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Friday, March 31, 2017

Things aren't looking so good for Sherri

I wrote back in December about all the inconsistencies in Sherri Papini's story of kidnap and abuse. Now it looks even more suspicious. 

The NY Post ran an article yesterday, Jogger's family reported her to police years before abduction, which detailed Papini's past lies:

The California mother who says she was kidnapped during a jog last November before reappearing along a freeway on Thanksgiving was previously reported to law enforcement by her family, according to documents obtained by the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

Sherri Papini’s mother, Loretta Graeff, alleged to authorities in December 2003 that her daughter “had been harming herself and blaming the injuries on her,” in a two-sentence incident report from the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office obtained by the newspaper.

The incident report did not say whether officers found evidence that Papini — then 21 years old — had in fact harmed herself.

When asked what happened by the Bee, Shasta County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Kropholler said in an email to the newspaper that a deputy spoke with Papini’s mother back in 2003 and “gave her advice.”

In addition to her mother, Papini’s sister and father also contacted law enforcement about her, according to the documents obtained by the Bee. Her father alleged his daughter burglarized his residence in 2000, and her sister alleged the same year that her back door had been kicked in and she believed Papini was the suspect.

The reports provided no details about any arrests, and the sheriff’s office did not confirm to the paper if Papini had ever been charged in connection with her sister’s allegation.

When asked further by the paper to answer questions about Papini’s alleged abduction, Kropholler only said a detective has been assigned to the case full time and the agency is “in contact with the Papinis on a regular basis.”

One of the arguments that Papini was really abducted was that she had been branded, had lost weight, and been shorn of her hair during her two week disappearance. But if in fact she was self-harming back in 2003, that argument is weakened considerably. And if Papini's own sister and father separately accused her of breaking in and burglarizing their homes, that lowers her credibility further.

And now, four months later, there's still no evidence to corroborate her claims.

At this point it looks as if Sherri has Munchausen's Syndrome, that peculiar form of sociopathy that causes its "sufferers" to feign serious illness -- or a kidnapping -- in order to gain attention and sympathy. 

Just one more piece of evidence that looking like an angel is no proof of being one.

Another thing I just noticed: Papini has "sanpaku eyes." (A phrase I learned just today thanks to commenter Smallberries Worldwide, who pointed out that the woman described in the previous post has them.) 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

"'Don't worry about it': Woman tells cops to chill over dead boyfriend"

Maybe I'm twisted, but I found the article referenced above hilarious:

A Florida woman accused of fatally shooting her boyfriend Tuesday told police “don’t worry” about his blood-soaked body.

Police arrived to the Orlando apartment on Tuesday night to find Everett Leslie Humble, 63, bloody and unresponsive on the porch, the Orlando Sentinel. He had been shot multiple times and was declared dead at the scene.

His girlfriend, Paula Lynn Hobbs, was at the apartment when police arrived and wouldn’t comply with officers. According to police, when asked what happened, Hobbs told them “don’t worry about it.”

Hobbs, 51, then reportedly locked herself inside the apartment with her live-in boyfriend’s body. Police said she eventually surrendered and allowed them inside the home.

“If you tell me he is dead, I will tell you why I did it.” Hobbs said, according to the police report.

According to WPXI, a .22-caliber revolver was recovered in a drawer at the couple’s apartment.

Here is a picture of Paula Lynn Hobbs:

I sometimes wonder myself why the cops get so worked up about a little shooting. I mean, what's the biggie? And now, finally, someone has called them on it.

Paula Lynn's tactic doesn't seem to have worked, since she's now being held without bail in Orange County jail, charged with first degree murder. 

But it makes you wonder what else she'll have to say. At her trial, asked to describe what she did, she might explain, "Aah, not much, really."

And if the judge tries to lecture her, she can put it all into perspective by saying, "What're you trying to do, make a federal case out of this?"

It's hard to read much from Paula Lynn's face. She's not a bad-looking woman, and was probably considered attractive in her day. She looks as if she might have had a couple drinks before the photo above was taken; but she doesn't have the ravaged look that long time addicts get. 

Whatever her story is, I find her inspirational.

If I get caught with 100 kilos of fine white powder tightly encased in clear plastic wrapping in the trunk of my car, and the police ask what it is, I'm just going to say, "Ah, nothing," and close the lid of the trunk.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Go ahead and get that plastic surgery

If I had my life to live over again, I'd get plastic surgery at age 22 or so. Why not? Everybody judges you by your looks. To say otherwise is naive.

Like it or not, your looks shape your life. Obviously, your appearance has a huge impact on your love life. And of course no corporation would ever admit to this, but the fact is, good-looking people get preference in hiring, too; beautiful young women are rarely on the unemployment line.

So why not put your best face forward?

Most people hold off because they'd feel foolish, and don't want to appear vain, or are worried that something might go wrong.

The biggest problem is when people don't know when to stop. Michael Jackson famously went from looking like this:

To this:

Jackson is always cited as a cautionary tale. But what everybody forgets is that he looked great after the first two or three surgeries, about the time Thriller came out.

He'd had his nose narrowed, and his eyebrows done, and maybe one or two other procedures I can't put my finger on. But, then, he couldn't leave well enough alone. 

The rule of thumb seems to be that one or two or three operations are good. But becoming "addicted" to plastic surgery never ends well.

Jackson is the most widely known cautionary tale; but there are plenty of others who've had bad outcomes. Here are a few more you may be familiar with. 

The operations to avoid seem to be lip plumping, which always seem to go wrong, and cheek implants, which usually look unnatural. (Those two operations in particular, for some reason, always seem to make women look sleazy.)

But go to any plastic surgeon's website, and you'll see a lot of good outcomes. And even if you're not going to have career in show biz, if can correct small imperfections, why not?

Look at these before and after photos of Scarlett Johansson:

Pre-nose job, she has a pleasant face, but doesn't look all that different from half the girls you went to high school with. After, she's pretty enough be a movie star.

The question  you have to ask yourself is, even if you don't plan a career in show business, wouldn't it be preferable -- for all sorts of reasons -- to go through life looking like the girl on the right? We all know she'll get more attention and in general be treated better than the girl on the left.

Or look at Michelle Pfeiffer:

If she hadn't had that original nose job, she never would have become Michelle Pfeiffer. (One strange side effect with both Johansson and Pfeiffer is that both look more intelligent post-nose job; it makes absolutely no sense, I know, but somehow, they do.)

The same principles, by the way, apply to men.

Nice girls would be mortified to have people find out that they'd gotten cosmetic surgery. And, as most nice girls have been taught, it wouldn't speak well of them as people if they cared enough about (superficial) appearances to have the operation.

But, that doesn't mean they shouldn't do it.

And I'd tell the 22-year-old version of myself the same thing.

Think about it this way: you don't feel ashamed if you work out in order to look better, do you? A regular workout routine certainly entails putting more effort into your appearance than a one time medical procedure does. And you don't feel foolish about buying a new outfit. But why not? New clothes express a certain vanity as well.

The truth is, we're all vain, and we all do things to indulge that vanity. Even if that indulgence entails the opposite of what we normally think of as self-indulgence -- like cutting out desserts. Or forcing ourselves to get down to Pilates class every other day.

Some cultures are already more accepting of it. Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela are said to have already gone plastic surgery-crazy. And Seoul, South Korea, is now supposed to be the world capital of cosmetic surgery.

Why let those countries have all the fun?

As it is now, narcissistic personalities and sociopaths are far more likely to have procedures done. Why let them be the only ones who benefit? My general advice to most narcissistic personalities (if they'd ever listen, which of course they wouldn't) would be, be less the way you are, and stop acting as if the world revolves around you, and learn to admit when  you're wrong.

But my advice to "normal" people would be the opposite: be more like narcissistic personalities. Don't let a sense of shame hold you back from enjoying all the advantages that accrue from a better appearance.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Chuck Berry, multitasking

After writing about Chuck Berry three posts ago, I found myself watching more of his old videos.

Here's Berry singing Almost Grown in front of a studio audience. He's simultaneously playing the guitar, singing, dancing, mugging, and making expressive gestures with his hands in order to entertain us.

What's striking about all this is how naturally it seems to come to him, and how effortless it appears.

A lot of the old videos were probably lip sync productions, and probably, guitar syncs as well. It's hard to believe that with all that vigorous dancing Berry could continue to sing on pitch and not get out of breath.

But, I'm not sure of that, and it was apparent from some of his later videos that he could do all those things at the same time (though his singing in those later videos is usually off key.)

Here's a video of Berry performing Little Queenie, with a white backup band. His ability to multitask is highlighted here, since his bandmates are doing nothing but playing their instruments. That's by design, but it's also obvious none of the others could have done what he did.

What makes it really amazing is that he's the one who composed the music and wrote the lyrics as well.

(It's a little embarrassing the way these old-time videos would regularly cut back to the white audiences clapping along, as if to show other whites that it was okay to enjoy Berry's music.)

Finally, here's a video of Berry performing Oh Baby Doll. Same thing: playing the guitar, singing, and dancing, all while hamming it up.

It's sort of like watching a circus performer juggling three balls while simultaneously keeping a plate spinning in the air.

Except that at the same time, you know you're watching the guy who actually invented circuses.

Update, 4/19/17: I've just been informed by an anonymous commenter that Berry actually didn't compose the melodies, that another black musician named Johnny Johnson did. Oh well. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Immigrant Nazis

Let's do a little thought experiment:

First, let's compare the radical Muslims of the seven countries from which Trump is trying to suspend immigration to the Nazis.

Both groups hated Jews. Many Islamic clerics in the countries named have said they want Israel wiped off the face of the earth; the Nazis held similar views.

Both groups felt that homosexuals are sick, disgusting individuals who should be persecuted.

And adherents of both movements were completely convinced of their righteousness, and superiority.

One major difference is their attitude toward women. Herman Goering never advocated cutting the clits off young girls; Joseph Goebbels never suggested that women not be allowed to go out in public with uncovered faces. And Adolf Hitler never said that women should not be allowed to drive, or attend school, or leave their houses unaccompanied by a male relative.

In any case, there are some strong parallels, even if the Islamic fundamentalists are far harsher when it comes to treatment of women.

Now, let's imagine that Germany and Austria were still dominated by the Nazis -- and that many of them want to emigrate to the US. And, let's say that the political dividing lines in America regarding the immigration controversy were roughly the same as they are now.

What would the liberals be saying? Ignore for the moment the fact that the Left's favorite insult these days is "Nazi" -- since the Nazis, in both spirit and belief, did have much in common with today's Islamic fundamentalists.

Would they call people opposed to immigration "Naziphobics," as if they had some sort of weird mental disease?

Would they say that we shouldn't discriminate on the basis of creed, or persecute those poor Nazis for their beliefs?

Would they tell the anti-immigration forces that "that's not who we are?"

Would they constantly remind us that we are a nation of immigrants?

Would they have sanctuary cities catering to illegal Nazi immigrants?

Would they accuse those opposed to more immigration of being "haters?"

After all, this is effectively what's going on right now, except for that minor difference of the Islamic attitude toward women.

Think of this parallel the next time you hear a liberal become hysterical over Trump's proposed immigration ban.

Is there anything more pathetic than a guy who never outgrew his sport?

Right now I'm watching the heats of the men's NCAA swimming championships. Tonight I'll watch the finals. And tomorrow I'll probably do the same. This is after having watched all of the women's NCAA swimming championships last week.

It's a complete waste of time, of course. I'm doing absolutely nothing productive, and getting exactly nothing done. But, I still follow the sport closely enough to be curious as to how various swimmers do.

In a way, it's not all that different from following politics: I'm curious about who wins and who loses, how people acquit themselves, and what factors impinged. But while most people would find it incredibly boring to watch a bunch of swimmers go back and forth in a pool, to me, whether it takes a certain competitor 43.7 or 44.1 seconds to complete four lengths is the stuff of high drama.

(That's what I mean by pathetic.)

All of this means I'm no better than the slob you might find in a bar wearing the jersey of his favorite sports team and wanting to talk about how his favorite pro team is doing that year. I've never identified with that guy; but I'm sorta forced to admit, I am him.

For the sake of this blog I'll try to keep the conversation away from swimming and on topics you can identify with.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chuck Berry's backup dancer

I was going to write a "Chuck Berry RIP" post a couple days ago; he was certainly a groundbreaking musician, and he had always struck me as a cool guy. I had also always been under the vague impression that his Mann Act conviction had been a racially-motivated railroading.

But when I looked into that conviction, it turned out to be completely justified. He had in fact brought a 14-year-old Mexican girl up to work as a prostitute at his club in St. Louis (after having sex with her numerous times himself, when he was in his 30's). There had also been a tax fraud conviction, and another lawsuit (which Berry settled) brought by 60 women who claimed that Berry had secretly videotaped them going to the bathroom. And, Berry had a longstanding reputation for being too cheap to pay a regular backup band.

So, I felt a little less motivated to write a paean. 

But there was no question about his musical genius (he wrote his own songs) and his stage presence. Berry, like Snoop Dogg, seemed to have, as his natural default facial expression, a sort of leer, which suited him. Here's Berry:

And here's Snoop Dogg:

The difference was, Berry's leer seemed to be light-heartedly lascivious, playful, and slightly self-mocking, whereas Snoop's leer is as likely to come across as an arrogant half sneer.

The other difference is, Berry was an incredibly talented musician.

In any case, I was moved, out of a sense of nostalgia, to watch a few clips of Berry on Youtube.

After seeing two or three, I stumbled across this video of him performing Sweet Little Sixteen. What struck me most about it was the backup dancer who appears from around 22 seconds into the clip up to the 47 second mark of the minute and ten second video.

For some reason, she just looked incredibly good to me. She was obviously pretty, though the resolution of the video isn't clear enough to see her face all that well. Her dancing and clothing seem dated now; you might even find them a little silly. Nor was she particularly athletic. But somehow it added up to an overwhelming feminine appeal which seems missing in most of today's overly athletic dancers with their piston-like movements. And, like Berry, she seemed to be enjoying herself while performing, which made her even more irresistable.

Maybe she appealed to me because that's the sort of dancing that was in vogue when I was young. Maybe it was partly the high energy, nostalgia-inducing song. Or, maybe I'm crazy.

But take a look at the video, and I think you'll see what I mean.

Anyway, upon further reflection, Berry, despite the trouble he got into, was not a bad guy. Naughty, yes; evil, no. And frankly, given his persona, given his songs, given the age he lived in, it would actually be a little disappointing if he hadn't been a little bit bad.

And maybe, just maybe, he gets a little more leeway for having been a genius.

Chuck Berry, RIP. 

Filial respect Part XII

I give my son a haircut once a month. After the last one, he complained that I had cut it too short on top.

I said, "Short hair looks good on you; I prefer mine short."

He replied, "You have to have short hair. When yours gets long, you look like Woody Allen. I don't have that problem."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sociopath talk

The Sun ran an article yesterday about Bruno Fernandes de Souza which delivers a great lesson on how sociopaths talk (and think): Goalie who had ex fed to dogs: Get over my 'one mistake.'

When you tell people to "get over" something, you're of course implying that if anyone has a problem with your behavior, the fault lies with them, not with you.

The relevant excerpts from the article, in italics:

The Brazilian goalkeeper who ordered the murder of his girlfriend before feeding her to his Rottweilers has incredibly claimed he’s “not a bad guy.”

De Souza must have a pretty extreme definition of "bad guy." He's probably thinking, well, it's not as if I'm a serial killer, since I'm only responsible for one killing. (Just one -- what's the big fuss?)

Bruno Fernandes de Souza was let out of jail in February on a legal technicality after spending just six years behind bars for his horrendous crime.

The goalie had former model girlfriend Eliza Samudio tortured and beaten before being strangled, chopped into pieces and fed to a pack of Rottweilers, following a dispute over child support.

(Simply being strangled and chopped into pieces was evidently not enough punishment for the crime of getting impregnated by him.)

But in his first interview since leaving jail and controversially signing with Boa Esporte, de Souza is quoted as saying: “Dude, what happened, happened.

(Exactly what intelligence is being conveyed in that statement? It's just another way of saying, hey, no big deal. The utter lack of any shame or guilt is apparent.)

De Souza's use of the word "dude" seems calculated to make him sound like a regular guy.

“I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life — I’m not a bad guy.

De Souza refers to Samudio's torture, beating, and strangulation as a "mistake" -- the same way you or I might refer to taking the wrong exit on the freeway.

And note the passive voice: "mistakes happen." You know, pretty much the same way the weather happens.

“People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude.

What kind of horrible people would try to bury a guy's dream? Let's face it, he's the real victim here. (De Souza might have made a wiser choice of word than "bury" though.)

The implication here is that since the Almighty has forgiven him, you should too. And now he's just "carrying on" -- brave soul that he is.

“I’m starting over.”

In other words, he now has a clean slate. 

De Souza is a good-looking guy --

-- which must help when it comes to getting a girl to sleep with him and then convincing his younger, impressionable cousins to murder her for him. In some pictures de Souza even looks wholesome --

-- which just goes to show that you can't judge a book, or a soccer star, by their covers.

You can, however, judge both by their words. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The World Happiness Report

An article, The 15 happiest countries in the world, appeared on Bloomberg this morning:

Chances are, if you live in the U.S., you feel worse today than you did 10 years ago. Don’t worry, it’s not you. This is a national problem: America’s rank on the happiness scale is falling.

When it comes to happiness, the U.S. ranked 19th among the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2016, down from third among 24 countries on a similar measure in 2007, according to the World Happiness Report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and funded by the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

Money, at least in the U.S., doesn’t buy happiness, the report found. Even as the country pulled off an economic turnaround, with increases in income and unemployment falling to historic lows, Americans are becoming less happy...

The report is based on an annual survey of 1,000 people in more than 150 countries that simply asks them to rank, on a scale of 0 to 10, whether they are living their best life.

Researchers then use six measures to try to understand the results: gross domestic product per capita, life expectancy, support from relatives or friends, charitable giving, freedom to make life choices, and perceived levels of government and corporate corruption.

Rankings are created using the average of three years of surveys. Nordic countries, of course, were the happiest. In the list covering 2014-16, Norway moved into the top spot as the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark and Iceland. The least happy nations: Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic. The U.S. ranked 14th on the most recent rankings average....

Jeffrey Sachs, one of the editors of the report, suggested five means by which to improve social trust: campaign finance reform, policies aimed at reducing income inequality (such as public financing of health), improved social relations between native born and immigrant Americans, working to move past the fear of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and improved access to high-quality education.

The political nature of Sachs' report is transparent: his suggestions for increased happiness are basically a Democratic wish list. And, like any good liberal, he completely ignores the most salient factor distinguishing the happiest countries from the unhappiest ones: their demographics. 

Lists like this pop up from time to time, and I always wonder, how exactly do they measure happiness? I've seen similar lists where people are actually asked whether they're happy or not. But how can people possibly know -- in any remotely objective sense -- how their level of emotional happiness compares to others' unless they've inhabited other peoples' minds? 

What these happiness reports fail to take into account is human nature. You can put two people into the exact same situation, and they would experience different levels of happiness from it. Some peoples' mental equilibrium dials seem to have been set to "happy," and others to "disgruntled." That's just their nature. 

In fact, one's baseline happiness probably has an inverse relationship with one's quality of life. If you're the type to be satisfied with whatever nature has provided, you're less likely to work hard at improving GDP, making headway in medicine, and maintaining a functioning, democratic form of government which guarantees freedoms for its citizens. 

Conversely, those most easily disgruntled would be more likely to work to improve their lot. 

It also seems a little ironic that Scandinavians, who have always had a reputation for being morose -- remember those dour Swedes with their shortened days and the world's highest suicide rate? -- now rank highest in "happiness." 

If you were to call this a "quality of life" index, using the same criteria, its conclusions would be more credible. Otherwise, it seems silly.

Meanwhile, in the interests of further equality -- which seems to be one of Sachs' goals -- Norway should voluntarily decrease its level of happiness by following the lead of its neighbor Sweden and import more Muslims. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Samantha Ponder strikes out against sexism

Pregnant ESPN reporter Samantha Ponder was in the news this past week for having put the trolls who criticized her appearance in their place.

This article from titled ESPN Reporter Samantha Ponder Shuts Down Trolls Who Criticized Her Body While Pregnant struck a typical tone:

If there's one thing Samantha Ponder won't stand for it is the ridiculous hate from body shamers who are calling out her appearance during her pregnancy.

The 31-year-old sportscaster is expecting her second child with her star athlete husband, Christian Ponder. After receiving multiple nasty comments about her appearance, Ponder finally hit her limit this week, according to Us Weekly.

“Getting sexist/vulgar tweets abt my job/appearance while I’m unable to see my own feet & covered in toddler pee is somethin else I tell ya,” she tweeted Tuesday, March 7.

The barrage of hateful comments sprung up after it was announced that Ponder may be replacing Chris Berman for Sunday NFL Countdown.

“When I can Tell you Women’s Rights, you can tell me about Sports. I never carried a Child, you Never carried a Football,” one hater wrote.

Another came in hot with a simple, “no talent.”

Even though she's had to deal with a lot of unbelievable hate, she's also received sweet messages of support from fans and women who look up to her for paving the way.

“You are an inspiration for young girls like my daughter. She is now a sophomore in college dreaming of being on the sideline,” one man wrote.

Another fan added to the conversation saying, “You inspire me everyday! I really look up to you & you make me realize my dreams are totally possible!! You’re Super Woman!"

Making fun of a woman's appearance because she is pregnant is unquestionably rude, though the two critical Tweets that cited had nothing to do with Ponder's appearance. 

But the entire premise of Womanista's position that Ponder is taking a stance against sexism seems to be built on shaky ground. 

ESPN has always been a liberal organization politically, as one might expect of a channel that focuses on sports dominated by blacks. (They have advocated for more gun control, praised Colin Kaepernick's stance, sided with BLM, given Caitlyn Jenner a heroism award, threatened Chris Broussard for taking a religious view of homosexuality, and fired Curt Schilling for criticizing radical Islam.)

So, one would think they would also be horrified by the sexism implicit in judging women by their looks. After all, they have proven reliably politically correct on every other issue.

But Google "ESPN babes" and you'll come across this article. (I had the feeling that the kind of people who are ESPN fans would use the word "babes" to refer to women.) Take a look at their selection of female sportscasters and judge for yourself what the most important prerequisite is for being a female sportscaster at liberal ESPN seems to be.

Does anyone doubt that Ponder's looks were central to why she was hired in the first place? Here's Samantha:

If you Google-image Samantha Ponder, you won't find a single shot -- not even in her "informal" at home shots -- where her hair, eyebrows, eye makeup, and lipstick have not been done up perfectly.

(By the way, does it not seem that an argument's credibility these days is in inverse proportion to the number of times it relies on using the word "hate?" The article uses either "hate" or "hateful" four separate times in their brief, eleven sentence article.)

It's not as if ESPN is an outlier here. All MSM organizations take politically correct positions, and rail against sexism in tones of horrified outrage whenever the issue arises. But when it comes to whom they hire as on camera talent, well, looks are paramount.

When it comes to the dramas they air, it's the same story: the female romantic interest is, almost always, a beauty. And when it comes to the commercials they run, the spokesmodels are also almost always beauties.  

So doesn't that make their stance against those horrible sexists who would judge a woman by her looks just a little bit hypocritical? 

Now, just to be clear: I'm not defending the trolls who razzed Ponder for her appearance. They are, undoubtedly, idiots. (The fact that they watch ESPN in the first place is probably further evidence of that.)

And Ponder herself is not some card-carrying third-wave feminist; she's just a cute girl trying to make her way in the world and doing the best she can for herself. It's natural enough for anyone who's been insulted to lash back. It was the media, more than her, who politicized this incident.

But let's also be clear about exactly where Samantha Ponder stands in the grand scheme of things: she is not a victim of sexism.

She is its beneficiary.

A resemblance

I just happened to see this picture of Katie Ledecky today --

-- and it struck me whom she resembles: Olga Korbut.

Each woman is among the greatest ever in her sport (and Ledecky is far from through).

But while they resemble each other facially, and both have huge smiles, they have completely different builds. Korbut was a pixie-like 4'11" and 84 pounds at her peak, as befits a champion gymnast, whereas Ledecky is listed at six feet on the Stanford roster and looks as if she weighs roughly 160.

(It would have been so much cooler if her Stanford bio had merely said "Katie is a passable distance freestyler" rather than exhaustively listing her every last accolade; it's not as if anyone who'd ever go to that website might possibly be unaware of her accomplishments.)

Ledecky, according to Wikipedia, is a quarter Czech, a quarter Jewish, and half Irish. Korbut was born in western Belarus, near the Polish and Lithuanian borders. So their ethnicities are not identical. But from the neck up, they look as if they could have been sisters.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why doesn't sociopathy spread like wildfire?

A commenter, "GT," noticed that Casey Anthony had broken her silence recently and posted a link to an article about her on the post about her here.

He mentioned that she is "still 100% grade A sociopath," and gave some examples to prove his point.

I agreed, and pointed out that my favorite line in the article he linked was:

"Caylee would be 12 right now. And would be a total badass" [said Anthony.]

I then pointed out that Anthony was actually right: a girl whose only influence is her sociopathic mother is almost certainly going to turn out to be a sociopath herself, and Caylee probably would have been a badass.

GT then asked an interesting question:

I hope for Caylee's sake her grandmother would have provided a positive female role model. Caylee's grandmother was the one that reported her missing when the mother (Casey) kept making excuses about her daughters location. I could envision that Caylee would have grown up looking for a mother's love but never finding it.

On to a more specific point that I have been thinking about for awhile. If sociopaths are created, which I think in the vast majority of cases they are, what keeps the sociopathic population at 3%? It seems that it would start to snowball after awhile; like a virus. A sociopathic father or Mother could create several sociopathic offspring and so on and so on... Would love to hear your thoughts.

I agree that sociopaths are for the most part created by their environments, so I completely agree with the premise of GT's question.

I wrote here about how sociopathy is in fact evolutionarily adaptive as long as they're a small fraction of the population to fly beneath the radar. So one force that keeps sociopathy in stasis is that if they ever became a sizable fraction of the population, people would get wise to their ways, and they wouldn't be able to get away with their devious tactics as easily.

But how exactly does the proportion of sociopaths in a population stay in check? Part of the answer must lie in the strong natural maternal instinct: unless that instinct is somehow abused and twisted at an early age, it will emerge. It seems quite possible for orphaned girls to feel affectionate and protective toward their children even if they themselves did not receive much love as children. We see that protectiveness throughout the animal kingdom, and if that instinct were not powerful, species would simply go extinct.

Mankind's natural state simply doesn't seem to be sociopathy. Only extreme circumstances can foster it. Even if you have one parent who is a sociopath, having another who is not could conceivably prevent it.

Another part of the equation is that those females -- like Casey Anthony -- who lack the maternal instinct are less likely to have children who survive to reproductive age themselves. You needn't even be murderous for that to happen; merely careless and neglectful.

We're lucky that sociopathy does not generally spread beyond 3% of the population, but in fact, it's not just luck. Nature has predisposed us -- especially mothers -- toward empathy, and that's what keeps the proportion of sociopaths at a relatively manageable level.

Evolution gave us certain instincts for good reason; and the same instincts which help us survive as a species seem to keep sociopathy to a minimum.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Borderline personality disorder

I'd never had a good handle on borderline personality disorder before, it had always sounded like a vague, fall-between-the-cracks description of difficult people who didn't quite fit the textbook definitions of other disorders. (That impression was fostered partly by its name.)

But I've been reading about it, and thinking about it, and now see it as a very distinct, recognizable syndrome. And, as always, having known a couple of people who clearly have the disorder has made it come much more alive for me.

If you're unfamiliar with the disorder, you might mistake borderlines for sociopaths, because of their ability to self-righteously justify themselves and their unbridled fury when they feel they've been crossed. Or, you might mistake them for narcissists, for the same reason.

But there are some major differences between sociopaths and borderlines. Borderlines only become combative when they think they're right. (Of course, their ability to convince themselves they're in the right is often astounding.) Sociopaths often have that same feeling of righteousness; but they will follow a self-serving course of action even when they know it's wrong.

The end result may be the same; but with borderlines, it's less a matter of willful evil, and more as if they have a near-psychosis that convinces them they are in the right. (This "psychosis," of course, never seems to convince them they are in the wrong, which, admittedly, works out quite conveniently for them.)

Another difference: borderlines aren't gleefully evil the way sociopaths are: they don't, for instance, lie purely for the pleasure of fooling others. Nor are they casually sadistic the way sociopaths are.

Borderlines don't have the same overwhelming ego of sociopaths, in fact may often have the opposite: poor self-images. And they tend to be forthright about their insecurities -- whether about their looks, their intelligence, or even their character.

Borderlines tend to see things in black and white. They are often completely incapable of seeing another's point of view. This is a trait they share with narcissists. (Try having a political discussion with a borderline sometime.)

Borderline personalities are extremely emotionally unstable. As the National Institute for Mental Health says:

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.

Here, too, borderline personality disorder resembles another syndrome, bipolar disorder, in its extreme mood swings. It's certainly easy to mistake one for the other. But I've known people with both, and there seems to be a certain self-serving aspect to the borderline personalities I've known that's missing in bipolars.

Also, with the bipolars, there seems to be almost a certain orderliness to their moods: they're either up or down, and when in either of those states, their behavior can be fairly easily predicted. With borderlines, they can go veering off into a different mood based on an innocuous comment, at a moment's notice.

And, while a bipolar may stay depressed for days or even weeks, they will generally not stay angry for days, and are generally not filled with grudges. Borderlines have a lot more free-floating rage; sometimes they seem like walking temper tantrums in search of a cause. (And their anger is all the scarier because it is so consuming, and uninhibited in its expression.)

Another thing most of the literature on borderlines emphasizes is that they have an intense fear of abandonment. This may not be apparent at first, but one of the ways it can manifest itself is by the borderline trying to drive a wedge between their partner and anyone else they perceive to threaten their relationship.

One of the subtexts in most descriptions of BPD is that there seems to be an undercurrent of hysteria running through a lot of the behavior described. Sure enough, females are diagnosed with the disorder three times as often as men.

People who are in a relationship with borderlines often end up with a modified version of Stockholm Syndrome, tiptoeing around and constantly trying to mollify them in order to avoid confrontation and the inevitable fury that follows.

With the bipolars I've known, even though they are at times hard to deal with, I've always been left with the sense that underneath it all, they're generally decent people. I haven't necessarily gotten that sense with the borderlines; this may be partly why the syndrome is classified as a "Cluster B personality disorder."

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jenna Jameson, revealed

It's become a standard joke that all actresses in porn films, no matter how insignificant their careers, are referred to as "porn stars." Jenna Jameson actually has been a star in that field: even if you don't watch porn, it's near impossible not to be aware of who she is, since she gets so much press.

(It's hard not to think that's because a lot of reporters are inveterate porn watchers.)

Two weeks ago the NY Post ran an article about her, Jenna Jameson goes on rant slamming Muslims and defending KKK. She evidently said there was a "Muslim rape epidemic."

Jameson, who is now engaged to an Israeli jeweler, Lior Bitton, and has converted from Catholicism to Judaism, compared Islam to the KKK:

“Do the klu klux klan follow a religion that orders the death of apostates? When was the last time we saw a klan member blow up infidels?,” she tweeted.

The star, who is due to give birth in April, has lashed out at Muslims before. In January, she drew fire for tweeting that Islam “promotes child rape, female genital mutilation, butchering non believers and polygamy.”

To say that the KKK is not as violent as radical Muslims hardly seems like a "defense" of them. And what Jameson said about Islam is true, even if such honesty is usually not a good career move. 

The article featured this recent, virtually unrecognizable picture of her:

Jameson does seem to have gone though a lot of changes in appearance over the years. Her pictures tell the story of someone who's never been happy with herself, despite having starting out as a beautiful woman. Here she is early in her career:

She looks vapid, and her implants are too big, but she's undeniably beautiful. And she seems to be glowing with health.

A little while later she became borderline anorexic:

When someone is constantly changing her appearance, it usually signals a deeper discontent. Here's Jameson with some ear piercings:

She has also decided to adorn herself with tattoos: 

As she got older, she seemed to acquire the soulless look of a sex worker:

And finally, as she slid further into drug addiction and alcoholism, she let herself get fat, even by the standards of pregnant women. 

Jameson always presented herself as nothing more than a sex object. She would put on a lascivious look, a sort of half sneer meant to convey sexual desire, or possibly sexual invitation. Maybe she figured that as a porn star this was how she was supposed to appear. But it came across desperate and pathetic. And obscene, in both senses of the word. 

And it made me wonder about her childhood. The cliche about women who become strippers -- or porn stars, or prostitutes -- is that they come from broken homes and dysfunctional backgrounds. As is often the case, the "Early life" section of Jameson's Wikipedia bio held the key:

Jenna Marie Massoli was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her father, Laurence Henry Massoli, was a police officer at the las Vegas Sheriff's Department and program director for KSNV-DT. Her mother, Judith Brooke Hunt, was a Las Vegas showgirl who danced in the Folies Bergere show at the Tropicana Resort & Casino. Her mother died of melanoma on February 20, 1976, two months prior to her daughter's second birthday. The cancer treatments bankrupted the family and they relocated in Nevada, Arizona, and Montana, usually living in a trailer home or living with her paternal grandmother. She and her older brother, Tony were raised Catholic, though they were essentially left to parent each other.

So Jenna grew up missing -- and undoubtedly romanticizing -- the mother she never knew, the glamorous showgirl in the Folies Bergere. Wikipedia does not explain why the family moved around so much; you'd think a police officer would be able to provide at least a middle class existence for his family. But the bit about how Jenna and her brother were "essentially left to parent each other" makes it sound as if the father was mostly absent as well.

So Jameson's early life, right down to the trailer parks, was straight from that stripper playbook.

It was nobody's fault that Jameson grew up without a mother, an anchor to guide her, a steadying influence, and, mostly, someone to love her. But her entire life has reflected that early loss. 

I never would have expected to feel this way, but I actually ended up feeling sorry for her. 

Jameson is undoubtedly a difficult woman, and probably impossible to live with. But she doesn't deserve the bad press she's gotten recently, especially since what she said about Islam is largely true. It does promote a culture that's abusive to women. 

So maybe all those reporters who are taking such glee in her downfall and simultaneously preening about their political correctness should take a hard look at themselves. They might realize that they're mostly just angry that they never got a girl who looked like Jenna. At least not the early version. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The best way to understand sociopaths

If you want to study sociopathy, look at how serial killers behave when they're not indulging their deadly hobby. It's the perfect controlled experiment, since there's absolutely no doubt that they're sociopaths, and their sociopathy never leaves them. (Being a sociopath is a 24 hour occupation.) And their psychology is the basically same as other sociopaths, except for the little quirk that killing helps them get off sexually.

So how do such sociopaths act when they're not killing?

Look at Ted Bundy, working at that suicide hotline. If you heard about someone you knew nothing else about who worked at a suicide hotline, you might think, "Hmm, nice guy....nicer than me anyway; personally I wouldn't want to spend the time working at one of those places. I'd find it a little depressing to have to talk people out of committing suicide all the time."

But Ted, obviously, didn't feel sympathy for those people; that wasn't his nature. In fact, he probably would have enjoyed killing them himself, if he could have gotten away with it. He just wanted to savor their pain while posing as a do-gooder. Not much information ever came out about how he performed in that capacity, but it's hard not to suspect that he subtly encouraged some of them to go ahead and kill themselves.

Because of Bundy, we better understand the kind of emotional falsity that sociopaths engage in and the real motivations of some who do ostensibly noble work.

(Likewise, you'd think that those who adopt rescue dogs are good-hearted folk. But animal shelters evidently have to be on the lookout for people who come in too frequently looking for new pets. Certain people -- whose psychology is not dissimilar to Bundy's -- will adopt a pet, torture it and kill it, then come in to ask for a new one, claiming that the previous pet died of natural causes.)

Look at Dennis Rader, the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) killer. He worked as, among other jobs, as a dogcatcher and compliance officer in park City, Kansas. He was married with two children, President of the church council of the local Lutheran Church, and a Cub Scout troop leader. And he had a degree from Wichita State University in justice administration.

Sounds like a pillar of the community. But sociopaths will often make more of an effort than most to appear as such, to disguise their true natures. And Rader was known in his community as a stickler for the rules, one who would his job to harass people. One neighbor said that he euthanized her dog for no reason. And he would impose penalties for infractions as minor as letting grass grow too long.

Meanwhile, Rader himself was the BTK serial killer, strangling and killing innocent women for his own sexual pleasure. But god forbid your grass was half an inch above regulation height. That's sociopathy for you: self-righteously condemning others for minor infractions while doing far, far worse themselves.

When you see extremely hypocrisy, beware.

John Wayne Gacy was another stalwart member of his community. He managed three Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants and was a vice president of the local Jaycees. Despite being primarily homosexual, Gacy got married and had two children. He even had his picture taken with First Lady Rosalyn Carter.

In Gacy's case, the effort expended to appear "normal" was part of his sociopathic nature. He later characterized the period of his life when he was married and managing those KFC franchises as the "best part" of his life.

When you see someone for whom appearances are all, beware.

David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, provides the perfect case study of a sociopath who later "reforms." We know that sociopaths never stop being sociopaths, so Berkowitz's new pose, as a man of God, is illuminative. He is now a preacher who ministers to other prisoners and, when given the chance, talks about all the good works he does. It is a peculiarly sociopathic quirk to broadcast one's virtuousness, and as always with sociopaths, Berkowitz is a little heavy-handed about letting us know how good he now is.

It's also a sociopathic quirk to think that people will believe you when you claim to have turned over a new leaf.

So if you encounter a self-proclaimed man of God who admits that he was once a sinner, but is now redeemed, beware.

There's a whole field of study here. When serial killers act in certain ways when not plying their distinctive trade, if you meet someone else with those same behavior patterns, beware. Chances are he's not a serial killer, but he could well be a sociopath.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trump's speech

Trump's address to Congress certainly got a good reception. The NY Post, not unexpectedly, gave it rave reviews, and even the NY Times headline said that he "softened his tone" a bit. (Which, for them, constitutes a rave review.)

The stock market has certainly greeted it enthusiastically, with the Dow currently up approximately up 280 points on the day as of this writing. For a long time the financial press was talking about the possibility of the Dow passing the 20,000 milestone, and a few weeks later we've already passed the 21,000 mark, another milestone.

It must be frustrating for the Democrats to see how enthusiastically the market has greeted Trump's Presidency. The current rally dates from exactly November 9th, the day after the election. The vast majority of prominent money managers who are Democrats have spoken of how Trump would bring economic disaster, and most have voiced corresponding market views.

The market, however, hasn't cooperated.

It was good to see Nancy Pelosi and some of the other Democratic women in the chamber appropriately dressed in "suffragette white." (You do know that Trump plans to take the vote away from women, don't you?)

Okay, now for the speech itself. First, the good stuff:

The Obama administration always seemed to regard police as the enemy, so a shift in tone there was long overdue.

And let's hope that the administration's replacement for Obamacare works out. That program was a disaster for most people who weren't on Medicaid, and certainly allowing interstate competition is a good idea. But only time will tell if Trump can bring down medical costs for the average family; so far no President has been able to do that.

Last night was the first mention of a "merit-based" as opposed to "family-based" immigration program. That sounds like a good idea; after all, a country is no more than the sum of its people. The concept of America as a big dumping ground for misfits who've managed to screw up their own countries has always seemed self-defeating.

Now, the bad stuff:

While tightening immigrations is a sensible idea, the VOICE program seems a little strained (like its acronym, which stands for Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement). The fact that some immigrants commit crime, including violent crime, is a factor which should be weighed when considering immigration policy overall, but VOICE seems to create a special class of victims, just as "hate crimes" statues do. Aren't regular laws good enough in both cases?

("Victims Of Illegal Chicano Evil-doers" would have been more straightforward.)

It also seemed that Trump went a little overboard with bringing in special visitors to the gallery. This is a long standing Presidential tradition meant to humanize a sitting President's programs. But it's always seemed a cheap way to gain support. It's almost as if the President is portraying his political opponents as people who would root against the unfortunate person in the gallery. ("Go ahead, I dare you to jeer that poor girl in the wheelchair, or the widow of that Navy SEAL.")

Obama did this more than any previous President, but even he never brought in four different sets of people for a single speech.

But it was still enlightening to see Nancy Pelosi and a few others refuse to stand and cheer for the Navy SEAL widow. (It almost made me admire Pelosi; it takes a certain courage to root against mom and apple pie.)

Anyway, I support most of Trump's policies, so it was good to see him get a chance to speak directly to the public without the media interpreting his words for the rest of us and telling us what to think.

Update, same day: turns out the initial reports may be wrong, and there's some question as to whether Pelosi (and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Keith Ellison) stood and clapped or not. It may be that they stood and clapped for the first, but not the second round of cheering.