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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Important announcement

I hereby announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America.

As I have limited financial resources, my campaign staff will consist of one person -- myself. Campaign headquarters will be this blog.

I feel that as the only candidate who refuses all contributions from everyone (no, no, please, keep your money), I am the only candidate beholden to no special interest. And therefore, the only honest one.

Here are my positions on all the hot button issues of the day.

Gay marriage: As long it doesn't hurt me or cost me any money, let the gays do what they want. They'll find out soon enough that there's no better institution than marriage to take the gaiety out of being gay.

The current war: In the old days they used to subject prisoners to hard labor, which often consisted of going to quarries and breaking rocks with picks. So why have we sentenced our country to an equally futile labor on that worthless pile of rocks known as Afghanistan? Because we want their warm water ports? Osama is dead, long live the Taliban. And if the Taliban decides to invade us, next time we can just pay them back with nukes -- without setting foot there. Afghanistan is such a desolate place already, I doubt anyone will notice anyway. "Nation building" is just a euphemism for "nation destabilizing."

Bases abroad: Let Japan, Germany, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and every other country pay for their own defense. The only reason we should have troops over there is if we decide to invade them.

Foreign aid: We should consider it when, and only when, our own budget is balanced. At that point, we should have a national referendum to see how it should be allocated.

Illegal immigration. Build a tall fence along our southern border, electrify it, and post armed guards every hundred yards. Shoot anyone who comes within firing range. Just kidding. Here's my real plan: American citizenship will be open to anyone who has either a million dollars (unless he's a criminal) or an IQ over 115 (we need to start catching up with the Chinese, and now). Otherwise, try your luck elsewhere.

Tax reform. A lot of people seem to feel that the only way to simplify the tax code is to flatten it. (Why?) Eliminate all the loopholes, including the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction, and keep it graduated. In fact, the graduation should extend through income levels of $500K, 1MM, 2MM, and 5MM a year. Obama's labeling of couples making 250K a year as "millionaires and billionaires" is wrong. But the idea that someone making five million a year is going to lose his ambition because he is netting slightly less is also ridiculous: if anything, with less money, he should work harder. Then, with no loopholes, you should be able to lower the overall rates, which would be the greatest stimulus of all. My heart refuses to bleed for someone who can't buy a sixth house.

ObamaCare attacked the spiraling cost of health care by adding more people to the insurance rolls, which only increases costs. We need to attack the problem at its root, by driving costs down. This means less insurance, not more. People should be given incentives not to visit the doctor as often (think higher co-pays) and be given incentives for a healthy lifestyle. We don't need more sick people visiting more doctors, we need more healthy people.

College loans: since college is a waste of time and money for most people anyway, let's not throw any more money down that drain. There are certainly cheaper ways of proving you're smart, like acing the SATs and then not going to college. Whom would you rather hire: someone who got 800's and had the wisdom not to attend college, or someone who got 650's and then partied on his father's dime for four years?

The inheritance tax: Keep it. For those who would abolish it: sorry, but you can't take it with you. Once you're dead, you give up your rights as an American citizen. (All those who would like those rights back are welcome to vote for my opponents.) No one earned the money that their parents worked for.

Energy: If solar and wind power can prove their economic feasibility, fine. Otherwise, convert to natural gas. We have a 200 year supply of it. So people should be allowed to frack wherever they want, as long as they return the land to a pristine state afterward. In order to insure that they do so, all fossil fuel companies will pay into a fund which will go towards that end. And the government is not allowed to "borrow" from this fund the way it has from Social Security. It's high time we got our fracking energy independence -- if you'll pardon my language.

The Chinese have already declared a trade war on us with their piracy of intellectual material, their purposeful stifling of the yuan, their lax pollution laws, and their government-sponsored attempts to undercut certain US industries (like the solar industry). We can either continue to pretend that they haven't declared war, or respond with a tariff. I say the latter. If they respond by no longer buying our bonds, fine; under my administration we will no longer be running a deficit anyway. And if they want to sell the bonds they own, fine. It will merely depress the value of their own holdings and drive up interest rates in general, which is fine with me: I'm as tired as everyone else of getting less than one percent on my money market funds.

Lobbying: all campaign contributions will cease immediately. Our politicians have been bought and paid for by special interests for far too long. All campaigns should be publicly financed, and every candidate who has 20% or more support will get an equal chance to be heard. (I have not quite breached that level so far, so will have to content myself with this blog -- for now.) The idea that not being able to spend hundreds of millions on air time abrogates one's free speech is ludicrous. We need honest legislators, not prostitutes.

Affirmative action will no longer be race-based, but will be economically-based. A poor kid from the ghetto should get a leg up over a white middle class kid, but a poor white kid from Appalachia should likewise get a leg up over a middle class black kid. The only thing our current affirmative action policy affirms is that our diversity is not our strength.

Abortion should be available to anyone who wants it, free of charge from the government. This will be one of the best investments the government ever made. There are only so many resources, and kids are too important to be just an accidental byproduct of screwing. (A worthwhile life begins not at conception, but at birth when you have two parents who love you.) If you find abortion morally objectionable, then don't get one.

Welfare should be available to everybody who agrees to have Norplant implanted under her skin (and the equivalent drug for males) and who's willing to work for it. The only exceptions to this rule are the blind, the crippled, the infirm, and the retarded, along with those under 18 and over 65. People already on the dole shouldn't be popping more kids with their only plan of support being more welfare.

Yes, the cute little slogans at the end of some of the paragraphs are ridiculous oversimplifications. None, however, are quite as unsubstantive as "hope and change."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Confessions of a beta male XI: Drinking

One primary difference between alphas and betas is their drinking styles. You'd think that alphas might drink less, given that they tend to already be high on life -- or at least on themselves. But that doesn't seem to be the way it works.

An alpha drinks simply because it's fun. I drink when I need courage -- or at least a certain numbness.

After he's had three beers, an alpha, whatever his actual build, feels like a twenty-seven-year old Arnold Schwarzenegger. After three beers, my beer muscles only grow slightly: I'm still an ectomorph, albeit a slightly more toned one. 

I don't find others' vomiting either charming or funny, and find my own extremely unpleasant. I've seen alphas step outside to throw up, then just calmly go back inside to continue drinking.

After his first drink, an alpha thinks, mmm, that tasted good. I think, that drink just cost me five bucks plus tax and tip: was it really worth seven bucks just to feel a little dizzy?

An alpha will drink a three hundred dollar bottle of wine on the company dime and think, hey, I'm a classy guy who appreciates quality -- let's have another. I think, that's basically six glasses at fifty dollars a glass, which works out to maybe five dollars a sip. I have no idea whether the wine is actually good because all I can taste is the money going down my throat.

After a few drinks an alpha thinks, getting a buzz on is a GOOD thing. I start wondering how many brain cells I've just killed.

An alpha may take pride in his "empty leg." I know I'll never win a drinking contest, so the thought would never even occur to me.

For an alpha, beer goggles can turn a 3 into a 7. (Alphas have a tendency to view 5's as 7's to begin with.) The prescription on my goggles was always weak: they might turn a 6.0 into a 6.5. (Then again, alcohol occasionally did give me the courage to start a conversation with that 6.5.)

Towards the end of the evening, an alpha will have one more "just for the road." I pull out the tablet of Vitamin B I brought and ask for water, to counteract the dehydration alcohol can cause.

An alpha will then pile into his car, secure in the knowledge that he's such a good driver he'll never be pulled over even when drunk. I walk back and forth in the parking lot until I think my blood alcohol level is legal.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


A swimming buddy yesterday related a story that he had only heard from his 87-year-old father about eight years ago:

His father had enlisted in the infantry in 1943, after his freshman year of college, and was sent to fight in Europe with the 104th Mountain Division -- the Timber Wolves. He was supposed to have been part of a two man Browning Automatic Rifle team, but when the Army found out that he was an engineering major, they turned him into the Company radio man. Because of this, he was usually positioned fifty yards behind the front line, which often meant the difference between life and death.

The Timber Wolves, based in Holland and Germany, fought in the Battle of the Bulge as well as in many other lesser known battles of WWII. The soldiers in his Company got to the point where they could tell just from the sound which shells were going to land close by and which weren't. One day my friend's father and his unit were walking along a road when they heard a mortar, then the ominous whistling which meant that a shell was about to land nearby. The entire unit jumped into a nearby bomb crater. Then the shell exploded.

When my friend's father looked up, he saw that every single other man in his unit had been killed. He realized he had to deliver the bad news to headquarters, so he unstrapped the radio -- radios were cumbersome affairs back in those days -- from his back. When he tried to contact headquarters, he found that the radio didn't work. A quick examination revealed the reason: it was riddled with shrapnel.

The radio had saved his life. 

By the end of the war, that young man was the only one out of the 200 men in his Company who hadn't been either killed or wounded.

If it hadn't been for that radio, my swimming buddy would never have been born, nor his children, and so on. All of human history, of course, is filled with stories like this. Some people die, and some survive and procreate. And so much of what happens is just a matter of luck.

It's impossible to hear a story like this, though, and not marvel at the hand of Fate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

87 is the new 37

Whenever I read of a 37-year-old who has been caught with this amount of drugs, I quietly think: glad they caught him, hope they get a conviction. Then I go on to the next article. But somehow when I read about an 87-year-old being caught like this, I can't help but think: Way to go, grandpa!

Think of the average 87-year-old. If he's still alive, he's probably lucky to get across the room with his walker. But this guy -- Leo Earl Sharp -- still had the juice to be committing crimes, and not just any crime, but a big one.

I'm not quite going to say he's my hero, gotta admit, there is something admirable about him.

Here's how I want my obituary to read:

"John Craig, 104, was killed in a knife fight in a medium security prison yesterday in Washington state. He managed to kill four other inmates before the fifth one killed him. Craig succumbed to his wounds almost immediately.

"Craig had been convicted the previous year of statutory rape. At his trial, the 103-year-old Craig had groused, 'How the hell was I supposed to know she was only 17? She told me she was 21, and anyway, she was plenty willing.'

"But the judge said that Craig should have known better, and sentenced him to a two year term. When Craig then told the judge he'd better be looking over his shoulder after Craig got released, the judge added an extra year."

(It's my blog. I can fantasize if I want.)


Zurana Horton, the mother who died shielding her children from stray gunfire on the streets of Brownsville, a particularly lawless section of Brooklyn, has gotten a fair amount of publicity. For having used her own body to ensure the safety of her children, Horton is certainly a hero.

The NY Post this morning ran an editorial about her case being a good example of why the police stop and frisk policy is a good one:

The article mentioned that Zurana, who died at 34, had 12 children. What the article did not mention, but I am curious to know, is how many fathers were involved, whether Zurana had ever married any of them, what sort of child support the fathers were paying, and to what extent her family was living on municipal assistance.

The legacy that Zurana will leave her children is that they had a mother who loved them. The legacy she leaves the taxpayers is probably less benign.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"How to Spot Psychopaths: Speech Patterns Give Them Away"

An article which appeared on Yahoo yesterday:

A couple excerpts:

Using computer programs to analyze what the men said, the researchers found that those with psychopathic scores showed a lack of emotion, spoke in terms of cause-and-effect when describing their crimes, and focused their attention on basic needs, such as food, drink and money....

To examine the emotional content of the murderers' speech, Hancock and his colleagues looked at a number of factors, including how frequently they described their crimes using the past tense. The use of the past tense can be an indicator of psychological detachment, and the researchers found that the psychopaths used it more than the present tense when compared with the nonpsychopaths. They also found more dysfluencies — the "uhs" and "ums" that interrupt speech — among psychopaths. Nearly universal in speech, dysfluencies indicate that the speaker needs some time to think about what they are saying.

Focusing their attention on food, drink, and money, are themes this blog has mentioned in the past. One of the things that distinguishes a sociopath (which is essentially another word for a psychopath) is their utter lack of human(e) feeling. Therefore, after committing a murder, which is the last time a nonsociopath would be thinking about food, they are so relaxed and unperturbed they will immediately think about food or drink. And they will do anything to get money. We all like money, but for sociopaths, it often takes on an almost talismanic meaning. (As in, sociopaths are the root of all evil.)

Use of the past tense is certainly interesting, and makes sense. ("That was the old me, now I've turned over a new leaf.") I had never noticed the more frequent uses of "ums" and "uhs" before, but that makes sense too. ("Uh, officer, the, uh, gun just flew into my hand and, um, just went off on its own.")

What I had thought the article might mention, but didn't, is a tendency I've noticed with at least two sociopaths I've known well: they like to overpronounce their words, like overly actor-ish news broadcasters. I've never been sure whether this is because they are so in love with the sound of their own voices, or because it is just their naturally uninhibited way of being emphatic -- or both.  

That, um, concludes this, uh, post.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths (IX)

Situation: A nice guy, average guy, and sociopath, all of average intelligence, are put together in a social situation. What do they think of each other?

Nice guy: At first likes both. Continues to make excuses for the sociopaths's behavior long after it is apparent to others that his behavior is inexcusable. When someone points this out, the nice guy replies, "Well, I guess he has a dark side, but I certainly don't think he's a sociopath."

Average guy: At first sees the nice guy as boring, and thinks the sociopath is really cool and dynamic and fun to be around. Sees him as what he wants to be -- courageous, cynical, funny, and irreverent. As time goes on he eventually sees the sociopath for what he is -- disloyal, dishonest, self-serving, and hypocritical, and grows to hate him. Still sees the nice guy as a turkey, however, and avoids him as much as possible too.

Sociopath: Sees both of the others as potential marks. As time goes on, he realizes that the nice guy is a much better mark. When he sees that the average guy has caught onto him, he hates him back in turn. Resents the nice guy for so obviously having come from a loving family, and for being so naive.

Situation: You run the 400 meter dash for your college team.

Nice guy: Shows up to every practice, trains hard, and gets so nervous before his meets he sometimes throws up beforehand. Is somewhat in awe of the muscular guy on the team who is so fast.

Average guy: Shows up to most practices, gets nervous before the meets. Realizes that many world class competitors take performance enhancing drugs. Finds out about a food supplement store whose proprietor sells steroids on the side. Knows he would feel bad about cheating, but the really deciding factor for him is that he doesn't want his testicles shrunk, nor does he want to grow breasts after he stops taking steroids.

Sociopath: Doesn't really enjoy practice, and skips it whenever he feels like it, but looks forward to the meets as a place where he can strut his stuff. Occasionally throws up after a race as he doesn't get nervous ahead of time and just eats whenever he's hungry. As soon as he hears about the local dealer, seeks him out and goes on the juice. Figures those side effects he's heard about will never affect him.

Situation: You brush up against someone in a bar, causing him to spill his drink. He takes a swing at you, and without thinking you instinctively swing back, knocking him out. What do you do then?

Nice guy: Is absolutely mortified at what he's done, and is afraid that he might have caused some sort of permanent damage to the other guy. Asks the crowd if there's a doctor in the house.

Average guy: As the realization of what he's just done sinks in, he looks around to make sure his buddies have witnessed his glorious feat. His exultation as he realizes he will be able to dine out on this story for a long time is tempered by a moment of panic as he realizes this could get him into trouble. He quickly says to his buddy, "You saw what just happened, right? It was self-defense."

Sociopath: Once the guy is down on the ground, stamps on his head once for good measure, and also kicks him in the ribs. Doing this feels awfully good to him. He says somewhat threateningly to the surrounding witnesses, "It was self-defense. I had to make sure he wasn't going to get up and attack me again." Then adds, in aggrieved tone, "Crazy guy like that, you never know what he's going to do." He is immediately filled with the hope that he will get to do this again, and soon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


A friend sent the following email last night:

"On the plane ride from Costa Rica to Atlanta my girlfriend started conversing with another woman. The woman related that she’d been bitten by a tarantula while in Costa Rica. The clinic she went to was awesome – they waited on her almost immediately, it was cheap, they sent her away with three pills and she was fine – what a contrast with the US health care system. She also told us that she lived in Cambridge for years. Based on that, her appearance, and the Costa Rican vacation, I'm guessing that she’s liberal. She also mentioned, by the way, that a tarantula bite is not poisonous, just painful.  One might wonder why she needed any care at all, but no matter, the care was awesome.  

"If I’d been quicker on my feet I would have responded with the following story: We spent a lot of time with David, our primary host for the surf camp. At one point he said his ear had been hurting on and off for a year. He described his symptoms,which were consistent with swimmer’s ear. David had gone to a Costa Rican clinic a while back. He was seen almost immediately, and the visit was inexpensive, but the doctor told him there was nothing that could be done for him and he should take ibuprofen. [My girlfriend] recently had swimmer’s ear and had the medication with her. She gave it to David and after three days his pain was gone."

I guess the moral of the anecdote is that the US health care system is overpriced but more competent than those in Third World countries. But the email got me to thinking: why is it that liberals always try so hard to look for the worst about the US and the best about other countries? 

This is not a brief for how everything here is wonderful: there is plenty wrong here, including overpriced health care. But the way liberals struggle so desperately to talk up Third World countries is actually comical.

The same people who rave about the artistry that goes into a clay pot or a wood carving would never be caught dead praising the intelligence which went into, say, designing a space station.

The same people who rave about the ecology-friendly lifestyle practiced by the Yanomamo Indians -- in stark contrast to our own -- would never dream of mentioning their penchant for cannibalism.

The same people who pride themselves on being "open-minded" in fact keep their minds closed to all the the most rigidly leftist mindset: socialism (though not by that name) is better than capitalism, race is a social construct, etc. etc.

I once heard a liberal use the following phrase: "a really horrible person, you know, like Richard Nixon or Idi Amin." The liberal actually thought he was demonstrating his fair-mindedness by including Idi Amin, a black man, in that horrible company. 

Nixon was not a saint, but he didn't gain power through a coup, he never personally tortured political opponents, didn't keep the heads of his enemies in his freezer, and never killed his wife for having an abortion. But, evidently he and Amin were morally equivalent.

You can twist yourself into a pretzel trying to insist that there are no differences between people (or peoples), just as you can when you try to insist that there are no differences between countries, other than the moral ones which show us in a bad light. 

I guess the direction our country will go in next depends largely on who our next President will be -- someone nice and smart like Barack Obama, or someone horrible like Mitt Romney or Jeffrey Dahmer.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lord's Resistance Army

This past Friday, Barack Obama announced that we would be sending 100 troops to help central African governments fight the Lord's Resistance Army. Obama said, "I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy."

This is, of course, Obama-speak for "It has nothing to do with U.S. interests." (Remember, this is a man who said that he would be the "post-partisan President," and who, before picking Sonia Sotomayor to be Supreme Court Justice, said that he wanted a "strict Constitutionalist who would not legislate from the bench.")

Of course, the fact that helping Uganda and the Congo battle the LRA has little to do with our vital interests makes it no worse than our other military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anything, it's more justified. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), according to Wikipedia, practices murder, abduction, sexual enslavement of women and children," and forces children to participate in the hostilities. (The Ugandan Army has also been known to recruit children and practice mass rape, but let's ignore that for the moment.) The LRA will on occasion cut off the noses, ears, lips, and hands of its victims.

The LRA is not animated by any known political ideology, but rather by a toxic brew of mysticism, Acholi tradition, and the Ten Commandments (!).

In other words, they are religious nutcases. Not unlike some of the factions we've sided with at various times in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The LRA was founded by Alice Lakwena, who informed her followers that if they covered their bodies with shea nut oil, it would make them impervious to the Ugandan Army's bullets. She also told her followers that they should never take cover in battle, and should never kill snakes or bees. Her movement was later taken over by Joseph Kony, who told his followers that they should use oil to draw a cross on their chests as protection from bullets.

It is inevitable that after we leave Iraq, it will descend into sectarian squabbling and perhaps even civil war. Worse, it could be overrun by Iran. It is also inevitable that when we leave Afghanistan, the Taliban will take over.

At that point, we will have effectively lost both wars.

Should we lose to the LRA, it certainly won't say much for our military adventurism. 

Perhaps at that point, our soldiers should start covering their bodies with shea nut oil.

Better yet, maybe our politicians should start slathering it on, to protect themselves from bad decisions.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths (VIII)

Situation: You served in the Army as a Public Affairs Specialist, writing news releases and the like. As part of your job you once traveled to Kabul briefly. What do you tell people about your service?

Nice guy: Tells the truth, that he worked behind the lines briefly in Afghanistan. Takes pains to point out that he never saw combat.

Average guy: Says that he served in the Army in Afghanistan. If asked exactly what his job was, tells the truth, but emphasizes that he was in danger too, carried an M4, and traveled with a patrol once. Says he thought about trying out for Special Forces (the thought fleetingly crossed his mind), but in the end decided to go to college instead.

Sociopath: Says he was a Navy Seal, and engaged in covert operations he can't talk about. Once he sees that his tough guy credentials are established, burnishes his nice guy credentials by saying he is tormented by the thought that one time there might have been collateral damage from a hand grenade he threw.

Situation: How do you react to the sight of a legless veteran in wheelchair?

Nice guy: Looks away quickly; the tear forming in his eye embarrasses him.

Average guy: Looks away, then looks back at the veteran and nods, remembering what he once read about how people in wheelchairs don't like the way they become "invisible" since people are taught that it's impolite to stare. Feels sympathy, but also thinks, better him than me.

Sociopath: Stares directly at the stumps for a few seconds with a look of rapt fascination. Then looks up at the man's face as if he is a freakish curiosity. When he is out of earshot, or perhaps not quite out of earshot, says to his buddies, "Jesus, if I was that guy I'd kill myself."

Situation: You've just put a week working for Habitat for Humanity.

Nice guy: Just hopes his work has helped a little. Doesn't really focus on his own participation, other than to worry that perhaps the quality of his work might not have been good enough. For him, the work actually is its own reward.

Average guy: Joined thinking it would be a good way to meet girls, and figures it will look good on his resume. Feels this is definitive proof that he is a good person. Manages to insert his work into every conversation. Also figures the week has bought him respite from any good deeds for a long time.

Sociopath: Sees himself as a saint. Tries to portray himself this way even to the other people at Habitat, in the process managing to annoy all of them. Walks around in a constant state of egomania about his "sainthood." Exudes "goodness" all the time. Gets quite preachy about the need to help others. Becomes angry when others don't regard him in a saintly light.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The curse of Cain

The Mormon church has traditionally believed that the visible manifestation of the "curse of Cain" was black skin, and that all black people were descended from Cain, the biblical figure who slew his brother Abel. The church has distanced itself from this scriptural interpretation recently, but it was part of their doctrine for a long time. 

How ironic that the leading contender for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, is a Mormon, and that the candidate who may -- according to this morning's poll -- have just overtaken him is a black man named Herman Cain.

This blog probably pays too much attention to names. After all, what's in a name?

Still, one can't help but marvel at the coincidence.

"Occupy Cupertino"

Another amusing take on the Occupy Wall Street protesters. (The comments afterward are interminable, boring, and often ill-informed, but the post itself is worth reading.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sex assaults by campus

The other day a friend asked which college I thought would have the highest rate of sexual assault between Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Florida, and Texas A&M. It sounded like a trick question, so I replied, Harvard. He then sent the following chart:

Number of students/Reported sexual assaults/2007   2008   2009

Harvard      27,954                                     15       15      17
(Rate per million:)                                      537     537    608

Yale            11,701                                     8       13       7
                                                             681   1111    598

Princeton        7724                                    14      18       9
                                                             1813  2330  1165

Florida         49,827                                     2        1       3
                                                               40      20     60

Texas A&M  49,129                                      7        6       0
                                                             142     122      0

My immediate reaction to this was, it can't be true. It's not that I have a high opinion of Ivy scruples, but there's just no way the rate of sexual assault is that much higher there.

The explanation for the disparity has to be that the Ivy League is filled with women who will call you for sexual assault if you try to kiss them without asking permission, whereas Florida and Texas A&M are filled with women who consider date rape normal sex.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths (VII)

Situation: You're offered insider information from a friend who swears you to secrecy.

Nice guy: Thanks his friend but says he doesn't want to use it because he doesn't want to take the risk. He also feels it's morally wrong, but is too embarrassed to give that as a reason, knowing he would be mocked. When his friend tells him he should do it for the sake of his family, he feels bad about that, but still demurs. Worries about his friend. Worries that he himself might be legally liable just for having heard the information.

Average guy: Asks his friend over and over if the chain of information is airtight. Uses the information. Doesn't really feel that guilty about what he views as a victimless crime, but worries a lot about being caught. Tells himself this is the last time he'll do it, but when his friend offers him another piece of insider info, he thinks of how much he could make and succumbs again. When finally caught, he tries to stonewall, and doesn't give up his friend. When convicted, he feels almost as badly for his family as he does for himself.

Sociopath: Buys more stock than his friend recommended, and also passes the info along to a couple of acquaintances he wants leverage over. Boasts to others that he is privy to "special" information about the stock market, to show how well connected he is. Spends the money on a flashy car, flashy clothes, and fancy summer house rental. Assumes he won't get caught; when he does, he immediately offers to give up his source as well as the two he passed the info along to in exchange for leniency.

Situation: You become a priest.

Nice guy: Volunteers to work in a parish in a poor neighborhood, ministering to the needy, trying to help them improve their lot. Helps out in neighborhood doing non-priestly jobs like helping tutor students. Is tormented by his homosexuality, and doesn't act on it. Actually says his prayers when he goes to sleep at night.

Average guy: Is drawn to the profession because he wants to cover up his homosexuality, make a steady income, and have reputation as man of god. Enjoys the trappings and ceremony of the church. Is proud of his knowledge of Latin. Enjoys the respect of his parishioners. Has an affair with a younger priest.

Sociopath. Treats his parish as a business. Founds a "Help the Children" charity for orphans abroad; sees this as a perfect opportunity to molest boys who don't have parents who will come after him, in countries without strict enforcement against molestation. Many young boys are permanently scarred by his attentions. Pockets half the money he raises.

Situation: What do you usually tell people about your family?

Nice guy: Talks about how grateful he is to his parents, and how sweet his sister is. Tends to assume everyone else has the same close, loving relationship with their families he does. His friends think he's boring because he goes home to see them so frequently.

Average guy: Talks about his family rarely since he mostly talks about himself, but when he does he complains about what turkeys his parents are, and how his sister is a pest. But deep down, despite being embarrassed by them, he loves them.

Sociopath: Almost never talks about his alcoholic mother or absent father. (He is estranged from his mother and hasn't seen his father in years.) After a few years, he decides to make up a story about how his father was a Rockefeller, but was disinherited, and changed his last name; he likes the way people treat him when they find out he is really a Rockefeller.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"What 'Occupy Wall Street' really wants"

Incisively humorous article from yesterday's NY Post about the current protest:

Steve Jobs

The encomiums have been coming in fast and furious for Steve Jobs over the past two days. Yes, he was a great businessman, and an innovator, and a genius. But some have gone so far as to compare him to Thomas Edison, which is ridiculous.

There was nothing Jobs did which remotely compares to bringing electric power to American households. Edison's invention paved the way for light bulbs (which he invented), televisions, laundry machines, refrigerators, and even iMacs.

A more apt comparison for Jobs might be Akio Morita, the founder of Sony Corporation. Few Americans have heard of Morita, since he was Japanese, but Sony was the Apple of its day. They were the first to come out with magnetic recording tape. They made the first transistor radio, and the first transistor television. In 1975 they launched the Betamax home video recorder (which was surpassed the next year by the VHS version). In 1979, they came out with the Sony Walkman, the world's first portable music system. And in 1984, they came out with the Discman, which extended portability to CDs.

There is no denying Jobs' greatness. But to liken him to someone whose shadow he stands in just cheapens his legacy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin announced yesterday that she is not going to run for President in 2012. There hadn't been the keen anticipation awaiting this announcement that there had been for Chris Christie's decision. (By the way, has there ever been a more Christian name than the Governor of New Jersey's?)

Palin had pretty much already become a sideshow by this point anyway. She was widely acknowledged, even by most Republicans, to be a woman who had ascended to the national stage through a combination of ambition, circumstance, luck, and looks. (In this, she is not all that different from many, although she did it in politics, an arena in which she seemed particularly unqualified.)

In any case, as a result of McCain's having picked her to be his Vice Presidential nominee, and her resulting fame, Palin has been a staple on political talk shows for the past three years.

But upon seeing the announcement this morning, it occurred to me what show she would have been best suited for:

Real Housewives of Wasilla.

She may not have had the intellectual wherewithal to discuss foreign policy. But she certainly had the energy level, the ambition, the narcissism, the cattiness, the sex appeal, and the shamelessness to appear on that reality series.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Confessions of a Beta Male X: Introversion

One of the hallmarks of beta male-dom is that one often prefers one's own company to that of others.

Introversion can be learned in different ways. If all you ever do is get rejected socially, after a while you won't feel like putting yourself on the line anymore. If you're the type who feels mortified after making social mistakes, you'll be less eager to place yourself into similar situations. And if you're smarter than most, you'll eventually tire of listening to lame jokes, uninsightful "insights," and hackneyed opinions.

I fall into the "always rejected socially" category.

An alpha sees a pretty girl and thinks, aha, I have to try my luck: once she sees I'm me she won't be able to resist. My instinctive reaction was always, why bother -- I'm not going to get anywhere with her anyway.

An alpha may flirt with such a female. I daydream about doing that.

When an alpha hears the words, "Hey, there's going to be a great party on Friday night," he thinks, all right -- good time coming up! My immediate instinctive reaction: shoot, now I have to come up with an excuse not to go.

To an alpha, going to a party is a prelude to getting some willing female to climb into bed with him. I'd rather skip the party and just get under the covers immediately, to watch TV in peace.

An alpha lives in the moment. That's why he tends to view alcohol as a good thing: it makes him feel good right now. A beta tends to live more in the past and the future. So being fresh the next day, avoiding smoke and alcohol, and getting enough sleep are priorities. (Avoiding all that fun certainly paid off though: at age 57, I only look 56.)

An alpha regards a party with keen anticipation. I think, I'll have to be polite, pretend I'm interested in people I'm not, laugh at jokes I don't find funny, and even worse, listen to my own tired old stories again in order to keep up my end of the conversational bargain. I'm tired of the party before I even get there.

An alpha sees every stranger as a potential friend or ally, thinking he'll bowl them over with his charm. I always just assume they won't like me for some reason; everyone is a potential enemy.

Even going up to a stranger to ask for directions fills me with a mild dread; an alpha has no feeling about it one way or the other.

To an alpha, other people are there for his enjoyment. To me, people are essentially tests, to which I am often assigned failing grades.

An alpha opens a door, sees a roomful of strangers, and thinks, aha, new people to meet! He just loves to schmooze, and pump new hands. (It's called being high-powered.) I look around for any familiar faces; if there are none, I try to just close the door and slip away unnoticed. ("Low-powered.")

To me, books are almost always better company than people (even the ones who write them). To an alpha, books are basically unwanted homework. No alpha is ever described as "bookish."

An alpha doesn't even really understand the concept of self-consciousness. I constantly worry that I might appear too conceited, or overfriendly, or rude, or lame, or uninformed, etc.

An alpha just says what's on his mind, and never apologizes for it. Even when I don't offend, I apologize anyway. 

An alpha who was the recipient of a surprise party will radiate genuine happiness at being the center of attention. Any happy act I tried to put on would be rendered false by my obvious annoyance.

Alphas turn into happy (if somewhat garrulous) old men. Introverts turn into curmudgeons -- a term first applied to me when I was 28.

All of this is of course tied into optimism and pessimism. An alpha's glass is always half full. Mine is, well, you get the picture.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Obama and the military

Obama's feelings about the military seem to have evolved since he came into office.

As a young Marxist, he probably had the reflexively anti-military attitude common among those of his ilk. (How many of you believe his assertion that he had "seriously" considered joining the military as a young man?) The young (i.e., up until 2008) Obama undoubtedly saw the US military as a tool of the oppressor -- you know, Amerika. Otherwise he wouldn't have felt obliged to spend the first part of his Presidency apologizing for our imperialist history.

But now that Obama has been in the White House for two and a half years, now that the economy has soured even further, now that more and more people see him for what he is, his attitude seems to have changed. He has found that the public only unites behind him only when he is involved with something like taking out some Somali pirates, or Osama bin Laden, or, four days ago, al Alwaki. This allows him to bask in the soldiers' reflected glory, to universal approval. As a result he has developed a sort of soft spot for them.

Witness the 13 White House Fellows for 2010 -2011:

Three of the thirteen are from the military. Had the 40-year-old Obama chosen 13 outstanding young people across the country, it's doubtful he would have looked to the military. (He would probably have picked a group of like-minded leftists.)

Political correctness has not entirely deserted him, however. It's hard not to notice that 5 of the 13 are black. (Doesn't that 38% statistic reflect the sort of disproportion, or disparate impact, that Obama has spent much of his life railing against?)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bob Turner's acceptance speech

 It just occurred to me, this is what Bob Turner, who won the seat of the disgraced Anthony Weiner, should have said in his victory speech two and a half weeks ago:

"I want you all to know that I'm here because of Anthony Weiner's penis. We should consider this a celebration of that organ.

"Because Anthony thought he wouldn't get caught when he sexted all those girls, the Democrats now have one one less vote in the House of Representatives.

"Because the steroids he took made Anthony's horniness spin out of control, there will be one more voice in the House of Representatives against greater debt.

"Because Anthony thought it appropriate to sent a picture of his hardon to college girls, ObamaCare is more likely to be repealed.

"Because Anthony thought that he would actually turn on girls twenty years younger by sending them naked pictures of himself, Obama's newest stimulus bill is less likely to gain traction.

"Because Anthony couldn't get his mind off all that sweet college poontang, we are more likely to move towards a balanced federal budget.

"And because Anthony lied about all this when he was first caught and claimed that his phone had been hacked, tax rates are more likely to stay unchanged.

"Let us all take a moment to thank both Anthony Weiner's penis and his dishonesty and the steroid manufacturer who made him so horny. Because they can all claim credit for advancing the cause of fiscal responsibility."

Then he should have sent a video of this speech to Weiner.

Ungracious? Of course.

Accurate? Yes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Boy was I wrong!

The following AP article described Michelle Obama's trip to a DC-area Target yesterday:

It sure was a lucky coincidence there just happened to be a photographer at Target so the rest of us could see her shopping there! And that the four or five Secret Service agents hovering around her just happened to give this fella unfettered access to the First Lady! And that she smiled for him, just like the friendly gal she is!

I just can't believe how wrong I was. Here I had thought that the First Lady was the kind of woman who took fancy vacations to five star hotels in Spain and $50,000 a week rentals on Martha's Vineyard. I had thought she was the type to soak the taxpayers by taking a different government plane than her husband did just so she could arrive in Hawaii or Vail a few days ahead of time.

Was I ever mistaken!

I guess she's just plain ol' folks, the kind who does her shopping at Target every weekend. Gotta pick up those odds and ends for the family. You know: some new flip flops for Sasha, a few spiral notebooks for Malia, maybe that new Ron Suskind book for Barry.

A woman's work is never done.

 Especially when campaign season is coming up.

Blame the teachers

Interesting post by a teacher on Steve Sailer's blog about what teaching can actually be like:

Teachers get way too much credit or blame for how their students do. A teacher has no control over what the average IQ in his classroom is. (Blame nature for that.) And how well students do in standardized tests has far more to do with their native abilities than with what kind of teacher they have. This is not to say there isn't variation between teacher's skills. But to attribute lousy test scores entirely to teachers is just silly.

An analogy: I know nothing about basketball. But give me the Los Angeles Lakers to coach, and give Phil Jackson the Harvard University team, and my team will beat his every time. Does that make me the better coach? Of course not.

Yet that's how a lot of people judge teachers, since it is anathema to think that there might be innate differences in ability between students.

By all means, encourage good teachers and get rid of the bad. But if you're going to judge teachers based on their students' test scores, at least cross reference them to their students' IQ's.


Daniel Craig looks a little like Irish miler Eamonn Coghlan:

However, only one of them is a tough guy. The other is an actor on steroids.

Come to think of it, Coghlan would be well cast as a British gangster.