Search Box

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Michael Phelps has a problem

Just saw an article reporting that Michael Phelps was arrested Monday night for DUI. He had been arrested for DUI once before, back in 2004.

Phelps was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a 9-year-old, and his success in swimming has often been framed as an inspirational victory over his ADHD. But really, his swimming didn't overcome his ADHD so much as just channel it. He expended all that extra energy in the pool, and, since he was built freakishly well for swimming and was a ferocious competitor, he became a champion.

But ADHD is not something that just leaves you when you win a bunch of medals. It's always going to be a part of you. So Phelps, when he is not swimming, is not the type to be able to just curl up with a good book and feel content. He's too easily bored, and by nature restless. He needs more active distractions, like poker, or golf, or women.

Or drinking.

The circumstances of this recent DUI were onerous. It happened on a Monday night, not a normal party night. (You'd think it would be a training day for him, meaning that he should be getting his sleep). He tested at roughly twice the legal limit. It happened at 1:40 AM, which means that when he starts drinking, he has a hard time just stopping. The worst part was that he was going 84 mph in a 45 mph zone, which means he can't handle his drinking: it either makes him feel invulnerable, or makes him sloppy. Either way, he becomes dangerous.

Granted, he's 29 and not a kid anymore. After all those years of being disciplined anybody would want to cut loose, especially if you're feted wherever you go. (He did seem to do a lot of partying in Las Vegas and elsewhere after Beijing.) And it's not as if he has anything left to prove in his chosen sport. But, partying doesn't have to mean getting out of control.

Sometimes I think that certain celebrities would be better off if they were less secure financially. If you know you have to report to work at 9 the next morning, you'd be less inclined to get drunk on a Monday night.

Sooner or later, we're going to hear about Phelps entering rehab.

In the meantime, the best thing Phelps can do is stick with competitive swimming, which will at least keep him on a somewhat straight and narrow path.

In fact, he'd be better off expanding his current repertoire to the 200 fly, which would require more training -- and sleep -- than he is currently getting.

Addendum, 10/5/14. It was sooner, not later. Phelps just announced he's entering rehab, although he didn't specify what sort of facility.


I got added to my wife's Netflix account two days ago, so on Sunday night stayed up late watching Skyfall again. I was practically falling asleep by the end, and somehow I kept imagining the various characters as being really tired. At each new scene, I would think, how does James Bond have the energy to do that, he must really be sleepy after all those exertions. I wasn't even fully aware of my thought process until the next morning. Anyway, I guess I'm as guilty of projection as anybody.

Monday morning while I should have been paying attention to stocks I wandered over to Netflix, and started watching 3 Days to Kill, a dumb-but-entertaining action flick. I hadn't intended to watch the entire thing, but ended up doing so.

When I was in high school I smoked a fair amount of marijuana. When I was in college, I got black out drunk twice. I've taken mescaline. I overeat at least twice a week. And I take my ego out for a stroll on a regular basis. (Actually, it would probably be more accurate to say it takes me all sorts of places.)

But I don't think I've ever felt quite so self-indulgent -- downright degenerate, as a matter of fact -- as I did watching an entire two hour movie starting at 10AM on a Monday morning.

Late yesterday afternoon I watched Get the Gringo, which stars Mel Gibson. Mel doesn't seem to have quite the pull in Hollywood that he used to, not sure why, so the movie wasn't a big hit. But it should have been, as it's quite enjoyable.

Early yesterday evening I watched Pumping Iron, the 1977 documentary about body-building featuring a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was fairly interesting, though not quite as good as most of its reviews.

Then last night I watched two old episodes of The Rockford Files which featured a pre-Magnum PI Tom Selleck as Lance White, the comically too-perfect detective. (Season 5 Episode 4, and Season 6 Episode 7, if you have Netflix.) The shows weren't quite as funny as I had remembered, but were still excellent.

This morning I intend to pay more attention to the stock market.

I'd even consider buying some Netflix stock if the price/earnings ratio weren't quite so high.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sociopath alert: James Traficant

I'd always been vaguely aware that James Traficant was a US Congressman from Ohio with a weird head of hair and a reputation for being colorful. But I'd never really paid much attention to him until his obituary appeared yesterday.

I was surprised how many of the classic flags for sociopathy he had waved during his lifetime. Most of those flags were yellow, but he waved a couple of red ones as well.

On the surface, Traficant was an appealing figure. He had a reputation for sticking up for the underdog. It certainly took guts for him to stick up for John Demjanjuk, who was accused of being Nazi concentration camp guard "Ivan the Terrible." (Israel convicted Demjanjuk in absentia, then later reversed that conviction.) As Sheriff of Mahoning County, Ohio, Traficant spent three days in jail because he had refused to evict former steelworkers who had just lost their jobs from their homes. (The law ought to be enforced, but at the same time one can sympathize with and even admire his attitude.) Although he was a Democrat, Traficant often voted with Republicans, showing a strong independent streak which eventually resulted in him being stripped of every committee assignment by the end of his tenure in the House.

But, there were just too much sociopathic behavior not to come to the conclusion that he was one.

Traficant played quarterback for the University of Pittsburgh. This is a position which takes great nerve to be good at, especially at a football powerhouse like Pitt. Being a successful quarterback doesn't even rise to the level of a yellow flag, but given everything else about Traficant, it does fit the pattern.

Traficant was known for his colorful, purposely ugly wardrobe, which was geared to attract notice. (Sociopaths do like to be the center of attention.) His hairdo -- later proven to be a wig when he went to jail -- did the same. Traficant was known to say that he cut his hair with a weed whacker.

But charm -- even the self-deprecating variety -- is often a hallmark of sociopathy. The NY Times obituary quoted Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio: “There wasn’t a guy who had more charisma, or more of an ability to make someone feel special and part of the fun that was going on.”

This is reminiscent of Bill Clinton, another sociopath known for his ability to make everybody feel special.

Traficant was first accused of corruption in 1983, when he was Mahoning County Sheriff. Prosecutors said he was taking bribes from local mobsters to protect their businesses. Although he wasn't a lawyer, he decided to defend himself. (Acting as one's own lawyer -- thinking that one will do a better job than a professional --  takes incredible arrogance; I've never known anyone to do this who wasn't a sociopath. Others who've acted as their own lawyers include Ted Bundy and Colin Ferguson, the Long Island Railroad shooter.)

Miraculously, Traficant got off by claiming that he was conducting a one man sting operation.

In 2000, he was indicted again, and this time he was convicted. From the NY Post:

During the two-month trial, he did a curbside interview on live network TV outside the courthouse each morning and then went inside to challenge U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells, who tried to dissuade Traficant from representing himself [again].

What kind of person has the nerve -- and the gall -- to do a live TV interview every single day while on trial? (Rhetorical question.)

Traficant ended up being sentenced to eight years in prison, of which he served five. Upon his release in 2009, he actually ran again for office, though he was defeated. (Shamelessness is another sociopathic trait.)

It's one thing to accept bribes from businessmen and mobsters, who theoretically have some choice in the matter. From a sociopathy standpoint, it's worse to coerce your staffers to work on your farm and on your houseboat on the Potomac, which Traficant was also convicted of. The staffers had far less choice, at least if they wanted to keep their jobs, and the fact that Traficant took advantage of them means that he ruled his fiefdom by fear and intimidation. In other words, he was a bully -- another classic sociopathic trait.

A "colorful" character can sometimes refer to a true eccentric, someone who is truly different from others and has a lot of offbeat opinions. But in this case it referred to a flamboyant sociopath who loved attention and also loved money, and would do anything to get either. Traficant knew how to make himself appealing to the electorate, but if you looked closely, you  saw a guy with tremendous nerve, no shame, and no scruples.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Eric Holder

In a sane society an Attorney General responsible for Fast and Furious would have been forced from office early on.

In a sane society, any AG who stonewalled Congress the way Holder did would have been forced to resign.

In a sane society any AG who ignored hundreds of cases of the black-on-white knockout game, then brought Federal hate crimes charges against the lone white man who played it against a black man would be shamed out of office.

In a sane society, no AG would ever inveigh against a requirement for voter IDs, since doing so effectively promotes voter fraud.

In a sane society, any AG who completely ignored IRS targeting of conservative political groups would be considered derelict of duty, and forced from office.

In a sane society, no AG would suggest that school expulsions be meted out in a racially proportionate manner, rather than according to who has misbehaved.

In a sane society no AG would travel to Ferguson, Missouri, to investigate the shooting of a black 18-year-old who had just reached into a police car to punch a police officer and grab at his gun. (Did Holder pay the scantest attention to the case of the white 22-year-old who was shot a few days later -- for less reason -- by a black police officer in Salt Lake City?)

But, we don't live in a sane society. And Eric Holder remained in office for six long years.

I always got the sense that Eric Holder was Barack Obama's id. He pushed for the causes that Obama wanted but couldn't quite give voice to for political reasons.

Obama actually thought that when he became President that the world would see that a "good" (read: leftist, of color) President was now in office, and all the resentment against the United States would simply evaporate. He could then forget about waging wasteful, pointless foreign wars and focus on what he really wanted: helping black people in this country by any means possible. (This is what Obama referred to as the need for "redistributive change" on a radio program before he because President.)

So, Obama has appointed leftists to office who share his domestic priorities. Foremost among them has been Eric Holder, whose viewpoints and agenda are virtually identical to Al Sharpton's, even if Holder is a shade more subtle about them.

Unfortunately for Obama, it turned out that the rest of the world did not have the same regard for him that he has for himself, and resentment against the United States runs as high as ever. Unwelcome foreign crises have arisen, most recently the threat from ISIS. So Obama has been forced, extremely reluctantly, to turn his attention to world affairs.

But at least he's had Eric Holder pushing for the types of changes closest to his own heart.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wall Street joke

When I first went to Wall Street, I heard a story, supposedly true, about a practical joke one guy on a trading desk played on another.

The first guy had a friend pretend to be the the Fire Department Chief in his colleague's hometown in Connecticut. The friend phoned up his colleague, who was vacationing in Maine, and informed him that his house in Connecticut had burned down.

The second guy then packed up his family and drove all the way back to Connecticut, his kids crying the entire time. When he got there, he saw that his house was fine.

To get revenge, the second guy hired an construction company to excavate the first guy's entire front lawn, and dump all the dirt on his driveway.

I was told the story by a guy who worked at that firm, and knew the guys firsthand.

It's the kind of story that, when you first hear it, makes you laugh with semi-delighted horror. But when you really think about it, it takes a special kind of guy to pull a stunt like the first guy's. (I don't blame the second guy for doing what he did.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An evening in the emergency ward

Yesterday afternoon, right after lunch, I asked my daughter to step on my back (I enjoy having my spine cracked). My mistake was to ask her to do that when I had a full stomach. Right afterwards, I felt a severe pain in my left chest. Suspecting the worst, I put my hand to my throat to measure my pulse; it was beating strong and steady. But every time I tried to breathe deeply, it hurt my left lung. Then, when I tried to lay down, I found that resulted in intense pain. My family urged me to call the doctor. After a few hours, I did. Partly because I'm 60, but mostly because a doctor's job is to err on the side of caution (and avoid malpractice suits), I was told to go to the emergency ward at the local hospital.

I had the full battery of tests, and they found nothing wrong. Eventually they gave me some muscle relaxants, I went home, and slept soundly. I still can't breathe deeply, but seem to be on the mend.

There are various situations in which I would find it utterly impossible to get a hard on. One is while exercising hard. Another would be while giving a public speech. A third is being in an airplane during turbulence. I would rank last night's situation ahead of all of them.

There's nothing quite like sitting in a backless hospital gown with an IV coming out of your arm, an oxygen monitor on your right index finger, and a bunch of EKG wires hanging off you to make you feel emasculated.

Plus, when everybody is treating you like an old man who's about to keel over, you can't help but feel like one.

Thank goodness my son came with me to insult me and make me feel normal. He took a picture of me in my gown, and mused about how he could turn this situation into a good story to tell girls.

We also talked about how hospitals themselves can make you feel sick.

It is true. I felt fine when I got there, and when they first took my blood pressure in the "triage" area, it measured 113/77, about normal. However, by the time they took it again when I was covered in those sticky EKG thingies and having a needle jabbed into me for blood extraction, it measured 140/98.

The nurse took four vials of blood from me for various tests. (Good bye to that world record attempt I had been planning for next month; reverse blood doping has never been known to work). I asked her if I could have the blood back when they were through testing it, but she didn't seem to think that was a good idea.

While we were waiting for the results, my son told me about a recent Medal of Honor winner who'd been shot in both legs, then got one of his arms blown off by an enemy hand grenade. He'd had to tie the tourniquet himself around his own stump.

Then he kept fighting.

I couldn't help but feel my son told me that story to provide a contrast to my own behavior.

The story was certainly inspirational though. It bolstered my courage to the point that when the nurse stuck the needle in, I didn't even cry.

I'm dreading the bill. The doctor said she consulted with a radiologist to get a second opinion on my chest x-ray, and started to tell me about what they'd found, but after that all I could hear was "fee splitting."

Next time I'm not going in unless I'm positive I'll die otherwise.

And even then, I'll think twice.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Aspergerian conversational patterns

I've known two women with Aspergers who would say something, then later deny having said it. Whenever I've pointed out that what they're saying contradicts they've said before, they'll simply say, "I never said that," with an air of finality.

I'm not sure exactly what their thought process is when they do this. Are they thinking they're pulling the wool over my eyes? Have they somehow actually convinced themselves that they never said it? Or are they somehow thinking that by being so definitive in their denials they are somehow "retracting" their previous statement? The first explanation implies dishonesty, the latter two insanity. Aspies are generally not dishonest, and are usually not quite certifiable; but I can think of no other explanations.

At the same time, Aspies will often tell me I've said things that I know I haven't said. Or they'll so completely misinterpret my words that my meaning will become unrecognizable.

We are all guilty, to a certain extent, of merely waiting impatiently for our turn to talk without completely processing what the other person is saying. But Aspies really do it, even when they're ostensibly asking you a question.

I've had one Aspie ask me what the weather forecast is for that day, and when I said I didn't know, she would immediately shoot back, "Oh, so it's going to be in the 60's?" (This happened on multiple occasions.)

Another pattern: the lamer the excuse, the more Aspergerian the personality.

Back in June, during the publicity surrounding the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I overheard a conversation between a man and a woman whom I happen to know has Aspergers. The man said disgustedly that several recent headlines had proclaimed that "350,000 American military personnel" had been killed during WWII. He then asked, why couldn't they just say "350,000 men," since that's who died.

The Aspie, a doctrinaire feminist, replied, "Oh, well you know, a lot of women died too." She had no clue how many had actually died, she just said that because she wanted women to receive equal credit for sacrifice. The man replied, "Right, sixteen." (I looked it up later; that number is accurate.)

The Aspie hemmed and hawed, then replied, "Oh, well, you know, once you add in the women who died in the factories back home, it was a lot more." She had no clue about this, either, but seemed to feel that this was a face-saving rejoinder.

Let's think about that statement. How many women would have died in factories during those four years? Twenty? Fifty? Two hundred? And how many of those deaths would have been essentially from natural causes, like heart attacks that probably would have happened anyway? A few factory deaths certain doesn't alter the balance of deaths by gender; but the Aspie couldn't admit to being wrong, so she came up with that incredibly lame retort.

A normal person would have replied, "Oh, I hadn't realized the disparity was that great," or something to that effect, and let it go. But the Aspie had to scramble for something, anything, to keep from admitting she was wrong, no matter how lame.

Whenever I've tried to have conversations with Aspies, the feeling I've always been left with is that I've been talked at rather than with. I've had to struggle to get a word in edgewise. And whatever I've said has ended up either misinterpreted or ignored.

In the end, it's an experience best avoided.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The iPhone6 is available!

A friend just commented on how silly it is for all these people to line up outside the Apple stores today to buy the iPhone6. Can they not make calls on their current phone?

I couldn't agree more.

They seem to be a slightly more moneyed version of the people who used to camp out outside the movie theaters so they could be the first to see the latest installment of the Star Wars saga.

Was there really that much of a difference between seeing the movie at that special midnight showing on Friday morning and seeing a matinee later on in the weekend? Was the outcome going to be any different? Could they really not wait to find out what happened next to Luke Skywalker?

The only explanation for that phenomenon was that they actually enjoyed the camping out.

When else could they enjoy that delicious sense of keen anticipation? Where else could they actually dress up in Star Wars costumes and not be ostracized for it? Where else could they get the sense that they were really happening people? Who else but their fellow enthusiasts could give them the sense of actually belonging?

The movie, when they finally saw it, was quite likely anticlimactic for them. (I've never been able to watch more than five minutes of any of the sequels on TV.) But that was okay, because the pre-movie party -- their version of the red carpet -- was so much fun.

At least the iPhone6 enthusiasts waiting in line all over the globe this morning aren't dressed up in costume. But it's hard to believe that any significant percentage of them have exhausted the available apps on the iPhones 4 or 5.

Once again, it seems to be the anticipation itself that's the draw. That, and the opportunity to commune with all their fellow aficionados.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


A friend told me today that he and his girlfriend had just competed in a 10 kilometer river swimming race. He said his girlfriend --

"had come out of the water shivering and wobbly, and was coughing. Her kayaker said she'd started coughing later in the race. At this point I had no worry -- she has had hypothermia in previous races. She sat down for a while and was shivering uncontrollably, so we moved her to the sun. She complained of not feeling well, didn’t look good, and was semi-responsive to people’s questions. I suggested calling 911. It was a weird situation because though she didn’t seem to be doing well, she also didn’t seem to be about to pass out or anything like that. The ambulance came, and took her to hospital. It turned out she had pulmonary edema – her lungs filled up with water (from her body). I don’t know what her oxygen level was upon arrival but it was so low they were ready to intubate her."

I asked my friend what would have happened if she hadn't gotten to the hospital as soon as she had, and he said it wasn't clear. 

I then suggested that given the danger she was in, he had probably saved her life by requesting the ambulance when he had. He demurred, and said that if he hadn't done so, someone else undoubtedly would have. 

I told him I thought he very well could have saved her life, or at least saved her from brain damage or some other permanent injury, and that he should file that away for their next argument. 

Again, he demurred and said he was just happy she was okay. 

I know that if I were in his situation I'd use it to my advantage. (Have you ever seen a movie where the hero saves the girl's life and then doesn't get her?)

Granted, this woman is already his girlfriend. But saving her life has got to be good for some kind of leverage. 

Were I in my friend's position, I don't think I'd even be subtle about it: "Hey, I just saved your life. As far as I'm concerned, at this point, I basically own you."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How sociopaths are dumb

Sociopaths, like the rest of us, come in a full range of IQ's. The dumber ones tend to engage in carjackings and bank robberies. The smarter ones gravitate more towards Wall Street and politics, and some do quite well for themselves.

But no matter how smart a sociopath is, he will inevitably have certain intellectual weaknesses that stem primarily from his narcissism. Sociopaths inevitably think themselves better at everything than they are, and this is often their downfall.

Sociopaths often think they're fooling people when they're not. When a normal person is onto a sociopath, and realizes he's being lied to, he may just be too polite to say so, at least at first. The sociopath will take this as proof he's getting away with whatever lie he's promoting at the moment. Or, because he's successfully fooled people in the past, he thinks he will continue to get away with it in the future -- since, after all, he's so much smarter than everyone else.

Sometimes the lie is harmless, like insisting he hasn't had any plastic surgery when he obviously has. Other times, it's more sinister.

Similarly, sociopaths expect people to believe them when they claim to be turning over a new leaf, no matter how many times they've made similarly false statements in the past. And sociopaths always seem to think that they're fooling others with their displays of false emotionality. A sociopath always thinks he is disproving Abraham Lincoln's dictum.

Sociopaths, despite being masters of manipulation, are, ironically, quite easy to manipulate themselves. Because their egos are so out of control, they tend to believe whatever compliments they get. This makes them extremely susceptible to flattery. All you need to do is couch your request in a compliment ("You're far too smart to be doing that").

A sociopath is far more likely to surrender to his impulses, and compromise his future as a result. The seven deadly sins are in fact far more deadly when it comes to a sociopath. He'll let wrath get the better of him, and pull that trigger, or set that house on fire. He'll let lust get the better of him, and rape that girl. He'll let greed overcome him, and embezzle those funds. He'll even let curiosity get the better of him, and see how fast that car will go. And he's far more likely to indulge in drugs and drink, whatever the long term consequences.

He may regret all these things later, but it matters not at the moment, because "live for today" is the sociopath's motto.

Because a sociopath thinks little of the future, he is fearless when he should be fearful. ("I'm way smarter than those dumbass detectives, they'll never catch me."/"I know how to handle heroin, I'm not going to get addicted like those other idiots."/"I'm a great driver, I won't get in an accident.")

An alternative sociopathic motto might be, "Live fast, die young, and leave a surgically enhanced corpse."

Sociopaths tend to see themselves as victims, even when they are victimizers. So they never have a clear view of any complicated situation in which they have a vested interest. In their minds, everything that goes wrong is always someone else's fault. Since wisdom can only be gained by learning from one's mistakes, if you can never admit you're wrong, you can't learn.

So, sociopaths never develop good senses of judgment.

Sociopaths don't have the kind of patience it takes to calmly mull things over, so never really figure things out on their own and make great intuitive leaps -- the essence of true creativity. This, of course, does not stop them from taking credit for others' ideas, as Steve Jobs did.

(They are good at spur of the moment improvising, coming up with glib lies, and delivering them in a way so as to seem credible; but that is a different matter.)

In any case, all these egotistical quirks effectively render every sociopath stupid, no matter his IQ.

If you're aware of this, it will help you to deal with them more effectively. It should also help you avoid being sucked into a sociopath's self-destructive vortex.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bruce Levenson latest member of KKK

In case you haven't heard, Bruce Levenson, partial owner of the Atlanta Hawks, has outed himself as a "racist" and has volunteered to sell his stake in the NBA franchise for having sent an email in which he said the following:

Regarding game ops, I need to start with some background. for the first couple of years we owned the team, I didn't much focus on game ops. then one day a light bulb went off. When digging into why our season ticket base is so small, I was told it is because we can't get 35-55 [-year-old] white males and corporations to buy season tixs and they are the primary demo[graphic] for season tickets around the league. When I pushed further, folks generally shrugged their shoulders. then I start looking around our arena during games and notice the following:

-- it's 70 pct black
-- the cheerleaders are black
-- the music is hip hop
-- at the bars it's 90 pct black
-- there are few fathers and sons at the games
-- we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel.

Then I start looking around at other arenas. It is completely different. Even DC with its affluent black community never has more than 15 pct black audience.

Before we bought the Hawks and for those couple years immediately after in an effort to make the arena look full (at the NBA's urging) thousands and thousands of tickets were being giving away, predominantly in the black community, adding to the overwhelming black audience.

My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arena back then. I never felt uncomfortable, but I think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites I would read comments about how dangerous it is around Philips yet in our 9 years, I don't know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.

I have been open with our executive team about these concerns. I have told them I want some white cheerleaders and while i don't care what the color of the artist is, I want the music to be music familiar to a 40 year old white guy if that's our season tixs demo. I have also balked when every fan picked out of crowd to shoot shots in some time out contest is black. I have even bitched that the kiss cam is too black.

Gradually things have changed. My unscientific guess is that our crowd is 40 pct black now, still four to five times all other teams. And my further guess is that 40 pct still feels like 70 pet to some whites at our games. Our bars are still overwhelmingly black.

This is obviously a sensitive topic, but sadly I think it is far and way the number one reason our season ticket base is so low.

And many of our black fans don't have the spendable income which explains why our f&b and merchandise sales are so low. At all white Thrasher games sales were nearly triple what they are at hawks games (the extra intermission explains some of that but not all).

This strikes me as an exceedingly innocuous email. All of this is just stuff that takes place in every marketing department of every large corporation across the country. Advertisers have always targeted specific demographics, including every ethnic group and every age bracket. 

Nowhere in this email did Levenson express any personal antipathy to blacks, or use any ethnic slurs, or even mention verifiable-but-still-controversial facts like IQ differences or crime rates. It was all just Marketing 101. 

Levenson mentions the ticket giveaway in the black community, and even dismisses any talk of the area surrounding the arena being dangerous as "racist garbage."

This, of course, hasn't stopped outlets like the New York Times from writing hand-wringing editorials about Levenson being an example of "racism" in the NBA. 

Here's the real question: why would a hard-edged businessman like Levenson choose to "out" himself two years after sending this email? 

There's been some talk about how he may have been blackmailed, or he might have realized the email was about to be exposed anyway because of the private detectives Donald Sterling had hired to root out other examples of "racism" among NBA owners. 

That's certainly possible. But it seems far more likely that Levenson simply wanted, for business reasons, to sell his interest in the Hawks and used this as a convenient excuse. My guess, he's hoping some mogul like Steve Ballmer is willing to give him more than the franchise is currently valued at. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Judging women

In a post on August 16th, I quoted a feminist who had commented on this blog that "men aren't judged primarily on their appearance, as women are."

This is something that a lot of feminists seem to believe, and is worth exploring.

What feminists don't understand is that judging a woman as a human being and judging her as a potential sex partner are two completely different things. Some women seem to think they are one and the same. I'm a fairly typical guy in this regard: I judge women the same way I judge men: on their intelligence, toughness, sense of humor, friendliness, honesty, and lack of egocentrism.

Now, judging a woman as a potential sex partner is another matter entirely. A woman's sexual desirability is almost purely a matter of her looks.

But I don't conflate the two.

(Likewise, I'm capable of saying, wow, he's a good-looking guy, and not mistaking that quality for character.)

Do a woman's looks affect her personality? I'd say IQ and sociopathy are distributed more or less randomly. But it's my vague impression that the women with the most pleasing personalities tend to be 6's, 7's, and 8's. (And yes, I'm using the numerical ratings so despised by feminists, but I'm using them for the sake of convenience, not as a measure of anyone's overall worth as a human being.)

Women who are 9's and 10's tend to be spoiled, and to think themselves far more interesting than they are. Most have developed somewhat passive personalities, as so much in life just gets handed to them. I also tend to associate them with a certain type of craziness, as a fair number of the ones I've known have had eating issues.

Women who are 3's, 4's, and 5's tend to be a little boring, as they sometimes lack social confidence. But they also tend to be the most accomplished. (Go to any Ivy League campus and you'll see they predominate.)

Women who are 1's and 2's can end up bitter against men. Sometimes to the point where they become fire-breathing feminists.

Of course, there are plenty of exceptions to all of these tendencies. And I have no scientific basis for any of this, just some vague personal impressions.

But, the main point here is -- and I think I can speak for most guys when I say this -- I never confuse looks with character.

Nor do I confuse gender with personality, as the feminist quoted above seems to do.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers

It looks as if Joan Rivers is about to go, which is unfortunate. She was an utterly fearless comedian. She was sharp, and unafraid to be offensive, and stayed that way right up until the day she went into a coma.

The best tribute I can give her is simply to link some of her standup acts.

This is about nine minutes from a 2010 documentary about her called Piece of Work, which shows how ferocious she was. At about the four minute mark she does a wonderful job of facing down a heckler in Wisconsin, actually working in a little humor while doing so. The clip also shows her offstage, and you get a sense of how tough she is.

Here she is in Live at the Apollo, Part I and Part II. Some of what you'll see here is regular old-timey schtick, but her nerve and timing and humor are faultless.

Rivers was the anti-Robin Williams. She was iconoclastic, disrespectful, profane, scathingly sarcastic, and almost always on target.

The fact is, you can't be funny if you're not those things. (Who was the last politically correct person you met who was truly funny?)

Rivers was -- along with Kathy Griffin -- one of the two best female comedians I've ever seen.

Addendum, next day: Rivers died a few hours after I put up this post. RIP. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pamela Anderson, then and now

I realize this is a minority opinion, but I've never found Pamela Anderson attractive. Even in her Baywatch phase, with those puffed up lips and silicone monstrosities on her chest, to me she had all the sexual appeal of a public urinal:

She probably hit her peak when she first started out as an aspiring model, before she became famous. Here she looks like the young Michelle Phillips, of The Mamas and the Papas fame:

Even at that point, she had already had some work done, as this high school yearbook photo of her attests:

As time went on, her post-Baywatch photos showed her looking more and more like a walking mug shot:

So I was shocked to see this makeover yesterday on the cover of NoTofu:

She looks downright elegant. I don't know how much airbrushing was done, but she looks lean, and healthy, and her skin looks good as well. The remains of those puffed up lips are still there, but otherwise, she's beautiful.

Hope she sticks with the look.

While searching for photos to illustrate this post, I stumbled across an article in which Anderson described the sexual abuse she had undergone from an early age. Evidently she was molested by a female babysitter from age 6 to 10, raped at 12 by a 25-year-old man, and gang-raped at 14 by six of her boyfriend's friends.

There seems to be a pattern where young victims of sexual abuse end up presenting themselves as sexual objects for the rest of their lives. That was certainly the case with Anderson. She didn't look like a battered woman early on, if those youthful photos are any indication, though as she got older she seemed to take on that look. But that may also have partly been a function of the normal process of aging.

Perhaps, if that latest photo is any indication, Anderson has finally recovered from that early abuse.

I doubt it, though; it's probably more just a function of some stylist's efforts. No one ever completely gets over their formative experiences.

(That's why they're called "formative.")