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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Absolutely no connection

(Rezwan Ferdaus)

It was reported last night that a 26-year-old Massachusetts man, Rezwan Ferdhaus, was arrested for plotting to blow up the Pentagon and the US Capitol Building, as well as trying to aid al Qaeda.

A few excerpts from the article:

Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass., was arrested Wednesday in Framingham after undercover FBI agents delivered weapons Ferdaus allegedly sought for the alleged plan. The stash included what he thought was 25 pounds of C-4 explosives, as well as three grenades and six fully-automatic AK-47 assault, a press release from the Department of Justice reads....

Ferdaus, who is a Northeastern University graduate with a degree in physics, is accused of a plot to bring violent “jihad” against the U.S, who he described as "enemies of Allah."

He also supplied eight mobile phones to undercover FBI agents who he thought were recruiters for Al Qaeda, authorities said. The phones were modified to be used as electrical switches for IEDs, and Ferdaus thought they could be used to kill American soldiers, the affidavit said....Ferdaus said “that was exactly what I wanted,” when he was told one of the devices killed three U.S. soldiers and injured four to five others in Iraq in June, authorities said.

"I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus' conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community or religion," said Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

Why is it that federal authorities always feel compelled to add this ridiculous boilerplate when talking about terrorists? Do they think that no one will notice that all the terrorists happen to be Muslim? Do they think the public is too stupid to draw any connection? Is political correctness such an overriding principle these days that it must be invoked to deny the most obvious realities? Do they think that such a statement in this context will be greeted by anything but mockery?

By this logic, we should refrain from vilifying al Qaeda by attributing bad intentions to their culture as well.

Ms. Ortiz might as well have concluded, "Our diversity is our strength."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Somebody at the AP has a sly sense of humor

Obama advisor David Axelrod gave a speech in Manchester, NH yesterday in which he said that the President's road to a second term will be a "titanic struggle."

This morning's headline read:

Axelrod: Obama faces "Titanic struggle."

Axelrod had used the word titanic as an adjective, meaning that there was no need to capitalize it. But some rascal over at the AP decided to liken Obama's fate to that of the ill-fated ship. (Obviously, Axelrod himself would never have wanted to make that connection.)

Actually, knowing the AP, whoever wrote that headline was probably just stupid rather than sly.

Nice women, average women, and sociopaths (VI)

Situation: A drunk at a frat party sees three coeds and yells, "Hey, any a you girls wanna get laid?"

Nice girl: Winces slightly, but continues to stare straight ahead, pretending not to hear. Thinks to herself, wow, he must be really drunk. My mother was right about these parties.

Average girl: Looks disgusted and mutters to her friends, "What an asshole!" Thinks, I'm never coming to another one of these stupid keggers again.

Sociopath: Calmly replies, "No thanks, I hear you're a lousy lay." Hopes his friends heard her comment. She is gratified when when her friends give her admiring looks. Later, on the way out, she says in a soft voice to the guy, "Seriously, don't you ever wonder why you never get laid?" When she sees the look of discomfiture on his face, she feels good.

Situation: You become a nurse.

Nice woman: Genuinely wants to help people. Is a cheerful, friendly presence; her patients tend to end up assuming that most nurses must be really nice. Actually likes most of her patients, and feels sympathy for many. When the other nurses make jokes about various patients, she remains silent, a little dismayed at their insensitivity.

Average woman: Is drawn to the job because of the pay, benefits, and job security. Hates cleaning bedpans, avoids it when possible. Treats her patients professionally; feigns sympathy when that is called for, and actually feels it on occasion. Whenever a good-looking male patient arrives on the ward, tries to be assigned to his room.

Sociopath: Works on a cancer ward because she gets a certain frisson from being around dying people. Gives patients and their families alike her bromides about the Great Beyond, knowing that she will make an impression because they are at an emotionally vulnerable moment. Gets sort of high thinking about what a good person she is as she does this. On the few occasions she gets a very rich patient, she acts extra nice, hoping to be remembered in the will. Whenever she dislikes a patient, she surreptitiously decreases the amount of painkiller in his IV.

Situation: A potential rival for your boyfriend's affections appears on the scene:

Nice woman: Fervently hopes that this woman doesn't steal her beau. Acts more clingy than usual around him.

Average woman: Accuses her boyfriend of being attracted to the woman, then makes catty comments about her weight and clothing.

Sociopath: Tells her (white) boyfriend that the woman's last boyfriend was a 6' 8" black guy. Tells people in their circle that the woman has been saying nasty things about them. Tells the woman to stay away from her boyfriend. Keys her car.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why we can't win in Afghanistan

Yesterday's NY Times article about the Haqqani crime family in Afghanistan talked about how far their tentacles reach, into kidnapping, arms smuggling, fencing, and extortion, including demanding protection money from companies building American-financed roads and schools.

The Haqqanis are Afghanistan in a nutshell. To them,the world was never divided up into communists. vs. capitalists, or the US vs. the USSR. To them, it's divided up into Muslims vs. infidels, the locals vs. any invaders, and the Haqqanis vs. the world.

The Haqqanis have allied themselves at various times with the CIA, the Saudi spy service, Osama bin Laden, and most recently with the Pakistani spy agency, the ISI. The Haqqanis, considered freedom fighters during the Soviet occupation, were behind the recent assault on the US Embassy in Kabul. They have shifting alliances, but their only true loyalties are to Islam and the Haqqanis.

The article included the following paragraph about their leader:

Jalaluddin Haqqani’s fierce temperament was matched by his devotion to the rules of Islam, the official said. Shot in the knee one time during the daytime fast of Ramadan, Mr. Haqqani had medics dig the bullet out without anesthesia rather than violate a religious tenet by swallowing pain medication, the official said. There is little doubt in Afghanistan that if the family were to gain power, it would institute strict Islamic rule.

Now ask yourself the following questions: Would Hamid Karzai, take a bullet to the knee and forgo pain medication? Does Karzai head up a corrupt administration? Did he win the last election fairly? Is there any chance the Taliban will support him once we're gone? Does the average Afghan identify in any way, however remotely, with Americans? Have we not already announced that we will be withdrawing according to a certain timetable, letting the Taliban know that they have only to wait us out? Do our Pakistani allies feel any intrinsic loyalty to us, or are they playing a double game? Is there any chance we take all those backwards, medieval, Muslim tribes, each isolated by forbidding mountains, and turn them all into a cohesive, functioning, modern democracy?

Al Qaeda has been driven out of Afghanistan. So why are we still there?


Rumors are now circulating that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may reconsider and run for President. If he should happen to win the nomination, it will certainly give the lie to my theory about Romney winning the Republican nomination, and why.

In the meantime, expect the NY Times and its ilk to publish a lot of full body shots of the overweight Christie. The Times is too dignified to refer to him as "the corpulent conservative" or "the fat free-trader." (Leave that to MSNBC and The Daily Kos.) But they will certainly take every photographic opportunity to emphasize Christie's jowly appearance.

Christie is the combative sort that the partisans want on their side. So he fulfills the "bar fight" litmus test if not the good-looks one. He has a more conservative record than Romney. And he is smarter and better on his feet than Perry.

If Christie can make a few jokes at his own expense at the outset of his campaign, he'll be a formidable candidate. A couple suggestions:

"I wouldn't have entered this campaign if I didn't think I could win. If I don't, though, Plan B is to get on Biggest Loser."

"Vote for Obese, not Obama."

"It's sort of ironic. I may be fat, but I'm a lot better at trimming down government than the skinny guy who's in office right now."

Ronald Reagan got a huge amount of mileage from of making a joke about his own age. Christie could gain similar traction.

The two hikers

(Sarah Shroud, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal; Shroud was released earlier.)

There's been a lot of recent publicity about the two American hikers, Josh Fattall and Shane Bauer, who were released by Iran this past weekend. What's been missing from all the commentary is any mention of how incredibly dumb they were to be backpacking on the Iraq-Iran border in the first place.

Exactly how stupid were they? Here's a clue. Bauer said that he hoped his release from prison would also bring "freedom for political prisoners in America and Iran."

Yep. Our prisons, just like Iran's, are full of political prisoners.

That's how dumb you have to be to go hiking in Iran.

Note the picture above. Wherever you find masculine white women and feminine white men, you will almost always find a certain brand of political correctness. (Tell me you couldn't have guessed the political views of the three above just from their appearance.)

For my next vacation, I plan a trip to Somalia. I understand the beaches there are quite lovely.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it's no more lawless over there than it is here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths (V)

Situation: You work at a suicide hotline.

Nice guy: Signs up for the job because he's always felt badly for people who are in despair. Has also seen how much pain this can cause those left behind, as one of his friends died this way. Gets involved in the lives of those he talks to, on two occasions actually meeting them in person. Eventually gives up the work because he finds it too upsetting, and can't handle it.

Average guy: Does it because he likes to think of himself as a good person. Makes an honest attempt to help, but steers clear of personal involvement. Figures he has saved four lives so far -- which is way more than most people have. (In fact, he has partially saved two -- which is still more than most.) Mentions his job at every opportunity, and finds it is a great way for getting dates with a certain type of girl. This discovery compels him to mention it even more frequently.

Sociopath: Works there so he can savor others' misery. Occasionally subtly encourages people to commit suicide, telling them under the guise of sympathy that their lives really are bleak, and that he understands why they think they have nothing to live for. Secretly gloats about the two times he pushed people over the edge. Lords his job over people who don't do such public service work, aggressively asking why they feel don't have to help out. Loudly attributes the nice guy's quitting to the fact that he "doesn't care."

Situation: Your school is holding a fundraiser.

Nice guy: Helps out, anonymously contributing what he can afford.

Average guy: Asks what everyone else is giving, then grudgingly gives that. Has no interest in being involved.

Sociopath: Either gets really involved, getting on the committee and taking over, or, if he can't take over, mocks the proceedings from a distance. If takes over, is actually skillful at fundraising, knowing just how to manipulate others into giving money. Makes a big show of talking about how it's important to him to "give back" to the community, and garners whatever publicity he can for his public spirit. If he can't take over, he tells everyone how stupid they are to give since the school just wastes their money anyway.

Situation: You've just plowed into a cyclist on a deserted country road; he is badly injured and only semi-conscious.

Nice guy: Stops car, gets out, checks cyclist, doesn't think twice, phones 911 immediately. Is extremely upset, and panicked. Tries to comfort cyclist, tell him that help is on the way, but is not sure cyclist could hear him. Feels terrible for cyclist. Briefly wonders what the legal repercussions will be.

Average guy: Stops car, gets out, checks cyclist. The thought occurs to him that he could just leave and probably get away with it, but he doesn't seriously consider this. Phones 911 and tells cyclist he just did so. Feels badly for cyclist, wonders if there's something he should be doing before the ambulance arrives, but he's read about people who are sued for doing that kind of thing and decides against it. His thoughts soon stray to what this will mean to him: will I go to jail? Shit, I wish I hadn't had that drink, but after only one drink my blood alcohol must be under the legal limit. I wonder if they'll find out about this at work....Geez, the guy looks pretty bad. 

Sociopath: Calmly looks around, sees no one else is there. He sees through the window that the cyclist is hurt badly. Wonders if the cyclist will be able to identify him. Briefly considers running him over again just to make sure he can't, but decides against it, realizing that could land him in real trouble. Then drives off, thinking, they'll never catch me. And if they do, I'll just say I hadn't realized I'd hit anyone. Works self up into a fit of anger thinking, what the hell was that asshole doing going for a goddamn bike ride at this hour? Sees a Burger King and thinks, hey, a Whopper would really hit the spot right now, so stops to get one. Wolfs it down, his appetite undiminished. Arrives looking perfectly unruffled for his job at the suicide hot line.

Friday, September 23, 2011


The latest trend in China seems to be grooming your dog to make it look like another animal.

Oh well. It is China. Better to be dyed than eaten.

Romney wins nomination

In much the same manner that the networks will race each other to be the first to declare a winner even when only a small percentage of the vote tallied, let me be first to declare Mitt Romney the winner of the Republican primaries.

The latest polls (before last night's debate) showed Perry leading Romney by a significant margin. But last night Romney demonstrated why he's going to win, and it was all about body language.

Perry seemed unsure of himself, stumbled in a few of his replies, and garbled a few words out of what sounded like nervousness. Romney, on the other hand, came across generally more confident and aggressive. It all boils down to, who do you want on your side in a (legislative) bar fight. And, frankly, whom you would rather look at.

The fact that the two men stood next to each other favored Romney. Had they been at opposite ends of the podium, the audience would have had the vague impression of two tall handsome men flanking all the less noteworthy candidates. But since the camera could catch both men in the same shot, it was apparent that Romney was a little taller, a little more solid, and a little better-looking.

It also looked as if, had the two gotten into a fistfight, Romney would have prevailed. As silly as it sounds to even bring that up, that factor is deeply ingrained into our psyches from millions of years of that outcome actually mattering.

We make decisions instinctively; we use our logical faculties afterward only to rationalize our instincts. When all is said and done, thinking is but an afterthought. (It's no coincidence that "rational" and "rationalize," though they have almost opposite meanings, come from the same root.)

Although this is far less important to the electorate than the press, Romney also seemed more on top of the facts than Perry did last night. But that's secondary.

A business school professor of mine once pointed out to our class that in 21 of the previous 22 Presidential elections, the taller man won. I checked that out, and it turned out that it was actually 20 out of 22. But the general rule certainly held, and it looks as if it will hold true for this primary season as well.

The other candidates have at this point seemingly been relegated to supporting roles.

Gingrich came across as calm and intelligent as usual. He may be a sociopath, but that's why he never has a deer-in-the-headlights moment, and why he doesn't hesitate to excoriate the moderators if he feels their questions are inappropriate. The electorate could probably find it in its heart to forgive his character if only he were taller and leaner. But Gingrich looks like a pudgy little boy compared to the two tall leading man-types he's up against. The public wants the BMOC who is a star forward, not the towel boy.

Michelle Bachmann sent pulses racing at the outset of the campaign: she seemed to be a Sarah Palin who actually understood the issues. But then, as it turned out, she really didn't. And as sexy as she is, she also gives off craziness vibes (and not just on the cover of Newsweek). Palin looks like a fun girl who likes to party; Bachmann looks like her harder-edged sister who decided to become a high-priced call girl. Here's my sophisticated analysis: I wouldn't mind doing Palin, but somehow I just wouldn't want to do Bachmann.

Ron Paul appeals to purists, but he's a little too pure to be electable. It's been many decades since he was a track star, and the electorate rarely goes for wizened. He comes across more like a professor at Hogwart's than the dynamic salesman he needs to be.

Gary Johnson had the best line of the night: "My next door neighbor's dogs have produced more shovel ready jobs than Barack Obama has." But Johnson quickly proved himself a one note player: how many different ways can you say you want a balanced budget?

Jon Huntsman came across well, but he was never conservative enough to excite the primary voters. And he's ever-so-slightly milquetoasty, like Tim Pawlenty. Huntsman already has the odor of failure about him, and the electorate, like the sharks in the media, can smell that from miles away.

Rick Santorum is a true -- and somewhat rigid -- conservative, the type who ought to do well in the primaries, but he never caught fire either. When they gave him that question from the muscular gay Iraq vet about gays in the military, Santorum actually came across unpatriotic stumblingly replying that he would reinstitute Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Rick Perry has never lost an election, and like an unbeaten boxer, has grown somewhat overconfident. His Texas roots (unlike Bush's) are genuine. He grew up in a small Texas town, joined the military (not the National Guard), and went to Texas A&M (not Yale). But his Texas colloquialisms don't necessarily translate well on the national stage. When he said, in reference to the Federal Reserve printing so much money, that they would treat Bernanke "pretty ugly" back in Texas," the New York media heard, "We'd string the Jew up."

That is generally not considered the best way to win them over.

But Perry's biggest Achilles heel, other than being up against a taller, slicker, better-looking candidate, is immigration reform. As governor he passed a law granting college benefits to illegal immigrants in Texas that even Americans don't get. When the voters get wind of that, they're going to treat Perry pretty ugly.

(As Romney said in his post-debate interview on Fox last night, had Perry realized he'd be running for President, he'd have thought twice before passing that law.)

So far the media has gone fairly easy on Perry. They are undoubtedly hoping that he wins the nomination, since he represents less of a threat to Obama than Romney does.

But the early physical indications are that Romney is going to win.

Cue the music

Was just switching back and forth between the Republican debate and Last of the Mohicans this evening. Hard not to notice that in practically every scene with Daniel Day-Lewis (as Hawkeye), the music would kick in and lend a certain romantic aura to whatever he was doing.

Had Mitt Romney, or any of the other candidates, arranged to have the stirring, majestic theme from Last of the Mohicans play whenever he -- and only he -- spoke, his words would undoubtedly have resonated more with the viewers. Heck, with that music playing in the background, the American people would have wanted to vote for him then and there.

Now that I think of it, I always sorta wished they'd strike up the James Bond theme whenever I entered a room....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Worth a thousand words

According to Yahoo News, this was not Photoshopped, but an actual photograph taken at the UN yesterday:

The man whose face Obama is obscuring is Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj.

Thin lips II

I know this observation goes into the sounds-crazy category, but I keep seeing sociopaths with abnormally thin lips. Usually when I see people with a slit for a mouth, I think of them as having a somewhat carnivorous, feral look -- which is actually an apt metaphor for sociopathy. To draw a correlation between a physical trait and a mental one is what the old-time phrenologists did, and they have long since been discredited.

But I keep coming back to the way novelists used to describe certain mouths as a "cruel." Why would they describe them this way? I am not the only one who has ever noticed this correlation.

Keep in mind, this correlation doesn't apply to non-whites. It also doesn't apply to gay men, who often seem to have fuller lips for some reason. (And remember that gay men are overrepresented among the ranks of serial killers: think John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Juan Corona, Wayne Williams, Dean Corll, etc.) I also am not suggesting any sort of cause and effect, nor am I suggesting that the lips are the center of compassion. I am only pointing out a correlation, spurious or not.

Take a look at the following pictures of some of the most famous serial killers, whose sociopathy is not in doubt:

Ted Bundy may be the most famous serial killer of all. He is thought to be responsible for the deaths of 36 young women.

Ed Gein fashioned the skin of women into outfits for himself. Thomas Harris used him as the model for Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

Albert Fish was a sexual sadist and cannibal who murdered at least five children. He also enjoyed inserting needles into his own skin.

Andrei Chikatilo was a Ukrainian who killed at least 53 women and children. At one time he was thought to be the most prolific serial killer ever.

Harold Shipman, a former doctor, may actually have been the most prolific serial killer of all time, with at least 218 deaths attributed to him.

Henry Lee Lucas claimed to have been the most prolific serial killer ever, though many of his claims were later debunked. But he was still unquestionably responsible for many deaths.

Ottis Toole was Lucas's partner in crime.

Dennis Rader was the infamous BTK ("bind torture kill") serial killer.

Arthur Shawcross murdered two children when he was in his twenties. After serving time in jail for those killings, he was released and then in his forties began killing prostitutes. He was known as The Genessee River Killer.

Peter Sutcliffe, known as The Yorkshire Ripper, operated in England during the 1970's.

These are obviously only a sampling of the possible candidates, and there are others who are evidence against the correlation, like David Berkowitz (The Son of Sam) and Gary Ridgway (The Green River Killer). And I repeat, pairing a facial feature with a character trait does seem crazy. But after seeing what seems a disproportionate representation of serial killers with "cruel" lips, it does seem as if maybe eyes are not the only the window to the soul.

Just an observation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Elizabeth Hartman

Don't know why, but I just thought of the actress Elizabeth Hartman this afternoon. She was probably most famous for A Patch of Blue, with Sidney Poitier. She also starred in You're a Big Boy Now, which came out in 1966. I saw the latter movie when I was 12 and it, or at least she, made a big impression on me. I remember her as being just unbearably attractive.

It's always interesting to go back and look at pictures of women you thought were beautiful when you were very young and have that opinion confirmed 40-odd years later. I look at these pictures now --

-- and think, ah yes, those features really were perfect. I look at the eyes, the mouth, the cheekbones, the chin, the nose, and see they were all just right. When I was younger, especially at age 12, I wouldn't have analyzed it this way. Back then I just drank in the overall picture and was floored.

When you analyze the features one by one, a little bit of the magic gets lost. I feel it, just not the same way I did at 12. But I still think: boy was she ever beautiful.

Which I guess is really the only point of this post.

Hartman suffered from depression her entire life, and committed suicide in 1987, at age 43.

She must have had an awful lot of people say to her, "What are you so depressed about? You're so beautiful! I'm the one who should be depressed."

But that's not the way depression works.

Here's a clip from You're a Big Boy Now: 

Another John Wayne

Just stumbled across yet another serial killer with that fateful name: John Wayne Glover (see two posts ago). This one was born in 1932, so it's less clear that he was named after the movie actor. John Wayne's first movie came out in 1926, and his first starring role was in The Big Trail, released in 1930. But he didn't really become a major star until Stagecoach was released in 1939.

In any case, Glover, whose specialty was preying on elderly women, was just one more piece of proof you don't want to name your son after that American icon.

Thin lips

              (John Boyer, described in the previous post)

Don't know why, but I keep noticing that white sociopaths tend to have abnormally thin lips. It seems a specious correlation -- the lips don't contain the part of the brain which regulates decency -- but it's been too strong a correlation not to notice.

It's not always true, and it doesn't apply to non-Caucasian sociopaths, but with whites it seems to be true more often than not. I've noticed this with the sociopaths I've known personally, and also those I've seen only in photos.

It reminds me of how in the old days, fiction writers used to describe villains as being "thin-lipped," or having "cruel thin lips."

Why would this be so? I have no idea.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

John Boyer

                                                                       (John Boyer)

A few excerpts from an article from the AP (via Yahoo) about a truck driver who was a serial killer:

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Long-haul trucker John Boyer's gray beard and round face give him a grandfatherly appearance, but when he opens his mouth, he seethes with anger toward women. This hatred had murderous results, authorities said, as he picked up prostitutes around the Southeast, killed them and dumped their bodies near interstate highways.....

Boyer has pleaded guilty to killing a woman in North Carolina and faces murder charges in slayings in Tennessee and South Carolina. His most recent confession came last month. The similarities of the cases and the apparent lack of remorse from Boyer have investigators encouraging their counterparts along highways around the Southeast to review unsolved killings and missing person files. Even his own attorney in the North Carolina case felt uneasy around him and wondered what else he might have done.

Boyer's attorney in the North Carolina case said he felt uneasy around his client. "It wouldn't surprise me if there's other stuff out there," said H. Lawrence Shotwell. "I have absolutely nothing other than a gut instinct on that."

You rarely hear of a serial killer who is so overt with his hatred; usually when they're up on charges they try to hide their true character behind a mask of congeniality. And while there have undoubtedly been plenty of lawyers who have been scared of their clients before, I've never heard of one who has wondered aloud what other murders his client might have committed. (Remind me not to hire Attorney Shotwell when I'm up on charges.)

The investigator was chilled by the hatred toward women from a man who had never been married and lived with his mother near Augusta, Ga. A woman who answered the phone Friday at a listing for Boyer's mother denied knowing him.

Usually when a serial killer hates women that much it's because his own mother mistreated him. So why was Boyer still living with his mother? And does that account for the seething hatred?

Darlington County, S.C., Sheriff's Capt. Andy Locklair immediately got the same impression when he stepped into an interview room to question Boyer about a killing in that state. The first thing Boyer said to him was: "What b---- are you here about?"

Locklair confronted Boyer earlier this month about the death of 34-year-old Michelle Haggadone. Her body was found in April 2000 beneath pine straw at a parking area on Interstate 20 near Florence, about 30 miles from the truck stop where Boyer had picked her up. Boyer immediately denied killing Haggadone, lashing out at Locklair and an investigator with him.

"He said he had slept with a lot of prostitutes and a lot of them were detectives' daughters or prosecutors' daughters," Locklair said. "He just tried to get the upper hand from the start."

That actually is typical sociopathic behavior, aggressively trying to demean others and get them on the defensive, though it rarely happens under these circumstances. It reminds me of the corporate sociopath I once knew who would go on about how ugly a certain black person was in front of another black, or about how ugly a Jewish woman was in front of other Jewish people. Maybe Boyer figures he has nothing to lose at this point.

In any case, it's pretty plain that this is one very bad customer.

Although the article doesn't mention it, Boyer's full name is John Wayne Boyer. He is now 54, so he was born in either 1956 or 1957, when John Wayne was at his box office peak. I know of only two other people who have been named after the movie star. John Wayne Gacy, the infamous serial killer who operated in the Chicago area in the 1970's, was born in 1942 (Wayne made his first movie in the late 1920's). And John Wayne Bobbitt is most famous as a victim, when his wife Lorena cut off his penis, but both before and after that he was known to have assaulted various women; he was born in 1967. 

Being named after the star of "Stagecoach" doesn't seem the ticket to a well-adjusted life.

I want her plastic surgeon!


(Earlier photo of Shantel Jackson with fiance Floyd Mayweather Jr.)


(Shantel Jackson at last night's press conference after the Mayweather-Ortiz bout in Las Vegas.)

My guess is that Shantel had already had some work done before the first photo, but she is still unrecognizable in the second. She's gone from being cheap-looking to being cheap-looking in a much more expensive way. (I'll take the latter any day.)

Black women tend to have good cheek bones and full lips to start with, so once they get their noses done, the results can be quite stunning.  A case in point would be former Miss America-turned- movie star Vanessa Williams:


And after:

And here's Tyra Banks before and after:

Some of the comparisons are a little unfair: hair, lighting, and artfully painted eyebrows all make a difference too. But the differences -- in these cases, the improvements -- are still unmistakable.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

College application season

Whenever I ask my 17-year-old daughter where she'll be applying this fall, she replies unhesitatingly. (I do like a girl who knows her mind.)

I must admit, I've never heard of Shut College, Up College, or Dad College.

But if Rebecca is applying to them, I'm sure they must all be fine schools.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nice women, average women, and sociopaths (IV)

Most of the situations described in the previous posts in this series could apply to both men and women, so the standard male pronoun was used. The following situations, however, apply primarily to women.

Situation: How do you feel about getting plastic surgery?

Nice woman: Would be too embarrassed to get it. Has always had the vague feeling that it's somehow immoral, though she would never express that opinion.

Average woman: Gets her eyelids done at 46 and has a face lift at 60. Confides to a few close friends that she had the work done. Feels a mild moral superiority to women who get breast implants.

Sociopath: Has a nose job at age 20, double D breast implants at 23, a chin implant at 25, and liposuction at 26. Starts Botox at age 36, gets her first face lift at age 40, and gets them every four or five years thereafter. Old high school acquaintances barely recognize her, but she adamantly insists that she has never had any work done.

Situation: How does a girl lose her virginity?

Nice girl: A college classmate takes her to an expensive restaurant, she feels guilty about it, and doesn't want him to be unhappy, so gives in. This establishes a lifelong pattern: she tends to let men determine the time and place. She has no instinctive feel for how to seduce a man, though she eventually learns how to deflect unwanted passes. 

Average girl: Loses it at a high school party while drunk, partly just because she figures it's high time to do so, and doesn't want to be the last virgin among her friends. Her life thereafter is a gradual process of discovering what she enjoys, and becoming more uninhibited about sex in general.

Sociopath: She plots to lose her virginity with a popular and handsome older boy at her high school. Arranges a "study date" with him, then seduces him, then uses him to enhance her own social standing at school. This establishes a lifelong pattern in which she uses sex to achieve other ends. Sometimes she enjoys sex for its own sake, but mostly she likes the power it gives her over men. She uses it for influence, money, and even revenge. Develops into classic femme fatale. Always disparages her previous lovers to her current ones.

Situation: A friend confides that she is having an affair.

Nice woman: Is shocked, not sure what to think. Simultaneously happy for her friend and sorry for her husband. Assumes that this type of thing happens much less frequently than it does. Keeps the secret.

Average woman: Is tickled by the knowledge, wants to know what the guy is like in bed, thinks about how she would like to have an affair too. Tells only one mutual friend, and swears her to secrecy.

Sociopath: If she has had affairs herself, she pooh-poohs her friend's choice of partner and tells her she could do better, knowing that this will diminish her enjoyment. If the sociopath has not attracted suitors, she acts outraged, and tells her friend that if she doesn't end it immediately she will inform her husband. Actually feels self-righteous about this, as she attributes her lack of affairs to her superior morality rather than her lack of opportunity. After her friend ends the affair, the sociopath eventually tells numerous people about it anyway, swearing each to secrecy so as to cover her own tracks. She also tells the story a number of times without mentioning her (by now ex-) friend's name, but emphasizing her own role in it, so as to highlight her own saintliness.

Situation: A guy is impotent with you.

Nice woman: Feels sympathetic because he so obviously is mortified, but doesn't really know what to say, so just says it's okay, really.

Average woman: Tells him it's no big deal, that she's fine with it. Knows that acting sympathetic is the best way to coax a better performance out of him the next time.

Sociopath: If out to gain something from him, tells him that just being around him is better than having sex with most guys. If she was only looking for casual sex, she scoffs at him and asks if he's sure he doesn't prefer men.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


A special election is being held today to determine the replacement for disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in a solidly Democratic district in Brooklyn and Queens. The election is surprisingly close, with the most recent poll showing Republican candidate Bob Turner enjoying a very slight edge.

Anthony Weiner showed up to vote, and was asked by a reporter if it would be his fault if the Republicans gained a seat out of the scandal.

There is, of course, only one straightforward and honest answer to that question: yes.

Had Weiner not wanted to give so direct a reply, he could have answered with a Gallic shrug, tacitly accepting blame.

Or he could have held up his hands and ruefully answered, "What can I say?"

But, because he is Anthony Weiner, he did neither of those things. Instead he replied, "If you made a list of ten fervent defenders of Democratic ideals, I would be on it."

The wonderful thing about personalities is that they never, ever change.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Serena Williams is in trouble again for having having threatened an official at the U.S.Open. This time, after being called for yelling "Come on!" after hitting the ball, she evidently told the lineswoman that if she ever saw her walking down a corridor, to walk the other way. (Two years ago, after being called for a foot fault, she threatened to shove a tennis ball down the lineswoman's throat.)

If she said those things, well, there's no misinterpreting either comment. Both go against the rules -- and spirit -- of tennis and Serena should be penalized accordingly. But I can't help but wonder whether the officials find her appearance prejudicial. Do other tennis players get called as frequently for foot faults? And are they called the same way on their tantrums? (I'm not a tennis fan, I have no idea.)

Either way, her parents weren't very prescient when they named her Serena.

Serena does look as if she could be Mike Tyson's sister -- you know, the one who used to bully him and beat him up until he was maybe 17 or so.

Pretty much all she'd have to say to scare me is "Good morning."

Addendum, same day: U.S. Open officials have decided to fine Serena $2000 for her outburst. So now, instead of making $1.4 million at the tournament, she'll only win $1.398 million. Yep. That'll show her.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths III

Situation: A guy is 5' 10" and 220 pounds, with 32% body fat.

Nice guy: When feeling down, says, "I'm just a tub of lard. No matter how much I diet, 220 seems to be my equilibrium weight." When in a good mood, makes fun of self with comments like, "Well, at least I've overcome my anorexia," or, "Hey, if we all get marooned on a desert island, I'll be the last to starve."

Average guy: "Jesus, I can't believe I'm up to 210. I'm on a new diet and exercise program, though. I'll be down to 185 in two months. You watch." (His buddies have heard this before.)

Sociopath: Makes fun of "exercise faggots." Shakes his head with false sympathy and clucks over people who are "unhealthy skinny," or "addicted to working out." Does a lot of macho posturing and intimidates others with the implicit threat of violence, as he knows some will mistakenly assume there's a fair amount of muscle underneath the fat. Eventually either goes on the cocaine diet or gets liposuction.

Situation: A guy gets turned down for a date by a woman. What does he tell his buddies?

Nice guy: "Spurned again. Well, at least I'm getting used to it." Thinks, I'm such a loser.

Average guy: "Oh well. I guess she wants some rich guy, or something like that." Thinks, if only I'd gotten her into bed once, she'd have changed her mind.

Sociopath: "I coulda gone out with her if I'd wanted to, but I got no interest in a skank like that." Thinks, she is such a loser. But he is in fact outraged that she would turn him down, and subsequently takes every opportunity to belittle her looks, intelligence, personality, and accomplishments.

Situation: A guy loses a lopsided tennis match.

Nice guy: Says, "Wow, you're a good tennis player." Thinks, wow, he's a good tennis player.

Average guy: Says, "Hey, you're a good tennis player." Thinks, I just had an off day.

Sociopath: Begrudgingly says, "You're a good tennis player." Thinks, let the turd have his little victory, tennis is the guy's whole fucking life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths II

Situation: Someone gets a 780 on his math SAT.

Nice guy: Never brings it up unless asked; feels he got lucky on the test.

Average guy: Brings it up in conversation whenever the subject is remotely appropriate. For a while asks others what they got in hopes that they will ask his score in turn, but soon realizes this is too transparent. His score boosts his self-confidence, and he secretly enjoys feeling superior to the 99.7% of the population which ranks below him.

Sociopath: Asks others their score, then announces his (rounding it up to 800) while scoffing at theirs. After a while he realizes that modesty would serve him better, but he looks so pleased with himself as he tells people it was nothing that they are put off by the blatant falseness of his modesty. The score has no notable effect on his self-confidence, as he considered himself far smarter than others even before.

Situation: At age 30, what does a guy's sexual resume look like?

Nice guy: Has slept with two women. Has dated others, some for extended periods, but never felt comfortable pushing for sex. Sees himself as a loser in the sexual sweepstakes game, and wonders how other guys get laid so often. (When other guys lie about their conquests, he believes them.) Former girlfriends remember him as nice guy, but boring.

Average guy: Has slept with six women, including the time he went to a prostitute. Has seen the statistics on this, and takes some comfort that he is right at the national average. Is considering proposing to his current girlfriend. But is torn because he is now much more confident in his ability to seduce, or at least not make a fool of himself with women, than he was at age twenty.

Sociopath: Has slept with forty women, including six whom he sort of date-raped. Sees himself as irresistible, even to those six. Does have an instinctive knack for knowing what to say to get women into bed. Secretly laughs at guys who feel they must be honest with women, and regards them as weak. Has no desire to get married or have kids unless he meets an heiress. If he does, and gets caught cheating, will declare himself a "sex addict," and go through the motions of seeking treatment. His exes regard him with varying levels of bitterness, that level being pretty much directly correlated with the amount of time they spent with him.

Situation: What does an average-looking guy think of his own appearance?

Nice guy: Sees himself as terminally unattractive; focuses on his flaws. On the rare occasions the subject comes up, he is almost apologetic about his looks. It never occurs to him to get plastic surgery.

Average guy: Sees himself as above average in looks. It has occurred to him to get plastic surgery to correct his flaws, but the thought of facing his buddies afterward is too embarrassing.

Sociopath: Has had plastic surgery, and taken steroids, and in fact is now better-looking than average. As far as his remaining flaws, sees them as imperfections that only make him more "interesting." In fact, every time he sees that Dos Equiis commercial about the most interesting man in the world, he thinks, bullshit, I'm way more interesting than that old fart.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The World Track and Field Championships this past week highlighted once again what an appealing, refreshingly lighthearted and playful character Usain Bolt is.

As recently as early '08, most sprinters would put on their game faces and try to intimidate their opponents with glares and the like. But then along came Usain, who clowned around behind the starting blocks and then blew them away on the track. It was as if his opponents all thought they were supposed to act like Sonny Liston, and then along came the prancing, preening Cassius Clay/Usain Bolt, with his new style of doing things. He rewrote the playbook and made his opponents look foolish. 

What a coincidence that the greatest sprinter of all time would also happen to be the most fun-loving -- and also the best-looking.

The following Youtube videos give a sense of Bolt's happy-go-lucky personality:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths (Part I)

Truly nice guys are about as small a percentage of the population as sociopaths: roughly 3%. The vast majority of us fall into the middle -- or "average" -- category. But the following vignettes should give a sense of the kinds of behavior exhibited by each.

Situation: A young man inherits a lot of money. How does it influence him?

Nice guy: Feels guilty about the inheritance ("Why me?") and devotes his life to helping others. Tries to hide the fact that he's rich.

Average guy: Joins a corporation to prove that he could have made it on his own anyway. At 40, mired in middle management, he realizes his would have to start his own company to make his mark, and decides to devote himself to enjoying life instead. Has the vague feeling that his money makes him better.

Sociopath: Flaunts his wealth, and feels no qualms about using his money to get women. Hires a lot of servants, but assumes even the honest ones are constantly trying to rip him off and not working as hard as they should be. Devotes himself to making their lives miserable. Never doubts for a moment that his inheritance is his God-given right, and that it makes him a superior human being in every way. 

Situation: Someone is given a puppy by a friend.

Nice guy: Falls in love with the puppy at first sight, and cares for it with the kind of concern most people reserve for their children. Takes it for a walk daily, lets it sleep in his bed.

Average guy: If he keeps it, he treats it responsibly, missing only a couple of checkups with the vet. After a while, realizes it helps him pick up girls, and values its usefulness as a prop. Feels moderately affectionately towards it, and appreciates its loyalty. Feels sad when it eventually dies, but wonders if he shouldn't feel sadder.

Sociopath: Forgets to feed it half the time, but never forgets to torment it in many ways big and small. When it goes to the bathroom on his floor for the third time, kicks it in a fit of rage and kills it by accident. Although he won't admit it to himself, it feels strangely good to do so. Doesn't want to get into trouble, though, so buries it in a forest that night. Tells the person who gave him the puppy that the coyotes got him, and that he is absolutely heartsick about it.

Situation: Someone is a high school track coach.

Nice guy: Praises his athletes, tries to make them feel good about themselves, always keeps in mind that he is trying to mold young people, help them with their lives.

Average guy: Bears in mind that he is in a position of responsibility, but the win-loss record definitely comes first. Makes an honest effort to be encouraging to everyone, but somehow ends up paying more attention to his better athletes. May try to be a friend rather than adult authority figure to his athletes.

Sociopath: Takes all the credit and none of the blame for his team's record. Tries to get more out of his male athletes by equating their masculinity with a better performance for him. Demeans those who don't perform well, and does so in front of their teammates. May sexually exploit his female runners.

Situation: Someone is 6' 6" and 245 pounds of solid muscle.

Nice guy: Feels self-conscious because of his freakishness; gets embarrassed whenever anybody refers to his incredible strength.

Average guy: Shows off on a regular basis, and glows whenever anyone expresses envy of his physical attributes.

Sociopath: Emphasizes his instinctively menacing manner by always standing quite close to whomever he is speaking to, so that the other person has to look straight up at him. Whenever he wants to get his way, he accompanies his suggestion with a slight lunging motion towards the other person so as to underline the implicit physical threat he represents. Is not hesitant to use his fists.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Confessions of a beta male IX: Fears

One thing that distinguishes betas is the number of phobias that bedevil them.

As a beta, I have the full complement: snakes, spiders, swimming in the ocean, public speaking, flying, rejection, failure, etc.

The worst of these fears may be stage fright. Much of performance anxiety actually boils down to the fear of fear. There are things you might be able to do in private perfectly easily, like speak, but somehow the idea of speaking to a hundred people is terrifying. You don't want to appear nervous in front of all those you get nervous about appearing nervous.

Yeah, that makes sense.

But in fact that fear is fairly universal. Singers, musicians, and athletes feel it as well.

An alpha tends to regard such fears as silly: why be nervous about talking? You do that all the time. Compete in a race with lots of people watching? I can't wait.

Much of alpha vs. beta character can be summarized by the difference between eager anticipation and dread.

When I was young, my heart rate would go over 100 beats per minute as early as four hours before a swimming event. (I challenge anyone to beat that.)

An alpha sails happily through life, thinking, it's all good. I have recently realized that as a beta, my guiding philosophy seems to be, it's all bad.

In a sense, the curse of a beta's life is that he thinks ahead too much. An alpha is more inclined to live in the moment.

An alpha doesn't needlessly complicate things: fun is fun, period. I am a world class expert at not enjoying occasions that are supposed to be fun.

Here's another succinct summary of the gap: an alpha drinks for the euphoria it brings, a beta drinks to gain courage, or to numb himself.

It is said that true courage consists not in the absence of fear, but in facing up to those fears. Thus someone like me has ample opportunity to demonstrate courage. It has occurred to me that parachuting would show incredible courage on my part. But that's as far as I've gone with that: have the thought flicker briefly through my brain. I do have a convenient excuse, though: at age 57, my heart might look at that long distance down to earth and just decide to stop beating.

An alpha facing up to a fear would probably just calm himself with thought that everyone else in that situation is equally fearful.

That might work for me.

If I had about a fifth of Scotch in my belly.

As a true beta, it's easier for me to list the phobias I don't have: fear of open spaces, and fear of tests. I have never had those. So all of the scorn which I would be able to heap on those who have other fears I don't, I can't, because I have those fears myself. So I must concentrate all my scorn and condescension on people with those two fears.

Whatsamatter, nervous about a little test? You pathetic chicken!!! What? It scares you to even go outside? You sniveling little worm!!

(Ah, that felt good.) 

Oh, I forgot, there's another fear I don't have: fear of making a fool of myself.

Hence this blog.