramount.

When it comes to the dramas they air, it's the same story: the female romantic interest is, almost always, a beauty. And when it comes to the commercials they run, the spokesmodels are also almost always beauties.  

So doesn't that make their stance against those horrible sexists who would judge a woman by her looks just a little bit hypocritical? 

Now, just to be clear: I'm not defending the trolls who razzed Ponder for her appearance. They are, undoubtedly, idiots. (The fact that they watch ESPN in the first place is probably further evidence of that.)

And Ponder herself is not some card-carrying third-wave feminist; she's just a cute girl trying to make her way in the world and doing the best she can for herself. It's natural enough for anyone who's been insulted to lash back. It was the media, more than her, who politicized this incident.

But let's also be clear about exactly where Samantha Ponder stands in the grand scheme of things: she is not a victim of sexism.

She is its beneficiary.

A resemblance

I just happened to see this picture of Katie Ledecky today --


-- and it struck me whom she resembles: Olga Korbut.


Each woman is among the greatest ever in her sport (and Ledecky is far from through).

But while they resemble each other facially, and both have huge smiles, they have completely different builds. Korbut was a pixie-like 4'11" and 84 pounds at her peak, as befits a champion gymnast, whereas Ledecky is listed at six feet on the Stanford roster and looks as if she weighs roughly 160.

(It would have been so much cooler if her Stanford bio had merely said "Katie is a passable distance freestyler" rather than exhaustively listing her every last accolade; it's not as if anyone who'd ever go to that website might possibly be unaware of her accomplishments.)

Ledecky, according to Wikipedia, is a quarter Czech, a quarter Jewish, and half Irish. Korbut was born in western Belarus, near the Polish and Lithuanian borders. So their ethnicities are not identical. But from the neck up, they look as if they could have been sisters.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why doesn't sociopathy spread like wildfire?

A commenter, "GT," noticed that Casey Anthony had broken her silence recently and posted a link to an article about her on the post about her here.

He mentioned that she is "still 100% grade A sociopath," and gave some examples to prove his point.

I agreed, and pointed out that my favorite line in the article he linked was:

"Caylee would be 12 right now. And would be a total badass" [said Anthony.]

I then pointed out that Anthony was actually right: a girl whose only influence is her sociopathic mother is almost certainly going to turn out to be a sociopath herself, and Caylee probably would have been a badass.

GT then asked an interesting question:

I hope for Caylee's sake her grandmother would have provided a positive female role model. Caylee's grandmother was the one that reported her missing when the mother (Casey) kept making excuses about her daughters location. I could envision that Caylee would have grown up looking for a mother's love but never finding it.

On to a more specific point that I have been thinking about for awhile. If sociopaths are created, which I think in the vast majority of cases they are, what keeps the sociopathic population at 3%? It seems that it would start to snowball after awhile; like a virus. A sociopathic father or Mother could create several sociopathic offspring and so on and so on... Would love to hear your thoughts.

I agree that sociopaths are for the most part created by their environments, so I completely agree with the premise of GT's question.

I wrote here about how sociopathy is in fact evolutionarily adaptive as long as they're a small fraction of the population to fly beneath the radar. So one force that keeps sociopathy in stasis is that if they ever became a sizable fraction of the population, people would get wise to their ways, and they wouldn't be able to get away with their devious tactics as easily.

But how exactly does the proportion of sociopaths in a population stay in check? Part of the answer must lie in the strong natural maternal instinct: unless that instinct is somehow abused and twisted at an early age, it will emerge. It seems quite possible for orphaned girls to feel affectionate and protective toward their children even if they themselves did not receive much love as children. We see that protectiveness throughout the animal kingdom, and if that instinct were not powerful, species would simply go extinct.

Mankind's natural state simply doesn't seem to be sociopathy. Only extreme circumstances can foster it. Even if you have one parent who is a sociopath, having another who is not could conceivably prevent it.

Another part of the equation is that those females -- like Casey Anthony -- who lack the maternal instinct are less likely to have children who survive to reproductive age themselves. You needn't even be murderous for that to happen; merely careless and neglectful.

We're lucky that sociopathy does not generally spread beyond 3% of the population, but in fact, it's not just luck. Nature has predisposed us -- especially mothers -- toward empathy, and that's what keeps the proportion of sociopaths at a relatively manageable level.

Evolution gave us certain instincts for good reason; and the same instincts which help us survive as a species seem to keep sociopathy to a minimum.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Borderline personality disorder

I'd never had a good handle on borderline personality disorder before, it had always sounded like a vague, fall-between-the-cracks description of difficult people who didn't quite fit the textbook definitions of other disorders. (That impression was fostered partly by its name.)

But I've been reading about it, and thinking about it, and now see it as a very distinct, recognizable syndrome. And, as always, having known a couple of people who clearly have the disorder has made it come much more alive for me.

If you're unfamiliar with the disorder, you might mistake borderlines for sociopaths, because of their ability to self-righteously justify themselves and their unbridled fury when they feel they've been crossed. Or, you might mistake them for narcissists, for the same reason.

But there are some major differences between sociopaths and borderlines. Borderlines only become combative when they think they're right. (Of course, their ability to convince themselves they're in the right is often astounding.) Sociopaths often have that same feeling of righteousness; but they will follow a self-serving course of action even when they know it's wrong.

The end result may be the same; but with borderlines, it's less a matter of willful evil, and more as if they have a near-psychosis that convinces them they are in the right. (This "psychosis," of course, never seems to convince them they are in the wrong, which, admittedly, works out quite conveniently for them.)

Another difference: borderlines aren't gleefully evil the way sociopaths are: they don't, for instance, lie purely for the pleasure of fooling others. Nor are they casually sadistic the way sociopaths are.

Borderlines don't have the same overwhelming ego of sociopaths, in fact may often have the opposite: poor self-images. And they tend to be forthright about their insecurities -- whether about their looks, their intelligence, or even their character.

Borderlines tend to see things in black and white. They are often completely incapable of seeing another's point of view. This is a trait they share with narcissists. (Try having a political discussion with a borderline sometime.)

Borderline personalities are extremely emotionally unstable. As the National Institute for Mental Health says:

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.

Here, too, borderline personality disorder resembles another syndrome, bipolar disorder, in its extreme mood swings. It's certainly easy to mistake one for the other. But I've known people with both, and there seems to be a certain self-serving aspect to the borderline personalities I've known that's missing in bipolars.

Also, with the bipolars, there seems to be almost a certain orderliness to their moods: they're either up or down, and when in either of those states, their behavior can be fairly easily predicted. With borderlines, they can go veering off into a different mood based on an innocuous comment, at a moment's notice.

And, while a bipolar may stay depressed for days or even weeks, they will generally not stay angry for days, and are generally not filled with grudges. Borderlines have a lot more free-floating rage; sometimes they seem like walking temper tantrums in search of a cause. (And their anger is all the scarier because it is so consuming, and uninhibited in its expression.)

Another thing most of the literature on borderlines emphasizes is that they have an intense fear of abandonment. This may not be apparent at first, but one of the ways it can manifest itself is by the borderline trying to drive a wedge between their partner and anyone else they perceive to threaten their relationship.

One of the subtexts in most descriptions of BPD is that there seems to be an undercurrent of hysteria running through a lot of the behavior described. Sure enough, females are diagnosed with the disorder three times as often as men.

People who are in a relationship with borderlines often end up with a modified version of Stockholm Syndrome, tiptoeing around and constantly trying to mollify them in order to avoid confrontation and the inevitable fury that follows.

With the bipolars I've known, even though they are at times hard to deal with, I've always been left with the sense that underneath it all, they're generally decent people. I haven't necessarily gotten that sense with the borderlines; this may be partly why the syndrome is classified as a "Cluster B personality disorder."

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jenna Jameson, revealed

It's become a standard joke that all actresses in porn films, no matter how insignificant their careers, are referred to as "porn stars." Jenna Jameson actually has been a star in that field: even if you don't watch porn, it's near impossible not to be aware of who she is, since she gets so much press.

(It's hard not to think that's because a lot of reporters are inveterate porn watchers.)

Two weeks ago the NY Post ran an article about her, Jenna Jameson goes on rant slamming Muslims and defending KKK. She evidently said there was a "Muslim rape epidemic."

Jameson, who is now engaged to an Israeli jeweler, Lior Bitton, and has converted from Catholicism to Judaism, compared Islam to the KKK:

“Do the klu klux klan follow a religion that orders the death of apostates? When was the last time we saw a klan member blow up infidels?,” she tweeted.

The star, who is due to give birth in April, has lashed out at Muslims before. In January, she drew fire for tweeting that Islam “promotes child rape, female genital mutilation, butchering non believers and polygamy.”


To say that the KKK is not as violent as radical Muslims hardly seems like a "defense" of them. And what Jameson said about Islam is true, even if such honesty is usually not a good career move. 

The article featured this recent, virtually unrecognizable picture of her:


Jameson does seem to have gone though a lot of changes in appearance over the years. Her pictures tell the story of someone who's never been happy with herself, despite having starting out as a beautiful woman. Here she is early in her career:


She looks vapid, and her implants are too big, but she's undeniably beautiful. And she seems to be glowing with health.

A little while later she became borderline anorexic:


When someone is constantly changing her appearance, it usually signals a deeper discontent. Here's Jameson with some ear piercings:


She has also decided to adorn herself with tattoos: 


As she got older, she seemed to acquire the soulless look of a sex worker:


And finally, as she slid further into drug addiction and alcoholism, she let herself get fat, even by the standards of pregnant women. 


Jameson always presented herself as nothing more than a sex object. She would put on a lascivious look, a sort of half sneer meant to convey sexual desire, or possibly sexual invitation. Maybe she figured that as a porn star this was how she was supposed to appear. But it came across desperate and pathetic. And obscene, in both senses of the word. 

And it made me wonder about her childhood. The cliche about women who become strippers -- or porn stars, or prostitutes -- is that they come from broken homes and dysfunctional backgrounds. As is often the case, the "Early life" section of Jameson's Wikipedia bio held the key:

Jenna Marie Massoli was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her father, Laurence Henry Massoli, was a police officer at the las Vegas Sheriff's Department and program director for KSNV-DT. Her mother, Judith Brooke Hunt, was a Las Vegas showgirl who danced in the Folies Bergere show at the Tropicana Resort & Casino. Her mother died of melanoma on February 20, 1976, two months prior to her daughter's second birthday. The cancer treatments bankrupted the family and they relocated in Nevada, Arizona, and Montana, usually living in a trailer home or living with her paternal grandmother. She and her older brother, Tony were raised Catholic, though they were essentially left to parent each other.

So Jenna grew up missing -- and undoubtedly romanticizing -- the mother she never knew, the glamorous showgirl in the Folies Bergere. Wikipedia does not explain why the family moved around so much; you'd think a police officer would be able to provide at least a middle class existence for his family. But the bit about how Jenna and her brother were "essentially left to parent each other" makes it sound as if the father was mostly absent as well.

Jameson's early life, right down to the trailer parks, was straight from that stripper playbook.

It was nobody's fault that Jameson grew up without a mother, an anchor to guide her, a steadying influence, and, mostly, someone to love her. But her entire life has reflected that early loss. 

I never would have expected to feel this way, but I actually ended up feeling sorry for her. 

Jameson is undoubtedly a difficult woman, and probably impossible to live with. But she doesn't deserve the bad press she's gotten recently, especially since what she said about Islam is largely true. It does promote a culture that's abusive to women. 

So maybe all those reporters who are taking such glee in her downfall and simultaneously preening about their political correctness should take a hard look at themselves. They might realize that they're mostly just angry that they never got a girl who looked like Jenna. At least not the early version. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The best way to understand sociopaths

If you want to study sociopathy, look at how serial killers behave when they're not indulging their deadly hobby. It's the perfect controlled experiment, since there's absolutely no doubt that they're sociopaths, and their sociopathy never leaves them. (Being a sociopath is a 24 hour occupation.) And their psychology is the basically same as other sociopaths, except for the little quirk that killing helps them get off sexually.

So how do such sociopaths act when they're not killing?

Look at Ted Bundy, working at that suicide hotline. If you heard about someone you knew nothing else about who worked at a suicide hotline, you might think, "Hmm, nice guy....nicer than me anyway; personally I wouldn't want to spend the time working at one of those places. I'd find it a little depressing to have to talk people out of committing suicide all the time."

But Ted, obviously, didn't feel sympathy for those people; that wasn't his nature. In fact, he probably would have enjoyed killing them himself, if he could have gotten away with it. He just wanted to savor their pain while posing as a do-gooder. Not much information ever came out about how he performed in that capacity, but it's hard not to suspect that he subtly encouraged some of them to go ahead and kill themselves.

Because of Bundy, we better understand the kind of emotional falsity that sociopaths engage in and the real motivations of some who do ostensibly noble work.

(Likewise, you'd think that those who adopt rescue dogs are good-hearted folk. But animal shelters evidently have to be on the lookout for people who come in too frequently looking for new pets. Certain people -- whose psychology is not dissimilar to Bundy's -- will adopt a pet, torture it and kill it, then come in to ask for a new one, claiming that the previous pet died of natural causes.)

Look at Dennis Rader, the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) killer. He worked as, among other jobs, as a dogcatcher and compliance officer in park City, Kansas. He was married with two children, President of the church council of the local Lutheran Church, and a Cub Scout troop leader. And he had a degree from Wichita State University in justice administration.

Sounds like a pillar of the community. But sociopaths will often make more of an effort than most to appear as such, to disguise their true natures. And Rader was known in his community as a stickler for the rules, one who would his job to harass people. One neighbor said that he euthanized her dog for no reason. And he would impose penalties for infractions as minor as letting grass grow too long.

Meanwhile, Rader himself was the BTK serial killer, strangling and killing innocent women for his own sexual pleasure. But god forbid your grass was half an inch above regulation height. That's sociopathy for you: self-righteously condemning others for minor infractions while doing far, far worse themselves.

When you see extremely hypocrisy, beware.

John Wayne Gacy was another stalwart member of his community. He managed three Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants and was a vice president of the local Jaycees. Despite being primarily homosexual, Gacy got married and had two children. He even had his picture taken with First Lady Rosalyn Carter.

In Gacy's case, the effort expended to appear "normal" was part of his sociopathic nature. He later characterized the period of his life when he was married and managing those KFC franchises as the "best part" of his life.

When you see someone for whom appearances are all, beware.

David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, provides the perfect case study of a sociopath who later "reforms." We know that sociopaths never stop being sociopaths, so Berkowitz's new pose, as a man of God, is illuminative. He is now a preacher who ministers to other prisoners and, when given the chance, talks about all the good works he does. It is a peculiarly sociopathic quirk to broadcast one's virtuousness, and as always with sociopaths, Berkowitz is a little heavy-handed about letting us know how good he now is.

It's also a sociopathic quirk to think that people will believe you when you claim to have turned over a new leaf.

So if you encounter a self-proclaimed man of God who admits that he was once a sinner, but is now redeemed, beware.

There's a whole field of study here. When serial killers act in certain ways when not plying their distinctive trade, if you meet someone else with those same behavior patterns, beware. Chances are he's not a serial killer, but he could well be a sociopath.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trump's speech

Trump's address to Congress certainly got a good reception. The NY Post, not unexpectedly, gave it rave reviews, and even the NY Times headline said that he "softened his tone" a bit. (Which, for them, constitutes a rave review.)

The stock market has certainly greeted it enthusiastically, with the Dow currently up approximately up 280 points on the day as of this writing. For a long time the financial press was talking about the possibility of the Dow passing the 20,000 milestone, and a few weeks later we've already passed the 21,000 mark, another milestone.

It must be frustrating for the Democrats to see how enthusiastically the market has greeted Trump's Presidency. The current rally dates from exactly November 9th, the day after the election. The vast majority of prominent money managers who are Democrats have spoken of how Trump would bring economic disaster, and most have voiced corresponding market views.

The market, however, hasn't cooperated.

It was good to see Nancy Pelosi and some of the other Democratic women in the chamber appropriately dressed in "suffragette white." (You do know that Trump plans to take the vote away from women, don't you?)

Okay, now for the speech itself. First, the good stuff:

The Obama administration always seemed to regard police as the enemy, so a shift in tone there was long overdue.

And let's hope that the administration's replacement for Obamacare works out. That program was a disaster for most people who weren't on Medicaid, and certainly allowing interstate competition is a good idea. But only time will tell if Trump can bring down medical costs for the average family; so far no President has been able to do that.

Last night was the first mention of a "merit-based" as opposed to "family-based" immigration program. That sounds like a good idea; after all, a country is no more than the sum of its people. The concept of America as a big dumping ground for misfits who've managed to screw up their own countries has always seemed self-defeating.

Now, the bad stuff:

While tightening immigrations is a sensible idea, the VOICE program seems a little strained (like its acronym, which stands for Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement). The fact that some immigrants commit crime, including violent crime, is a factor which should be weighed when considering immigration policy overall, but VOICE seems to create a special class of victims, just as "hate crimes" statues do. Aren't regular laws good enough in both cases?

("Victims Of Illegal Chicano Evil-doers" would have been more straightforward.)

It also seemed that Trump went a little overboard with bringing in special visitors to the gallery. This is a long standing Presidential tradition meant to humanize a sitting President's programs. But it's always seemed a cheap way to gain support. It's almost as if the President is portraying his political opponents as people who would root against the unfortunate person in the gallery. ("Go ahead, I dare you to jeer that poor girl in the wheelchair, or the widow of that Navy SEAL.")

Obama did this more than any previous President, but even he never brought in four different sets of people for a single speech.

But it was still enlightening to see Nancy Pelosi and a few others refuse to stand and cheer for the Navy SEAL widow. (It almost made me admire Pelosi; it takes a certain courage to root against mom and apple pie.)

Anyway, I support most of Trump's policies, so it was good to see him get a chance to speak directly to the public without the media interpreting his words for the rest of us and telling us what to think.

Update, same day: turns out the initial reports may be wrong, and there's some question as to whether Pelosi (and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Keith Ellison) stood and clapped or not. It may be that they stood and clapped for the first, but not the second round of cheering.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The husband of an Aspie weighs in

Two days ago I got a comment from someone married to an Aspie; he captured the syndrome perfectly:

Stumbled upon this blog... very enlightening reading the comments section. I have an Aspie son, guess they call it autism spectrum disorder now... I also have, IMHO, an Aspie wife... no formal diagnosis, nor will one ever come. When we go to professionals, they always ask, "is there someone with it in the family?"... I brought it up to her that she might have it ONE time, and that her Dad even might have it, and she was pissed and she responded that she thinks I have it (LOL).

I have read that female Aspies tend to integrate into society better... they learn the tricks to fit in more readily than males. This would be true for the social version of my wife... but at home she seems to almost be a different person. Here are my wife's "symptoms" for reference:

1. Takes no blame
2. Never cries
3. Loves animals more than people as evidenced by her own admission, and her actions (we have a veritable zoo at our house, she's obsessed with collecting them)
4. Extremely repetitive
5. Frequently uses the wrong words in a sentence... that almost sound correct
6. Terrible grammar
7. Horrible math skills
8. Does not get sarcasm... which sucks because I am a sarcastic bastard.
9. Is flustered to the extreme with clutter... anything laying on the kitchen counter that doesn't belong there can infuriate her
10. Tells the same anecdotal stories over and over, and expects full attention
11. no ability to empathize with me or our son
12. cannot fathom basic logical concepts, she just expects things to work the way she expects them, in spite of logic.
13. had a lonely childhood, trouble making friends, ended up hanging with the foreign exchange students... other outcasts...
14. no concept of money matters, what things cost, budgeting, etc... thinks if you want something, just buy it.
15. takes any scrutiny as intense criticism, like she might say, "how was dinner?" and I might say, "ok, but I wouldn't want to eat it again if I had a choice," and her response is, "then you can make your own damn dinner from now on."
16. lack of self awareness, or self reflection... she always sees issues with people as their problem... this has created a huge rift between her and her son, she has stated that she wouldn't mind just sending him away because he doesn't make any sense to her and just pisses her off (on purpose), he has stated that he hates her and wouldn't mind if she went away.
17. Uncoordinated
18. Says inappropriate things in public. On more than one occasion she has said private comments that I made to her to a friend or relative right in front of everyone...

My son, while difficult, is generally happy-go-lucky... he whines a lot, has a lot of bad habits and behavior, is very defiant at times, but generally is a good kid... I would say he is an order of magnitude easier than my wife.

Look, I realize there is a "spectrum" of disorders out there... I personally think my wife is on the Aspie side... do you agree? Funny that I have brought this up to several counselors with their fancy community college degrees (sarcasm), and they are very dismissive, like "I am the professional, there is no way you could make that diagnosis on your own, you should focus on yourself." Pisses me off... one reason I avoid talking to "professionals." Anyone else have that experience?

Wondering if there is anyone else out there in a similar situation as mine. I have nearly walked out my wife several times... mainly for the well-being of my son... but I do love my wife and feel almost like she would be hopeless without me. I have suffered mentally and physically from the stress of my household... it is tough keeping it together some days, it is quite literally like we live the same stressful day over and over again, same arguments, same discussions, same issues.


The commenter brings up a couple of facets of Aspergers which I've noticed but haven't mentioned here before.

Ironically, Aspies are often the last people who'd even consider the possibility that they have Aspergers Syndrome. They never admit they're wrong about anything, and can't take blame, and if they're undiagnosed, may scoff at the possibility that they have it, simply because to do so would be, in their minds, to somehow admit fault.

They do seem to like pets. Dogs and cats never make fun of them, or point out their inconsistencies. Aspies need the uncritical love more than most. (Uncritical affection is why most people like pets, but it's even more motivation for Aspies, who not only often find other human beings critical, but who have a hard time taking criticism.)

I've noticed they lack common sense with money, too. If they something, they buy it.

The commenter's experience with "professionals" in the field rings true as well: they are quite territorial, and set great store by credentialism. They seem to think that opinions derived from classroom study are superior to long term, firsthand experience. (Who had a better feel for chimps, your average graduate student in primatology who'd taken a few trips to the zoo, or Jane Goodall?)

This commenter's real world experience gives him far more insight than anyone who just read about Aspergers Syndrome in a book.

Best women's collegiate team ever

There's never been another women's college swim team as good, and there's probably never been another collegiate team in any sport with the same star power as the current Stanford women's swim team.

Two nights ago Ally Howe, a junior, set the American and US Open records in the 100 yard backstroke with a 49.69, breaking Natalie Coughlin's record of 49.97 from 2002.

Ella Eastin, a sophomore, is the American and US Open record holder in the 200 yard individual medley with a 1:51.65.

Simone Manuel, a sophomore, holds the American and US Open record in the 100 yard freestyle with a 46.08. She is also the Olympic champion from Rio in the 100 meter freestyle.

Even if you're not a fan, you've probably heard of Katie Ledecky, now a freshman. She holds the American records in the 500, 1000, and 1650 yard freestyles, and two nights ago broke the American record in the 400 yard individual medley, a new event for her. She also won the 800 meter freestyle as a 15-year-old at the London Olympics, and won three individual golds in Rio.

The only other collegiate team I know of which had four separate national record holders was the Indiana men's swimming team of the early 1970's, with Mark Spitz, Gary Hall, John Kinsella, and Mike Stamm.

There have been plenty of powerhouse teams in lots of sports, and many dynasties that have lasted over a decade. But to have four individual US record holders on one team like that would be like having a college track team with the American record holders in the 100 meter dash, the mile, the 400 hurdles, and the shot put. Not just the NCAA record holders, but the American and US Open record holders. With two of them being individual Olympic champions.

In addition to the girls mentioned, Stanford has senior Lia Neal (a two time Olympian and a bronze and silver medalist) and junior Janet Hu (who ranks among the top 6 of all time in three separate individual events). Plus they have others like Allie Szekely and Katie Drabot with the potential to make A finals at NCAAs this year.

I was a little disgusted with the people who raved over the US Olympic basketball "Dream Team" of 1992. So they assembled an all-star NBA squad to thrash the semi-amateur teams of other, smaller countries -- so what?

I suppose my marveling over this Stanford team is not all that different in spirit. But it's sort of cool to see that sort of collection of talent when it's a group of amateurs going to a selective college and not just a bunch of jaded pros who are basically slumming by competing in the Olympics.