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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Still searching for the right look

Some days I walk down the street and feel as if I am (in my own over-sheltered, neurotic, and timid way) the baddest hombre who ever lived. I walk past other guys and think, I could absolutely beat the crap out of you. I walk by women and think, if only you had any idea of how skillful I am in bed.

But even though I know this, they don't. And it bothers me. I want people to know that I'm the walking bundle of machismo that I am.

The problem is, it would be immodest for me to announce this.

(Not to mention that, realistically, I'd probably get beaten up by half the men and also arrested after the women complained about me.)

So, how do I broadcast my incredible manliness and yet maintain an acceptable veneer of modesty at the same time?

I need to dress the part.

But how? Frankly, I'm a little old to be wearing t-shirts with death's head motifs, or dressing up like a biker (as opposed to a faux cyclist, as some middle-aged men in my town do). And I haven't earned the right to wear any sort of military gear.

So what to wear?

A few posts ago I explored Yoko Ono's new fashion line in my never ending quest to bolster my masculine bona fides. In the end, though, I decided against that look. Which left me still searching.

So, like any aspiring he-man, I looked to the recent Paris and London fashion shows for guidance, and was richly rewarded:

I've been in the market for a camo jacket for some time now. With this one, I'd have to hide in a flower bed rather than a forest or field, but it would still give me that tough quasi-military look I desire.

Everyone knows wrestlers are the toughest guys around, and also that skiing is a dangerous sport. So why not combine the two pastimes with this fantastic Bernard Wilhelm statement? No one will mess with me then! Who wants to get put in a half-Nelson by a guy schussing at 60 per?

The trace of red in these shoes will make it seem as if I just finished kicking someone's teeth in during a bar brawl.

Go ahead and try to tie a noose around my head, punk! You'll see what happens when this Aztec warrior gets ahold of you. The hand wrappings add a nice pugilistic touch to this John Galliano creation.

There are times when I'll want a more formal look. And this perfectly fitted suit, worn with such panache above, definitely evokes James Bond. Finally, an outfit worthy of my Aston Martin.

This fur coat by Yves St. Laurent practically roars, "I just climbed the Himalayas, killed a spotted snow leopard with my bare hands, and skinned it myself."

And, well, if people don't believe that, at least I'll be keeping my pimp hand strong.

Let's face it, real men develop beer bellies after a while. So why not a men's corset for when I'm slugging down a case or two watching the football game? I think I'll wear this to the Super Bowl party this weekend just so they'll know what a regular guy I am.

This Thom Browne outfit is an updated Braveheart look: the paint on the face, the Scottish plaid, the sunglasses for spotting the enemy's arrows better, and the short pants for more freedom of movement while chasing those damned English down. You really can't get any more macho than William Wallace.

Maximus thumbs up for this Roman centurion look by J.W. Anderson, which brings back the days of the gladiators! This reminds me, I need to coordinate with my buddies more often, so we can be more intimidating. If the Crips or Bloods see us striding onto their turf like this, they'll know we mean business. Move over you wimpy poseurs, there's a new gang in town!

Paging John Wayne. This Jeremy Scott creation certainly evokes the rugged gunslingers of the Wild West. If I strolled into the OK Corral at high noon with my six shooters strapped to this outfit, no one would dare draw down on me! The briefs may seem a bit skimpy, but since I'm a, never mind.

Finally, the ultimate macho outfits I've been seeking! Of course, these wimps have their muscular definition painted on, which I hardly need. (I do prefer to go a little heavier on the eye makeup, though.) In the outfit on the left, I'd resemble a Viking warrior on the lookout for villages to plunder and maidens to rape. And on the right, a satyr, which is basically what I am.

My search is finally over.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Where to draw the line on weapons

The gun rights advocates are certainly right about how poorly gun control laws work and how criminals don't pay any attention to such laws anyway. But it's still hard to justify assault weapons.

No one uses an AR-15 during deer season. And for purposes of defending your home, shotguns, which nobody is talking about banning, are far more effective. (AR-15s are certainly a lot more fun to shoot though, and they look more badass.) 

So there's no legitimate need for an AR-15. 

On the other hand, very few murders are committed with them. Over 98% of firearm murders are committed with handguns. So if we're seriously interested in "saving the children," as so many gun control advocates put it, maybe we should allow AR-15's but ban handguns.

You hear a lot these days about how the Second Amendment was created so that the populace could defend itself against a tyrannical government. Our government is far more corrupt than tyrannical. But either way, whenever I hear someone quote that as a reason to allow assault weapons, I always wonder how a few Michigan Militia types with their AR-15's think they're going to stave off the US Army.

To fight the government, you'd obviously need much more firepower. Yet no one complains about the fact that hand grenades, bazookas, and shoulder-fired missiles (like the Stinger, which can take down a commercial jet) are illegal.

Or for that matter, atomic bombs.

This is of course ridiculous, but the point is, drawing a line between any two deadly weapon seems a little arbitrary. Assault weapons are scarier, but they tend to be toys for law-abiding citizens, whereas the more easily concealed handguns are almost always the weapon of choice for criminals.

So, where does that leave us?

Everyone seems to agree that more stringent background checks are in order. To that we should probably add more training in the use of firearms, along the lines of driver's ed courses. 

But beyond that? 

One solution would be to severely restrict carry permits, but allow everyone to keep a gun -- of any type they want -- in their home. That would take away the Wild West atmosphere so many decry, yet allow people to protect their families at home. Then again, that would make law-abiding citizens easier prey for criminals, by multiplying the "gun free zone" effect. (Declaring a place is a gun free zone is tantamount to announcing, "Victims inside!")

Another solution would be to increase the age at which one is allowed to purchase a firearm to 30. Violent criminals do tend to be younger, and robbery victims older. And by age 30, it's clear whether someone is going to develop schizoid tendencies or not. But it does seem unfair to ask soldiers -- most of whom are younger than 30 -- to risk their lives in war, then take away their right to defend themselves at home.

Another solution would be to simply stiffen the penalties for illegal gun possession, and increase stop and frisks. That would get guns out of the hands of criminals, who are the real problem to start with. This upsets the civil libertarians, who object if minorities are disproportionately frisked, even if minorities commit a disproportionate number of murders.

Some combination of the second and third solutions would probably be most effective, but there's certainly no easy answer.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Topless protesters

The following AP article appeared on Yahoo News yesterday:

Topless protesters take on elite Davos forum.

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Three women angry over sexism and male domination of the world economy ripped off their shirts and tried to force their way into a gathering of corporate elites in a Swiss resort.

Predictably, they failed. The ubiquitous and huge security force policing the World Economic Forum in Davos carried the women away, kicking and screaming.

The women, from Ukrainian feminist activist group FEMEN, scaled a fence and set off pink flares in the protest Saturday. Their chests were painted with "SOS Davos," as they sought to call attention to poverty of women around the world.

Critics of the Davos forum say the business and political leaders at the gathering spend too little time doing concrete things to solve the world's problems and help the needy.

I've never quite gotten the logic of these protests. How does taking your top off send the message that women are in poverty? To me, it sends the message, "Look at my tits."

It's also a little mystifying that a group which wants equality between men and women demonstrates for that cause by highlighting a difference between the sexes. (Or, if you will, by headlighting those differences.)

When you think about it, going to Davos to complain that these business and political leaders aren't doing enough is predicated on an extremely anti-feminist assumption to begin with: that women need those big, strong, smart men to help them achieve "equality."

Were the women of FEMEN in fact only demonstrating their own intellectual poverty?

Wouldn't it make more sense for these women to be doing the hard work of creating their own businesses, and making money, and then, if they choose to, giving that money away to the needy?

Nah, showing off your tits is more fun.

The women who participate in these protests are almost exclusively young and attractive. Could it be that they get a certain exhibitionistic thrill from taking their clothes off in public, but feel the need to hide that urge behind the patina of a noble cause?

Would less attractive breasts send a different message?

It is true that these women get more attention than they otherwise would by getting naked. And it seems unlikely that these women would otherwise be attracting attention for their clarity or profundity of thought. But while they attract attention, do they really further their causes?

Wikipedia has this to say about the group:

FEMEN is a feminist Ukrainian protest group based in Kiev, founded in 2008. The organization became internationally known for organizing topless protests against sex tourists, religious institutions, international marriage agencies, sexism and other social, national and international topics.....Some of the goals of the organization are: "To develop leadership, intellectual and moral qualities of the young women in Ukraine" and "To build up the image of Ukraine, the country with great opportunities for women".

Here are a few examples of these young women developing their leadership, intellectual, and moral qualities:

(Protesting the Ukrainian President in Kiev.) 

(Protesting Euro corruption)

(Protesting Berlusconi)

A question for the men: do these pictures leave you thinking, wow, we really have to bring an end to Euro corruption, and gee, that Berlusconi really is horrible? Or were your thoughts perhaps less pure?

After spending half an hour researching this post on Google Image, I can't help but notice that most of these women look like.....strippers.

And there's nothing quite like a stripper who takes herself too seriously.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Women in combat

In an announcement sure to strike terror into the hearts of America's enemies, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday that women will now be allowed into combat roles.

I could support this, in a half-hearted way, if none of the requirements for combat positions were changed. But the military already has two standards of fitness for the sexes -- a double standard, if you will. Right now, to place at the 90th percentile for fitness in the National Guard, a 22 to 26 year old male has to be able to do 66 push-ups in two minutes. For women, the equivalent number is 39.  A 22 to 26 year old man has to run two miles in 13:54 to score at the 90th percentile. A woman, 16:36.

Right now, as part of basic training, an infantryman has to carry an 85 pound rucksack for 8 miles, and a 75 pound rucksack for 12 miles. How will they change this requirement for women?

When they have those pugil stick matches, will women be matched against the men? (This seems unfair, but in an actual war, they will be matched against men.)

How will the obstacle courses be adapted for the women? Will those high, sheer walls be made less so?

In every infantry squad, for every four riflemen, there is one machine gunner. Machine guns weigh 23 pounds. (Next time you're at the gym, try lifting one of those 25 pound plates, then imagine aiming it while also carrying a 50 pound rucksack.) Will women be exempted from this duty?

This sounds as if it's going to be just another form of affirmative action. But the consequences here could be lethal, not only for the women but for the others in their squad as well. How will they retrieve a wounded comrade? While on patrol, will others have to slow their pace to accommodate the woman in their squad?

(The logical extension of integrating combat positions is to integrate sports. Let the women compete directly against men there. How will the feminists feel about that? It's easy to imagine the slogans: No more "separate but equal"! Down with segregation! We're tired of being consigned to the women's ghetto! Anything a man can do, a woman can do better!)

Sports are segregated for a good reason: because women can't compete with men in contests requiring strength and aggression. Every now and then, some woman tries to compete in a men's league in golf or basketball, usually with disastrous results. Well, sports are just ritualized combat. What makes anyone think real combat will be any different?

The Army is evidently trying to downsize these days. One DUI and you're out; this is not the way it used to be. If you test positive for recreational drugs like marijuana, you're out too. But the military does seem to turn a blind eye to steroids. I've seen (and heard of) too many guys in the military (especially the Marines, for some reason) who are juicing to think otherwise. The military wants its soldiers to be fighting machines, and steroids not only make them stronger, they make them more aggressive. Why would the military want to weed that out?

But think for a moment: this means the military wants its warriors to be ultra-masculine, i.e., the opposite of women.

None of this is to impugn the character of those women who do want to serve their country this way. They are every bit as patriotic and brave as the men who volunteer to serve in a combat role. It's just that they're not suited for that role.

What happens the first time a woman gets captured and raped? (Will we be able to prosecute the enemy for a "hate crime"?)

Evidently the vast majority of women in the military -- a far more gung ho group than the average woman to begin with -- are against this change. (Strangely, that fact did not make it onto the front page of the New York Times.)

There are people who argue, well, war is different now. It's fought with computers, with remotely controlled drones, with high tech weaponry, and from inside fighter planes and attack helicopters, where physical strength is less important. This is, to a certain extent, true.

But even with that kind of warfare, are women as constitutionally inclined to pull triggers and kill? Young boys become addicted to violent video games because they love that kind of action. How often do you hear of young women who become video game fanatics? How many top computer programmers, or computer hackers, are women? Gender differences on the mental side seem equally stark, if less immediately visible.

One somewhat rude, but necessary question: will women in the field be able to effectively ignore their menstrual cycle?

Or won't they? ("I'm sorry about that friendly fire, but you have to understand, it was my time of month.")

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Toughness and cheapness

One correlation I've long noticed but can't explain is toughness and cheapness. A high percentage of the tough guys I've known have been cheap. (The former often implies the latter, but the latter only rarely implies the former.)

I should distinguish between being frugal and being stingy: frugality means you're willing to go without luxuries yourself, stinginess that you're unwilling to be generous -- or even reciprocate --  with others. Obviously, the first trait is admirable, the second merely selfish and, sometimes, hypocritical. The tough guys I've known have been both frugal and stingy. 

Sometimes these guys seems to have ridiculous attitudes, as in, "Why should I give that guy money just because he brought me my food? That's his job." This may be social naivetĂ©, but can also be an extension of a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude which occasionally characterizes them.

Anyway, I can't explain it, but I've seen the correlation too many times not to be struck by it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Livestrong says about Armstrong

In many of the recent discussions about Lance Armstrong, there has been a lot of weighing of the good and bad in his life against each other. The bad is of course represented by the doping scandal, and the vicious way he went after those who accused him of doping.

The good is represented by his foundation Livestrong, whose primary mission is to provide support for cancer patients. Until recently they used Armstrong's image to inspire patients as well, imparting an if-Lance-can-make-it-so-can-you message. Some were undoubtedly helped by such cheerleading.

But if you're familiar with how successful sociopaths operate, such a foundation can in fact be evidence OF their sociopathy as much as evidence against it. Many sociopaths feel a need to proclaim to the world how wonderful they are, and what better way to do that than a foundation? It's almost a sort of greed: not only do they want the accolades for their success, they want accolades for being saintly as well.

Non-sociopaths simply don't campaign for sainthood. Decent types tend to do good in a quiet, behind the scenes sort of way. A public campaign, named partially after the chief do-gooder, with his picture splashed all over, starts to resemble a cult of personality as much as it does an ordinary charity. This is not to say Livestrong doesn't do a lot of good, because it does -- as the many testimonials on its website attest.

Likewise, a billionaire who donates a chunk of money to splash his name across a new hospital wing undoubtedly does a great deal of good. But that doesn't necessarily make the billionaire a decent human being. Goodness can not be bought. Rather, it's defined by the pattern of one's personal relationships, by one's loyalty and honesty. And many of those billionaires undoubtedly have less than exemplary histories on that score -- just like Lance.

There are certainly people who start such foundations with only the best of intentions. But when someone with a proven track record of dishonesty and manipulation and vindictiveness opens a foundation, it's a pretty safe bet that his motives for doing so are egotistical rather than charitable.

Those who knew him say that Armstrong hated attending the meetings for Livestrong, and avoided them whenever possible. One can hardly blame him for that; such conferences can be deadly. But it is indicative that he wanted the reputation for saintliness without the honest work required for canonization. Which is not entirely unlike the way he approached his cycling career.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lance's sociopathy, Part II

This blog's original post on Lance Armstrong's sociopathy has gotten over 1900 hits in the past week, over 1000 in the past 24 hours alone. This means a lot of people have Googled, "Is Lance Armstrong a sociopath?" or similar questions.

It's gratifying that so many people are beginning to see through the (formerly) heroic facade to the sociopathic personality beneath.

When it was announced that Armstrong would "confess" in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the question arose, exactly what would he admit to and what did he expect to gain from such a "confession"?

Confessing to something you've already been convicted of is a fairly hollow exercise in the first place. But it became even hollower as it quickly became apparent that Lance only consented to it in hopes of getting a reduction of his lifetime ban from certain sports.

Some held out hope that at least the sight of Lance finally admitting to his guilt and expressing remorse would, if not give him absolution, at least give viewers some small satisfaction.

During last night's interview, Lance mostly said the right things. But it was the way in which he said them -- his body language, so to speak -- that was most revealing. He didn't seem in the least perturbed by having to confess to his misdeeds. His delivery was matter of fact and off-handed, even somewhat disengaged. His voice held the same level of emotion that a normal person's might have while discussing a strategic mistake he had made during a minor chess game from thirty years before.

Armstrong said he felt embarrassed, yet he seemed completely unembarrassed (as a sociopath, he is incapable of that emotion). He never once blushed. He never seemed ill at ease (as a sociopath, he sees himself as in control of every situation). He never projected any real guilt or remorse (again, as a sociopath, he is incapable of those emotions).

What he said was also occasionally revealing. On several occasions, when asked about specific instances, he simply claimed he couldn't remember. (How much coaching did he have from his lawyers before this interview?)

Armstrong said that he viewed doping as "part of the job." In other words, he had no choice but to do it.

When asked about his numerous lies, Armstrong replied that he had said "one big lie, many times." In sociopath-ese, this means that he basically only lied once.

Winfrey asked Armstrong how much his doctor Michele Ferrari had helped him with his doping program. Armstrong demurred, saying he felt "uncomfortable" talking about others, as if he is too nice a guy to say anything bad about anyone. This, after years of viciously tarring anybody who dared suggest that he wasn't completely clean.

Armstrong referred to himself as "a flawed character." This is what a sociopath's supporters will often say about him, implying that he is just a normal person with flaws, just like all the rest of us. As in, "Okay, so the guy made a mistake, so what? After all, he's only human -- what're you, perfect?"

But a sociopath is in fact flawed in a way vastly different than most of us: he is completely without redeeming traits. He is incapable of love, intrinsically dishonest, without loyalty, and utterly without conscience.

The overall pattern of Armstrong's life and relationships can only lead to that conclusion.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who has the right to be creeped out?

After putting the post about Yoko's new fashion line up two days ago, a friend emailed an objection, which I then posted (in slightly paraphrased form) as a comment. The criticism was that I had been unnecessarily critical of homosexuals,  especially with my "yecch" comment.

I responded, "You constantly hear women say that they're 'creeped out' by unwanted attention from guys, or that certain guys are 'creepy,' yet no one criticizes the women for saying this. The only ones worthy of criticism in these cases seem to be the 'creepy' guys. Why can't guys react the same way to such unwanted attentions [from other guys]?"

This friend later suggested that I wrote the post because it made me feel more masculine; I thought I was being self-deprecating about my own insecurities. Oh well.

In any case, the issue of disgust merits discussion: who exactly is creepy, what makes them that way, and who has the right to label someone that way?

Creepiness, like beauty, seems to be in the eye of the beholder. The deciding factors seem to be age, gender, and distance from the sexual norm.

If an eight-year-old has a crush on another eight-year-old, we consider it cute. But if a forty-year-old has a crush on an eight-year-old, it's creepy. There is near universal agreement on this, especially since he'd be breaking the law by acting on that "crush."

But what if such a person doesn't intend to molest, but only to observe, and store away potential masturbatory fantasies for later? Are we still right to be disgusted by him? After all, he can't help who he is, anymore than a regular homosexual can.

(I actually have more sympathy for child molesters than most. Imagine for a moment that you are attracted to eight-year-old boys, and you can't help this any more than you can help being attracted to whomever you're attracted to now. You find the idea of a smooth, hairless, innocent little child infinitely more appealing than some big, hairy, wrinkly, cynical grownup. You know that taking advantage of children is wrong; yet they are the only ones you're attracted to. Would you be able to go through your entire life without indulging yourself even once?)

Middle-aged women freely -- and frequently -- express their disapproval of older men who date, or marry, much younger women. We've all heard such clucking. Yet when it comes to "cougars," you never hear middle-aged women express disapproval. Their attitude about that phenomenon is more, "You go girl!"

I've heard several women express their disapproval of Hugh Hefner for his much younger girlfriends, and now, wife. By contrast, there has been a deafening silence about Madonna and Demi Moore, both of whom favor men far younger than themselves.

The age factor aside, a woman who comes on to a man is never called a "creep" or "pervert." Yet men who come on to women get called that all the time. Why one but not the other?

(It is equally true, as many women have pointed out, that it is unfair to praise men with a long list of partners as "studs," yet label their female counterparts as "sluts." But if that logic holds, then we should also get rid of the double standard described in the paragraph above.)

Homosexuals used to be called "queer." This is because most people perceive them that way; if you're not used to them, they can seem weirdly perverse. This term has fallen by the wayside -- except for a few gay activists who embrace it -- but I've heard too many people describe being creeped out by an approach from a homosexual not to think that that is a natural instinctive reaction.

Should we guard against such instincts? I'm for gay marriage, because I'm for equal rights. And I'm certainly against violence against or bullying of homosexuals. But does this mean I have to pretend to deny my own natural reaction? Wouldn't that be dishonesty? Or is it just good manners?

(Come to think of it, good manners usually boil down to tactful dishonesty.)

Another issue is the difference between simply seeing a homosexual on the street and having one actually make a pass at you. Does the latter give you the right to be creeped out, whereas the former does not?

Generally, the further you get away from what's considered the norm, the more people are disgusted. Otherwise, why would people be creeped out by a woman with facial hair but not by a man? They react that way because that's just not the way it's supposed to be -- and it's a very rare condition. A lot of people find circus freaks scary. Is this reaction evil, or even politically incorrect? It seems hard to condemn anybody merely for being fearful.

How about perversions among heterosexuals? Mocking men who see dominatrixes seems to be a staple in the movies. Why is it okay to mock them but not homosexuals? Who gets to label something as a (shameful) perversion?

These are all dichotomies worth pondering -- especially those which give off a not so faint whiff of hypocrisy.

My takeaway is, everybody has the right to be disgusted by whatever they're disgusted by -- as long as it doesn't infringe on anyone's legal rights. But as long as whoever is disgusting them is minding their own business, good manners dictate that that disgust not be expressed.

At least within earshot.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Special insight

We rented Prometheus on Friday night. It was quite good, but by the end of the movie I had decided, wow, they really ripped off Alien. The monsters looked sort of similar, even down to the way they popped out of peoples' stomachs. Even the stark outer space sets had a weirdly similar feel. 

I wondered, do other people not see this? How could they not? Am I the only one who's smart enough to see the resemblance? Hmm. I must be awfully smart if I am. 

Then I looked Prometheus up on Wikipedia, and saw that it was supposed to be the prequel to Alien. Both movies were directed by Ridley Scott. 

Okay, I'm the idiot.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Yoko's new fashion line

I'm just a normal guy, of average masculinity. Like most normal guys, I don't have anything against homosexuals -- I just don't want to be mistaken for one myself. I have been, in the past, and don't like it. I'm not sure if I find it more discomfitting when a gay guy mistakes me for one of the brotherhood and comes on to me (yecch) or a straight guy thinks I'm gay (and he thinks, yecch). Either way, it's an experience I prefer to avoid, so I take pains to come across masculine in every way I can, including the way I dress.

Luckily for me, Yoko Ono has come up with a new fashion line just for guys like me. Yes, that Yoko. You may think of her as the gold digger who ended up with John Lennon's fortune. But she is far more than that. She is an avant garde genius of fashion, who understands exactly how a guy like me feels:

It takes a big pair of you-know-whats to wear this outfit in badass black. Don't believe me? Talk to the hand!

Nothing quite says "Get outa my way, I'm lookin' for pussy" like a shoulder-less pink mesh shirt. This look is undoubtedly big with the Seal Team Six guys on their days off.

At first glance, those look like patches on the insides of the knees. But upon closer inspection, they turn out to be cutouts exhibiting bare skin. It's a pretty safe assumption that any guy who wears these is going to be so hypermasculine, the only question's going to be whether it's his balls or dick that'll be hanging out of those holes.

The best way to quietly growl "I have testosterone to spare" is with a nipple-emphasizing shirt.

Okay, so this one is a tad on the feminine side. But look at it this way: you'll be going out the window and coming in the other side. Any man who wears a bra is practically roaring, "I'm so confident in my masculinity I don't give a crap what anybody thinks, you lily-livered, conventional, mincing little fairies!"

Let's say another guy on the football team has challenged you to a fight. Let's say you're supposed to meet him at the south parking lot at 3:45PM. Let's say you really hate this asswipe and want nothing more than to knock all of his teeth out, then stomp the little shit's face. And let's say practically everyone at school will be there, 'cause they all want to know who the numero uno alpha male at Central High really is.

The real question then becomes, what to wear? Yoko has come up with the perfect solution:

Okay, well, maybe I'm not being entirely serious. Maybe I wouldn't really wear these outfits to augment my masculine image. But there are other uses for them. For instance, if I ever get really furious at my daughter, I'll just wear the bum-less pants above when her friends come over. Think she'll die a thousand deaths?

Try a million.

Yoko Ono, back in the late 60's, once put a bunch of flies in a jar and called it "art."

I'm honestly not sure which I'd rather wear, that jar or these outfits.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

In vino veritas -- and a certain measure of character

One definition of a decent person is someone who needs to get drunk before telling you off. One strong and consistent correlation seems to be between inhibitions and good character. The reverse holds true too, as demonstrated by sociopaths and their utter lack of inhibition. 

Thus, one of the best measures of character is the gap between a person's personality when drunk and when sober. Decent people generally aren't harshly critical because they would feel bad about hurting others' feelings. "Feeling bad" about such is proof of the existence of a conscience. And needing alcohol to rid oneself of conscience-derived inhibitions is what people with strong consciences do.

They say there's no such thing as a mean drunk, only a mean person. Maybe so. And whenever someone says, after the fact, that was just the alcohol talking, that's pretty lame: obviously, it was the person talking. But anyone who needs alcohol to allow his inner critic -- or inner hedonist -- to come out is actually demonstrating a certain measure of decency.

The people you have to guard against are the ones who are uninhibitedly loud, obnoxious, and mean while stone sober.

Celebrity gun control hypocrisy

This hilarious Youtube video shows celebrities tremulously asking for more gun control -- to prevent the deaths of more children -- juxtaposed with clips from their movies which essentially celebrate gun violence.

If you ever want to know what not to think, listen to the Hollywood herd.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Must be nice

Barack Obama just signed a law giving himself (and George W. Bush) lifetime protection by armed Secret Service agents.

In the meantime, he is trying to prevent the rest of us from being able to protect ourselves.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Evolution and sociobiology

There's nothing quite like a liberal in full throat voicing his scathing contempt for those backward, unenlightened, Bible-thumping, inbred hillbilly rednecks who aren't even smart enough to grasp the concept of evolution. You know, those same people whom Barack Obama referred to as "clinging to their guns and their religion."

I, like the vast majority of conservatives, agree that evolution is undeniable: the fossil record may not be complete, but it's complete enough to be convincing, and the whole thing just makes too much sense not to be true. Mutations happen, most are not adaptive but a few are, and those genes get passed along to the next generation.

When it comes to very earliest origins of life, how that first bit of inanimate matter became animate, evolution is a little harder pressed for an answer. Many who believe in evolution claim that's where God's hand is demonstrated. This is harder to argue against, though I suspect that science will eventually have the answer there, too.

The one course that ever really set me on fire when I was in college was sociobiology (now known as evolutionary psychology). It explained human nature far better, and far more logically, than any psychology course I ever took. Evolution explains perfectly why and how people act in ways to maximize their genetic contribution to the next generation.

We've lived in a technologically advanced age for less than 100 years, and in an industrial one for 200 years before that. And we've lived in an agricultural age for a few thousand years. But we were Stone Age tribesmen for millions of years before that. Like it or not, what we have been shaped by evolution to be are cavemen, with all of the primitive instincts we associate with such.

Sociobiology explains why men and women have evolved different attitudes towards mating. For a woman, spending nine months pregnant and then caring for that baby for years afterward is a far bigger investment than the act of intercourse is for a man. So women are the gatekeepers to sex. If they have a choice, they will choose to mate with men they deem most likely to help their children survive long enough to have children of their own. 

Women don't think of it in those terms, of course: they simply find themselves attracted to the strongest, smartest, best-looking man who seems as if he might be willing to stick around and help raise her offspring. (Looks generally equate with health.)

Men, conversely, are evolutionarily selected to be -- or at least to try to appear to be -- the strongest, smartest, and best-looking. And they are programmed to spread their seed as widely as possible. All of which explains much of male psychology.

These principles aren't just true of humans, they're true across all mammalian species. And while human brains are bigger, our animalistic natures are really not so different than those of our mammalian brethren.

Evolution explains sexual dimorphism. Men evolved to go out and hunt for meat and compete for women, and women to be maternal and nurse babies. Men are larger, stronger, more aggressive, and more competitive than women by nature. And women are more nurturing. (Neither tendency is all encompassing or mutually exclusive, and there are certainly exceptions, but gender differences generally hold sway.)

Evolution explains why people who evolved in northern climates developed lighter skin, so as to be able to take in more Vitamin D from scarcer sunlight. It explains why they evolved thinner nostrils, so as to preserve heat. It explains why people who evolved in Africa developed sickle cell anemia: because the gene for that disease, in its heterozygous form, helps protect against malaria. 

Although this is not a staple of textbooks, evolution also explains why different groups which were geographically isolated from each other for tens of thousands of years evolved differently, often in response to their different environments. (How else to explain our wondrous diversity?)

Anyway, here's the irony: the same people who mock Christians for not believing in evolution themselves refuse to believe what evolution actually teaches us. If you're going to mock those who don't believe in evolution, shouldn't you yourself believe in the logic of evolution?

Back when I was in college and studying sociobiology, there was a leftist group called
Science for People, who inveighed against everything that evolution taught us. They would say, conservatives will use this information as an excuse to repress women, or bring back Jim Crow. But no one uses it for that reason. I've never heard a conservative suggest that women not be allowed into the work force, or that race be factored into college admissions.

It's the liberals who, with their know-nothing attitude, pass and enforce government mandates which completely disregard the ways in which evolution has shaped us. Science for the People has long since disbanded, but their spiritual progeny are more numerous than ever. They don't like the idea of innate human differences, so they call such facts "pseudoscience." But sociobiology is no more pseudoscience than evolution is. In fact, it is evolution.

Scoffing at those who don't believe in evolution but then refusing to believe in any of its logical conclusions is a little like scoffing at those who don't fully embrace the benefits of diversity -- but then insisting that we don't diverge in any meaningful ways.

If you're going to scoff at those who don't believe in evolution, then you ought to believe in it yourself. And by all means, let's not only teach evolution in schools, let's teach sociobiology as well.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The love gov

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was in the news again today for quitting his job as a host at Current TV after it was sold to Al Jazeera.

The New York Post article referred to the infamous Client Number 9 as "the love gov" and mentioned that he still hopes for a political comeback despite the prostitution scandal which brought him down.

Back in July of 2012, this blog suggested some headlines for Anthony Weiner, who is also evidently contemplating another run.

In the same spirit, here are some slogans for Spitzer (not all of which work in conjunction with each other):

C'mon, with a face like this, I had to pay for it.

I'm a politician, whadja expect?

Don't worry, I'm getting too old to be interested in that stuff anymore.

I will not whore myself out to special interests.

Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. But extremism in the pursuit of vice is sort of liberating.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"After Years in Solitary, an Austere Life as Uruguay's President"

One of the reasons it's so hard to get behind leftist leaders is because they are almost always obvious hypocrites. Fidel Castro is said to be worth upwards of $200 million. Kim Jong Il, the President of North Korea, lived like s plutocrat while his people starved. The leaders of the former Soviet Union enjoyed lives of luxury well beyond the reach of non-Party members. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's family is now said to be worth 2.7 billion dollars. Inside Barack Obama beats the heart of a socialist, but he and his wife take more ostentatious vacations than any President in recent memory. The list goes on.

But there seems to be an exception. The NY Times ran an article yesterday morning worth drawing attention to, about Uruguary's President Jose Mujica:

[Mujica] lives in a run-down house on Montevideo’s outskirts with no servants at all. His security detail: two plainclothes officers parked on a dirt road.

In a deliberate statement to this cattle-exporting nation of 3.3 million people, Mr. Mujica, 77, shunned the opulent Suárez y Reyes presidential mansion, with its staff of 42, remaining instead in the home where he and his wife have lived for years, on a plot of land where they grow chrysanthemums for sale in local markets.

Visitors reach Mr. Mujica’s austere dwelling after driving down O’Higgins Road, past groves of lemon trees. His net worth upon taking office in 2010 amounted to about $1,800 — the value of the 1987 Volkswagen Beetle parked in his garage. He never wears a tie and donates about 90 percent of his salary, largely to a program for expanding housing for the poor.

His current brand of low-key radicalism — a marked shift from his days wielding weapons in an effort to overthrow the government — exemplifies Uruguay’s emergence as arguably Latin America’s most socially liberal country.

Under Mr. Mujica, who took office in 2010, Uruguay has drawn attention for seeking to legalize marijuana and same-sex marriage, while also enacting one of the region’s most sweeping abortion rights laws and sharply boosting the use of renewable energy sources like wind and biomass.

As illness drives President hugo Chavez of Venezuela from the political stage, suddenly leaving the continent without the larger-than-life figure who has held such sway on the left, Mr. Mujica’s practiced asceticism is a study in contrasts. For democracy to function properly, he argues, elected leaders should be taken down a notch.

If the twentieth century taught us one lesson, it's that communism doesn't work. So far, the twenty-first century seems intent on proving that western European-style socialism doesn't, either. Still it's hard not to admire Mujica for his purity.

The NYT article goes on to state that Mujica was a Tupumaro, or urban guerrilla, in his youth, and that the Tupumaros killed from time to time. So it's possible that Mujica is a murderer as well as a saint. If he is, his current lifestyle certainly doesn't negate his previous crimes; but it does show a certain lack of personal greed that few socialist leaders seem capable of.

The article has Mujica quoting the Roman philosopher Seneca, who said, "It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor." 

I have no idea whether Seneca practiced what he preached. But he has an effective advocate in Mujica.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Nat Hentoff writes about how Obama sheds crocodile tears for the children killed in Newtown but prevents us from even knowing the names of the roughly 400 children by his drone strikes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happily ever after

I gave my opinion of Hugh Hefner on December 27, 2010, back when he originally announced his engagement to Crystal Harris. That engagement was subsequently broken off.

This morning it was announced in a US Weekly article that Hefner, 86, and Harris, 26, reconciled and got married last night in a private ceremony in Los Angeles.

How touching. US Weekly usually does nothing but puff pieces, but even they couldn't avoid mentioning a few discordant notes.

The article mentions that Harris proudly showed off her engagement ring, but that she had auctioned the first one off for $90,000 at Christie's in October 2011. (If a fiancee breaks off an engagement, isn't she supposed to return the ring?)

The article also mentions that Harris recently opened her own lingerie store, Femme Fatale, in Studio City. (Isn't a femme fatale so named because she has fatal consequences for the men she gets involved with?)

I still admire Hef, though not nearly as much as I envy him.

But the fact that I admire him at all is saying something given that he basically hasn't done anything other than make a fool of himself for the past decade or two.

And yes, that's envy talking.

Mocking Christianity

A friend wrote the other day to complain about all the people who ride around with the bumper sticker showing the Christian fish symbol with feet on it. He said, "It's a direct mockery of Christianity, insinuating Christians are too stupid to realize that Darwinism proves Christian beliefs null and void." 

He quoted Pat Buchanan on the subject: “Christians believe Christ could raise people from the dead because he is God. That is faith. Atheists believe life came out of non-life. That, too, is faith. They believe in what their god, science, cannot demonstrate, replicate or prove. They believe in miracles but cannot identify, produce or describe the miracle worker.”

Personally, I believe in evolution. And my religious affiliation is somewhere between atheist and agnostic. But I find those who mock Christianity cowardly and hypocritical: none of them would ever dream of spoofing Judaism or Islam, since there are actually consequences to doing the latter.

And the fact that there are consequences to making fun of some religions but not others is, in brief, what's wrong with our society today.

What I always point out to those on the left who mock conservatives for not believing in evolution is that the real anti-science crowd are the liberals, since they ignore well documented facts about human differences. They not only refuse to acknowledge basic average biological differences between the sexes and the races, they try to make it a thought crime to notice them.

The crucial difference here is that we don't base any national policies on whether or not evolution exists, but we do base policies -- like Title IX, and affirmative action, and No Child Left Behind -- on the assumption that we are all created equal biologically as well as legally.

That is simply not the case. Evolution, if you will, has caused us to evolve differently.

Please explain this to the next liberal you hear berating conservative Christians for not believing in science.