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Friday, May 31, 2013

I. M. a shrewd manipulator

We've all heard the Samuel Johnson quote, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Basically, what this means is that if you associate yourself with a cause generally considered noble, you can use your supposed allegiance to that cause to all manner of selfish ends. The way this works is by discouraging opposition: if anyone opposes you in any way, it means they're opposing the noble cause.

There was no one more adept at this than the architect I.M. Pei. One theme I didn't fully explore in my earlier post about Pei (from July 2011) was what a manipulator Pei was. He has falsely wrapped himself in many flags, positioning his designs so that if you disagree with him, you're somehow against the spirit of whatever entity he was designing for at the time.

A few examples (from Wikipedia): 

Pei wanted his design for Dallas City Hall to "convey an image of the people."

Don't like it? Why do you dislike Texans so much? Are you one of those snobby "flyover" people? 

How this building conveys an image of the residents of Dallas is a mystery. (Was Pei was trying to convey the feeling of a cowboy falling off his horse?)

Pei felt that his design for the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong needed to reflect "the aspirations of the Chinese people."

Don't like Pei's design? Oh, so you don't think the Chinese people should be allowed to aspire? You racist!!

Pei claimed that a pyramid was "most compatible" with the other structures at the Louvre.

Don't like the design? Whatsamatter, you don't want to preserve the architectural integrity of the Louvre? Do you really hate French tradition that much? Are you saying the Louvre is a pile of crap?

Pei had in fact originally conceived the idea of a glass pyramid for the John F. Kennedy Library back in the 1960's, though the concept was shot down then. He recycled his idea for the Louvre. The structures it would be most compatible with are located in Giza, not Paris, but even there, it would be jarringly out of place.

As an architect, Pei is a modern artist: he tries to be different for the sake of being different, because he knows he will get more attention and fame that way. Being different is great if it represents an improvement of some sort. But to do it for its own sake, as so many fashion designers do during Fashion Week, is just the mark of a b.s. artist.

But if you wrap yourself in a flag, you can get away with that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Knight in shining armor

From the AP, via the NY Post:

Drunk driver crashes while having sex; leaves ejected lover on the road then hides behind cactus. 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico man faces multiple charges after police say he was having sex with a woman while driving drunk and crashed, ejecting the woman from the vehicle.

The Albuquerque Journal reports 25-year-old Luis Briones was found with one shoe on and his shorts on inside-out Monday night after he wrecked his Ford Explorer in Albuquerque.

Police say Briones' female passenger was found naked outside the SUV after being ejected. She had deep cuts to her face and head.

Authorities allege Briones tried to drive away after the crash and leave his passenger behind, but a witness grabbed his keys from the ignition. He also allegedly tried to hide from responding officers behind a cactus and refused to keep his pants on when he was in the back of the police ca

Briones is charged with aggravated DWI, reckless driving and evading police.

No attorney was listed for him. 

When Briones does get an attorney, I will be very curious to hear what sort of defense that attorney mounts.

Maybe he can say it was just misplaced chivalry -- that Briones didn't want to embarrass the woman by making it apparent she had recently had sex, so tried to make himself scarce.

One also has to wonder what Briones will say to the woman next time he sees her. ("But honey, I thought you were still in the car"?)

It's going to require some pretty slick talking for him to get a second date.

(Am I the only one twisted enough to find the original AP article funny?)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Feminists bent on proving women unequal

While writing the recent post Finally, a worthwhile protest, I realized that in a strange way, it's actually the feminists who most convincingly demonstrate the differences between the sexes. There is simply no group of men who are the equivalent of left wing feminists.

The example I gave in that post was that feminists complain about unrealistically proportioned Barbie dolls, while men never complain about superhero dolls. But the differences go beyond this.

Another way the feminists prove they are not equal is by criticizing pornography. They say that it dehumanizes and objectifies women. (How many times have we heard this?) Naked men are featured in Playgirl, but there are no men who complain about this.

Feminists like Naomi Wolf complain about the "beauty myth," and how there is so much pressure on girls to be attractive. One never hears men complain about the "machismo myth," and all the pressure on men to be brave and tough and strong, and how this is unfair to men.

You can't see an adventure movie without a hero who's practically a parody of manliness. When men see such a hero, they aspire to be like him. But if feminists see a beautiful heroine, they complain that she represents a false ideal of beauty promulgated by the patriarchal power structure.

Some feminists say that if you've ever had sex while you were drunk, you've been raped. (They actually taught this at my son's high school.) It's a pretty safe assumption that they weren't saying that drunken men are rape victims. But why wouldn't this rule apply to both sexes? (Can two people rape each other at the same time?)

Women occasionally organize races like the NY Mini, where men are not allowed. Men never organize races specifically to exclude women. (There are certainly athletic competitions women don't enter, but it's generally because they can't compete.)

For years, feminists complained that women were numerically underrepresented in colleges and universities. Now that women outnumber men on the campuses, you never hear men complain.

Feminists say that when men stare at women, or crack lewd jokes within their earshot, that constitutes sexual harassment. Women can act as raunchy as they please, and men never complain of harassment.

If men were like feminists, they would complain about how they are overrepresented on Death Row -- even after the difference in murder rates is taken into account. But they're not, so they don't.

Feminists don't really want real equality. They just want rewards without pain.

(Please note, I'm not lumping all women in with feminists; most have far too much common sense to be so doctrinaire.)

Monday, May 27, 2013

A moving story

It's Memorial Day, so the media is full of tributes to our fallen veterans. Many of the stories have a somewhat obligatory feel to them, but this one doesn't.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sociopath alert: Julie Hermann

An article in yesterday's New Jersey Star Ledger described how the new Rutgers Athletic Director, Julie Hermann, quit as the Tennessee volleyball coach "after her players submitted a letter complaining she ruled through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse."

A few excerpts:

"The mental cruelty that we as a team have suffered is unbearable," the players wrote. Specifically, they said the coach had called them "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled."

In blunt terms, the players wrote, "It has been unanimously decided that this is an irreconcilable issue."

Hermann, the players say, absorbed the words, turned to her team, and said simply: "I choose not to coach you guys."

Hermann says she did not remember the letter by her volleyball players. When the letter -- given to The Star-Ledger by one of the women -- was read to her by phone on Wednesday, she replied, "Wow."

Their accounts depict a coach who thought nothing of demeaning them, who would ridicule and laugh at them over their weight and their performances, sometimes forcing players to do 100 sideline pushups during games, who punished them after losses by making them wear their workout clothes inside out in public or not allowing them to shower or eat, and who pitted them against one another, cutting down particular players with the whole team watching, and through gossip.

Several women said playing for Hermann had driven them into depression and counseling, and that her conduct had sullied the experience of playing Division 1 volleyball.

Asked about the players' lingering grievances, Hermann reacted sharply and said she was flabbergasted. "I never heard any of this, never name-calling them or anything like that whatsoever."

The word "whore," she said, is "not part of my vernacular. Not then, not now, not ever. None of this is familiar to me."

Ironically, Hermann has been hired to clean up the Rutgers athletic program after the scandal involving an abusive basketball coach and an AD who did nothing about him. Hermann said all the right things about putting the athletes first; but of course hypocrisy is a sociopath's stock in trade.

If you look at the video in the linked article, Hermann says, "Trust me, there's no video" -- about a video which in fact does exist, in which she is attending a wedding (which she says she has no recollection of attending). "Trust me" is a common formulation among those who know that people shouldn't trust them. 

Hermann's loss of memory about how her volleyball coaching ended is very convenient, to say the least. Sociopaths lie unashamedly whenever it suits them.

Most telling, of course, is the description of how Hermann treated her players. Sociopaths often rule through intimidation and ridicule. They aren't above sabotaging (having players do 100 push-ups on the sidelines during games is self-defeating).

Another sociopathic specialty is public humiliation; dressing down a player in front of the others qualifies as that, as does forcing them to wear their workout clothes inside out. And not allowing players to shower or eat goes beyond what even most other sociopathic coaches would do.

Easy verdict: screaming sociopath.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rhymes for dummies

There is something about a rhyme that is pleasing to the ear, which is why so many poems and lyrics rhyme. But most people don't invest rhymes with any greater meaning, they just find them a source of mild amusement.

Among the lower IQ's, however, rhymes seem to take on a greater significance. I was reminded of this by the Barbie protester described two posts ago who held the placard saying, "Life in plastic is not fantastic."

For such people, a rhyme scheme not only seems to invest a statement with more significance, but gives it greater credibility as well. If it rhymes, it just seems to somehow make more sense to them. (There's something awfully primitive about this.)

Marching soldiers will often have a bit of doggerel to mark their cadence and keep their spirits up, but it's never a message they take seriously. Marching protesters, on the other hand, seem to take their couplets completely to heart. 

During the Sixties, protesters used to chant, "Hey hey LBJ, how many kids you kill today?" More recently student protesters have chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go!"

It's almost as if they assumed that since rhyming is clever, the message must be smart. Yet their rhythmic chanting comes across as the opposite of intelligent.

The entire phenomenon is not entirely dissimilar to transcendental meditation, where one repeats the same word over and over again in an attempt to empty one's mind of all thought. It seems more than coincidental that back in the Sixties, the rise of chanting at protests was concurrent with rise of TM.

Of course, there have been such chants before the Sixties. During the 1884 Presidential campaign, Grover Cleveland's opponents used the refrain, "Ma, Ma where’s my Pa?" – a reference to the fact Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child in 1874. (After Cleveland was elected, his supporters added the line, “Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha!”)

Jesse Jackson used to relate to his constituency with rhymes. A Jackson sampler:

"Hope not dope." 
''If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.''
''It's not my aptitude but my attitude that determines my altitude.''
''My mind is a pearl; I can do anything in the world.''

(It's hard not to hear a somewhat bitter reference to the SAT's in the third quote.)

During the OJ Simpson murder trial, Johnny Cochran famously (infamously?) told the jury, "If the gloves don't fit, you must acquit." He put it in rhyme, because he knew that not only would it stick in the jurors' heads better, it would resonate more deeply with them.

Somehow it's hard to imagine conservatives chanting mindlessly this way:

"Barack Obama, time to confess --
You knew about the IRS!"


"Let the First Amendment be --
Hands off the AP!"


"Fast and Furious, Fast and Furious --
The repercussions are vast
and the denials are curious!"

(This last one admittedly lacks the rhythm a protester needs.)

Or maybe Mitch McConnell could get up on the podium and thunder, Jesse Jackson-style, "Benghazi is not a teachable moment, it's an impeachable moment!"

The only problem is, it's hard to uninhibitedly bellow out such asinine doggerel when you have even the slightest capacity for embarrassment.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Finally, a worthwhile protest

Those indefatigable crusaders for social justice, the women of FEMEN, have been at it again. Last Friday they brought their special brand of protest to a life-size Barbie Doll house in Berlin, Germany. An excerpt from the Yahoo News article about it:

BERLIN (Reuters) - Women's rights protesters disrupted the opening of a giant pink doll's house in Berlin on Thursday, saying the Barbie "Dreamhouse Experience" objectified women.

Promoting the doll made by Mattel Inc, the house allows paying visitors to try on Barbie's clothes, play in her kitchen and have a go on her pink piano. The exhibition will be open until August 25.

A handful of protesters gathered outside the shocking pink house that has been erected in one of central Berlin's greyest areas.

A topless woman, a member of the Femen protest group, who had the slogan "Life in plastic is not fantastic" scrawled across her chest, set fire to a Barbie doll tied to a mini crucifix.

"There's too much emphasis on becoming more beautiful and on being pretty and that puts an awful lot of pressure on girls..." 

Hmm. "
Life in plastic is not fantastic." It doesn't really make any sense -- plastic isn't alive, and plastic dolls are nothing but fantasy. But hey, it rhymes, and that's what counts.

We've all heard the feminists' litany of complaints about Barbie dolls before: how they emphasize domesticity and not careers, and how they present an unrealistic body image for young girls.

Of all the things for feminists to protest, this would seem to rank pretty low on the list. In some Muslim countries, they chop the clits off little girls, don't allow them to go to school, force them to cover up in burkhas, and forbid them from leaving their houses unaccompanied by a man. And if a woman commits adultery, she is stoned to death.

But, protesting Barbie is evidently more important.

Put yourself in the shoes of a 6-year-old girl whose father has taken her to see a life-size replica of her favorite dollhouse. You've been eagerly looking forward to this for weeks, but when you finally get to the magical house, you're greeted by the sight of a half naked woman burning your favorite doll while it's tied to a cross. Then, when the police come to cart her off, she starts screeching hysterically.

Which would you be more traumatized by, that scene -- or a doll which does not have precisely correct anatomical proportions?

Yes, the women of FEMEN are doing their bit to help little girls everywhere.

Check out these women (protesting against Berlusconi). Maybe non-FEMEN women should sue them for presenting an unrealistic image of what most women look like. How many women do you know who are this svelte?

The larger question: why is it that women protest the unrealistic body image demonstrated by Barbie dolls, but men never protest the unrealistic body images presented by superheroes? Are these Superman and Batman dolls healthy for psychologically fragile young boys?

Of course, for Superman to be built that way is understandable. After all, he had to develop those super muscles on Krypton. But Batman was just a rich dilettante who was born here on Earth. It's a bitter pill for most of us to swallow when we realize that, at best, we're going to grow up looking a lot more like Robin:

Are Batman and Superman to blame for the current epidemic of steroid abuse among young men? Maybe my problems are all DC Comic's fault. I certainly feel inadequate every time I see a picture of the Caped Crusader. Holy insecurity!

C'mon guys, let's hold a protest outside their offices tomorrow -- life in plastic is not fantastic!

So, once again: why do only women protest this sort of thing? Are women more intrinsically silly? That's debatable. But they're certainly sillier in this particular way.

How will these women feel about their youthful protests when they're 40? How many of them will look back and feel a little embarrassed about their hysterical behavior? (How many will be proud?)

These women are spoiled, addled, hypocritical, exhibitionistic morons. There, I've said it.

They're welcome to come to my house to protest that statement, though.

Just make it, you know, sometime when my wife is away.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Following Angelina's lead

It's a little surprising how much praise Angelina Jolie has garnered for her announcement about her double mastectomy. She's even made the cover of Time Magazine (in a suitably noble pose).

Everyone is calling her a "hero." All for taking a precautionary step to preserve her own health.

I had always thought that a hero was someone who put himself in the line of danger to protect others.

Silly me.

Jolie said in her NY Times op-ed that she now has implants. (Wasn't it sorta obvious she's had them all along?)

But seeing how much glory and approval Angelina Jolie has gotten for her procedure has inspired me to undergo a similar procedure -- to prevent testicular cancer.

Curiously, even though most of the men I've spoken to about this have questioned my sanity, every feminist I've spoken to has heartily encouraged me to take this brave step.

In fact, their support has been downright enthusiastic.

Even my wife has been encouraging. She's actually asked for the byproducts of the operation, so she can carry them around in her purse, as a keepsake.

Let the fulsome plaudits begin.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Should transgenders be allowed to fight as women?

On Monday, the NY Times ran a highly sympathetic article about Fallon Fox, the transgendered MMA fighter who is now competing as a woman. It went on at length about Fox's struggle to come to grips with her gender dysphoria, her (his) early marriage, and her eventual acceptance of her new identity. The Times, of course, portrayed Fox as a hero(ine) in the struggle for LGBT equality, and implied that those who would question her right to fight as a woman were retrograde louts.

I don't see it as being that simple.

There are all sorts of athletic advantages a transgendered woman has over someone born a woman. For starters, men have wider shoulders and narrower hips. Wider shoulders make for better leverage when punching, and narrower hips allow for quicker pivoting. Men have larger hands and feet, the better to punch and kick with. And all that testosterone coursing through the system at an early age makes for more muscle, which even after two years of estrogen therapy, won't entirely disappear.

Think of it this way: if you took steroids for two years, then went off them for two years, you'd still be stronger than had you never taken them at all.

The NY Times is hardly a newspaper which, in other contexts, condones men beating up women. Yet, watching Fox compete against a natural born woman, one would not be able to completely escape the impression that that was what was happening.

Fox was born Boyd Burton. His father, also Boyd Burton, had a long record of run-ins with the law, including one for domestic violence. Perhaps Fox inherited this desire to beat up women, but wants to do so in a more respectable manner. Or, at least, more respectable in the eyes of the Times.

Like father, like.....daughter?

The UFC's official reaction to all the publicity has been mixed. When heavyweight Matt Mitrione publicly referred to Fox as a "lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak" the UFC temporarily suspended him. However, former MMA champion and current UFC employee Matt Hughes referred to Fox as "it," but received no censure.

Joe Rogan, the long time color commentator for the UFC, recently said in a podcast, "....She [Fox] wants to be able to fight women. I say no fucking way....I say if you had a dick at one point in're a fucking man.....I don't care if you don't have a dick any more." Rogan, too, escaped censure.

To take this argument to its logical conclusion, how would the Times feel about it if, say, Brock Lesnar, a recent heavyweight champion, decided to undergo an operation and fight as a woman? Perhaps all of Lesnar's brutish posturing was merely an attempt to cover up his feminine side, which he could now fully surrender to -- while continuing, with the Times' explicit approval, to make a living at his sport.

Even after two years of estrogen, it's hard to imagine that the 6' 3", 285 pound Lesnar would be quite as fetching in a bikini as the foxy Fox pictured above. Lesnar would, however, undoubtedly be quite competitive in the women's ranks:

Randy Couture defended his heavyweight championship for the last time at age 45, in 2008. Time has finally passed him by, but it's probably not too late for him to win another championship or two as Randi Couture:

Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva is another candidate. Acromegalic women rarely become supermodels, but at least the 262 pound Silva would be in no great danger of being raped:

Kimbo Slice, despite his legendary street-fighting reputation and fearsome demeanor, turned out to be pretty much of a bust in mixed martial arts. But with the elimination of the last two letters of his first name (along with his two testes), maybe he could finally secure the championship he craved. Who knows, perhaps there's a comely lass hiding behind that beard.

What if one of these men underwent an operation, and then killed a woman in the Octagon? Would the Times view that outcome as a triumph of LGBT equality? Or would they suddenly see things in a different light?

(What would the UFC's reaction be then, for that matter? It's hard to imagine that any organization sanctioning such a fight would not be legally liable.)

I doubt that any of the guys pictured above are about to make the transition. But an honest look at the fairness of women having to fight transgendered women must take that possibility into account.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Lori Lerner of the IRS has now informed us that even though the IRS targeted nonprofit groups with "Tea Party" and "taxes" in their names, those "mistakes" were "in no way due to any political or partisan rationale."

Now that that's been settled, there are a few other misconceptions I'd like to clear up:

Ariel Castro may have kidnapped and raped those three young girls, but his actions were in no way due to any sexual motive.

Two days ago Anthony Chiasson, formerly of SAC Capital Advisors, and founder of Level Global Investors, was found guilty of insider trading and sentenced to six and a half years. Please bear in mind, his crime was in no way due to greed.

The Hatfields and McCoys may have been engaged in a long term vendetta, but neither side was motivated by a desire for revenge.

Yesterday I had three helpings of apple crisp with ice cream. However, my actions are in no way due to either self-indulgence or piggishness.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Mud had gotten 98% and 88% positive ratings from critics and audiences, respectively, on Rottentomatoes. I'd never seen a rating that high before, so saw the movie last night.

It's about two boys who meet a stranger hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. He tells them some tall tales, and some turn out to be true.

The movie is better than other coming of age movies for the same reason Stand By Me was better than The Goonies: it is more real. The characters, the setting, the plot, and the dialogue of Mud are all believable. None of the adult characters are too good, or too bad, and all are plausible. They're all "white trash," yet the movie does not condescend to them.

The grittiness of the setting isn't romanticized, yet it also doesn't detract from the essentially romantic nature of the movie.

During the previous decade, Matthew McConnaughey made a career as a leading man in sappy romantic comedies co-starring the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson and Penelope Cruz. Since 2010, he's specialized in more offbeat roles, playing creepy types with a hint of menace, which he does well. That ability serves him well in Mud: at the beginning, it's unclear if he's going to turn out more like Max Cady, or Shane.

Mud was written and directed by Jeff Nichols, who grew up in Arkansas. He said he wanted to capture a disappearing culture. Some of the reviewers likened the movie to an updated Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn; Nichols has said that he is influenced by Mark Twain.

Movies described as being "about love, and honesty, and growing up" usually turn out to be about corniness, sentimentality, and a leftist view of the world. This one actually is about love, which it examines honestly: how it goes sour, how it goes stale, and how it is misplaced. It's about honesty, which it examines lovingly: the two central characters are the young boys who have not yet learned how to lie, either to themselves or to others. And it's about growing up, which cannot happen painlessly.

That description sounds pretentious, but the movie is not. See it.

Friday, May 10, 2013


To continue with my recent series on sociopaths who don't need's Ariel Castro (in case you're not sick of the nonstop coverage of his crime by now). A recent NY Post article about his "suicide note" caught my eye.

We don't really have to know any more details about Castro to know that he was a sociopath. But I was curious to see how many different facets of his sociopathy would emerge.

In his note he had evidently scoffed at his victims' stupidity in getting into his car in the first place. (See? It was their fault for being so stupid.) A sociopath will always find a way to blame his victims (and thus, by implication, escape blame himself).

Castro said that he was a sex addict, and that he needed help. "Sex addiction" is a "disease" of those who have next to no impulse control in the first place -- like sociopaths. And to say that he needed help exudes misplaced self-pity, another sociopathic specialty.

Castro regularly beat his late wife, and even kept her tied up in the basement. Sociopaths always want to dominate and control.

When a hospital worker came to her aid after she had returned their multiple times with injuries from Castro's beatings, and developed a personal relationship with her, Castro accused the man of molesting his daughters. (The court dismissed all but four of the 27 charges, and the man was given a suspended sentence, although it appears he was innocent of all the charges.) There are no depths to which a sociopath will not stoop to accomplish his aims.

It is ironic that Castro himself used "check" his daughters to make sure their virginity was intact. (A sociopath will always accuse others of what he himself is guilty of.)

While doing all of this, Castro would often play salsa tunes on his bass guitar at local nightclubs, and to those who knew him casually, appeared perfectly normal. He also worked as a part time bus driver and was described as a "great guy" by a couple of his neighbors. A sociopath can always put on a mask of congeniality when it suits him.

And look at that baby face (above). Castro's not handsome, but on the other hand, he doesn't look like a monster, either. (Real monsters, i.e., sociopaths, rarely do.)

FInally, even though Castro wrote a "suicide note," he didn't kill himself. (Sociopaths rarely commit suicide unless they've been caught and are about to lose everything; Castro hadn't been caught as of 2004, when he wrote the note.)

As I said, the only piece of information that you need to know about his sociopathy is the fact that he imprisoned those girls for ten years. But it's always informative to see the other aspects of someone's sociopathy at play.

The thing to remember about sociopaths is, every sociopath has every trait of sociopathy, whether or not you witness all those traits in action. Sociopathy is alway all-encompassing. I think of this every time I hear someone excuse a sociopath's behavior by saying something like, "Oh, he has a dark side, but don't we all? Anyway, he has a lot of good qualities too."

Ariel Castro had a lot of "nice" qualities too. He enjoyed playing his guitar at local nightspots. He played with neighborhood children, even giving them rides on his four wheeler. He was a responsible bus driver who was a local homeowner.

Sure, he had a dark side. But really, don't we all? I mean, why do you have to focus on just his bad side? He had his good points too.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"The Essex blonde...who's officially smarter than Albert Einstein!"

A friend sent this article about a British girl, Lauren Marbe, who is evidently from a lower middle class background and has normal (plebeian) tastes, but whose IQ has been tested at 161.

The article, from the Mail Online, has a somewhat breathlesss tone, as if the author can't quite believe that such a towering intellect as Marbe would come across like such a normal girl, the type who likes to put blonde highlights in her hair and watch the usual run of TV shows -- although she does plan to apply to Cambridge, where she would like to study architecture

As far as her being smarter than Einstein, I think we'll just have to wait and let history be the judge of that.

But as ridiculous as the comparison of Marbe to Einstein is, the most annoying thing about the article is the chart it provides listing the IQ's of the following famous people: 

Charles Dickens - 180
Dr. David Livingstone - 170
Charles Darwin - 165
Stephen Hawking - 160
Quentin Tarantino 160
Bill Gates - 160
Albert Einstein - 160
Sharon Stone - 154
Bill Clinton - 145
Shakira - 140
JFK - 119

These IQ figures are supposedly excerpted from a well known list of estimated IQ's of historical figures by American psychologist Catharine Cox Miles. The only problem is, Miles died in 1984 (I looked her up), so she couldn't have come up with the numbers for Hawking, Tarantino, Gates, Stone, Clinton, or Shakira. 

Some of those numbers are self-reported, and therefore highly suspect. Sharon Stone has claimed an IQ of 160 (not 154), but she also said that she went to a MENSA school as a child, and it turned out that those schools did not exist when she would have been at an age to attend. (Sociopath alert!)

Quentin Tarantino's IQ has been bruited about ever since he directed Pulp Fiction, but it's unclear what kind of test it was, and what kind of conditions it was administered under. Since it was his mother who originally boasted about his IQ, my guess is that she is the one who gave him the test. 

As far as Hawking's and Gates's IQ's, those sound like suspiciously round numbers that were just randomly assigned to them. It's hard to believe that they themselves went to the trouble to take the tests and then publicize the results. (If you're the world's leading physicist or the world's richest man, you don't really have to boast about your IQ.)

Bill Clinton's number actually seems too low. He may be a sociopath, but he was an awfully smart one. Maybe some of that perceived intelligence was just glibness passing itself off as smarts, but his command of facts (as well as fiction, when it suited him) was legendary.

As far as the 119 figure for JFK before, that number is probably based on the "Gentleman's C" average Kennedy got at Harvard. Yes, he was a lazy playboy who didn't apply himself when young, but that only means that he was lazy. I've known plenty of people with IQ's in that range, and as Lloyd Bentsen once famously said, they were no Jack Kennedy's. 

Shakira's 140 sounds like a number her agent came up with in an attempt to broaden her appeal. I Googled her IQ, but could find no proof of it, only several mentions of the number. It seems that once such a number gets attached to someone famous, it just sticks, no questions asked. (Shakira's hips may not lie, but most likely someone is lying, about her IQ.)

And how does Livingstone get ranked ahead of Einstein and Darwin? He discovered the source of the Nile, so deserves high scores for bravery, but bravery does not necessarily connote intelligence, in fact sometimes it can mean the opposite. His score sounds almost like a misinterpretation of Stanley's famous quote: "Dr. Livingstone, 170 IQ I presume?" 

And speaking of presumptuous, who was it who felt qualified to judge the IQ's of Einstein, Darwin, and Dickens? It's always seemed to me that it's very hard for anyone to estimate the IQ of someone far smarter than he. (How can you judge someone you don't fully understand?)

Assigning an iQ to Charles Dickens which is 15 points higher than Charles Darwin seems both arbitrary and meaningless. How could anybody possibly know that? Also, Dickens may have been a great writer, but Darwin is by far the more important, and influential, thinker. He came up with a unique and revolutionary theory which changed the way humans saw themselves.

I've heard that any points beyond 145 don't really make all that much difference for creative geniuses anyway, and that what distinguishes really special people is some unique undefinable spark, a special twist of mind, that can't be measured by an ordinary test. This could well be true.

Perhaps Lauren Marbe has that spark. Only time will tell. 

Oh, and for the overly gullible writer of the Mail Online article: my IQ is 350. Hey, I said it, so it must be true, right? You believed Sharon Stone and Shakira's self-reported numbers, so believe mine.

At 350, I'm smarter than Dickens and Darwin put together.

I may not have produced anything more of value than Marbe has of yet, but that doesn't matter. It's the number that counts.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dime Pieces Part III

The other day my son was raving about Donna Reed's beauty, especially that still of her smoking from From Here to Eternity:

A little while later it hit me that I used to think that my wife looked a little like Reed, at least in profile. I pondered what this all meant.

I then Skyped my son back, to inform him of the resemblance, figuring it would get a rise.

He didn't miss a beat: "So you're telling me I have the first half of the Oedipus Complex? Here all along I'd thought that I only had the second half."

A few minutes later he finished the conversation by saying, "Excuse me, I have to go listen to The End, by the Doors."

"White Hair, Wrinkles Aren't Valid ID at These Drinking Establishments"

An article in the Wall Street Journal from a month ago pointed out that certain drinking establishments are now carding everyone (even 75-year-olds) because to do otherwise is "profiling."

The absolute, final abdication of common sense in favor of political correctness.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Things I actually heard at Goldman Sachs

Yesterday's post about the funniest things supposedly overheard in the Goldman Sachs elevator made me think of things I actually did hear when I worked there:

(On the occasion of discussing a potential hire -- who happened to be female -- for the trading desk, in a meeting of about ten guys): "Hey, close the door....Listen, we got a nice little boys club here. Seriously, why ruin it?"

(While in a taxi passing by some homeless people on the street): "They didn't do their homework, fuck 'em."

(On the subject of a not-particularly charismatic salesman): "You know that guy married the first girl who fucked him."

(After a bunch of the back office ladies ordered out a Chinese lunch for New Years): "I wouldn't want to be a toilet in the women's room around 2PM."

(Bitterly, about a partner who happened to be overweight): "I'd love to fuck that guy up the ass with a ten foot pole. It'd take a big pole 'cause he's got such a fat ass."

(About a Jewish coworker someone complained about): "Hey, don't blame me, I'm German. We did our part."

(About a girl of moderate attractiveness who hoped to meet a guy on her European vacation): "They got eyes over there, don't they?"

(Upon finding out that a former Princeton classmate had been a star athlete): "I fucked his girlfriend!" (while raising his arms above his head in triumph).

(From a boss, about a trader he fired): "I keep his Monroe Trader [a bond calculator] underneath my desk just so I can remind myself every day that I fired that guy."

All of the above quotes are from one person, an unquestionable sociopath. (A sociopath's personality is a witch's brew of arrogance and hatred, a mix often expressed as spite.)

However, the following quotes are from three other people (they each get one quote):

(Gesturing out the 26th floor window to the world at large): "They're stupid. We can take their money."

(About an idealistic guy who'd left the firm because he was dismayed by its money-oriented culture): "That guy was always asking how what we were doing would benefit the people we were dealing with." (The speaker was shaking his head in bafflement at that attitude).

(About a black partner who often came into the lunchroom to take food which didn't belong to him): "It's the hardware, not the software."

I said in that previous post that I didn't believe the quotes from that site were real. But if I hadn't heard the above quotes myself, I might wonder whether they were real, or if someone just made them up to make the place look bad. (These quotes weren't chosen just to be funny, but more to give the flavor of the place.)

But I still doubt that the so-called overheard-in-the-elevator quotes are real, since most of them are more macroeconomic, so to speak, about general differences between the rich and the poor, which is generally not what Goldman workers talk about on a daily basis. They, like corporate employees everywhere, are far more likely to talk about what happened at the office that day, or about how much they dislike a particular coworker.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

John, Paul, George, and Ringo were conservatives

The Beatles evolved from singing pop love songs in the early 60's (I Saw Her Standing There, All My Loving) to a more angst-y style (Michelle, Nowhere Man, Eleanor Rigby), then to a more psychedelic style (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Magical Mystery Tour).

Finally, by the end of the decade, they had become much more experimental. They were by turns whimsical (Yellow Submarine, Savoy Truffle) and sentimental (Julia, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Good Night), satirical (Back in the U.S.S.R.) and scathing (Sexy Sadie, Piggies).

The Beatles always seemed to be on the cutting edge of social enlightenment. They moved from youthful rebellion (Roll Over Beethoven) to experimenting with LSD, then moved on to transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And John Lennon was in the vanguard of the peace movement.

But as socially liberal as they were, one thing they never evolved into was Marxists. The Rolls Royce that John Lennon bought (and had painted with Day Glo designs), the Aston Martins that Paul McCartney favored, and the collection of Ferraris amassed by George Harrison would have brought a blush to the most shameless Wall Streeter. And all four Beatles bought country estates that fairly screamed "landed gentry."

They certainly weren't into redistribution, which they expressed their opinion about in Taxman:

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet

Cos I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

Don't ask me what I want it for (Aahh Mr. Wilson)
If you don't want to pay some more (Aahh Mr. Heath)
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

And you're working for no one but me

(The Beatles actually pre-dated the Tea Party as far as these sensibilities.)

By 1968 they had also acquired a jaundiced view of advocates of leftist violence, which they sang about in Revolution 1:

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out in
Don't you know it's gonna be alright

You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know
We're all doing what we can
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be alright

You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know it's gonna be alright

Alright, alright, alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright

"But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow"?

(A pretty accurate assessment of how not to get laid.)

"But if you want money for people with minds that hate, All I can tell you is brother you have to wait?"

They correctly identified the true haters of their day. (Today it's the most hateful, spiteful, unpleasant, and rude people who constantly accuse the other side of being haters.)

Would that there were a group as influential as the Beatles today to steer young people the right way.

"The 20 funniest Goldman Sachs elevator gossips"

Guy Davis sent along this collection of quotes supposedly overheard in the Goldman Sachs elevator.

I highly doubt that these quotes were actually overheard in the elevator there; they sound much more like some writer's conception of how people who have successfully devoted their lives to making money must talk. I worked there for twelve years, and the people I knew there were just not this witty. Plus, anybody overheard boasting this way would probably have been fired.

Still, it's an amusing collection.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dime pieces, Part II

At one point during my conversation on the subject of beautiful women with my son, I asked him if he thought Jaime Pressly was a ten:

He screwed up his face and thought for a few moments. Eventually, he said, "No. She's a hard nine. I mean, she's pretty much perfect,"

I know exactly what he meant. Pressly is the embodiment of sexiness, but there is something just a little hard and cheap about her. I have no idea what she's like, so this is of course unfair, but she looks neither intelligent nor soulful.

To be a ten, a woman has to present the illusion that she is good, and kind, but maybe still has a naughty side. Perhaps more than anything else, she has to give the impression that she is smart enough to appreciate you. She must appear, somehow, better than other people -- not just better-looking.

Mischa Barton, when she first appeared on the scene, presented that illusion:

Barton looks as if she's capable of the full gamut of emotions, including sadness, whereas Jaime Pressly always seems to be wearing a half-sneer that said, "Let's par-tee!" (Pressly's expression, in a weird sort of way, sometimes reminds me of Snoop Dogg's.)

Donna Reed was good at presenting the required illusion. Even in middle age, she was capable of projecting a sort of Glinda-the-Good-Witch level of benevolence:

Yet when young, she was also capable of sultriness:

And of projecting a sort of worldly, skeptical, even rebellious intelligence:

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that it helps anyone's looks if she can make it look as if there's something behind her magnificent facade, even if there's not.

I'm not even sure I agree with my son about Pressly. And I'm guessing that had he seen her in person, he'd have felt differently. But I understand his hesitation.