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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Wimps with guns, Part II

In June 2015 I posted about how so many of the recent mass shooters -- Dylan Roof, James Holmes, Elliot Rodgers, and Adam Lanza -- were all wimpy physical specimens.

The latest in this ignominious line appears to fit that description as well. As the Reuters reported this morning:

A French-Canadian university student was the sole suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque and was charged with the premeditated murder of six people, Canadian authorities said on Monday....Court documents identified the gunman in the attack on Sunday evening prayers as Alexandre Bissonnette, 27....The slightly-built Bissonnette made a brief appearance in court....

Here's Bissonnette:

Another pencil neck geek.

What I said in 2015 about all these killers:

What do they all have in common? They're small, even frail, and appear to have low testosterone levels. It's pretty obvious that before they took a bunch of lives, nobody took much notice of them except perhaps to note what losers they were. None were athletic, and most were probably virgins. They were all disappointments to their parents, and unpopular with their peers.

And, wimps that they were, they all needed guns as equalizers.

You hear from time to time about 'roid rage, and how steroid users can't control their tempers. And feminists love to talk about "testosterone poisoning," how men are unhinged by hormone-induced aggressiveness. 

That doesn't seem to have been the case with Bissonnette, any more than with the other recent shooters. Maybe they should have gone on steroids. 

Another common thread among these killers is that a number of them had Aspergers. I'm not saying Bissonnette did, but it wouldn't be surprising to hear that was the case.  

How would we screen out these budding Aspie killers? We do know that if we try, the Aspergers advocates will start screaming about how the vast majority of Aspies are law-abiding and peaceful. And, of course, they'd be right. But once you subscribe to the "vast majority" logic, no screening of any sort is permissible. 

Ironically, for all the anti-bullying talk, it's rarely the schoolyard bullies who end up committing these mass shootings. Far more often it's their victims. 

It would be great if the media treated this killing responsibly, and took pains to point out what a loser Bissonnette was, in order to discourage copycat killings

That seems doubtful though, especially in this case, where they'll have the opportunity to crow about Islamophobia and racism and how we need to be more welcoming to immigrants. The MSM never lets a crisis go to waste. The New York Times will probably even tie the killing to Donald Trump. 

But we should see these killings for what they often really are: the revenge of the nerds. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

How long will the honeymoon last?

It's been said in the past that all Presidents enjoy a honeymoon period with the press upon first assuming office. It may last a month, or it may last longer.

As gratifying as it's been to see the press treat Trump with respect and fairness, I'm worried that sooner or later he's going to do something which will turn them against him.

And then, I'm afraid, the honeymoon will be over.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Is Trump a sociopath?

In July of 2015 I said that Donald Trump was not a sociopath because he was so artless with his lies. (Smart sociopaths tend to make good liars, not lousy ones.) Two days ago I used pretty much the same logic to say the same thing again.

In response, commenter Alter Ego replied: 

"Even when it was apparent that his inaugural crowd wasn't larger than Obama's, Trump had to insist that it was. . . . And in a roundabout way, it shows he's not a sociopath."

So Trump tells an easily refutable lie about the size of his inauguration crowd (not to mention the bit about 3M people voting illegally) and that's proof that he's NOT a sociopath?? You lost me there, John.

I replied: 

Good question. What I'm referring to is the STYLE of his lies; they're more childlike, more pathetic in a way. It's almost as if he's an Aspie. I've known people with Aspergers who will lie in the most transparent way, insisting on something being true (or untrue) when it's not, and the feeling you get from them is that they think if they say it, it will be so. I've known two different Aspies who would say something, and then a minute later deny having said it. It's pathetic, and they're fooling no one, but they do it anyway. That seems to be Trump's style of lying. He's INCAPABLE of admitting that he's not the best at something, just the way he's INCAPABLE of not responding when someone insults him, no matter how much it makes him look as if he's punching down (against a Kizr Khan, or an Alicia Machado, or an Alec Baldwin, for example). A sociopath would be much more slyly manipulative, much more aware of how to polish his public image, much better at appearing "noble" and "gracious" while sticking the knife in.

The Aspies I know who've lied like that are definitely not sociopaths; for the most part, they're straightforward and honest. And when they lie, they're more pathetic than scary. Trump's lies are more the former; it comes across more as if he thinks that if he says it, it's true.

Having said this, I don't think Trump is an Aspie, either. And I have to admit, I've said in the past that the second surest sign of sociopathy is pathological lying (the first is serial killing). 

And Trump does seem to stretch the truth on a regular basis; this article provides one good example.

So, I have to ask myself, am I giving Trump the benefit of the doubt just because I agree with his platform? Was I so overjoyed to see him defeat Hillary that I refuse to see the bad in him?

I don't think I am. I certainly haven't been averse to making fun of him. I compared him to Goldfinger here, put him in a competition with el Chapo here, have pointed out that he has ADHD, and in yesterday's post I basically called him a fatso. 

But if I were to claim to be without bias, that would just prove what a fool I am, as we all have biases. And to not strongly consider the possibility that a billionaire who becomes President might not be a sociopath would be the height of naivete. 

But let's take a closer look. Last month I posted a fairly extensive list of the flags which tend to indicate sociopathy. Look through them again, I see a few traits which Trump can be said to have:

He doesn't get nervous or flustered, as shown by his performance in the various debates last year. 

His lying could be a sign, as mentioned above.

Another red flag I listed was that they "often think they are fooling people when they are not. If someone tells you an obvious lie, and acts as if he expects you to believe him, beware." Trump does act as if he expects people to believe him when he lies. 

And there's another red flag which Trump may or may not wave: to respond with "uninhibited viciousness when it comes to those who anger them." It's true that Trump never lets an insult go unavenged (with a return insult); but, he generally leaves it at that. (Sociopaths usually escalate.)

There are also many signs that Trump is not a sociopath. He speaks well of his parents. He has good relationships with his kids, all of whom seem to have turned out well, not a drug addict in the bunch. More impressive, he even has good relationships with his ex-wives, both of whom endorsed him for President. (Very, very few sociopaths have good relationships with their exes.)

And while the NY Times turned up a few people from The Apprentice who said that Trump had commented on various women's sexual appeal, the vast majority of his former employees seem to like him. (And if commenting on a woman's appearance is a sign of sociopathy, then the incidence of sociopathy is far, far higher than 3% of the population.)

Trump is given to spontaneous acts of generosity, as documented here. More tellingly, he didn't seem to do them for the positive publicity they might have generated. (Contrast this to the typical rich sociopath whose every gift is well advertised.) And while he stretches the truth about things like the height of his apartment buildings or the number of people who attended his inauguration, he doesn't seem to make up lies out of whole cloth.

And, he never exhibits the emotional falsity that characterizes so many sociopaths. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that just because the media accuses him of lying, that doesn't mean that he's actually lying. Often the MSM simply wants to cover up the truth. When Trump said that Mexico is not sending us their best, it may not have been diplomatic, but it's true. And when he said that Europe is a "mess" because of all the unwanted immigrants, again, it may not be a pretty sentiment, but it's true. When he said that there was probably a lot of voter fraud in this past election, the MSM immediately responded by saying that those suspicions had been "debunked." But how could they possibly have been debunked without a full investigation?

So, in fact, Trump lies far less often than you'd think from just reading the New York Times and its ilk. And bear in mind, being blunt is in fact the opposite of being dishonest.

A lot of people -- even a few who are regular commenters on this blog -- seem to be getting the impression that Trump is a sociopath from the MSM, which on a daily basis does its utmost to paint a picture of him as Adolf, Jr. And even when you realize how slanted the MSM is, sometimes it's hard not to be influenced by their constant onslaught.

Okay, so where does the lying come from? I don't think Trump's an Aspie, and I don't think he's a sociopath. The best explanation I can come up with is that it's an outgrowth of his narcissism, possibly spurred on by a strong sense of insecurity. In the same way that most narcissists can't own up to a mistake, Trump can't admit that he's not the best at everything, which, in his mind, would be admitting that he's wrong.

Look at old clips of him talking about his various real estate projects. Everything is "the best," "world class," "first rate," and so on. To him, anything less would be shameful, and that's something he has a hard time dealing with. He's also obsessed with winning, and to admit a loss would also be tantamount to admitting that he's wrong, as well.

So, we're left with half-truths and exaggerations.

Remember, Trump doesn't engage in sport lying (lying for the pleasure of fooling people). And when he tars his opponents, he sticks to the truth, even if that's somewhat subjective, and even if he does hit below the belt at times. It's only when people question him: the height of his buildings, or the number of people who showed up for his inauguration, that he is prone to exaggeration.

A sociopath never goes out of character. He may pretend to be something he's not, but the pretense never lasts long, and in any case doesn't stands up to close examination. If Trump is a sociopath, he's spending most of his time out of character. And that just doesn't square with sociopathy.

Anyway, for now, I'm going to say Trump is a very narcissistic personality, but not a sociopath. It's possible I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm right. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A fat Peter Greene

Every time I see a picture of Donald Trump, the thought goes through my head, that guy really needs to lose some weight. There's a faintly piggish aspect to his face, and, given how the media has in the recent past focused on his piggish attitude toward women, it would behoove him to lose 30 pounds:

Granted, Trump could cure cancer, harness the power of the oceans for unlimited free energy, and bring world peace, all in one day, and the media would barely mention it. They'd prefer to focus on something insensitive he said instead.

But, he should still lose weight. I've heard it said that when he was young he was good-looking. I don't quite see it:

His bone structure is perfectly fine, and there are no real flaws to his face. But even then, he had a soft, self-satisfied look that rendered him unappealing.

It occurred to me recently that if the young Trump had lost a lot of weight, he'd have looked somewhat like actor Peter Greene. You probably don't know Greene by name, but you'd recognize him from two of his more famous roles, in The Usual Suspects --

-- and Pulp Fiction:

Greene is skinny, with a feral, haunted, contemptuous expression. He exudes coldness and ill will, and he's unmistakably Anglo, both of which combine to give him a look Hollywood loves to cast in villainous roles.

And he's what Trump would, or would have, looked like had he ever gotten down to 160 pounds.

Viewed the other way, Trump is what Peter Greene would look like if he were force fed until he gained 80 pounds, and were hypnotized into believing that he was the absolute best at everything he'd ever done.

Frankly, we don't want another skinny, wimpy President. We want a guy who'll throw his weight around, both with Congress and with business leaders who are considering moving operations abroad.

Just, maybe, 20 or 30 pounds less weight.

I know, I should be concerned with more substantive issues, like how Trump's phone call with Putin went, or how the country is now progressing on the jobs front.

But, somehow, this is more fun.

Friday, January 27, 2017

He actually meant what he said

Trump certainly hit the ground running in his first week, setting much of his platform in motion. I've never seen a President do so much in his first few days.

The only reason to doubt Trump was that most politicians say one thing on the campaign trail and do another once in office. Obama, for instance, sold himself in '08 as a guy who would "reach across the aisle" (he spent his eight years demonizing Republicans), who was biracial (and presumably not just loyal to just one side or the other), and who would have the "most transparent administration in history" (not even close).

In many ways, Obama was the opposite of what he claimed to be. (Thank you Saul Alinsky.)

But, Trump is not a career politician, so his campaign promises seem to be worth something.

At the same time, Trump's ego is such that he is incapable of admitting that he or his aren't the best at anything. Even when it was apparent that his inaugural crowd wasn't larger than Obama's, Trump had to insist that it was.

This is not atypical for Trump. It's almost cute, like something you'd expect from a little kid. And in a roundabout way, it shows he's not a sociopath. He just says what he thinks, without much of a filter -- and without subterfuge.

If Trump were a sociopath, as a couple of commenters on this blog have suggested he might be, he'd be a lot slicker about hiding that massive ego. But he's not even slick enough to be in control of his ego; it's in control of him.

But, we finally have a President who is going to pursue common sense policies that benefit Americans, and who eschews political correctness.

The outsize ego seems a small price to pay.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

How people perceive me

I drove across the country and back recently (left on December 28th, returned on January 16th), so got to see myself through the eyes of a lot of strangers.

I don't dress particularly well most of the time (baggy pants and a sweatshirt), and from a distance, I look sort of like a Mexican day laborer. (See picture at right.) Up close, I look (increasingly) like an older laborer.

Because I'm lean, and appear serious, I also look sort of tough. (That, I promise, is nothing but protective camouflage. The only possible way I'm tough is by over sheltered, upper middle class standards -- which is to say, I'm not tough.) Anyway, people tend to react to me leerily when they see me.

But when I open my mouth I sound, if not cultured, at least educated, so people let down their guard a bit once they hear me. I tend to get chatty with strangers, as a way to let them know I'm not a threat.

One group which always seems to react to me (and everyone else) as a threat are the Indian proprietors at practically every motel I stayed at. I tend to favor Days Inns, which are cheap but acceptable (by my low standards). Most cost $59 a night, and were clean enough, and had wifi, which is all I ask.

But those Indian owners don't seem to have gotten the hang of hospitality. They all regarded me suspiciously, and between the lot of them didn't crack a smile or utter one pleasantry. I stayed at a Western Inn in Tucson one night, which also had an Indian proprietor, whom I had to speak to behind a thick plate glass window, the kind they have in liquor stores in certain communities. (Their rate was $33.95 for the night.)

In the cold light of the next morning, it was apparent it was that type of community. As I was about to get into my car, a scruffy young black guy about my size approached me and asked, "Got a cigarette?" I shook my head no, and he said, "Oh, don't smoke..." and veered off.

While he had been walking up to me, I, of course, had been thinking of exactly what I would do if he tried to mug me. He didn't have a particularly aggressive cast to his features, and was likely harmless. Probably, all he wanted was a cigarette. But if he had sized me up, I'm guessing that he would have thought me both tougher but also less athletic than I am.

There was no one else around at the time, and I'm guessing that at 6:45 in the morning, he was more likely late to bed than early to rise. I'd like to think that he was in fact out to mug me, but was scared off by my appearance. I'll never know, of course, but if that was the case, it wouldn't the first time my protective camouflage has helped me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Back to Blood

I had occasion to listen to a few audio books recently, so finally got around to Tom Wolfe's Back to Blood, which I've been meaning to read ever since it came out in 2012. It got mediocre reviews at the time. But the cultural establishment -- the MSM -- hates Tom Wolfe for his apostasy: he describes different ethnic groups accurately, an unforgivable sin.

But to ward off the worst of these accusations, Wolfe was careful to include a sympathetic character of every major ethnicity.

The hero is Cuban cop. But virtually all of the other Cubans, for whom ethnic solidarity is everything, are portrayed as having a petit bourgeois mentality, and sound dumb in a peculiarly Hispanic way. Except for the conniving Cuban Mayor of Miami.

The villain of the piece -- but also the coolest character -- is a Russian oligarch. (It's always obvious whom a writer really favors because he gives that character best, most incisive lines.) Another Russian, a forger, is given the task of expressing Wolfe's disdain for modern art, around which the plot revolves.

All of the Russians, sympathetic or not, are completely free of the modern American penchant for euphemism. That insinuating Russian accent is great for....insinuation.

The old Jewish ladies in a retirement home (for "active adults") sound just like old Jewish ladies. They, too, are vehicles through which Wolfe expresses his disgust for the modern art scene. There is a Jewish billionaire porn addict as well. There weren't any particularly sympathetic Jewish characters; perhaps Wolfe felt that his Jewish wife would insulate him from criticism on that score.

There is a dumb brute of a black crack dealer, who is offset by a likable black chief of police who is loyal to the rank and file despite the possible harm to his career. This chief is well aware that he is a token, and also well aware of all the political pressures impinging on everyone else.

A pretentious light-skinned Haitian professor is offset by his daughter, who's genuinely angelic.

It's easy to assume that Wolfe, a WASP himself, likes WASPs, or at least sympathizes with them. But Wolfe reserves his greatest venom in the book for the Anglos. Edward Topping V is a weak but pretentious Yalie who is the editor of the Miami Herald. A social-climbing psychiatrist who treats porn addicts, is loathsome, though he's almost a WASP by default, as his loathsomeness isn't really an outgrowth of his ethnicity.

Wolfe has a great ear for ethnic lingo. (Though he has his characters parsing their own and other's words to an extent real people never do.)

What Wolfe has in common with Elmore Leonard, who's also been called America's greatest novelist, is an ability to describe the kind of confrontation that occurs between two men who won't back down. Leonard specialized in low rent criminals, while Wolfe's specialty is pretentious strivers. But ego knows no class boundaries.

Wolfe also doesn't ignore the importance of physical appearance in the social pecking order.

The biggest problem with with Wolfe, though, is that the only way people differ is in rank and status. There are no gradations in character: everybody has the same (high) level of narcissism and pretension. And there seem to be no sociopaths.

The book goes a little heavy on the sound effects, which get tiresome. And the ending of this book was too abrupt. (I wanted more closure.) But it's still worth reading. No other book illustrates quite so well how little of a melting pot we are, and no one skewers pretension like Wolfe.

I'm usually annoyed when audio books seem to give the reader of the book almost as much "jacket" space (on the back of the CD box) as the author. Reading a book is not the equivalent of writing one. But Lou Diamond Phillips deserves credit. He had the Russian, Cuban, Haitian (French), Jewish, and even WASP accents down perfectly. And he would soften his voice for the female dialogue. (I also find it annoying that so many male actors, in a misguided effort to preserve their sense of manliness, refuse to change their pitch for the female parts.) Thanks to Phillips, the book may be even better listened to than read.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A few more Aspergers traits

I was speaking with two people who have family members with Aspergers Syndrome recently, and was struck by something both said: one of the annoying things about both was that neither would ever turn off lights or close doors or carefully screw tops back onto jars.

I don't know why that would be, but it seemed more than coincidence.

A couple of other things I've noted:

If they don't get the answer they want, they just keep on asking you, as if you're going to change your mind the next time they ask.

It recently struck me that one really telling thing is that Aspies simply never, ever rave about other people. You'll never hear an Aspie say, "That guy is sooo cool!"

Or, "Man, is he ever tough!"

Or, "That guy is an absolute riot! He had me in stitches!"

Neurotypicals -- how people without Aspergers are referred to in Aspie-land -- may be wrong when they rave. They may be naive, or misguided, or even completely out to lunch. But they do rave, at least on occasion. Aspies simply never do.

There seems to be a weird sense of jealousy at work there: the Aspies seem to feel that if they rave about someone else's ability, it's as if they're confirming that they don't have those same abilities. And since they have a hard time ever admitting anything is wrong with them, they don't want to give others credit.

It may also be partly because others are a mystery to them. Imagine you've suddenly been placed into a colony of space aliens: would you be inclined to rave about how one of them is just so incredibly intelligent, or funny, or tough?

No, the thought would never occur to you. Just as it doesn't to Aspies who've been situated among the neurotypicals.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Judging women on their looks

One of the complaints you hear most frequently from feminists is that women are judged by their looks. The implication is that men are not judged by their looks, and this is unfair.

I'm a fairly typical guy. I judge a woman's intelligence based on her IQ, her sense of humor based on the quality of her jokes, and her character by where she stands on the narcissism scale. All of which are the exact same way I'd judge a guy.

Of course, whether or not I'd want to have sex with her is almost entirely a matter of how she looks. A beautiful girl would have to either be a sociopath or certifiable or extremely noxious for me not to be attracted. (And those personal traits are often not evident at first.) Meanwhile, a corpulent female with an IQ of 150 will simply not attract me -- even as I might admire her intelligence.

Look at how gay men "judge" other men: visually. It's not sexism at work here, it's sex.

Men's sexuality is visually driven, women's by a man's status. (Though you never hear men weepily complain, "Women only judge me on how good a provider I'd be.")

The point being, men don't judge a woman's personality by her looks, nor do they judge her looks by her personality -- much as feminists try to conflate the two with their vague complaint.

Psychologists say that people -- not just men -- decide whether or not they'd want to have sex with another person within half a second of seeing them for the first time. Men make a similar snap judgment about other men: is this guy a threat to me? It's an automatic reaction that usually doesn't even rise to the level of a conscious thought. But it's always lurking: could this guy take me in a fight? And if you observe male group behavior, you'll see that how much respect they give each other, even in settings where a fight will obviously not happen, is largely driven by this consideration.

Yet you never hear men complain about how other men don't regard them as threatening. Or about how gay guys only "judge" them on their looks.

Of course, there seems to be no group more bent on proving women unequal than feminists.

I realize I'm pointing out the obvious here. But every time I hear a feminist complain about how women are judged on their looks, I feel the obvious has to be pointed out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Angela Jonsson

Yesterday I happened to stumble onto a picture of Angela Jonsson, whom I'd never heard of before. She's a 26-year-old model from India, born of an Icelandic father and an Indian mother:

I see pictures of models in advertisements all the time, but for some reason Jonsson really struck me. She has a perfect face...

Perfect breasts.....

And a perfect pair of....

....shoulder blades.

Like all real beauties, she looks just as good with minimal makeup (maybe even better):

At 5'8" and 108 pounds, Jonsson also illustrates the rule that good looks and leanness are highly correlated. And like all real beauties, her face provides the illusion of wisdom and serenity.

Her upturned upper lip expresses unlimited sensuality....

....and her sparkling eyes hint at a playful sense of humor:

I have no idea what she's actually like. For all I know, she's a complete princess --

-- a temperamental twit with an IQ of 80 who's spoiled beyond redemption.

But in the meantime, that perfect face provides the illusion of goodness, and that's all we can really ask of a beauty.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Reality distortion fields, the Stockholm Syndrome, and sociopathy

It was often said of the sociopath Steve Jobs that there was a "reality distortion field" around him, and that people would just accept his twisted version of events as fact.

People often feel obliged to accept a sociopath's version of events because they know, or at least instinctively sense, that if they don't agree with it, they'll suffer the sociopath's wrath. So they end up taking, or at least paying lip service to, the sociopath's side in an argument, mostly out of fear.

Jobs imposed his own narcissistic reality on all those around him through his ferocious temper, and his power to fire anybody who displeased him. So people tiptoed around him and found themselves acquiescing to his distorted version of the world, which happened to revolve around him. If you didn't go along with his program, the price you paid was to be the recipient of his uninhibited viciousness.

And so, eventually, some Apple employees undoubtedly ended up agreeing, at least partially, with Jobs' views on things, a thought process engendered somewhat by fear. They essentially bought into that viewpoint out of a sense of self-preservation.

"Reality distortion fields" can be better understood when viewed through the prism of Stockholm syndrome. From Wikipedia:

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition that causes hostages to develop sympathetic sentiments towards their captors, often sharing their opinions and acquiring romantic feelings for them as a survival strategy during captivity. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.

The syndrome was first named in 1973 after four hostages who had been taken hostage in a bank robbery in Sweden later refused to testify against their captors.

The fact that such kidnappers are likely sociopaths just means they're all the more manipulative.

What the Apple employees who dealt with Jobs had was a modified version of Stockholm Syndrome. Their lives may not have been at stake, but their professional lives were. And you can't underestimate the importance -- financially, socially, even maritally -- of hanging on to one's job.

Anyway, a "reality distortion field" is just another name for Stockholm syndrome. If you hear of either phenomenon, there's likely to be a sociopath lurking.