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Saturday, September 30, 2017

All roads lead to Rome, Part II

This blog has a "traffic sources" section that allows me to see the searches that lead people to this blog. (I can't see who's looking, but I can sometimes see what has led them here.) And I'm constantly surprised to see the nature of the searches that land them here.

Back in January of 2014 I wrote about some of those searches. I've scribbled down a few more a while back, and added a few recently. Here they are:

"Prominent clitorises, photos" Honestly, you won't find any of those here; I'm mystified as to how that search led here.

"Naked photo underage" Those neither. (I'd actually be afraid to look for those; don't they convict people based on what they find in their computers?)

"Is Obama gay?", "is Obama gay or bi", and "Is my gaydar off or is Obama gay?" I do know how those inquiries led here. The answer is, yep, as I explained here and here.

"fuck sharia femen" At first, I thought the searcher was conflating Sharia and FEMEN. Then I realized, ah, he was referring to the FEMEN who wrote "fuck sharia" on their naked torsos. I enjoyed writing about FEMEN, here and here and here, but don't think I ever featured a photo with that particular slogan painted on.

"Chelsea Clinton looks weird" I mentioned her here, and a couple other places, but I never focused on her looks. 

"el Chapo house" That would be houses, plural. I showed three pictures of one of them when I put el Chapo up against Donald Trump in a machismo contest.

"James Bond IQ." It was actually a relief to find out that someone else had pondered a question that silly.

"Are people with Asperger childish?" and "Aspergers have no friends" and "want my asperger friend to get lost." I can understand why they'd feel that way.

"Can Aspergers say they're sorry?" Nope.

"Asberbuger are they ridged?" Yes, some can be quite rigid; on the other hand, some can also spell.

"Is Dave Chapelle on steroids?" Yup.

"little boy with big balls" I mention courage from time to time, but I suspect this particular inquiry was of a more physical nature.

"Hairy vulva" Sorry, no beaver shots here. But I do hope he found something else that excited his interest, and tarried a while.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hugh Hefner, RIP

I gave my impression of Hefner here, back in 2010.

Even now that he's dead, it's hard not to envy him the life he had.


Monday, September 25, 2017

The NFL players vs. James Damore

The Left -- those  great supporters of the First Amendment -- have all been outraged by Trump's recent remarks about how the NFL should fire the protesting players. How dare he question the players' right to protest! Does he not realize that such protests are protected by the Constitution?! Do these players not even have the right to an opinion?! How dare he suggest they lose their livelihoods!

They have a point, of course: free speech is protected in this country.

But where was the Left when James Damore was fired by Google for having exercised his First Amendment rights? The only thing the Left had to say about the Damore affair was to condemn him for his sexism. And to claim that it was people like him who were holding women back.

In fact, many on the Left demanded Damore be fired.

Damore, of course, wrote his essay on his own time, and hadn't intended for it to get national publicity. The NFL players, on the other hand, want their TV audience to see them refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

Another difference is that Damore was basically speaking the truth: in his well-reasoned and balanced essay, Damore pointed out there are innate and well-documented differences between men and women that account for their disproportionate numbers in Silicon Valley. If there simply aren't as many women interested in programming, how is the larger number of male engineers evidence of sexism?

The BLM movement, on the other hand, is based on a big lie: that the police are out to kill innocent blacks. Any clear-eyed view of the statistics immediately shows that to be untrue.

The other difference, of course, is that while Damore was fired for his heretical beliefs, no NFL player will be. Everybody fears the wrath of the Left; nobody fears the wrath of the Right.

In any case, I haven't seen anyone else draw a parallel between the protesting players and James Damore, but the principles involved are the same. Either people should be allowed to protest at their place of employment, or they shouldn't be.

But the Left doesn't see it that way. They evidently believe that the First Amendment only applies if you're speaking the Leftist line.

But, we pretty much already knew that.

Uma Thurman and Nena von Schlebrugge

I was watching an Uma Thurman movie the other day, and idly wondered about her, so read her Wiki page. Evidently her mother, Nena von Schlebrugge, had been a top model, so out of curiosity, I Google-Imaged her. She was a spectacular beauty:

Feature for feature, Nena is probably better-looking than her daughter:

Uma's nose may be too big for classical beauty, her lips may be too full, and her eyes almost too hooded.

But somehow, with Uma, those flaws added up to an even greater appeal. The almost exaggerated features also seem to signal a wanton lasciviousness that gave her more personality.

Uma seems to have more star quality than her mother. That's probably an unfair comparison, since Nena worked in the 60's, and at the time a model's job was to look somewhat blank.

But maybe part of the reason Uma got the opportunity to be a movie star was because of her expressiveness. At her peak, between the ages of 24 and 31 (roughly from Pulp Fiction to Kill Bill), she was just spectacularly beautiful.

Here she is in one of the iconic shots from Pulp Fiction, expressing wryness -- which implies intelligence and a sense of humor:

When the role called for it, she also had a certain determined cast to her mouth and jaw, that gave her a certain defiance. Kill Bill was just a comic book brought to the screen, but it needed a tough, sexy, tragic heroine, and Uma was perfect.

Take a look at this interview with Charlie Rose, which took place close to the release of Kill Bill. There's no point in the entire episode at which she's not just luminously beautiful, and she doesn't even appear to be wearing much makeup.

Anyway, it was interesting to find out that her mother was a great beauty, too, though I suppose it shouldn't have been that big a surprise.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


I recently heard of a new fat removal method, CoolSculpting, for the first time. It's an impressive medical breakthrough, maybe most impressive because of its simplicity.

Diets tend to be long, slow torture for those on them, and the few who win the battle of the bulge always seem to end up losing the war, because all dieting does is starve fat cells, which, the minute they're fed again, go back to their full size.

And some of those people really seem to hate themselves for it.

The problem is, no amount of dieting will reduce the number of fat cells in our bodies.

The principle behind Coolsculpting is that fat cells die at slightly higher temperatures than other tissue does. Their machines suck up an area of skin and cool it to between 0 and 3 degrees Celsius for an hour or so. Within two or three months, all of the crystallized fat cells are absorbed by the body's pancreatic system and excreted. And those fat cells are permanently gone.

Google "Coolsculpt" and you'll see a lot of sites, most of which are basically infomercials for various doctors. (Which is probably why this post sounds a little like an infomercial.)

Most of the advertisements emphasize that it's not a way to lose 100 pounds; the process only gets rid of subcutaneous fat, not visceral fat. It's mostly a way to smooth out problem surface areas exercising won't get rid of.

You can tell the procedure is expensive because no provider lists prices. According to the message boards, prices apparently run from $750 to 1500 per treatment, maybe less when you get away from NYC. But, there are worse ways to spend money.

The before and after pictures are pretty interesting. (Such pictures are always fascinating, whether they involve drastic weight change, plastic surgery, steroids, or meth addiction.)

Obviously most people do this for aesthetic reasons, but there may be athletic benefits as well. You never see an Olympic 1500 meter runner with a pot belly, but losing a couple pounds of fat would definitely benefit most runners.

And it's a lot easier than running a lot of miles and dieting. But, so far WADA hasn't declared CoolSculpting off-limits.

Anyway, it's sort of amazing to think that after all the attention that's been paid to dieting, shedding the last few pounds has gotten so much easier.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What exactly is "a conscience?"

The term "conscience" is thrown around a lot, but its exact meaning is a little hard to pinpoint; it's actually a somewhat misleading term. Most link it to the ability to feel embarrassment, shame, and guilt, those somewhat different but overlapping emotions.

But a conscience seems to be more than that. If you had to define it, you might call it the sum of our inhibitions. It's what keeps us from doing bad things. (I'm using the word "bad" because it's such an all-encompassing, vague term.) But how exactly does a "conscience" keep us from doing those things?

Part of it is fear -- fear of reprisals from wronged people, but also the fear of having to experience the three unpleasant emotions mentioned in the first paragraph. (But fear of reprisals shouldn't be overlooked; remember, sociopaths generally don't feel fear the same way.)

Part of "a conscience" is the ability to put oneself into other's shoes, knowing how they would feel should you wrong them.

Some of it seems to be tied into not thinking that you're better than you are. All of us are guilty of overestimating ourselves at times; but some of us are consistently guilty.

Another element of a conscience is awareness -- and therefore avoidance -- of your own possible hypocrisy. Anybody who criticizes others for doing exactly as he does probably has a pretty weak "conscience."

A conscience is really just a matter of instincts. You could describe it as the part of your mind which regulates your comfort zone -- or more specifically, your discomfort zone. The less comfortable you are when you're doing something you know you shouldn't be, the more of a "conscience" you have.

And the easier it is for you to justify your own actions, the less of one you have.

If you feel perfectly comfortable buttering up a distant relative in hopes he'll remember you in his will, then you may have less of a "conscience." If you are reluctantly going along with the plan only because, say, your wife is pushing you to, then you have more of one.

Discomfort zones, instincts, and hypocrisy: these terms are easier to relate to than that nebulous, intangible concept known as a "conscience."

Most people have the vague sense that a "conscience" is something they're supposed to have, but it's such an amorphous notion that they can't really get a fix on it. So decent people may wonder if they have one, since they're not really aware of it as a distinct entity.

And when they feel schadenfreude, or envy, or resentment, or even hate, it makes them doubt themselves. But those emotions are universal: everybody feels them from time to time. And it's not how we feel, but how we act, that's evidence of a conscience.

The word "conscience" is nothing more than a metaphor for a broad collection of instincts steering one in the general direction of the Golden Rule.

Your "conscience" is simply you. To think of it as being as a separate entity, like Jiminy Cricket, is misleading.

But people who lack what's called a "conscience," because they lack one, tend to think that it's an actual thing, and that if they claim its existence, it will prove their goodness. So these are the people who who talk about their conscience the most.

One of the things that give sociopaths away is their attempts to appear normal -- or even better than normal. What betrays them is that their act is always a little overdone. So they say things like "my conscience is clear," as if their conscience is a tangible part of them with absolute authority over what they can and cannot do.

I once knew a sociopath who would occasionally say, "Hey, I'm the guy who's gotta look at himself in  the mirror the next day" -- as if this rendered him incapable of doing anything immoral. Obviously, "looking in the mirror" is a metaphor, just like "a conscience" is. But because that sort of thing never troubled him, he figured that it was the actual physical act of seeing one's own reflected image that bothered normal people.

So, like all those sociopaths who blather on about their consciences, he gave himself away with his words.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mary Bell

While reading that list of freed serial killers mentioned in the previous post, I learned about Mary Bell. Evidently she is quite famous in England; she is less well known in this country.

At age 11, Bell strangled 4-year-old Martin Brown, and a few months later, 3-year-old Brian Howe. Bell used a pair of scissors to carve an "M" into Howe's stomach, cut off some of his hair, and mutilate his penis. Mary had a weak-minded friend, Norma Bell (no relation) who accompanied her, but Mary was the leader.

You couldn't have asked for a more fertile background for sociopathy than Mary's. Her biological father is unknown, and her mother, Betty, was a prostitute who was often away. Betty is thought to have tried to kill Mary on several occasions, while trying to make it look like an accident. From Wiki:

Her family was suspicious when Mary "fell" from a window, and when she "accidentally" consumed sleeping pills. On one such occasion, an independent witness saw Betty giving the pills to her daughter as sweets. Mary herself says she was subjected to repeated sexual abuse, her mother forcing her from the age of four to engage in sexual acts with men.

In any case, there's absolutely no doubt about Bell's character. She was obviously not responsible for her own family background, but it is what shaped her, and the end result was a sociopath. And, as we all know, sociopaths always remain sociopaths.

But what's most interesting about Bell is how she's behaved apart from the two murders she committed -- both as a young girl, and since she was released from prison at age 23, in 1980, and granted anonymity (via a new name). This account from Murderpedia includes excerpts from several articles and books about how she presented herself, how she thought, and what impressions people had of her.

It's a wonderful case study in how sociopaths act.

From An Encyclopedia of Serial Killers -- Hunting Humans, by Michael Newton:

Described by court psychiatrists as "intelligent, manipulative, and dangerous," Mary proved herself a problem inmate. In 1970, she fabricated charges of indecent assault against one of her warders, but the man was acquitted in court. In September 1977, she escaped from Moor Court open prison with another inmate, but the runaways were captured three days later. 

False rape charges are a sociopathic female specialty. And keep in mind, Mary was only 13 when she fabricated those charges.

From Mary Bell: Portrait of a Killer as a Young Girl, by Shirly Lynn Scott:

"Are you looking for your Brian?" asked Mary Bell. Brian's sister, Pat, was worried about the missing toddler, who should have been home by now. A small, three-year-old boy with fair hair, Brian Howe usually played close to home. Mary and her best friend, Norma, eagerly offered to help search for him. They led Pat through the neighborhood, looking here and there, all the while knowing exactly where Brian was.

They crossed the railroad tracks to the industrial area, where the kids of Scotswood often played among construction materials, old cars, and dangerous wreckage. Pat was worried -- only a few weeks ago little Martin Brown was found dead inside of a condemned house. Mary pointed to some large concrete blocks. "He might be playing behind the blocks, or between them," she said.

"Oh no, he never goes there," insisted Norma. In fact, Brian lay dead between the blocks. Mary wanted Pat to discover her dead brother, Norma later said, "because she wanted Pat Howe to have a shock." But Pat decided to leave. The Newcastle Police would find his body at 11:10 later that night.

Serial killers often like to savor the pain of grieving relatives; and at age 11, Bell had all of those instincts.

Brian Howe was buried on August 7th. Detective Dobson was there: "Mary Bell was standing in front of the Howe's house when the coffin was brought out. I was, of course, watching her. And it was when I saw her there that I knew I did not dare risk another day. She stood there, laughing. Laughing and rubbing her hands. I thought, My God, I've got to bring her in, she'll do another one."

Once again, savoring the pain of the bereaved.

"I couldn't kill a bird by the neck or throat or anything, it's horrible that.
-- Mary Bell

This is a little reminiscent of double murderer Frederick Baer claiming, "I cry when a freakin' butterfly hits the windshield." Sociopaths are never content to portray themselves as average people: they must show themselves to be more noble and more tenderhearted than normal people.

After Martin Brown's death:

After hearing a knock, June [Martin's mother] opened the front door to find Mary standing there. "Mary smiled and asked to see Martin. I said, 'No, pet, Martin is dead.' She turned round and said, 'Oh, I know he's dead. I wanted to see him in his coffin,' and she was still grinning. I was just speechless that such a young child should want to see a dead baby and I just slammed the door on her."

That is amazingly ghoulish for an 11-year-old. 

"Murder isn't that bad, we all die sometime anyway."
-- Mary Bell to one of her guards

This is reminiscent of Ted Bundy saying, "Why's everybody so upset about a few missing people for? There are so many of them." Or of Richard Speck being asked why he killed those eight nurses and replying, "Just wasn't their night, I guess."

Serial killers often seem not to fathom the immensity of their crimes.

Once she was in jail, Bell showed two of the deadly triumvirate of traits that often distinguish serial killers (along with pyromania), bedwetting --

Mary, who had been a chronic bedwetter, was terrified of going to sleep, for fear that she might mess her bed. "I usually do," she confided. At home, Mary's mother severely humiliated her whenever she wet the bed, rubbing her daughter's face in the pool of urine, said Mary, years later. She then hung the mattress outside for the entire neighborhood to see.

-- and torturing animals: 

Mary's hostility had an almost naive quality: while tightly grabbing a stray cat by the neck, a guard told her not to hurt the cat. Mary allegedly replied, "Oh, she doesn't feel that, and anyway, I like hurting little things that can't fight back." In another incident, a police woman said that Mary said she'd like to be a nurse, "because then I can stick needles into people. I like hurting people."

(Is that how those serial-killing nurses get their start?)

Mary Bell's mother was undoubtedly a sociopath herself:

"Take that thing away from me!"
-- Betty Bell, responding to the birth of her daughter Mary (Mary's Mother)

The most disturbing abuses came from Mary's frequent drug overdoses, which were likely administered by her mother. When Mary was one year old, she nearly overdosed after taking some pills that were hidden in a narrow nook inside a gramophone. It seemed impossible that the baby could reach the pills, and strange that she would eat so many of the "acid-tasting" medication. When Mary was three she and her brother were found eating "little blue pills" along with the candy their aunt Cath had brought for them. (Betty said, "they must have taken the bottle out of my handbag.") Cath and husband offered to adopt Mary, but Betty refused to let the child go, and soon broke off contact with her family.

In the most serious overdose, Mary swallowed a bunch of "iron" pills belonging to her mother. She lost consciousness and her stomach had to be pumped. A young playmate, as well as little Mary herself, said Betty Bell gave Mary the "Smarties" candy that made her sick. Overdoses, particularly for a developing child, can cause serious brain damage, a common trait among violent offenders.

Betty Bell was a drama queen and loved to play the martyr. She may have suffered from "Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome," thriving on the attention over her little daughter's tragic "accidents." This syndrome, first described in 1977, is characterized by caregivers who intentionally injure, suffocate, or poison their child for the sympathy of others. The "MSBP" mother usually had an unwanted child, or is unmarried. This may explain why Betty, despite the harm she caused Mary, always wanted her back.

Munchausen's, and Munchausen's-by-proxy, are merely facets of sociopathy. Reading about the abuse Mary Bell suffered as a child makes you feel sympathetic toward her, until you remember the monster that she herself became.

Since her release in 1983, Bell has fought hard for her anonymity, and has for the most part been successful, despite a few attempts by the media to unmask her. She has had a daughter, who has reportedly forgiven her mother for her childhood crimes, and Bell was reported to have become a grandmother in 2009. She was managed to stay out of trouble since her release, though her character can't possibly have changed.

A sympathetic 2001 article in the Telegraph described her life since her release. Some excerpts:

...As her full release date neared, she became frightened over her future. One friend said: "Even on the night before her release, Mary longed for the security of a prison cell where she would feel safe, know what time the light would be put out and when she would be woken in the morning.

"Mary told me that she had an incredible feeling of sadness and betrayal. She was floundering without an identity, saying that she was 'torn to shreds inside'." On the night before her release, Bell said that she had cried for "the past, my friends, the waste, the loss, my life. I cried and grieved for what I had done." Bell said that although the Parole Board had seemed to forgive her, she could not forgive herself.

Given that Bell is unquestionably a sociopath, it's hard to believe that she was so full of self-doubt; that is simply not in the gamut of sociopathic emotions. Grieving for what she had done, at least in the sense of feeling bad for the two boys she killed, would also be out of the question. As would not being able to forgive herself. But she knew what to tell her friends, and tell the press, in order to sound normal.

The article concludes with this paragraph:

Bell has told friends that while she has been happy at times since her release, there is always a part of her that is never content. "I am imprisoned by guilt and remorse," she once said.

A sociopath, of course, is never "imprisoned" by those two emotions. But the more intelligent ones learn to counterfeit the normal gamut of emotions as they get older.

Bell is now 60, not quite at the stage where strangers would help her cross the street. It's hard not to wonder how strangers perceive her, and what their reactions would be if they knew who she was.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Maximum prison sentences

Commenter "GT" recently mentioned Genene Jones, a serial killer thought to have murdered up to 60 infants and children while working as a nurse during the 1970's and '80's. I was surfing the internet this morning, and happened to see her name. She was evidently scheduled be released from prison next year, at age 67, under Texas' old mandatory release laws, which were in effect when she was convicted.

In order to prevent this, she was charged with another murder this past May (she was only convicted of one murder originally). It seems a pretty safe bet she'll never be freed.

Jones, like so many other serial killing nurses, was motivated by a desire to look like a hero, so she would give the children various life-threatening drugs so that she could then "save" them and experience the gratitude of her patients' families. But, of course, as a sociopath, she cared little if the children died in the process.

She's one of the few serial killer nurses who actually looks the part:

I can't put my finger on exactly what it is about her face that makes her look so brutal. (I don't think it's just a matter of her homeliness.) Her lips are thin, but not extremely so.  Here's a more recent picture of her:

Age has a way of homogenizing people, and here she just looks like an average sixty-ish woman, just a little more masculine.

Sure enough, Jones had been adopted, meaning, she likely spent her earliest, most formative years without the sort of bonding experience most people have.

In any case, reading about Jones led me to list of serial killers who are now free. After reading about their crimes, it's hard not to feel that countries with a maximum allowable sentence of 21 years or so are misguided.

Norwegian Arnfinn Nesset, a male nurse who was convicted of killing 22 people, and is thought to have killed hundreds, received a sentence of 21 years. He served his time, and is now living free, somewhere, under an alias.

Anders Breivik, who killed 77 and wounded 319 more in Norway in 2011, was also given a 21 year sentence.

Colombian Pedro Lopez, "The Monster of the Andes," served 11 years in an Ecuadorian prison for having raped and killed 80 girls, though he boasted of having killed over 300. He was then rearrested as an illegal immigrant and handed over to Colombian authorities who subsequently declared him insane. He was declared sane three years later and released on $50 bail, at which point he fled. His whereabouts are now unknown.

The existence of people like Nesset and Breivik and Lopez make laws allowing maximum prison sentences of only 20 years seem insane.

Criminally insane.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Narcos, Season 3

Just finished the third season of Narcos on Netflix this week, which was about the rise and fall of the Cali cartel. I was trying to figure out exactly why I enjoyed it so much; I think it was that it was so grittily realistic.

The staggering amounts of wealth that the various heads of the cartel accumulated gave the show a slight air of unreality, but the fact is that the cartel did control immense amounts of money. (A realistic drama about a small time marijuana dealer would, admittedly, hold less appeal.)

Beyond that, the women acted like women; there were no Angelina Jolies beating up men twice their size. The hotheads acted like hotheads, and the politicians acted like politicians.

Not everybody on the police force was good -- corruption in Colombia at that time was extremely pervasive. And not everybody on the side of the cartel was a sociopath; some people just get drawn into that life though circumstance.

And the education was enjoyable. Most of us are familiar with Pablo Escobar, and the fabulous wealth and power he amassed. But most of us also couldn't name a single member of the Cali cartel. And almost every major character in Narcos was based on a real person. (They would occasionally intersperse actual film clips of the real people into the dramatization.)

The actors actually looked like the the people they were supposed to represent, and not glamorized Hollywood versions of those people.

Even the two characters we're supposed to identify with most closely, the American DEA agent and a cartel security man who wants to leave the cartel, are pretty ordinary-looking guys.

Narcos also showed the government, even at the highest levels, to be corrupt -- just as it was.

And it showed how US politics were played: decisions by the US weren't based on who was corrupt and who wasn't, but rather by who was on our side. That added to the gritty realism as well.

The third season stands on its own, though you'd be better off with the background of the first two seasons, which focused on Pablo Escobar.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Driving as a window to the personality

Back in 2014, I pointed out that you can tell everything you need to know about someone from watching him work out. The same is true of driving.

Everybody I know expresses his personality perfectly through his driving.

Aggressive people make aggressive drivers. A Wall Streeter I once knew was a textbook narcissistic personality: extremely egocentric and entitled, and he reacted to criticism the same way Donald Trump does. The one time I got a ride from him we were stuck in traffic and a car on a side street was trying to ease out onto our path. The narcissist said, "If that guy thinks he's going to pull in in front of me he's crazy," and moved his car as far forward as he could. He spoke with a tone of aggrievement, as if the other driver were personally insulting him.

I know a woman who only learned how to drive at age 35. When she drove, she would grasp the wheel in a sort of death grip and  when on a highway would stay in the righthand lane and go 50 mph, even when all the other cars were going at least 60. While driving, she couldn't do anything else, like change a CD or even carry on a conversation. Not surprisingly, she had a tendency to find little things overwhelming in other areas of her life as well.

Is someone socially aware? They're more likely to be aware of what other cars in the vicinity are up to, too, and to drive defensively.

How do people react to frustration? If they do so poorly, you may get the full flavor of their personalities when they're stuck in traffic jams. They mutter and grouse and in general act as if the traffic jam was created just to frustrate them. (As in, "Why is this happening to me?") I knew one guy, who, when stuck in traffic, just blasted his horn to express his impatience. It served no purpose, as there was nowhere the people in front of him could have gone; it was just a reflection of his inability to handle frustration.

Likewise, road rage is never a separate, unrelated syndrome; it's just one facet of an overall anger management issue.

I've known two drivers who were probably organic sociopaths. (Meaning, neither was evil -- both were in fact generally good-natured. But both had a high threshold of excitement, i.e., it took more to get them excited about something.) Both, not coincidentally, drove too fast, partly because they enjoyed the sensation of speed, partly because they enjoyed the feeling that they were taking a risk.

One of them told me that once, while on a deserted stretch, he took his car up to 100 mph and then started to masturbate, as a sort of challenge to himself, just to see if he could get an erection while driving at that speed.

The other organic sociopath drove way too fast, too often. He once got something like eight speeding tickets in one year. On a few occasions he took his muscle car up to 140 mph on a straightaway where he knew no police cars could be hidden.

Once I was in a car with him on a winding two lane road where the cars were whizzing past each other at 50 mph with no center divider. When I expressed concern about a possible accident, he actually found my concern funny.

Both organic sociopaths scoffed if I played it safe at a stoplight. One would cup his genitals and say, "Nada." The other would make similar comments. One of these guys was a high stakes gambler, the other was attracted to physical danger.

(Strangely, I can also recall having been driven by two out and out sociopaths, and neither was a particularly bad driver in any way that I can remember.)

Is someone usually courteous? He probably lets other drivers cut in front of him as well.

The two Aspies I've ridden with would both alternately step on the gas and brake constantly. Both would speed up right before stopping at a stop sign. One once exited the highway at a long uphill off ramp; as she did so, she stepped on the brakes -- on principle, because she was getting off the highway -- then stepped on the gas again to make it up the hill to the overpass. It never seemed to occur to her to just take her foot off the gas as she exited to let gravity gradually do its job and slow the car as it climbed the long hill. I joked to both Aspies that I'd gotten whiplash from their driving. (Neither appreciated my comment.)

Is someone able to take blame? The female Aspie I know once dented in the side of a car while rounding a cement-walled corner too soon. She described this as a "scratch." She also once rear ended an elderly driver when their light turned green. She explained this by saying, "He was too old to be driving! He shouldn't have been on the road! We had the green light! He took to long to react! The police officer said that there are a lot of accidents at that intersection!"

The other Aspie, if berated by another driver, would wag his finger at the driver, as if to say "Now now, you're the one who's at fault," even when he was clearly at fault.

I've never actually been driven by anyone who was a bad tailgater, though I seem to have met up with plenty of them on the highway. I would guess that they are pushy and aggressive all the time.

I've never known anyone who (wasn't handicapped who) parked in a handicap space. But I did know a woman who would regularly park in a 10 minute parking zone for an hour or so while she worked out. She was a slippery character in general. She hid money from her husband, and put spyware on his computer. She also had obvious implants, but denied that she had them.

If people are proud of their driving ability, they probably veer towards egotism in general.

Think of the people you know. Do any of them act out of character behind the wheel?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What would happen if we took out Kim Jong Un?

With all the recent news about NK's H-bomb test and ICBM trials, the question becomes, what do we do now? I've asked this question of a couple of well-informed people who normally have strong opinions, and neither had an answer.

I keep thinking, how hard could it be to just kill Kim Jong Un?

It would violate all sorts of international and domestic laws, of course. We haven't declared war on North Korea. And the only way they've attacked us so far is verbally. (At what point do words become actionable?)

If, somehow, the CIA managed to sneak into North Korea and arrange Un's death, it would bring universal condemnation. World leaders would simultaneously denounce Trump and inwardly breathe a sigh of relief that the world's biggest threat was taken care of while they managed to keep their own hands clean. 

The MSM, which almost entirely ignored the previous administration's three bombs per hour, seven days per week schedule during Obama's last year in office, would of course go crazy with outrage over this one killing by Trump.

They have been calling for Trump's impeachment since he first got into office, and for once, they'd have justifiable grounds. 

But how would the North Koreans themselves react to Kim Jong Un's death? I keep imagining that they would react the same way the inhabitants of Oz did when the Wicked Witch of the West melted. 

Do the North Koreans not live in terror of Un? Do they not fear to speak their minds even to their own families? Wouldn't they, in their heart of hearts, regard this as the lifting of a great cloud? Do they not want to be reunited with their brethren to the south?

There's no easy solution here, and no pretty outcome. But what are the alternatives? The destruction of Seoul, or Tokyo? The bombing of Guam, or California? Our missile deterrent systems are not perfect.

Even if Kim Jong Un doesn't make good on his threats, he would continue to operate the Hermit Kingdom as a virtual prison, with many its residents practically starving, while he lives like Sultan of Brunei. 

A surgical strike would result in all sorts of political problems, so the Trump administration is unlikely to do a preemptive one. But in terms of preventing loss of life, all the other alternatives  all seem worse.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Winston Churchill quotes

The other day someone told me about a conversation that was supposed to have taken place between Churchill and German ambassador von Ribbentrop in 1937. Von Ribbentrop said, "Remember, Mr. Churchill, if there is a war, we will have the Italians on our side this time." To which Churchill reportedly replied, "My dear Ambassador, it's only fair. We had them last time."

One of Churchill's better known quotes is, in response to a disapproving lady, "I may be drunk Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly." (I had always thought this incident actually happened, but as it turns out, it's something Churchill claimed that he said, which means it may have just been a line he came up with after the opportunity passed.)

Another famous Churchill saying which I've heard any number of times was one which I mistakenly thought was from Mark Twain: "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

Churchill was always known for his wit, but if you look up his quotations, they seem to fall into three fairly distinct categories.

The first category are those that sound like something that might be uttered by a football coach -- or maybe Tony Robbins, or Joel Osteen. That Churchill said them in reference to war, rather than a sport, gives these quotes a little more gravitas, however:

Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

Never, never, never give up.

Continuous effort -- not strength or intelligence -- is the key to unlocking our potential.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Kites rise highest against the wind -- not with it.

Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means inspiration and survival.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

I never worry about action, but only inaction.

The second category have the sort of punny, take-a-common-expression-and-reverse-it quality that makes them sound as if they might have come from Oscar Wilde:

We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.

"No comment" is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.

I am easily satisfied with the very best.

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.

In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.

I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is a much better policy to prophesy after the event has taken place.

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.

There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.

I'm just preparing my impromptu remarks.

But his best quotes are unmistakably Churchillian, and those are the ones with which he leaves the football coaches and Oscar Wilde in the dust:

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.

You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing -- after they've tried everything else.

I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.

History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.

If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time -- a tremendous whack.

I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.

A state of society where men may not speak their minds cannot long endure.

(Boy, is that one ever topical.)

An appeaser is one who will feed a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.

This report, by its very length, defends against the risk of being read.

Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.

A fanatic is one who won't change his mind and won't change the subject.

War is mainly a catalogue of blunders.

If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.

It was the nation and the race dwelling around the globe that had the lion's heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.

I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.

My wife and I tried two or three times in the past 40 years to have breakfast together, but it was so disagreeable we had to stop.

Baldwin thought Europe was a bore, and Chamberlain thought it was only a greater Birmingham.

A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.

When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.

Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who make a good peace would never have won the war.

Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.

Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed.

If the Almighty were to rebuild the world and asked me for advice, I would have English Channels round every country. And the atmosphere would be such that anything which attempted to fly would be set on fire.

The best Churchill quotes combine a wry worldliness, occasional self-mockery, and a little bit of acid.

And here's what Churchill had to say on the subject of Muslims:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

Kudos to Mark Caplan, who recently pointed out (after "Rhodes must fall") that Churchill was right about Muslims. I had never thought of women in Islamic society as slaves before, but that's not an entirely inaccurate description. That concept ought to get more airtime in the current discussion of immigration. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cross Fit

Last night on Netflix I watched Fittest on Earth: a Decade of Fitness, which is basically an advertisement for Cross Fit.

It was hard not to be struck by several things. The first, unavoidable conclusion is that almost all the top competitors are juicing. (That said, it seems less like cheating in a sport in which practically everyone does it.) 

At the beginning of the movie, one of the organizers earnestly claims, about their championships, "If you get to the Cross Fit Games, it means you're in the top one percent of the world's top athletes, bar none."

From another Cross Fit exec: "What the Cross Fit Games is, is who's the world's best athlete. Not the best Cross Fitter, but the best athlete." (Comparing one sport to another is always ludicrous; different sports have different ways of measuring fitness.) 

Another claim: "What we're trying to do here is get people good at life." 

The movie itself seemed to incorporate every sports movie cliche: overly dramatic music, and the attempts to imbue a sport with a significance it can't quite sustain. (Are sports really that important?) The movie even has the obligatory competitor who was doing it not for herself, but for her dead grandmother.

I understand that a sport can be extremely important to its competitors. (I've been there.) But to an outsider, the dramatization can seem a little silly and overdone.

But the most overwhelming impression I was left with was that a lot of the female competitors must have been quite attractive, even beautiful, before they started serious Cross Fit training. Before they gained the musculature of men. 

Here's Sara Sigmundsdottir:

Here's Katrin Davidsdottir:

And here are the two of them together:

Yes, attractiveness is subjective. But when women who would otherwise be considered extremely attractive by most people spend 30 hours a week in the gym rendering themselves freakish, it seems, somehow, self-defeating.

Who knows, maybe some of these women don't care whether others find them conventionally attractive. And it's certainly their right to do whatever they want with their own bodies. 

But has Cross Fit really made these women, as that exec claims, better at life?

The shift from the jogging craze of thirty years ago to more whole body exercises has been a healthy one. Short, intense bursts of exercise release more human growth hormone and testosterone naturally than extended aerobic workouts do.

But when you supplement that increased natural hormone production with an exogenous, artificial supply, the results aren't necessarily pretty. Or healthy.