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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kit Harington can rest easy

Kit Harington proved why actors should never speak without a script yesterday. An excerpt from the Page Six article about him:

“To always be put on a pedestal as a hunk is slightly demeaning,” laments Kit Harington, 28, who stars as Jon Snow on the award-winning hit TV series "Game of Thrones." “It really is and it’s in the same way as it is for women. When an actor is seen only for her physical beauty, it can be quite offensive.”

He explains further, “Well, it’s not just men that can be inappropriate sexually; women can be as well. I’m in a successful TV show in a kind of leading man way and it can sometimes feel like your art is b
eing put to one side for your sex appeal. And I don’t like that.”

“In this position you get asked a lot, ‘Do you like being a heartthrob? Do you like being a hunk?’ Well, my answer is, ‘That’s not what I got into it for.”

What exactly is Harington trying to prove here? That he's truly passionate about his art? Or is he trying -- somewhat desperately, it seems -- to prove that he really is a hunk?

Yes Kit, we get the message: women throw themselves at you left and right. 

But you're not vain. No, not at all. 

Given which, when one Google Images "Kit Harrington," these first six pictures that appear all raise troubling questions:

Kit -- why would you wear a shirt labeled "heartbreaker" if you don't want to be one? But please don't misunderstand -- we are very grateful for the way you cut off your sleeves so we can admire your bulging biceps!

Don't you get a little cold with your shirt unbuttoned down to your sternum?

It's nice now the fan is blowing your hair out to the side, but doesn't that bother your eyes just a little? Oh, no wonder you're squinting.

Is this an early screen test for when Daniel Craig steps down? Wow, we can practically hear the James Bond music playing in the background. 

No wonder all those poor women are "inappropriate sexually" with you! How can you blame them when you look so dapper?

You must be quite the romantic, walking on the beach on a cloudy day like that! Were you trying to evoke Alain Delon with that cigarette? And how much effort goes into making your hair look tousled just so?

Well Kit, I have good news for you: you don't have to worry about being offended by being seen only for your physical beauty, because you're actually not that good-looking. You're baby-faced, beady-eyed, and soft-looking. Oh, and your lips are too big for a guy (such are referred to as "blow job lips" for a reason). 

Don't get me wrong: you're okay-looking, in a top-half-of-his-high-school-class sort of way. But you're really nothing special.

That must come as quite a relief. Now, you can concentrate on your art.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Double retraction: I wasn't wrong after all

It now looks as if I wasn't wrong about Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz in my original post about him.

He was gay, and he was mocked for it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What kind of person brings a baseless discrimination lawsuit?

The jury delivered its verdict two days ago in the much watched Ellen Pao suit against Kleiner Perkins in Silicon Valley; she lost. From what I've heard, the jury delivered the right verdict.

I've heard speculation that as shameless as she appears to be, she must be a sociopath. That's certainly possible. But given how consistently unsuccessful she was at trying to make a good impression, even initially, with those she was trying to ingratiate herself with, she strikes me more as a clueless Aspie.

One of the more convincing pieces of evidence for that was that she actually complained in her suit that the Kleiner Perkins partners seemed nervous around her after she filed suit against them. (One would have to be utterly without any understanding of human nature to expect any other reaction.)

Pao had unquestionably impressive academic credentials. She graduated from Princeton in 1991 with a degree in electrical engineering, from Harvard Law School in 1994, and from Harvard Business School in 1998. Her only problem seems to be, you can't educate the Aspergers out of yourself.

And it's hard not to wonder to what extent Pao was urged to file a lawsuit by her litigious husband, Alphonse "Buddy" Fletcher.

There's no question about his psychological profile. It's not much of a stretch to say that anyone who runs a Ponzi scheme is a sociopath. You pretty much have to be one in order to be able to look people straight in the eye, reassure them that their money will be carefully tended, and then just use that money to fund your own lavish lifestyle.

Fletcher has also shown many of the other classic signs.

He's left a long trail of lawsuits, both as plaintiff and defendant.

In June of 1991, Fletcher sued Kidder, Peabody, claiming racial discrimination because he hadn't been paid the bonus he was due. Kidder in turn said that they weren't even sure the electronic profits Fletcher claimed were real, since he refused to divulge how he had obtained them.

According Boston magazine:

In 1992 a New York Stock Exchange arbitration panel denied Fletcher the damages he claimed, awarding him a relatively modest $1.26 million, and later another arbitration panel dismissed the racial discrimination suit. The arbitration award wasn’t really a victory for Fletcher, but the story that emerged in subsequent media reports was less nuanced: On Wall Street, went the narrative, even Harvard grads get discriminated against if they happen to be black. Buddy Fletcher, though, had fought back. 

Fletcher subsequently opened up his own money management company, Fletcher Asset Management. After three years in business, Fletcher claimed an average annual return of over 300% for the previous two years. 

1n 1995, Fletcher registered his company as a hedge fund. He then used a technique perfected by Bernie Madoff: he appeared to be discriminating about his investors, claiming that he only wanted "friendly" investors. You see, it was a privilege to invest with him. (If those 300% returns had been real, it would have been a privilege.)

Fletcher also loved to make a big splash: appearances were all. From the same magazine article:

Fletcher dressed in a Gatsby-esque cavalcade of beautifully tailored suits and traveled around Manhattan in a Bentley driven by his full-time chauffeur. He bought a $5.9 million castle in upstate Connecticut. In New York, he rented offices for his hedge fund at the top of the GM Building on Fifth Avenue. There, rising 48 floors from the southeast corner of Central Park, he could gaze down upon the city in every direction.

He also loved to pose as a philanthropist, at one point announcing that he would donate $50 million to people and organizations furthering the cause of civil rights.

But in 2011, when he tried to buy a fifth apartment at the Dakota, the board turned him down after looking into his finances, and the whole edifice came tumbling down. He had been claiming assets he did not have, and it soon became apparent that he was operating what was essentially a Ponzi scheme.

Fletcher's response? To sue the Dakota for racial discrimination (even though it had previously sold him four other apartments).

One other discordant note. Fletcher had lived his entire adult life as an open homosexual, and was in a relationship with the same man, Hobart Fowlkes, Jr., for ten years. But in 2007, he met and married Ellen Pao.

Did he do that for show? Did he think he would be convincing people he'd "gone straight?" Did he lie to Pao herself about his sexuality, or was theirs a marriage of convenience? From the outside, it's unclear. But sociopaths are forever thinking they're fooling people when they're not; was this an example of that?

Once their sociopathy has been proven, it's always interesting to see what other behaviors sociopaths manifest, because their actions tend to follow certain patterns. In particular, they love to strike heroic, noble poses. Many people often fall for those poses, at least until the sociopath's duplicity has been uncovered.

It's also interesting to look at it from another angle, and see what kind of people file baseless discrimination lawsuits.

Millionth view

If you look at the number at the very bottom of this page, this blog got its millionth page view a couple nights ago.

That seems a somewhat meaningful milestone. And now, finally, after racking my brains, I realize that what it means is…..exactly nothing.

It's just a random, round number, which people often attach significance to, but really signifies nothing.

If you add up the numbers of posts in the index in the right hand column of this blog, you'll also see that I've now written 2000 posts. That, too, ought to mean something. But after racking my brains trying to figure out what, the only conclusion I can draw is that I'm somewhat obsessive. ("Somewhat" being an understatement.)

Anyway, I suppose I'm commemorating both milestones with this post, my two thousand and first. ("2001….a space cadet odyssey.")

See you at 2002.

But, while I'm on the subject of this blog:

Socrates famously said, "The unexamined life isn't worth living." (And he has been quoted ever since, ad nauseum, by New York Times book reviewers and their ilk.)

I'm beginning to think the overly examined life isn't really worth living, either.

I just counted: roughly half of the posts this month have been, directly or indirectly, about me. (This view of my navel does get awfully tiresome.)

And I understand that a meaningless milestone about how many viewers this blog has had is of absolutely n interest to anyone but me. But, I figured I could make a couple of jokes about it, so...

Anyway, I'll try to be a tad less egocentric going forward. Of course, now that I think of it, I guess this post is also about me.

Time to look outward.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Looks like I'm wrong in the previous post

News has come out this morning that Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz was heartbroken about a breakup with a girlfriend. 

Coulda sworn those were plucked eyebrows. 

What's wrong with this picture?

The NY Post just ran an article titled Passenger captured haunting photo before boarding doomed flight.

It's about an Iranian sportswriter, Hussein Javadi, who was aboard the Germanwings flight which crashed into the French Alps. It's looking more and more as if the flight was taken down on purpose by its German pilot, 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz.

So, an Middle Eastern journalist was killed by a European terrorist. Hmm.

I could only find two pictures of Andreas Lubitz. Here's the shot which got the widest circulation, of Lubitz posing in front of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge:

Here's the other picture, location unspecified:

The brief bios of Lubitz which have appeared so far have said that he started out by getting his glider's license, then progressed to become a commercial pilot. At one point in his training he took a medical leave, and he was also known to suffer from depression, though it's unclear whether that was the reason for his leave. He also evidently ran in local road races. There was no mention of a girlfriend, or women in his life.

That, plus the fact that those two photos set my gaydar clanging, make me think he was probably homosexual. This is pure speculation on my part. But, it seems likely.

This post is not an indictment of gay men. Many are fine people who lead productive, responsible lives. I've met plenty I've liked personally.

But why did Lubitz commit suicide and take 149 innocent people with him? What was it that made him so enraged at the world that he decided to become a mass murderer?

Had he been disappointed in love? Had people mocked him? Had he recently been diagnosed with HIV?

When the people who are charged with investigating this horrific crime come to whatever conclusions they do, will the media be forthright in presenting those conclusions? Or will they do their best to cover them up?

Again, let me emphasize that this is not a brief against gays. I'm merely pointing out that it's going to be interesting to see how the media handles this.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Alphas vs. betas

Commenter Steven said the other day, after the post about The "morality" of this blog:

In the animal kingdom, an alpha male is the highest ranking male. Social dominance is an essential- maybe the essential- part of the concept. It is this dominance which gives the male sexual access to the (best) females.

The PUA crowd seem to ignore this key part of alphaness and take it to refer to any man who can bed a lot of women or who can easily seduce women or who is very attractive to women.

I think this is a bit of an ego trip- they get to think of themselves as superior alpha males when in reality they are just average guys who have worked out how to get women to have sex with them, and who in any reasonable sized group of males would not be dominant at all.

Steven raises a good point. The term "alpha" comes from the animal kingdom, where the label can be earned in only one way: by besting other males in a fight. The biggest and strongest bull (elk, or walrus, or lion) drives off all of his competitors and thus gets to mate with all of the females of his herd for a season. After that season, he is usually so worn down that another bull will replace him the next year. 

What the pick up artist (PUA) sites in the manosphere teach is how to pretend to be an alpha male in order to pick up women. This, of course, has precious little to do with actually being one. Very few pickup artists could actually dominate other men. (It's far easier to dominate a woman.) But, that said, much of the advice they dispense is actually effective when it comes to getting your way with women, who do tend to be swayed by macho posturing -- leavened with a little humor -- even though they deny it.

Another point: as commenter Gardner said after the same post, the alpha-beta classification isn't nearly so binary as it is normally thought to be. There's not a man alive who hasn't had moments when he's felt like an alpha, and moments when he's felt like a beta. That's just life.

I started writing the "Confessions of a beta male" series because I thought it was funny, and other guys would identify with it. After all, we all feel beta from time to time. But after I'd written a few of those posts, it dawned on me that at a certain level what I was actually doing was congratulating myself for not having a narcissistic personality, since much of the "alpha" behavior I described was indicative of just that. 

And, to tell the truth, the few guys I've known who've consciously prided themselves on being alpha males have all been obnoxious narcissists.

I've talked to a few of their ex-girlfriends (or have heard indirectly what they've had to say), and there is a certain sameness to their impressions: "an asshole," "selfish," "conceited," and, most gratifyingly, "lousy in bed."

(It's good to know that there's at least one way in which I'm alpha.)

There's also a certain vagueness to what is considered "alpha." Some see it as a matter of physicality -- which is closest to what it is in the animal kingdom. (But is a juiced up gym rat something you'd aspire to be?)

Some see it as a matter of having a successful career. But when you look at Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, does the word "alpha" spring to mind?

Some see it as a matter of being cool, calm, and collected. Now that is something to aspire to. But do those qualities really translate into dominance?

Anyway, anytime you meet a self-professed alpha, beware. (Especially you ladies.)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Honey shot

I was surprised to see the New York Times put a picture of these twin sisters on their front page this morning:

The Times didn't use either of these photos; for some reason, I couldn't copy theirs. But you get the idea. They are Anna and Kristy Berington, who are competing in the Iditarod sled race this year. The Times' angle was that there are more women competing in the race than ever, and that they are competitive with the men. The title of the article was, Enduring the Iditarod as Equals.

(If you scroll through the pictures accompanying the linked article, you can see the shot of the twins they put on their front page.)

It wasn't surprising that the Times would push their feminist agenda; they always do, even in their articles on sports. What was surprising was that they would use a honey shot the way they did.

Normally the august Gray Lady does not stoop to using pictures of pretty girls on their front page to attract interest. But they seem to have this time.

It was also surprising how good-looking some of these mushers are. Here's Katherine Keith, another entrant in this year's race:

Places like Sweden, and Norway have always had reputations for having lots of good-looking females. But I also know a few guys who've been to those places, and came back disappointed.

Now I'll finally be able to give these guys some good advice: go to Alaska -- that's where the really hot babes are!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Camille Muffat, RIP

Camille Muffat, the 2012 Olympic champion in the 400 meter freestyle, was killed (along with nine others) on Tuesday in a two helicopter crash in Northwest Argentina while filming a reality show there.

All of the swimming websites ran her obituary. I made the following comment (as "Swimhistorian") on the Swimswam article:

I think I can speak for most swimming fans when I say I was really jolted — and saddened — by the news of Camille Muffat’s death this morning. Most of us, when we read of some celebrity dying, find it interesting, but not necessarily moving. But this was different: Muffat was one of us, and the memory of her swimming in London was fresh and vivid, not some long ago memory of a memory.

My view, like that of many who read this site, is simply the view from the bleachers. I had no personal connection with her, her teammates, or even any of her countrymen. But even from the bleachers, you could tell that Muffat seemed like a good and honorable person. She conducted herself in a — to use an old-fashioned term — ladylike fashion. She exhibited quiet good sportsmanship, both in victory and defeat. She was obviously clean; nothing about her performances or physique even remotely hinted at doping. And she was evidently shy, which often goes hand in hand with inner decency.

When an old person dies, as sad as it is, it’s not tragic. But when a young person dies, most of their life is stolen from them, and it’s a tragedy. And when it’s a fine, upstanding young person, that makes it even worse. Which probably has something to do with why so many of us were jolted by this news.

Condolences to all who knew her, especially her family. She must have made you very proud.

I'd like to expand on this. Generally, if I have no personal connection to someone, I feel pretty much nothing other than a mild -- and occasionally morbid -- curiosity when they die. I've never understood those who start sobbing about people they never even met. Those large crowds of mourners who stood outside the chapel during Princess Diana's funeral stuck me as, well, a little insane.

But, I can honestly say I felt a little sad hearing about Muffat.

When Muffat won her gold medal, she didn't pump her fist, or slap the water, or give a war cry. (Look at the 7:45 mark of this Youtube video.) She merely looked happy and hugged her teammate, in a much more restrained reaction. (I get the impression the Europeans generally disapprove of the histrionic celebrations of Americans.)

As an avid follower of the sport -- and a cynic -- I have a long list of swimmers I suspect of juicing. These days they tend to cluster mostly in China, Russia, and South America, though there are also a handful of Europeans and Americans who appear suspicious. But Muffat was never on that list.

Muffat was by all reports shy. I wasn't about to expound on this on a swimming website, but shyness is something sociopaths are generally completely immune to. And when someone is shy, it often means that they are the opposite of sociopaths in other ways as well.

The bit about young people vs. old people dying is something I usually say to people my age whose parents die, as a form of mild consolation. But the converse is definitely true. Muffat was just beginning her life, and had everything -- other than her swimming career -- to look forward to.

Anyway, Muffat's death won't mean much to non-swimming fans, but for some reason it came as a shock to me. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Should bipolars inform others of their condition?

The bipolar people I've dealt with have been incredibly sensitive to slights -- to the point of seeing them where there were none, or at least none intended -- while sometimes being oblivious about their own lack of tact. That's an obnoxious combination everyone finds off-putting.

There is, after all, no greater sin than hypocrisy.

On the other hand, bipolars can't help it. They have an organic condition that leaves them no choice but to perceive the world as they do.

If you weren't aware that someone was bipolar, and she lashed out at you for no apparent reason, you'd be less inclined to give her a pass. But if you were aware, even if you still felt a little wounded by her attack, you might at least be a little more understanding, even if still not quite fully accepting. And, you'd probably feel a little less wounded.

The fact is, most people who have been officially diagnosed, tend not to advertise the fact. ("Hi, my name is John, by the way, I'm bipolar, so if I act a little crazy you'll just have to excuse it.)

You can hardly blame them for this, since doing so would scare off potential friends -- or potential employers.

But telling people you've just met is different from telling friends. Once a friendship has been established, it might not be a bad idea for bipolars to own up to their condition; it would provide a handy -- and much needed -- excuse at times.

And, if your friends are actually friends, they can help you through these phases, sometimes simply by reminding you of them.

I've known people I'm pretty certain were bipolar, although none ever confided that fact to me. (I also think a few were never diagnosed.)

I once teased one such woman for the way she posed for a picture. I was later shocked to hear that she had cried about my teasing. Maybe I am an insensitive boor; but she had said harsher things to me. (She had been kidding, of course; but so had I.)

This woman was quite intelligent, and when in a good mood, very pleasant company: insightful, funny, and flattering. But you could tell almost immediately when she was in her Mr. Hyde phase: her face became taut, her body tense, and she would say things that made it seem she felt she had to reverse the compliments she had bestowed while in her Dr. Jekyll phase.

But, she had no choice about these moods. They just overcame her, and she was helpless while in their grip. And when I realized that, I had much more sympathy for her. (In fact, I later realized that the reason she hadn't accomplished as much as she might have -- despite being beautiful and smart -- was that she had been hamstrung by these moods her entire life.)

When you're in the depths of depression, the whole world is bathed in a negative light, and your emotions are fraught. That darkness colors every interaction you have with others.

Some might call a person who can dish it out but can't take it a "hypocrite." But if you call him bipolar, it more eloquently describes his behavior, and explains it as well -- while rendering less of a moral judgment. And, knowing that someone is bipolar predisposes you to make some allowances for his behavior, or, at least, to take it less personally.

The less of a deep, dark secret bipolar disorder is, the less shadow it will cast on relationships.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

It's all relative

Every Sunday in the swimming pool area of the local Y, an ex-Marine trains a bunch of young, recently enlisted men who are about to go to some form of selection camp.

I've chatted with him a few times. Whenever I meet military people these days, I manage to drop the fact that my son served in Afghanistan, which gives me a sort of instant credibility with them -- even though I never dreamed of enlisting myself.

The Marine, now 51, once set the world record for most pull-ups in a 24 hour period, with 2101. I asked him what was the most pull-ups he had ever done at one time, and he said 48. He's about 5' 11," but burly, so I asked how much he weighed when he did it, and he said 224. (He now weighs 236.)  

He mentioned having set a record for two finger pull-ups (I forget the number). I said, you must have really strong hands, and then grabbed his right hand and examined it. Sure enough, it was a big meaty paw. He shrugged and casually said, "Yeah, if I get hold of you, you're not getting away."

He is both friendly and well-mannered. But I can't honestly tell you I feel completely comfortable talking with him. 

At a certain level, I actually prefer the company of gay guys -- who make me feel manly by comparison. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Susan Sarandon

A NY Post article this morning detailed how actress Susan Sarandon, 68, had broken up with her boyfriend of five years, Jonathan Bricklin, 37, over conflicts about a reality show they were appearing in.

Sarandon is a longtime liberal activist. She was a "sandalista" in Nicaragua in the 1980's. After the 2004 election of George W. Bush, she called for monitoring of US elections by international entities. She has spoken to anti-Scott Walker protesters in Wisconsin, and Occupy Wall Street protesters. She has been a supporter of Emily's List and Code Pink. And she called Pope Benedict XVI a "Nazi."

In an interview with Hello Magazine this past October, Sarandon said, in reference to her much younger boyfriend, “It’s the soul of a person that interests me. When you are in love, the questions of age, sex, color no longer hold any importance.”

Wikipedia lists the following significant others in Sarandon's life:

Chris Sarandon (from The Princess Bride):

Louis Malle:

David Bowie:

Franco Amurri:

Tim Robbins:

and Jonathan Bricklin:

When Sarandon took up with Bricklin, age was certainly overlooked. But sex and color do seem to matter to her; all of her significant others have been white males.

Nothing wrong with that, of course. We all have a type that we're attracted to. But if that's the case, why make an airy pronouncement denying it? Why lie?

And why try to justify one's attraction by invoking a "soul?" Our souls are supposed to be eternal -- but relationships predicated on such ethereal concepts tend to be short-lived.

It's hard not to see a parallel between Sarandon's lack of honesty about her personal life and her limousine liberalism.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Wife seeks divorce over husband's huge penis"

I suppose this is, in a way, a sad story.

And yet…..and yet…I can't honestly tell you that what I feel towards this guy could best be characterized as pity.

(My primary emotion is actually one more closely associated with the color green.)

I do like his attitude though: "he told the court he was willing to dissolve the union if his dowry and money spent during the courtship was paid back."

I can remember a few women with whom I got no satisfaction -- though not for the same reason -- from whom I'd like a refund.