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Saturday, November 29, 2014


Today I kicked 50 meters long course on a kick board in 36 seconds. That's as fast as I could go 30 years ago. I can't swim nearly as fast as I could back then, I can't run as fast, and my right shoulder won't even allow me to do bench press anymore. My back is stiff when I wake up in the mornings, and a fair amount of my hair has gone MIA. But for some weird reason my kick is hanging in.

I'm sort of like a 60-year-old woman who got implants a few decades ago. Everything else on her has shriveled, wrinkled, and sagged. But her breasts are still standing proud and firm, almost mocking the rest of her.

Just as my kick seems to be taunting the rest of me, all of which is falling apart.

Friday, November 28, 2014


Watched Cleanskin, last night. It's a 2012 British movie about the effort to root out homegrown Islamic terrorists.

It offered a rare semi-sympathetic glimpse into the mind of a Muslim terrorist, and showed what a chess  game intelligence is. The plot had some nice twists, and the ending was unexpected.

Sean Bean stars as the British soldier recruited to stop the terrorists; his portrayal was grittily realistic. His character was a stoic man of action, not the usual Dorothy Parker-with-a-gun type Hollywood generally favors.

If you like realism, and don't mind violence, you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

To anyone who's ever been hoodwinked by a sociopath:

What you should take away from the experience is this: that you're a decent person. You're probably not a saint, but you're a far, far better human being than the sociopath who took advantage of you.

Most people instinctively believe that other people think and feel pretty much as they do. And someone like you, if you've never experienced a sociopath before, assumes that everyone else pretty much thinks and feels the way you do. So you never suspect that anybody could be as dishonest, disloyal, and vicious as the sociopath who fooled you.

Sociopaths know that other sociopaths will instinctively see through them, and therefore don't make good marks. So they gravitate towards nice, innocent people. Ergo, if you were taken unawares by one, it's actually testament to your good character.

If you get taken a second time, well, that may be proof of stupidity as well; but we all get one pass.

Just remember this: you, unlike the sociopath, had at least one parent who loved you.

You, unlike the sociopath, will not leave a trail of bitterness in your wake.

You, unlike the sociopath, can have long term friendships.

You, unlike the sociopath, have an emotional repertoire which extends beyond hatred, fury, spite, and occasional glee.

And you, unlike the sociopath, can enjoy relative peace of mind.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rounding out a high school education

(Why this post is titled this way may not be apparent at first, but be patient.)

Just to be clear what the Ferguson protesters are protesting, and in some cases, rioting, about:

Michael Brown, when asked to stop walking in the middle of the road by Darren Wilson, taunted him and told him he was too much of a pussy to fire his gun. When Brown approached the car and Wilson tried to get out, Brown blocked the car door and punched Wilson twice (photographs showed the bruise). Then Brown reached for his gun, trying to get his finger on the trigger (forensic evidence showed that the gun went off twice inside the car). When Brown walked away, Wilson followed and told him to stop. Brown then turned around and charged Wilson, who then shot the 6' 4", 295 pound Brown. Although a few witnesses claimed that Wilson shot Brown while his back was turned, three separate autopsies, including one commissioned by the Brown family, proved that this was not true. (Over half a dozen other witnesses confirmed Wilson's account.)

This is the case about whose grand jury decision Americans held their collective breath for last night.

This past summer, three days after Brown was killed, a black Salt Lake City police officer shot and killed a 20-year-old white, Dillon Taylor, because he did not get down on the ground when was asked to. Taylor was not in any way threatening the police officer, and according to all accounts, didn't obey simply because he couldn't hear him because of the earphones he was wearing.

(Where is the media outrage about this? Where are the white rioters?)

The hypocrisy of the media, and of Eric Holder, and the lies told by the agitators are so blatant that it hardly seems worthwhile for me to belabor them here.

Anyway, all of this is not to say that there are never unjustified shootings of blacks. This past Thursday two rookie police officers were patrolling the darkened stairwells of the Pink Houses project in East New York, a particularly crime-ridden building in a high crime area. One of the rookies, Peter Liang, had his gun drawn and his finger on the trigger while he patrolled, a violation of NYPD policy. Akai Gurley and his girlfriend happened to open the door to the stairwell right when Liang and his partner were there, and Liang pulled the trigger and killed Gurley.

Liang claims it was an accident. My guess is that he simply panicked, even though Gurley was doing nothing wrong. (Of course, that's pure speculation.) Gurley's relatives will undoubtedly get a nice fat settlement from the city -- which they deserve.

This, not Ferguson, is the case that blacks should be upset about.

That said, it's also easy to see why a rookie cop would be on edge in that particular housing project. There have been multiple murders committed there over the years, and the stairwell's lights were broken (drug dealers and other criminals prefer it that way). That doesn't excuse Liang's actions; but it does make them more understandable.

In the past 24 hours there has been a lot of talk about the need to preserve peace, talk that of course has been ignored by the Ferguson arsonists. But peace can only come about through understanding, which seems to be in short supply.

Here'a an idea to counteract that: every senior in high school should be required, before he graduates, to spend three days at a police station, part of which should consist of riding around in a patrol car, preferably in a high crime neighborhood. The senior would find out what it's like to have to patrol a high crime area, and what it's like to deal with real criminals and a hostile populace.

All the white liberals from the suburbs (the types who join in Ferguson protests in relatively safe places like Times Square or on college campuses) would gain some perspective. All the spoiled rich kids would get some (minimal) sense of life in a poor community. And blacks from poor areas, many of whom are reflexively leery of authority, would at least see how things look from the other side.

It's possible that some students would come away from that experience feeling even more anti-police.  But I suspect that for the vast majority, three days of being slapped in the face with reality would be a real education, and they'd get a sense of how difficult that job can be.

I don't think for a moment that such a proposal would have the slightest chance of being enacted. Most parents would be up in arms about their little dears going into a high crime neighborhood. And the first time a high schooler was killed in such circumstances would result in all sorts of repercussions. Plus, the police wouldn't want to be saddled with a useless third person they'd have to protect.

Still, it's unfortunate that such a requirement will never be put in place, because it would promote understanding, which is what's needed at the moment.

Friday, November 21, 2014

How the argument against illegal immigration should be framed

Both Republicans and Democrats have always claimed to speak for the middle class, the backbone of the country. But in fact, the Republicans have by and large promoted policies designed to help the upper class, and the Democrats policies which helped the lower class (along with a few select cronies in the upper class).

As a result, the middle class has been squeezed from both ends. Blue collar wages are lower than they were 30 years ago, recent college graduates have had a much tougher time finding jobs than graduates in previous generations, and the percentage of the population receiving various forms of welfare (like food stamps) has increased, putting a strain on everyone else.

Obama's executive order on immigration -- which in the long run will only encourage more illegal aliens -- is just the latest nail in the coffin of the middle class.

Whichever party wants to truly help the middle-class will:

(1) Secure our borders, and not just pay lip service to that end.

(2) Abolish, or at least weaken, NAFTA (and the exporting of American jobs that has resulted in).

(3) Lower the corporate tax rate to the point where it is no longer economical for companies to do inversions. In the long run that will increase revenues from corporate taxes, the same way Reagan's lowering of personal income taxes resulted in more tax revenue.

(4) Make it less economical for companies based in the US to export jobs. Every time you phone the help department of a major company and are answered by someone speaking in an Indian or Filipino accent, that's a job which has been lost to an American. Every time you buy an article of clothing or computer which has been assembled abroad, that's another job lost to an American. If that requires tariffs, so be it.

And (5) balance the budget. In the long run, the only way for the US to escape its debt burden is to inflate its way out of it, and make no mistake, that is what will happen eventually. That hurts the middle class most. The rich, with their financial assets, have all sorts of ways of staying ahead of inflation. But the middle class, whose biggest asset tends to be the house they live in, do not. And the poor, who have almost no savings anyway, have no stake in ensuring that the dollar keeps its value.

I know I'm oversimplifying here, and I know that free trade has always been what's best for the world overall. But recently, more than ever, what's best for the world has not been what's best for this country, and it's time for this country to act in its own self-interest -- and the interest of the majority of its people.

China has four times the number of people in their military that we have in ours, but doesn't waste its manpower or money intervening in the civil wars of other countries, or "nation building," or trying to act like the world's policemen. And they have economic policies in place which benefit their country, period. That's why their economy has grown so much faster than ours in the past two decades, and thats why it's projected to overtake ours in the near future.

We are the only country in the Americas whose immigration policy is basically, "What can we do for you?" Every other country in this hemisphere asks, "What can you do for us?"

It's time for us to start acting more like our neighbors, and our competitors abroad. We can't afford not to.

Frankly, it doesn't look as if either party has the political will to do these things. But they are what needs to be done to save the middle class.

The more the middle class shrinks, the less the US will be like the US, and the more it will be like Latin America.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Dad forces 11-year-old daughter to swallow 104 cocaine capsules"

A counterpoint to the article linked in the previous post.

The tragedy is that people like that father often have as many, if not more, children, than people like the mother in the previous article. If there were only a way to prevent that.

My proposal: any man or woman convicted of child abuse, should, as part of their sentence, have their tubes tied so they can spawn no more. Alternatively, they should be kept in prison until they are past reproductive age.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The clustering of sociopathic traits

An article in the NY Post today, The murder that became the oldest solved cold case in America, described how John Tessier was finally convicted of the killing of a 7-year-old girl that he committed as a 24-year-old back in 1957.

That a murderous pedophile is a sociopath goes almost without saying. But what was most striking about the article was how Tessier's life away from that murder exhibited both his sociopathic antecedents and his sociopathic traits.

The relevant excerpt:

The Tessiers, meanwhile [after the murder], presided over a house of horrors. All seven children suffered abuse by both parents. John, the eldest, abused all of his siblings, and along with his father, repeatedly and brutally raped his sister Jeanne. (Tessier has denied these allegations.)

After serving in Vietnam, Tessier settled outside of Olympia, Wash., and began an ignominious civilian life. He worked as a policeman until he was arrested for statutory rape; he pled down and avoided jail time. He was constantly in debt, married four times and completely estranged from his family.

Most sociopaths are either completely ignored by their parents or abused by them. (The most violent offenders tend to be abused.) John, as the eldest, probably took more abuse than the others, and also took those brutal lessons most to heart.

The Post characterizes Tessier's post-murder life as "ignominious" rather than "sociopathic." That is not an incorrect description. But if you look closely, his sociopathic nature is reflected in everything described in that second paragraph. 

That Tessier would want to work as a policeman is not atypical for sociopaths. There have been plenty of serial killers who've wanted a badge because they think it will make them above the law. Often, those serial killers, like Kenneth Bianchi, the Hillside Strangler, or Edmund Kemper, are turned down because police departments make an effort to screen -- not always successfully -- against sociopaths.

That Tessier would lose that job as a policeman because he had sex with an underage girl is also in keeping with his sociopathic nature. He uninhibitedly surrendered to his sexual impulses of the moment, not worried about possible consequences, and undoubtedly thinking he could beat the rap if he were ever brought up on charges. (Sociopaths always think they can fool others, even when they can't.)

Being constantly in debt is a not uncommon outcome for those who uninhibitedly surrender to their impulse purchases.

Multiple marriages, as this blog has pointed out in the past, are often a yellow flag for sociopathy. Think of it this way: neurotics, who are in many ways the opposite of sociopaths, often look at prospective spouses and see things which they know will wear on them in the future, and worry if their love will last. Sociopaths never love in the first place, so that's not a consideration. And they tend not to worry about the future, and like the idea of a legal hold on another person right now. Sociopaths with high sex drives probably also figure that marriage means a guaranteed source of sex, without any constraints on sex outside the marriage, at least for them.

And, of course, being completely estranged from one's family is a common outcome among dysfunctional families, especially when one has raped one's sister. (The next time you hear of a "dysfunctional" family, think of one where there's no real love.)

Sociopaths, when you look closely, always display all of the traits of sociopathy. So if you happen to know someone well enough to have seen just some of those traits, expect the full complement: dishonesty, glibness, impulsivity, recklessness, inability to love, disloyalty, irritability and aggression, irresponsibility, and lack of remorse. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What a great climate change treaty!

It emerged yesterday that the US and China, after nine months of secret negotiations, have agreed to a treaty on emissions: The US has agreed to reduced its emissions of heat-trapping gases by 26 to 28% by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.

China, on the other hand, has set a target for their emissions to peak in 2030, if not sooner. How much will their emissions increase between now and then? Two times? Four times? Who knows.

This just doesn't strike me as a great deal for the US. I understand that the US now has a much higher per capita pollution rate than any other nation. But this seems like a particularly one-sided "treaty."

Maybe, with Barack Obama at the helm, we can drive similarly hard bargains on other matters.

Perhaps we can force the Russians to agree to only double the number of nuclear warheads they have, if we halve ours. Yep, that'll show them Russkies.

Perhaps we can coerce the European Union to not increase their tariffs by eliminating all of ours.

And finally, let's bring Mexico to its knees by not enforcing our border with them and declaring amnesty for at least five million current illegal aliens.

Oh, that's right, Obama is already working on that one.

Feminists bent on proving women unequal, Part II

In May of 2013 this blog pointed out some of the ways in which feminists -- not all women, just feminists -- unwittingly prove that women are not the equal of men. Last night I was reminded of yet another way.

I saw Gone GirlIt features various female characters who are ditzy, two-faced, or downright sociopathic, along with a couple of intelligent, level-headed, likable female characters.

As you may be aware, feminists have objected strongly to the portrayal of the female sociopath, saying she presents a bad image of women. The feminists seem particularly incensed because this sociopath wreaks her havoc in a uniquely female way, leveling unfounded accusations of rape, falsely posing as an abused woman, and taking advantage of naive men.

Strangely, the feminists have not objected to the other female characters. If I were the type of woman whose sense of personal self-worth was wrapped up inextricably with that of every female character I saw on screen, I'd be far angrier about the portrayal of the ditzy, gossipy neighbor, or the airheaded Nancy Grace parody, or the trailer trash robber. The main sociopath is, while evil, is also intelligent, inventive, and capable.

But what's most telling is simply that the feminists have chosen to complain in the first place. Movies are, after all, fictional entertainment. And they simply wouldn't be entertaining if they didn't feature a wide variety of both male and female characters spanning the gamut from saintly to evil.

Should there be a rule that all the bad people must be men and women can only be portrayed in a positive light?

Imagine if men objected to negative portrayals of men.

"We at the National Organization of Men object to the portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. The invidious stereotype that most serial killers are male feeds into the kind of sexism which hurts the self-image of impressionable young boys."

"We would like to register our unhappiness with the character of Sergeant Barnes in Platoon. That most war criminals are male is a pernicious cliche which has haunted men since the dawn of time. It would be far preferable if those soldiers who do happen to be men were shown to be acting in a more positive, peaceful spirit of cooperation."

"NOM does not approve of the character Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. These films promulgate the ancient, outdated canard that men are responsible for most of the violent crime in this country. We demand that in the future Freddy be portrayed as a giving, caring, and compassionate person."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Last Action Hero

The Last Action Hero was a flop when it was released in 1993, and at the time even the critics didn't like it. I never understood why. It's one of the cleverest, funniest films I've ever seen.

Audiences seem to prefer the dull, predictable True Lies, which was released the next year. (Which I also don't understand.)

The Last Action Hero is both a satire of action films and an homage to them. That's a tricky balancing act, but the movie pulls it off. It has dozens of beautiful women, over the top villains, and comic book violence. It also features an extremely macho hero who spouts lame puns, improbably survives multiple dangerous situations, and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.

We see and experience the movie through the eyes of a young boy who is an avid movie buff and uses them to escape from the mundaneness of his everyday life. There's a hilarious scene at the beginning where his junior high school English teacher screens an old black and white version of Hamlet, and he fantasizes about what Schwarzenegger would do with the role.

The Last Action Hero not only makes fun of Schwarzenegger movies, it makes fun of Schwarzenegger himself for his greed. (Schwarzenegger plays along gamely.) There's even an inspired scene where the Schwarzenegger action hero meets Schwarzenegger the actor -- and disapproves of him. (It makes sense in the context of the movie.)

I've never seen a movie which so mercilessly picks apart Hollywood cliches. I've also never seen one which so romantically evokes the magic of movie-going.

Watch it, and you'll understand.

It's available on Netflix.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Voter fraud, Voter ID, and fearmongering""

An excellent article by Thomas Sowell on electoral fraud.

And there are plenty of ways to commit fraud Sowell hasn't mentioned. In 2012, a number of Philadelphia city wards reported 99% voter turnout, with 100% of the vote being for Obama. Generally, 70% is considered good turnout for an election, and historically, turnout in the inner cities has been less. So how did all these wards get 99%? It strikes me that it would be awfully easy for the people working those wards to simply check off the names of people who didn't show up to vote and simply fill out their ballots for them.

Or how hard would it be to have people whose job it is to transport paper ballots to a central counting spot to conveniently "lose" the votes for a certain candidate.

How hard would it be to rig an electronic voting machine? There were plenty of reports of people who thought they were voting for one candidate seeing that they had "voted" for another when they tried to use these machines.

How closely do the registrars check to make sure that all of the people who have died recently have been purged from the voter rolls?

As Joseph Stalin said, "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How dumb is it to give someone the benefit of the doubt because he's handsome?

Here's a follow up to yesterday's post about whether it's fair to dislike someone because of his face.

A recent article from Yahoo News highlighted a second "hot mug shot guy," Sean Kory, on the left:

Jeremy Meeks, on the right, got a fair amount of publicity a few months ago when his mug shot appeared and he was touted as a potential model. Meeks is a gang member from Stockton, California who's spent time in jail for grand theft and most recently was arrested on weapons charges.

Kory was just arrested this past weekend. According to Yahoo News:

Sean Kory, a 29-year-old from Santa Cruz, was at the city's annual Halloween parade on Friday when police say he spotted [someone dressed as a Fox News reporter], voiced his opinion about the cable news network, grabbed the victim's microphone prop, proceeded to run the microphone on his crotch, and pummeled the victim with an aluminum tennis racket. The victim, who was not hurt, alerted police, who nabbed the suspect as he was attempting to flee. Kory was arrested and booked into Santa Cruz County Jail.

In other words, he's a complete asswipe.

Kory is remarkably good-looking, though, in a Johnny-Depp-as-Captain-Jack-Sparrow sort of way. Both men have the good cheekbones that blacks often have, but also have enough white blood (I'm guessing slightly over 50%) to give them blue eyes and sculpted features.

Two post ago, I gave a somewhat mixed reply to the question of whether it's unfair to dislike someone because of his face. This time, the answer is simpler: it's incredibly stupid to give the benefit of the doubt to a beauty (of either sex).

(And if you look at the comments after that Yahoo article, the most "liked" comments were those which  expressed disgust with the women who made gushing comments about the two men.)

That said, it's something we all do.

Beautiful women will always make a man's better judgment go haywire, and good-looking men, to a lesser extent, can do the same to women.

The good news here is that both Kory, 29, and Meeks, 30, should lose their looks within ten years. Dumb and impulsive guys generally don't take care of themselves, and if you don't pay attention to diet and exercise, you'll likely be a mess by 40.

You could call that poetic justice, in a way, but since justice delayed is justice denied, as they say, that conclusion would be inaccurate. The better news, I suppose, is that both of these guys are too moronic to take much advantage of their looks while they have them. 

"Mommy blogger throws autistic son off bridge: cops"

This article appeared in the NY Post yesterday. A few excerpts:

A mommy blogger told police that the voices inside her head told her to hurl her 6-year-old son off the side of a bridge Monday.

Oregon mom Jillian McCabe, 34, was standing on Yaquina Bridge about 10 miles north of her hometown, Seal Rock, when she dialed 911 to report that she had tossed her little boy over the side and killed him...

The McCabes also wrote “Autistic London,” a blog about their experience raising their son. “What gets me through the day & stops me from pulling a Thelma & Louise,” read the title of one of McCabe’s archived posts from April 2012.

In the posting, the wife and stay-at-home mom describes several things that help “get her through” life — including her husband, family and friends. She also lists simple things like dark chocolate, cardio and famous quotes which help her deal with her struggles, as well. 

(Judging from her picture, Jillian used more dark chocolate than cardio.)

If McCabe actually heard those voices in her head, then she is genuinely schizoid. But if she is just claiming to have heard them, then she could well be a sociopath who is just setting up an insanity defense. 

My guess is that she's genuinely crazy, though. If she was devoted enough to her son to write a blog about him, had a good relationship with her husband, and phoned 911 herself to report what she had done, chances are she's not a sociopath. 

(A sociopath would have been far more likely to try to make it look like an accident. Or she would have set it up to make it look as if her husband murdered the son, so she could have rid herself of both of them at the same time; and then would have phoned 911 only to report that her son was missing.) 

Another possibility is that she is on the autistic spectrum herself; it does, after all, run in families. The current generation of kids is probably over diagnosed when it comes to the milder forms of autism, such as Aspergers. But the previous generation was undoubtedly underdiagnosed, especially given that Aspergers wasn't even formally recognized in official psychological manuals until the 1990's. 

What caught my eye about the headline above was, of course, the word "blogger." When I read the article I couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed at this one additional piece of evidence that bloggers tend towards insanity. Or, at the very least, weirdness. 

A friend, who in the pre-internet era would write occasional letters to the editor, once told me that he had heard that writing letters to the editor was the first sign of incipient insanity. 

Writing a blog is probably the closest thing to writing letters to the editor. So I kinda wish my friend hadn't told me that. 

Anyway, if McCabe does try to mount an insanity defense, maybe she can use her blog as Exhibit A.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Is it unfair to dislike someone because of his face?

The TV show Blacklist was recommended to me recently, so I watched a couple episodes on Netflix. The premise of the show is that a criminal mastermind, played by James Spader, knows all about crimes the FBI doesn't even realize have been committed, and has connections to all of them. The other main character, a young female FBI agent, played by Megan Boone, spends half of her time histrionically demonstrating how upset she is at various plot developments, and the other half gruffly barking out orders to other FBI agents. (How many new hires behave that way?)

I didn't like the show. But, I have to admit, part of the reason for that is because I can't stand James Spader's epicene, smug face. To see him is to want to punch him. For me, at least.

We've all been taught that hating someone because of the way he looks is the height of unfairness. No one has any choice about the face he was born with, we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, etc, etc.

Ergo, I must be extremely superficial.

But what if the face does say something about the person? Is it possible to discern character from a face?

What do you see in Spader's face? To me, he looks soft, and spoiled, and conceited, and maybe a little coy. Not a winning combination.

I could be wrong. Maybe he's hard, and tough, and brutally honest with himself. (If he is, he does a great job of hiding it.)

The role Spader plays on Blacklist is that of a supercilious guy. And yes, one shouldn't mistake the actor for his role.

But was it typecasting?

The role Spader may have been most famous for before was in Sex, Lies and Videotape, another Spader vehicle which just didn't do anything for me. And I can vaguely recall being put off by his face even back then. Here he is as a younger man:

There's something about that carefully arranged hair and those dandified clothes and that air of self-importance that, well, makes me sympathetic to violent people.

With those feminine cheeks of his, Spader actually reminds me of Linda Kozlowski from the Crocodile Dundee movies:

Come to think of it, I found her off-putting as well.

That's probably unfair. If you get to know someone, after a while you'll simply associate their face with their personality, and like or dislike them accordingly.

But sometimes, you don't have to wait to get to know them: their narcissism just emanates from their faces, as Ted Cruz and Barack Obama demonstrate here.

Obviously, it's unfair to dislike someone because he's ugly, or because of his ethnicity, or because of his mix of hormones. No one has any control over those things.

But if it's because his face broadcasts smugness, that's different.