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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

George Will and Charles Krauthammer

The two smartest guys in Washington DC are now both on Fox News, and sometimes you can see them together on the 6 PM show.

George Will and Charles Krauthammer are both extremely analytical, commonsensical, eloquent, and incisive. Both have original insights. And maybe most impressively, both express those insights not just in complete sentences, but in complete paragraphs.

It just hit me last night what I love about listening to them most: both men speak more eloquently than I write.

I think I sound fairly smart on paper -- but there are many people, who, when given ample time for rewrites, can manage to do so. If you meet me in person, you won't be impressed -- I can pretty much guarantee that. I sound just like everyone else. And by "everyone else" I mean like half the teenage girls you know. I pepper my speech liberally with "like's" and "you know's" and plenty of swears.

So, maybe a teenage girl crossed with a truck driver.

On top of that, I'm just not quick on my feet. Give me ten minutes and I can come up with the perfect one line response. (If you want two lines, I'll need twenty minutes.) But I can almost never come up with the perfect response on the spur of the moment.

But Will and Krauthammer speak in polished essays. I can only hope -- after numerous revisions -- to write a sentence as well-constructed as the sentences they utter. (Will actually sounds as if he's reading one of his own essays when he speaks.)

I went to Harvard and worked at Goldman Sachs, so I've met a fair number of smart people in my life. And I've met far, far many more arrogant types who merely think they're smart. (As I said, I went to Harvard and worked at Goldman.)

But none of them, not even the few who actually were really smart, spoke in polished essay form.

There are no other talking heads who do it, not on Fox, nor on any of the other news channels. Not even Megyn Kelly, Fox's newest prime time host, who comes across smarter than O'Reilly and Hannity, does it. Only Will and Krauthammer can do it.

Both men are undoubtedly given the topics to be discussed ahead of time, and thus have some time to prepare their comments beforehand, which helps. Still, the other members of the panels are also afforded that opportunity, yet none come across nearly as eloquent as Will and Krauthammer. And many of Will and Krauthammer's comments are responses to the other panelists, which are by necessity ad libbed.

It's humbling to listen to them. My usual reaction: "That's so true….why couldn't I think of that?" (A rhetorical question.)

Let me put it as I would if I were speaking to you in person: Will and Krauthammer are just, like, you know, fucking geniuses! I mean, shit!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Girl crawls out of grave after being raped, buried alive"

If they gave a Nobel Prize for Toughness, this Pakistani girl should be a nominee. The scene could have been straight out of Kill Bill Volume 2.

Local police didn't even want to investigate the incident at first. This is the type of thing feminists (and other) should focus their energies on -- not whether men in Western societies look at women the wrong way.

Monday, October 28, 2013

People who need distraction

One measure of a person's self-sufficiency -- and really, overall worth as a human being -- is how easily bored he gets. To what extent can he rely on his thoughts to entertain himself? How much distraction does he need?

We all need distraction; but the more frantic its pursuit, the higher the potential downside of the activity, and the less tolerance for a few moments of quiet reflection, the lower the quality of the person.

(Think fast cars, loud music, fireworks, games, guns, gambling, vandalism, alcohol, drugs, and ever-present smartphones.)

It's almost mathematical: the greater and more dramatic the distraction needed, the worse the person. (The "proof" of this theorem is that sociopaths are easily bored and will do anything to distract themselves.)

People who need loud music and drugs and the types of things that make one feel one is "out of one's mind" are making a tacit admission that, under normal conditions, their minds are not pleasant places to be. Which is another way of saying, they don't like themselves.

And if they can't stand themselves, why should you? If they spend much of their time essentially trying to crawl out of that hellhole of a brain, keep your distance.

How many times have you heard people say, "I drink to numb myself, to drown out the noise in my head," or words to that effect?

Spend enough time with that person and you'll eventually be "hearing" that noise, one way or another.

You probably won't find it a pleasant sound.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hypocrisy, small and large

One of the best ways to judge someone's character is to determine whether he would get along with himself. If he constantly criticizes others for things he does himself, then he wouldn't. And that means he is that lowest form of life, a hypocrite.

With someone like that, you should take everything he says with a grain of salt, and discount his opinions. You certainly don't want to befriend him.

Likewise, if you ever want to know which politicians are credible, look for the hypocrisy.

A politician who has taken both sides of an issue, depending on which happens to be politically convenient at the time, renounces his credibility.

Such a politician is nothing but a spin artist, no more credible as those campaign staffers who will always come out after a debate and opine that their man won.

Whenever there's a racial flare up, ask yourself what would have happened had the races had been reversed in that situation. Would the usual agitators have flown in to make hay out of the situation? Would they be saying the same thing?

Figure out who the hypocrites are, and it gives you a much better sense of the right and wrong of any situation.

For instance, if one side accuses the other of electoral fraud or intimidation, but ignores that which their own side encourages, that's all you need to know.

If one side accuses the other of being "haters," but seems to be much more spiteful and ill-mannered and gratuitously insulting themselves, that tells you everything about the "character" of that side.

Likewise, it's always illuminating to see what the media prefers to pay attention to. Which scandals are kept in public view and which are allowed to slip down the memory hole? Which types of crimes are given a lot of publicity and which are ignored?

If a newspaper or television station prefers to only give attention when the criminal is one race and the victim another, but studiously ignores crimes going in the other direction, that tells you everything you need to know about that media outlet, and their credibility.

People manifest their character through their hypocrisy, or lack thereof, and so do political parties and the media.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My revised results

Back in July I reported that I had gotten my results and they had been as follows:

49% East Asian
22% British Isles
13% Central European
8% Finnish/Volga-Ural
8% uncertain

Yesterday I got an email from the company headlined:

"Come see your new results."

Below, the text read, "AncestryDNA has evolved. And the results are amazing." 

This is basically their Marketing Department's way of saying, "We screwed up the first time. Here are your more accurate, detailed results, with our apologies." 

Here are the new results they sent:


Africa  0%
Other Regions Tested:
Africa Southeastern Bantu  0%
Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers  0%
Senegal  0%
Africa North  0%
Ivory Coast/Ghana  0%
Benin/Togo  0%
Cameroon/Congo  0%
Mali  0%
Nigeria  0%

America  < 1%
Native American  < 1%

Asia  49%
Asia East  48%
Asia Central  < 1%
Asia South  0%

Europe  48%
Great Britain  15%
Iberian Peninsula  12%
Europe West  8%
Ireland  4%
Scandinavia  4%
Finnish/Northern Russia  2%
Italy/Greece  2%
Europe East  1%
European Jewish  0%

Pacific Islander  0%
Polynesia  0%
Melanesia  0%

West Asia 2%
Caucasus  < 1%
Near East  < 1%

There are two ways of looking at this. The first would be: geez, I'm even more of a mutt than I'd thought. The second would be to rejoice that I can claim kinship with so many different groups.

If diversity is indeed strength, then I must be truly powerful.

However, even the briefest glance at myself -- and my position in society -- puts the lie to that saying.

I'm almost -- almost -- a little disappointed not to be just a smidgen African. It would have provided a neat little defense every time someone accused me of racism: "What are you talking about? I'm part black myself!" -- spoken in a tone of injured wonderment at the unfairness of the accusation. 

It's surprising that one of the African sub-groups was described as "Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers." In this politically correct age, isn't that description considered a tad insensitive? Why was that the only group whose means of subsistence was mentioned? And, for that matter, in this country, doesn't "South Central" most commonly refer to that section of Los Angeles where the, uh, hunter-gatherers reside?

It turns out I do have some Native American blood, even if it's less than 1%. This is sort of ironic, considering I look somewhat like a Native American. Or, rather, Indian, as we prefer to be called. Personally, I don't even mind being called a "redskin" -- especially if it qualifies me to open up a casino.

The new results show that I'm 48% East Asian, and 1% Central Asian. I do try to overcome my Japanese heritage by being rude as often as possible. (This post is yet another attempt.)

I'll just assume the 1% Central Asian means that I'm a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. Expect me to emphasize that "fact" in the future -- especially when in my cups.

The 15% Great Britain is even less than the 22% in the original analysis I received in July, and that was far less than the roughly 50% I had believed all my life until a few months ago. 

The 12% Iberian Peninsula is the biggest surprise; the previous analysis had not mentioned that ethnicity at all, and I had no inkling that I had any Spanish blood. Again, it's sort of ironic, since I look vaguely "Hispanic." But Spaniards and Portuguese -- have little in common with the Central American Amerindians who are referred to as Hispanics in this country. And even though I look "Hispanic," I am part Iberian. So maybe I should learn to bullfight. Or rather, given my courage level, to do the flamenco.

Instead of being 13% Central European, I'm now 8% "Europe West" and 1% "Europe East." Europe West on the map includes Germany, France, Austria, and the Czech Republic, but nothing east of that. I could go crazy wondering whether I'm French or German, since they are such culturally opposite places. But given that my father thought he was part "Pennsylvania Dutch," which is in fact German, it's probably Heil Hitler for me.

Europe East, on the other hand, ranges from Latvia to Bulgaria, Poland to the Ukraine. That covers a lot of territory. But considering that only 1/100th of me comes from there, I'm not going to waste much time wondering which country.

I'm 4% Irish. I suppose it makes sense that I'm such a watered down bottle of Guinness, since I only feel as if I've kissed the Blarney Stone around 1/25th of the time. (The other 24/25ths, I'm tongue-tied.)

I'm 4% Scandinavian. Even if Hollywood is not breaking down the door attempting to cast me as Thor, it's nice to know I'm distantly related to the Swedish Bikini Team.

I'm now 2% -- and no longer 8% -- Finnish/Northern Russian. Come to think of it, Moscow did seem a pretty alien place when I visited back in 1968.

I'm 2% Italian/Greek, also a surprise. Evidently has not gotten to the point where they can separate those two ethnicities yet. And maybe, given the scope and dominance of both the Greek and Roman Empires, they'll never will.

Either way, it won't stop me from telling the Italians I know that I'm a paisan. Maybe I'll even start dressing a little flashier and hinting that I'm connected. ("You think you can talk that way to me? Hey -- I know people.") I draw the line at going full Jersey Shore, however.

And if a myopic person ever decides to tell me I'm built like a Greek God, I'll demur. But inside, of course, I'll be thinking: Ain't it the truth -- in more ways than one!

I'm roughly 1% "Caucasus." Given my ornery nature, that portion is probably Chechnyan. 

And while I'm 0% European Jewish, I am almost 1% "Near East." This means that while I have no Ashkenazi blood, there is a possibility of some Sephardic. So there's hope yet for a career in -- and positive coverage by -- the media. If my "Near East" is not Sephardic, I'll happily settle for being a member of the Saudi royal family.

I'm 0% Pacific Islander, which makes it a bit hard to explain my lifelong inchoate yearning for that part of the world.

Given my father's original belief that he was almost entirely British Isles-descended, my guess is that my Scandinavian blood came from the Vikings who invaded Scotland and Ireland, that the 2% Italian/Greek dated back to the Roman invasion of Britannia, and that the 12% Iberian was at least partly some form of "Black Irish" dating back to the Spanish Armada.

All of those groups demonstrated horribly bad manners with those invasions. But now that I know their blood runs in my veins, I find myself less inclined to castigate them.

Although I like to consider myself above such things, tribal identity does influence outlook.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ted Cruz's expression

I know this will make me sound superficial and probably downright idiotic, but whenever I see someone who looks just extremely pleased with himself, I feel an immediate instinctive dislike. (I don't think I am alone in this reaction.) In many photographs one sees of Ted Cruz, he seems to just radiate conceit:

Cruz is probably best known for the recent government shutdown, the result of a particularly ill-conceived, unrealistic attempt to derail Obamacare. Did he really think that popular sentiment would be won when the media was inevitably going to blame the Republicans for the shutdown?

Obamacare has been a disaster in both conceptualization and execution thus far, but defeating it in the long run will require more adroit tactics. Cruz gives off the air of someone so narcissistic as to be unrealistic about what he can and cannot accomplish.

Barack Obama's self-satisfied look also reflects his personality.

Obama and Cruz may not have much in common politically, but they do seem to have a certain similarity of character.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Filial respect

Yesterday I raced my son for 200 meters. He beat me, 27.6 to 27.7. Immediately after the race I bent over, my hands on my knees, gasping for breath. He walked up behind me, and, in front of his uncle and sister, put his hands on my hips and made a pumping motion, to symbolically express what he felt he had done to me in the race.

When I told him that I hadn't had time to get in shape for the race, and that with another couple weeks' training I could have gone a second faster, he just shrugged and said, "Dad, if you had gone a 26.7 I would have just gone a 26.6."

This morning I finished the NY Times crossword in under five minutes, a good time for me for the Monday puzzle. Afterwards I jokingly exulted to my son, "I'm a freaking genius!"

His immediate response: "Dad, just 'cause you run like Stephen Hawking, that doesn't make you a genius."

Melba Ketchum, Part II: Sociopath alert

Three posts ago I mentioned that Melba Ketchum, the sasquatch hoaxer, was most likely a sociopath. Another blog, Top Secret Writers, has provided some background on her business dealings.

Ketchum's company, DNA Diagnostics, has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau:

The Bureau provided 16 factors in providing the worst business rating possible, not the least of which included accepting payment from customers without providing sufficient or any DNA results in turn. In most cases, Ketchum failed to respond to the Better Business Bureau’s investigations.

She had also founded a company called Biogen Diagnostics, which is “not in good standing with the State of Texas”.

In 2010, Ketchum had partnered with Robert Schmalzbach and Richard Stubstad in a business called Science Alive, LLC, where they originally noted a “statistical anomaly in mitochondrial DNA results”. Ketchum went on Coast to Coast in 2010 to call for more Bigfoot samples and made claims about Bigfoot which Schmalzback felt was premature. She disagreed with him, formed her new company, and cut Stubstad and Schmalzbach out of the loop. (This of course contradicts Ketchum’s claim that she never “went after” Bigfoot samples).

A record of dishonesty and disloyalty and irresponsibility like that usually spells sociopathy.

I was also struck by Katchum's picture:

You can ignore the dyed hair and bright red lipstick; these are, if garish, not uncommon. She has the "nothing behind the eyes" look that sociopaths are often said to have, though in this case that could be a function of this particular photograph. Another layman's expression for this is, "a smile that doesn't quite reach the eyes;" that seems to be the case here, too.  

But most telling is Katchum's cross. Most people who wear crosses tend to have a small cross on a thin necklace which they usually wear discreetly behind their shirt. Anybody who wears a fairly large cross on a longish gold chain on top of her shirt is generally advertising her Christianity -- her "goodness." 

And there's no one who advertises her "goodness" more than a sociopath. 

On both of these counts -- the blank eyes and the advertising of Christianity -- Ketchum reminds me of Karen Sypher, the sociopath who tried to extort $10 million from basketball coach Rick Pitino:

I wrote about Sypher here, back in 2010. 

(The two women also share the same taste in hair dye and lipstick, although these are, as I said, incidental.) 

Beware of those who brandish their religion like a shield, against any suspicion that they themselves might not be above reproach. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Melba Ketchum

I got an email from my nephew two days ago asking what I thought about this article about the Sasquatch Genome Project, headed by one Melba Ketchum.

I had read a little about this study, but hadn't followed it all that closely because I'd heard of Melba Ketchum before, and gotten the impression she was a hoaxer. In any case, this latest "study" just confirmed that impression.

There are several suspicious things about this study. Why would NYU say they never received a DNA sample from Ketchum when she says she sent them one? And why would one of the other labs Ketchum cited, the North Louisiana Crime Lab, also deny that they had analyzed a DNA sample?

No serious scientist would lie like that. (And anybody with compelling evidence wouldn't have to lie.)

The group's video (which is embedded in the above-linked article) shows a big hump of "fur" which appears to "breathe" one time. Why wouldn't they videotape it from a different angle, which showed its face, or at least head? And why didn't they get a video of when it woke up, or when its mother came to get it? That would have made for an infinitely more convincing video. Also, if the group was able to take a video of a sleeping juvenile sasquatch, why not attach a tracking collar to it as well?

Ketchum claims that sasquatch is descended from modern human females. But it is hard to believe that a primate so vastly different from humans is fully human.

Note that Ketchum says others don't want to believe her because of what she terms "the Galileo Effect." Evidently, she sees herself as another Galileo. (Sorry, honey.)

Also, her moral posturing is troubling. She says that the fact that others don't believe her is "perhaps for the better," given that others might be tempted to hunt them if convinced of their existence. But if she really feels that way, why is she going to such an effort to prove their existence?

Verdict: a hoaxer. (And probably a sociopath, given her dishonesty and moral posturing.)

Perhaps Ketchum thinks the whole sasquatch phenomenon is a sham and just wants some attention. Or perhaps she believes in its existence and wants credit -- falsely -- for being a pioneer in the field. Either way, she is a hoaxer.

But there have always been hoaxers, and their existence doesn't change my belief in the existence of the creature.

My guess is that my nephew saw through Ketchum, and was merely curious as to how much of a "true believer" I am.

I am a believer, but my belief is based on the ample evidence for its existence, not on wishful thinking.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Talking to dogs

I've always regarded people who speak to animals as if they're humans as particularly idiotic. And those who speak to them as if they're cute little babies are even worse.

My wife is away for a week, so all the dog-walking and feeding duties have fallen on me.

When trying to get Tyke to come inside, or get him away from some particularly alluring smell by the roadside, I've found myself talking to him -- in English, which he doesn't understand -- using an emphatically expressive tone of voice. Somehow it just seems like the most natural thing to do.

I don't talk to him as if he's a cute little baby, though, but more as if he's a recalcitrant three-year-old.

Gotta draw the line somewhere.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

An insult, or a compliment?

The NY Post reported today that President Obama said he "would consider" changing the name of the Washington Redskins, given that some consider the name offensive to Native Americans.

The article quoted Obama, and cited a recent poll, but didn't quote a single Native American on the subject. (I've heard that most Native Americans don't particularly like to be called that, and prefer to be known as "Indians." Evidently, "Native American" is an appellation concocted to soothe the sensibilities of white liberals, not Indians.)

Every now and then the suggestion pops up that the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, and Cleveland Indians change their names as well.

I've never quite understood the reasoning here. Sports teams often name themselves after people -- or creatures -- they admire. Some names can connote a point of local interest (such as the Houston Oilers, or the Houston Rockets, or the Denver Nuggets), but most teams name themselves after a creature with a notable fighting spirit -- a creature they want to emulate. Hence the abundance of teams nationwide named after lions, tigers, wolverines, badgers, timberwolves, bears, falcons, eagles, and jaguars.

Note that there are no teams named after worms, ants, gnats, stink bugs, mice, or cuckoo birds.

I've never heard anybody object to the name "Minnesota Vikings" on the grounds that this is hurtful to the feelings of Scandinavians. Nor have I heard any Irish-Americans wax offended about the Boston Celtics.

If liberals did object to the name "Vikings," I can just imagine what they'd say:

"Vikings were a violent people known for invading neighboring countries and for pillaging and raping. This is a stereotype we want to move away from, and we consider it highly prejudicial and offensive to the many good Americans of Scandinavian descent across the country."

But don't expect to hear this objection; most understand that the name is in fact a compliment to Swedes and Norwegians.

Just as naming your team the Braves, Chiefs, or even Redskins is a compliment to Indians.