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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Introducing heroes at the SOTU

Not sure how I feel about the recent tradition of Presidents introducing all sorts of heroes at their State of the Union addresses. The people introduced last night were all deserving of either admiration or sympathy, but most were also obviously being trotted out to help make political points.

They had Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashley Leppert, who rescued dozens of people from a helicopter during Hurricane Harvey.

Firefighter David Dahlberg, who rescued 62 children from the recent wildfires in southern California.

Steve Staub, who is growing his manufacturing business by 23 to 37 employees thanks to the recent tax cuts and deregulation, along with one of his welders, Corey Adams.

Twelve-year-old Preston Sharp, who organized the placing of over 40,000 flowers on veterans' graves. (This provided a lead in to Trump's statement about how we should stand for the flag and the national anthem.)

Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddie Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens, the parents of two girls who were murdered by MS-13 members. They provided a stark backdrop to Trump's statement about how we have to clamp down on gangs, in particular that one.

Homeland Security agent Celestino Martinez, who has spent his career fighting violent street gangs like MS-13. (Always better to show a Hispanic fighting other Hispanics, so as to deemphasize the racial component to violent crime.)

Police officer Ryan Holets and his wife Rebecca, who adopted a baby from a homeless woman whom Ryan convinced not to inject heroin while pregnant. (Cops were in the doghouse during Obama's last couple years in office, and stories like this help balance the public view.)

Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck, who risked his life in Raqqa to bravely -- and skillfully -- rescue his infantry squad mate Kenton Stacy.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier, parents of Otto Warmer, who was imprisoned and tortured -- and basically, killed -- by North Korea.

Ji Seong-ho, who escaped from North Korea and whose siblings had to eat dirt to assuage their hunger.

(Have there ever been that many people introduced at a SOTU before?)

The Trump administration obviously took great care to make sure that the people introduced represented a broad cross section of the population, and that it was balanced both racially and in terms of gender. (To do otherwise would be politically suicidal.)

It's great that these heroes are getting this publicity. I had never heard of any of them (beside the parents of the victims, who are in a somewhat different category than the heroes), and even if they served primarily as political props, it's great that they got the air time.

Publicizing people like this, rather than actors and various sports "heroes," is what the media should be doing. Real heroism is about self-sacrifice, not being a well-paid star.

Quick -- how many recent Medal of Honor winners can you name? Hmm. But, you can probably name at least three of the Kardashian sisters, can't you? (Don't worry, this isn't you fault -- it's the media's fault.)

It was also edifying to see these people just because they're a reminder that real heroes look like ordinary people (not like Arnold Schwarzenegger or George Clooney).

It was also interesting to think about the contrast between the heroes and members of Congress. Politicians are for the most part slicksters who are good at feigning earnestness, at obfuscation, at double talk, and at self-promotion. The type of people who are good at these things are generally the opposite of the types who put their own lives on the line for someone else. (Not always, but usually.)

In a way, it's sort of a reality show. Some of the people seemed a little overwhelmed by the moment, though most reacted as they were supposed to. The mothers of the MS-13 victims and Otto Warmbier's mother cried, which was appropriate. The Korean fellow defiantly brandished his crutches, which seemed fitting. And most just wore awkward smiles. My guess is that Justin Peck was more nervous about appearing on TV than he was going into the second floor of that hospital to rescue his squad mate.

 I guess, on balance, I'm happy that all these people were introduced. They certainly made the speech go a lot quicker.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Do fake Twitter followers correlate with fake muscles?

Just saw an article in the NY Post, Britt McHenry, Ray Lewis exposed for Twitter-follower desperation buysThe relevant excerpt:

It is unknown whether McHenry, Lewis and several other figures themselves paid to improve their Twitter popularity or if someone else purchased the following for them. Either way, their followings have been enhanced by a shadowy company in Devumi, which creates fake accounts that give the appearance that a person’s following is grander than it seems. Having many Twitter followers can lend credibility and marketability to a person, especially those in media who want to show employers that a significant audience will follow them. McHenry worked for ESPN until being a victim of April’s layoffs, for which she attributed to herself being a conservative. Lewis is currently a Fox Sports analyst.

Also named in the sham buys were former Cowboys wide receiver and current ESPN analyst Joey Galloway, Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty, MLB free agent Brandon Phillips, Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson and former rowing champion James Cracknell.

How many followers were purchased, and at what cost, are unknown. The site advertises that “5,000-plus” fake accounts can be had for $49.

Here's Ray Lewis during his playing days: 

You can decide for yourself whether or not he was on the juice. This past May I made the case that breaststroker Adam Peaty --

It's hard not to wonder if there's a correlation here. You'd think that the kind of person willing to buy fake Twitter followers in order to look better would also be the type willing to pretend that his store-bought muscles were merely the result of hard training. 

Well, maybe I shouldn't feel that bad that this blog averages only around a thousand readers per day. 

Or that my muscles are so puny.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Nahanni National Park, Canada

I was talking with a young man recently about how few remote, unpopulated places there are left in the world, and he told me about a place in Canada's Northwest Territories, Deadman's Valley, which was about as remote as anywhere in the world:

He said it was called that because of its macabre history. The local Indians, the Dene, had always avoided it, since they regarded it as very dangerous place. Later on when the white man explored the area, many of them ended up dead as well.

From Mysterious Universe:

The Nahanni Valley has been steeped in folklore and mystery since it was first inhabited around 9 to 10 thousand years ago. Many tribes were afraid to settle within the region as they believed it to be an evil, haunted place inhabited by various spirits, specters, and devils. Those who did come here, such as the native Dene people, told of mysterious creatures lurking in the vast forests, and were plagued by the enigmatic, aggressive, and violent Naha tribe of the mountains. This tribe was said to consist of fierce warriors who wore masks and armor adorned with frightening imagery and were known to brutally decapitate their victims. Warriors of the Naha tribe were said to be larger than normal men and to wield strange and powerful weapons that no one had ever seen before. The fearsome Naha tribe itself has become one of the area’s many mysteries, as the whole tribe is said to have suddenly and inexplicably disappeared from the face of the earth, and it has never been ascertained just what happened to them. They have seemingly just vanished without a trace.

When European fur traders first came to the valley in the 18th century, they were impressed by the legends and beauty of the valley, and word quickly spread about this far flung wilderness...[M]any explorers believed it to possess vast reserves of untapped gold. It was during this era of miners seeking their fortunes among the rugged terrain of Nahanni that the valley’s more insidious and macabre legend began to emerge, particularly in a part of the park called the 200 Mile Gorge. In 1908, brothers Willie and Frank McLeod came prospecting in the valley just as many others had done before them. The two packed up their gear, headed out into the wilderness, and never returned. After a year had passed, it was presumed that the brothers must have succumbed to the elements or any of the countless perils the area had to offer, such as sinkholes, jagged gorges, and wild animals... Then, as suddenly as they had vanished, the two men were found dead along the river. Their bodies had been decapitated and the heads were nowhere to be found.

A spooky story to be sure, but it would not be an isolated case, nor the last victims the valley would claim. In 1917, a Swiss prospector by the name of Martin Jorgenson made his way to Nahanni to try his hand at finding gold. At first, Jorgenson seemed to have settled well in the valley. He built a cabin, ran a small mining operation, and was generally well-known by settlers in the area. When Jorgenson’s cabin mysteriously burned down to the ground, the prospector’s skeleton was found among the ashes without its head, and a search of the charred remains of the cabin found no trace of the skull. In 1945, a miner from Ontario was found dead in his sleeping bag without his head.... 

These mysterious deaths are not the only oddities the valley holds. In addition to the mysterious beheadings, a good many others simply went missing without a trace. It is thought that around 44 people had vanished under mysterious circumstances in the valley by 1969...The area is also known for its cryptids, as it is a hotspot for Bigfoot activity and is believed by some to hold a remnant population of a type of bear-like carnivore called the bear dog, or Amphicyonidae, which was thought to have gone extinct in the Pleistocene epoch. In addition to this strangeness, a bizarre find was made in an ice cave called Grotte Valerie, where the ancient skeletons of over 100 sheep were found, apparently having starved to death in around 2,500 BC. The grim find has earned the cave the nickname of “The Gallery of Lost Sheep.”

To this day, it is not known who or what is responsible for the beheadings and disappearances in the Nahanni Valley, but their legacy certainly remains in the menacing place names throughout the valley, such as Deadmen Valley, Headless Creek, Headless Range and the Funeral Range. Theories abound on what could be the culprit behind the killings, encompassing everything from the rational to the outlandish.... The disappearances could be the result of any number of perils to be found in the wilderness here. After all, this is an inhospitable place of extreme cold, filled with unexplored caves, gullies, jagged rocks, and ravenous beasts such as grizzly bears. For all of the ideas offered, in the end no one really knows what decapitated these bodies or why, and it is still unknown as to what happened to the people who disappeared.

It is hard to say what lies behind these mysteries. The area is so forbidding and remote that very few people other than adventurous rafters ever set foot here. Despite its status as a National Park, Nahanni Valley remains for the most part unexplored, and there are very large portions that have never been properly surveyed. The only geological surveys ever done here were done from the air, and the vast majority of the wilderness here remains an enigma. The few efforts to explore the area in any kind of depth have turned up vast, unknown cavern systems, caves, and huge warrens of underground hot springs and vents previously not known to exist. Some believe that a lost world full of new species lies here. What other mysteries and oddities does the Nahanni Valley hold? Is there something malevolent hiding out there in this rugged wilderness that could have something to do with its violent and sinister past? Until more investigation is done, it will continue to remain a perplexing and very creepy mystery.

The area surrounding Deadman's Valley was turned into Nahanni National Park in 1972. More territory was added to the park until it eventually totaled 12,805 square miles of protected land. But to this day there are absolutely no roads leading to the park. It is accessible only by plane or boat, so very few people go there.

Geographically, Nahanni has an amazing variety of different features. It has thermal springs:

It has Rabbitkettle, one of the world's largest tufa mounds (composed of calcium carbonate leeching out of a hot spring):

One group of mountains are called the Cirque of the Unclimbables:

Virginia Falls, at 95 meters high, is twice as tall as Niagara:

I've been to Yosemite in the summertime, and the Yosemite Valley parking lot is as crowded as the one at Disney World. At Yellowstone, I actually experienced a traffic jam.

With no roads leading to Nahanni, it is as desolate as anyone could wish.

That said, it seems to have lost some of its forbidding aspect. The decapitating Naha have disappeared, there have been no recent sightings of the bear dog/dire wolf, and the humanoid creatures have not been seen recently either. You can even take a whitewater rafting trip there.

But, there are still places there which are described as "unexplored," such as the 20 kilometer long Scimitar Canyon, cut by the Ram River:

(Can you imagine? A canyon that dramatic, 20 kilometers long, which no one has explored yet because it's too dangerous?)

And there are mountains there which no one has even bothered to name yet.

While reading about the Northwest Territories, I also stumbled across this picture of the world's largest beaver dam, in Wood Buffalo National Park:

It measures 2800 feet across. It wasn't even discovered until 2007, via a satellite image (it can be seen from outer space). This place, too, is inaccessible by car, in fact no roads go anywhere near it. The first man to visit it had to trek through 200 miles of unforgiving wilderness in 2014 to lay eyes on it.

It's nice to know such remote places still exist.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


I have a friend whose wife has terminal cancer. He recently told me that he could rank people on character based on how aggressive they've been in trying to see her, vs. how close they were before she got sick.

He gave me several examples, with specifics, of people who only knew his wife as a passing acquaintance, and in a couple cases actively avoided her. Yet now that she's dying they act as if they had been great friends. Even when my friend -- and his wife -- demur, they insist on coming to visit her at the hospital.

As he told me about this, I couldn't help but think of Ted Bundy working that suicide hotline so he could savor the pain of the suicidal while simultaneously burnishing his credentials for niceness.

Obviously none of the people my friend described are serial killers. But some of them may, at a certain level, be savoring her pain in a ghoulish way -- whether or not they're even aware that that's what they're doing. 

If anyone suggested this to them, they would probably get quite angry. But sometimes people aren't even fully aware of their own motivations. I'd guess they all tell themselves they're being helpful in someone's time of need. But dig a little deeper and their motivations may be more complex. 

And when you've actively avoided someone, to act as if you were her close friend when she's dying shows, at the very least, a lot of dishonesty. 

It's possible that some of these people genuinely want to help. 

It's possible.  

But when someone hasn't been in touch for, say, six years or more, and then comes barging back into your life and insists on taking center stage, even when it's been made clear that their help is really not wanted, something's amiss.

It was all the more frustrating for my friend to deal with them since he has to remain polite and thankful to them, since they are, after all, ostensibly being helpful.

My friend never used the word "ghoul" while describing these people. (He referred to their behavior as "virtue signaling," which is also a good description of what it is.)

But listening to him, I couldn't help but get the impression that what some of them really wanted was a ringside seat to his wife's gradual death.  

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Stormy, Part II

While writing yesterday's post about Stormy Daniels, one thought which kept running through my mind was, "She sure isn't my type." Statuesque and blonde and buxom just isn't my thing.

But while Google-imaging her for photos to use, I stumbled across this one --

-- and to my surprise, found her attractive. Usually, a woman looks better with a little bit of makeup. But the difference here is that for once, she actually looks like Stephanie Clifford (her real name). In almost all her other pictures, she doesn't quite look like a real woman.

I'm not using that phrase the way feminists use it, with "real woman" = fat woman. I'm using it in the sense that she looks like someone who thinks and acts and behaves -- and more importantly, gets turned on -- like an actual female.

That last part seems particularly important given that she's in a profession where faking passion is part of the job.

(I see more real passion reflected in her expression above than in those phony glamour shots in the previous post.)

Unfortunately, she may even be a bit too passionate, as that photo was taken after her arrest for domestic violence. She evidently hit her husband after she was displeased with the way he had done the laundry, and because of an unpaid bill.

Passion inevitably follows a downhill course: it starts its journey sparked by the things discussed in this post, and ends up being ignited by how the household chores get done.

(On a separate note, what kind of man calls the police after his wife punches him?)

But my larger point here is that whenever a woman is all dolled up to look like a sex object, and seems to expect you to react accordingly, I don't. Implants and a big phony smile always seems to be saying, "Aren't I irresistible?" My automatic reaction is, no, you're not.

I also stumbled across this picture:

And once again, I was surprised by the playfulness (I think) I see in her face, and how that makes her attractive, if you can get past the fake hair and boobs. She even looks intelligent, which is actually sort of a turn on for me. (I know, that makes me sort of an oddball/pervert, but there you have it.)

I made the mistake in my previous life of getting together a few times with women I thought I should be attracted to, but simply wasn't. And that inevitably led to some awkwardness and embarrassment and, on a couple occasions, hurt feelings.

(In retrospect, it was just an incredibly stupid thing for me to do. One thing I found out early on: no matter how hard I try, I can't fake a hard on.)

Give me a mousy little brunette with an IQ of 130+ and no makeup any day.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Stormy Daniels

Most of the articles covering the Stormy Daniels affair have highlighted the more salacious aspects of her relationship with Donald Trump, but it's worth reading her entire interview with In Touch Weekly, from 2011, five years before she was reportedly paid $130,000 to stay silent about her fling with Trump. (The IT interview was originally squashed.)

The interview left me with a couple of impressions. First, that Trump is pretty much a regular guy. (He's as vain in private as in public, but that's hardly a surprise.)

Secondly, and actually more interesting, is that Daniels herself is surprisingly intelligent, witty, and commonsensical. Most people think of porn actresses as substance-abusing bimbos from dysfunctional backgrounds, often for good reason. But Daniels has a good sense of who she is, has no illusions about her place in society, and completely "gets" Trump.

A few quotes from Daniels, in italics, with my comments in between in parentheses.

Stormy: ...I’ve never seen him drink. Maybe he doesn’t. I’m not sure. Which is funny because he has a vodka [brand]. I actually remember saying, “Aren’t you going to drink your vodka?” at a different party. So yeah, I don’t think he drinks. We hung out for a while. We talked. He asked me a lot of questions about my business. You know, the business I work in and how it works and how it functions. All like technical questions. He was very curious. Not necessarily about the sex or anything like that, but business questions. He kept showing me he was on the cover of a magazine that had just come out and it was some sort of money magazine, I wish I could remember which one it was. But he had it in the room and he kept showing it to me and I was like, “Dude, I know who you are.” He was trying to sell me, I guess. The first time I met him, the first couple of hours, he was very full of himself, like he was trying to impress me or something. But I do remember he just kept talking about this magazine that he was on the cover of, like, “Look at this magazine, don’t I look great on the cover?”

(Any doubts I had about whether Daniels was telling the truth about Trump disappeared upon reading that last line; his vanity is unmistakeable. This segment also confirms Trump's account of himself as a teetotaler.)

Stormy: We were talking about all sorts of things. I remember he asked me like, “I gotta ask you a question and I don’t want to get you offended” and I was like, “Trust me, you can’t.” I was expecting some sort of vulgar question and it wasn’t; it was something about how much money I make off the royalties of something. And then I remember saying to him, “Ok well I have a question for you and it IS offensive.” And I asked him about his hair. I was like, “Dude, what’s up with that?” and he laughed and he said, “You know, everybody wants to give me a makeover and I’ve been offered all this money and all these free treatments.” And I was like, “What is the deal? Don’t you want to upgrade that? Come on, man.” He said that he thought that if he cut his hair or changed it, that he would lose his power and his wealth. And I laughed hysterically at him.

IT: What did he say?

Stormy: He took it pretty well.

(Trump sees himself as Samson? That was news to me. At least he seemed to take Daniels' playful jab with more equanimity than he normally does when insulted.)

Stormy: Yup. And then he goes....“You know what? You’re really smart. You’re not dumb.” And I was like, “Thanks, d---. What does that mean?” And he goes, “You should be on [his show, "The Apprentice"]. And I was like, “Really? No, I don’t think so.” And he just kept thinking about it, I could see his little wheels turning. He goes, “No, it would be really, really good for you. People would think you’re just this idiot with blond hair and big boobs. You would be perfect for it because you’re such a smart businesswoman. You write and you direct and you produce and obviously you’re hot and you’re beautiful.” And I was like, “Well, it’s never going to happen. NBC is never going to let a porn star on.” And he was like, “I can make it happen.” And I was like, “You can’t. I dare you.” I was totally egging him on. And that was kind of like the thing, he was like, “No, we have to work on this for you.” And that was sort of what he tried to bait me with for an entire year. He was like, “We have to get together to talk about your appearance on.” But he was serious. I think when it hit him in the moment, he was like, “Yeah, this is going to be really good.” And it could have. Of course, it would have been sensational. He just kept pushing for it, pushing for it. And he was like, “Would you do it?” I was like, “You know what, I’m not going to waste my energy on thinking about it, but if you actually have the power to make it happen, then I’ll do it.”

Good for Daniels for not allowing her hopes to get too high, and to recognize that NBC would balk at allowing a porn star on their show. She's not "educated," you can tell by the way she used the word "like" nine times in the above quote. But education is overrated, and you can sense her intelligence in the way she challenged Trump to try to get her on his show. 
IT: And it was his idea?

Stormy: Oh yeah. 100%. It didn’t even occur to me before. Honestly, I have never watched the show, and I still haven’t watched the show. I travel too much to watch a lot of TV. I had to use the bathroom and I went to the restroom, which was in the bedroom. Like I said, it was a big suite. I could describe the suite perfectly. When I came out, he was sitting on the bed and he was like, “Come here.” And I was like, “Ugh, here we go.” And we started kissing. I actually don’t even know why I did it but I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, “Please don’t try to pay me.” And then I remember thinking, “But I bet if he did, it would be a lot.”

IT: This is what you were thinking during sex?

Stormy: Yeah, isn’t that horrible? But I remember thinking, “I hope he doesn’t think I’m a hooker.” Not that I have anything against hookers. I just personally have never done it. Still, I have no idea why I did it. Honestly, I really don’t.

IT: Were you attracted to him?

Stormy: Would you be? I was more like fascinated. I was definitely stimulated. We had a really good banter. Good conversation for a couple hours. I could tell he was nice, intelligent in conversation.

(You've got to love how honest Daniels was when answering whether she was attracted to him; she described the dynamic when women meet a famous man perfectly.)

IT: Did you think the conversation would have led to what happened?

Stormy: Yeah.

IT: Going to the bathroom, did you think you were going to come out and encounter that?

Stormy: That he was going to be in bed? No, I just had to pee. So anyway, the sex was nothing crazy. He wasn’t like, chain me to the bed or anything. It was one position. I can definitely describe his junk perfectly, if I ever have to. He definitely seemed smitten after that. He was like, “I wanna see you again, when can I see you again?”

(Again, Trump as regular guy.)

IT: Was the sex romantic?

Stormy: It was textbook generic. It wasn’t like, “Oh my God, I love you.” He wasn’t like Fabio or anything. He wasn’t trying to have, like, porn sex.

IT: Did he say anything to you during?

Stormy: Nothing freaky. Like, “Oh yeah, that feels good. That’s amazing.” You know. It was one position, what you would expect someone his age to do. It wasn’t bad. Don’t get me wrong.

(This falls somewhat short of Marla Maples' famous quote about Trump, "Best sex I ever had," but it's not damning, either.)

Stormy: ...That’s when he broke the news to me that it almost went through but there’s somebody that had a problem and it got vetoed and blah blah blah. I was like, “I told you, you couldn’t make it happen.” I was pretty annoyed. He kept rubbing my leg and was like, “You know, you’re so beautiful. I love your little nose, it’s like a little beet.” I go, “Did you say a beet? Like, what the f---?” I started giving him a hard time about it. And he goes, “No, no, no, no! It’s majestic. It’s a very smart nose, like an eagle.” I was like, “Just keep digging, dude. Keep digging that hole.” Like I said, we had this banter...

(I've thought of porn stars as a lot of things before, but never witty. But give Daniels credit. At one point she reportedly considered running for the Senate in Louisiana, and had been planning to use the campaign slogan, "Stormy Daniels -- Screwing People Honestly.")

IT: How do you feel about all this — the broken promises? What’s your take?

Stormy: I don’t really know. I don’t have any animosity or whatever.

IT: Do you feel like a fool for believing him?

Stormy: No. I wasn’t like going around telling everybody, “Oh my God, I’m going to be on.” It’s not like I bought into it 100%. I was challenging him to make it happen. I figured my shot was 50-50 even though he swore up and down it was 100. It’s not just him. I never really get my hopes up on big stuff like that.

Again, good for Daniels for staying on an even keel, for not getting visions of sugar plums, for not holding a grudge, and for maintaining her sense of humor throughout. The interview isn't quite enough to change my general opinion of porn stars, but it's easy to be won over by Daniels. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sports journalists

Pangur recently commented, after the post about Floyd Mayweather:

Bushnell sounds like a standard issue sports journo, a breed even lower than most journos, if that's possible. I especially despise sportswriters, in part because they seem even more p.c. than normal journos, for a variety of reasons. 

I agree with Pangur, and have a theory why that's so.

Sportswriters have the same set of biases that other journalists do. Most are, after all, "well-educated" ("well-brainwashed" might be more accurate, especially since most had soft majors like sociology and English and journalism).

And they are surrounded by like-minded people at the newspapers where they work.

And in the same way all politicians dream of being President, all journalists dream of becoming the kind of featured editorialist who weighs in on all the most important issues of the day.

They tend to become a little bored with sports because after a while, there are only so many ways you can report on how games turn out.

So, they squeeze politics into an arena where they simply don't belong. And those of us who want to follow various sports are force fed a bunch of left wing politics with our box scores.

The best example of this is probably ESPN, which has supported BLM, praised Colin Kaepernick, decried "Islamophobia," and supported gay marriage. They've also decried sexism -- while hiring only good-looking women.

The average sports fan doesn't mind a little sex appeal with his sports, but it detracts from his enjoyment of the game to be given a lecture at the same time.

I'd be happy to excuse Henry Bushnell, the sportswriter who wrote that Floyd Mayweather article, on the basis that he's young and naive and recently brainwashed. But the idea that an athlete is going to have a well thought out opinion on the #Metoo movement is as silly as thinking that some actress whose primary qualification is good looks should tell us which Presidential candidate to vote for.

It's not the athlete, or the actor, who's at fault here. It's the journalists who ask them these ridiculous questions, and then take their answers seriously.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I, Tonya, sociopath

It's been pretty sickening to watch the Hollywood-ization of Tonya Harding.

I haven't seen I, Tonya, and don't plan to, but from what I've heard, it's a complete whitewash of its subject.

I had no doubt back in 1994 that Harding had played a role in planning that infamous knee-capping incident, and have no doubt now.

The main reason I came to that conclusion is that she's such an obvious sociopath.

Harding could cry on command, and would do so at parties to entertain people. This is a sociopathic specialty. Harding employed that skill when she asked for a do over at the 1994 Olympics, claiming to the judges that the laces on her skates had broken. (They relented.)

Much of Harding's behavior could be described as uninhibited, reckless, and shameless.

In late 1994 Harding and ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (to whom she was married from 1990 to 1993) sold a sex tape to Penthouse for $400,000.

In 1995, Harding married Michael Smith; that marriage ended in 1996. (A short marriage is obviously no indication of sociopathy, but multiple short term marriages tend to be a yellow flag.)

In 2000, Harding was arrested by Portland police for throwing a hubcap at the head of then-boyfriend Darren Silver's head. She spent three days in jail for this.

From 2002 to 2004, Harding tried boxing professionally (her record was 3-3).

A few days ago, Harding was dumped by her agent/publicist Michael Rosenberg for having demanded that journalists who wanted to interview her about the movie not be allowed to ask about her past, and have to pay a "fine" of $25,000 if they did so.

How did Harding get to be this way? The Early Life section of her Wiki bio merely states:

Harding had a troubled childhood. She said that by the time she was seven years old, her mother had mentally and physically abused her.

The movie evidently tried to portray Harding as a victim of her background. That is, in a sense, true. But just about every sociopath is a victim of a loveless, and possibly abusive background.

It would probably be more illuminating to say that such people are products of their backgrounds, rather than victims of them.

From what I understand, the real Harding bears about as much resemblance to the character portrayed in I, Tonya as she does, looks-wise, to Margot Robbie.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Iranian protests

A friend sent this --

The extravagant lives of the 'Rich Kids of Tehran' are fueling Iran's protests — take a look 

-- last week. It's a series of photos of rich kids in Tehran flaunting their wealth.

The young men pictured are reminiscent of the kids on the TV show Growing up Gotti, if you remember that. Oil money, like Mafia money, always seems to make its possessors look gaudy, vulgar, and stupid.

And the young women are reminiscent of the Kardashians: rich, narcissistic, and entitled.

It's hard to have sympathy for the antifa types in the US; they swallow the Leftist propaganda whole and seem to resent the hard-working middle and upper middle classes as well as the rich. And, they tend to be narrow-minded and self-righteous.

It's a lot easier to sympathize with the protesters in Iran, where the wealthy get their money not by studying hard in school and then working hard at their jobs, but through corruption and by being in the right place when the oil money got divvied up. 

(Do you think any of the kids in those pictures actually "earned" their money in any halfway legitimate way?)

I can't claim to understand the Byzantine politics of the Middle East. I instinctively side with the more sophisticated, stable Shi'ites over the more volatile -- and medieval -- Sunnis.

But after looking at those pictures, it's hard to avoid the feeling that if you're rooting for the Shi'ite elite in Iran, you're basically rooting for the Gottis and the Kardashians. 

"A stranger disfigured herself in an acid attack, she told police. Then she confessed."

This is Munchausen's syndrome in action.

We should never lose sight of the fact that Munchausen's is nothing but an offshoot of sociopathy.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sometimes, you just know

A few days ago there was an article about missing University of Pennsylvania student, 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein:

This morning, it was announced that a high school classmate of his, Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, had been arrested in connection with his murder:

My immediate reaction upon seeing Woodward's face was: yep, he's guilty.

The article went on to describe exactly what made the police suspicious about Woodward, and it became pretty clear that they had a lot of evidence on him. But I hadn't read any of that when I jumped to my conclusion.

It's completely unfair, obviously, to "convict" someone on the basis of his face. And I believe in due process, innocent until proven guilty, etc.

But, sometimes, you just know.

Coincidentally, this morning there was another article on the murder of Devlin "Gazoo" Stringfellow, 48, the founder of white prison gang Public Enemy No. 1, in California State Prison in Sacramento:

The two suspects in his murder are fellow gang members Jacob Kober, 29, and Stephen Dunckhurst, 49. I couldn't find a picture of Dunckhurst, but here are a couple pictures of Kober:

I had the same reaction upon seeing Kober's face that I did when seeing Woodward's face. They both have so much aggressive animosity written into them that it leaves little doubt as to their character.

I know, sometimes scary-looking people turn to to be perfectly nice, and some angelic-looking people are sociopaths.

But, sometimes, you just know. I notice this correlation between appearance and murderousness maybe around a third of the time, at least with white murderers.

With blacks, I don't. Three days ago Alabama football star Jesse Altman, 17, who evidently had scholarship offers from fifteen different colleges, was charged with murder, along with four other youths:

When I see pictures of blacks charged with murder, I'm often struck by how placid and expressionless their faces are. They may look unkempt, as if they hadn't washed their faces that morning. But they almost never have hatred and hostility etched into their faces the way some whites do.

Not sure what to make of that.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Why I love Floyd Mayweather

Yahoo Sports ran an article yesterday titled Floyd Mayweather gives ignorant, vile response to question about #MeToo movement.

Its author, Henry Bushnell, tried hard to demonstrate his own sensitivity by scathingly criticizing Mayweather's response to a question from a female reporter:

We’re asking a lot of men, in light of the #MeToo movement, how men can grow in 2018.

Mayweather: The who?

The #MeToo movement. Women speaking out about sexual assault.

Mayweather: When you say “me too” … When somebody is like, “I got a Rolls Royce, I be like ‘me too.'” When somebody say they got a private jet, I say, “Me too. I got two. Me too.”

This is a very different —

Mayweather: Well, I didn’t know! My Me Too movement from the beginning was whenever somebody said what they have I’m like, “me too.” Somebody say they got a billion dollars, I say, “I made a billion dollars, me too.”

One thing you have to say for Mayweather: he is without guile. Bushnell, by contrast, just says whatever he thinks makes him look best -- like most whites.

From Wiki:

A noble savage is a literary stock character who embodies the concept of the indigene, outsider, wild human, an "other" who has not been "corrupted" by civilization, and therefore symbolizes humanity's innate goodness.

Mayweather's crass materialism probably disqualifies him from representing the ideal espoused by John Dryden and others. But he does remain uncorrupted by that aspect of civilization which requires people to pay lip service to the pieties of the day. 

Or, maybe, even to be aware of them.

Floyd "Money" Mayweather's personality consists largely of uninhibited braggadocio, greed, and an enjoyment of the good things in life.

But is that not how a "noble savage" would behave if you plunked him down in the middle of today's society: uninhibitedly, and with a lack of guile?

(Being a hunter-gatherer would not have precluded "greed": wanting the choicest cuts of meat, or more berries than anyone else, or the most attractive mate, or the best sleeping spot in the cave.)

And as long as we're judging Mayweather, what must also be weighed in the balance is that he's good-natured. There's nothing snarky or snippy about him. (Unlike, say, Bushnell -- or me.)

One has to have a certain amount of controlled savagery to make a living with one's fists, as Mayweather did. And there's a certain nobility -- and bravery -- in the way Mayweather risked injury every time he entered the ring.

Personally, I find both those qualities far more appealing than false piety.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Are the Trump children spoiled?

After Friday's post about Trump's possibly having seduced the wives of his friends, commenter LBD pointed out:

All his children are mentally and physically healthy, productive people. None of them smoke cigarettes, they aren’t big drinkers (although Eric owns a winery) and all have chosen decent spouses (boyfriend in Tiffany’s case, and Barron is only twelve).

Also, even though Ivana despises Marla to this day, she has always treated Tiffany kindly and sought to include her in family events. The older kids don’t take it out on their half sister either, although her mom wrecked their childhood home. Lots of decency going on in that clan despite the dad’s egocentrism.

I replied:

True, it doesn't seem to be a dysfunctional family, even as the kids do seem a little spoiled.

LBD then replied:

Spoiled? Despite the family wealth they have all worked full time throughout their adult lives. Not trustafarians by any means. No drugs, no rowdy behavior, no extended adolescense. Opposite of spoiled by my reckoning.

LBD is right, of course. But I then explained what I meant:

I don't mean spoiled in the sense that they're club kids, or wastrels, but spoiled in the sense that they had it easy because they were the boss's kid. After college, Donald Trump Jr. spent one year bartending in Aspen before joining the Trump Organization. Ivanka spent one year at Forest City Enterprises before joining the Trump Organization. And Eric actually joined it while he was in high school. When you're the boss's son -- or daughter -- your career is going to be different. Not only do you not have to be concerned about being fired -- a constant, lurking threat for most people -- but other people kiss your ass for no other reason than who your father is. And with all that comes a certain sense of entitlement. Trust me, I've known people like this, and their experience of life is far different than yours or mine. They never had to kiss ass, never had to worry about their jobs, never even had to worry about being promoted. In my book, that's spoiled. Maybe not spoiled rotten, but spoiled.

I'd put Steve Mnuchin in this category too. He started at Goldman around the same time I did, but there was never any doubt that -- as long as he was passably competent -- he would make partner, since his father, Robert Mnuchin, was on the management committee of Goldman at the time. (John Weinstein, the former managing partner, also had two sons who joined the firm, and there was never much question about their eventual ascendancy either.) 

Frankly, Donald Trump himself falls into this category as well, having essentially taken over his father's real estate company.

But while I don't admire the Trump children, I have nothing against them, either. Ivanka, whose nose job and breast implants have made her look a little like a Russian stripper --

-- has always been a dutiful daughter. (And Russian strippers can look awfully good.)

I don't see Javanka championing the populism that propelled Trump into office, but I also suspect that their political influence may be overestimated. (This may change over the course of the next few years, though.)

Donald Trump Jr., too, is devoted to defending his father, though he tends to do so with the same hotheaded impetuousness that characterize his father's Tweets. This could eventually get Junior in trouble. He reminds me little of George W. Bush during his father's Presidency.

Eric Trump, while a little colorless, is also loyal. He's the kind of guy who, if not for his last name, you'd never have taken notice of in high school. But you can't hold that against him.

One group of people you almost never hear about -- and have to give credit to for that reason -- are Donald Trump's surviving siblings. Can you recall hearing a single interview with a single one of them since he first announced his run?

None have sought to capitalize on their connection. (And there is a long list of black sheep from Presidential families who have: think Billy Carter, Neil Bush, Hugh Rodham, and Roger Clinton.)

For that, we should probably be grateful.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"Cameron didn't have a 'bromance' with Obama and thought he was a narcissist, claims former adviser"

From an article in yesterday's Independent:

David Cameron believed Barack Obama, a man with whom he appeared to share a warm and respectful relationship that even verged on a so-called bromance, was one of the “most narcissistic, self-absorbed people” he ever met, according to the ex-Prime Minister’s former strategy chief.

Steve Hilton, who was one of the former Premier’s closest advisers until they parted ways over his support for Brexit and tougher immigration laws, said...“My old boss, former British prime minister David Cameron, thought Obama was one of the most narcissistic, self-absorbed people he’d ever dealt with.”

“Obama never listened to anyone, always thought he was smarter than every expert in the room, and treated every meeting as an opportunity to lecture everyone else. This led to real-world disasters, like Syria and the rise of Isis....”

Mr Cameron and Mr Obama worked together on a variety of issues over the course of around six years. They were often photographed playing basketball and ping pong. Mr Cameron once said of his US counterpart: “Yes, he sometimes calls me ‘bro’.”

Mr Obama also threw his support behind Mr Cameron’s campaign to remain in the EU. Visiting in Britain in April 2016, he said it was up to Britons to decide whether or not to stay in the EU. Yet he said he feared the country would move to the “back of the queue” in any trade deal if it left.

A spokesman for Mr Cameron denied Mr Hilton’s claims.

“This does not represent David Cameron’s opinion at all and could not be further from the truth,” he said in a statement.

“David Cameron’s views on President Obama - whether in public or in private - are the same: he considers Barack Obama a hugely accomplished president, a great partner for Britain and a good friend to our country and to him personally.”

Gee, I wonder which version of this story is true. One guy has specific details that dovetail perfectly with Barack Obama's personality, and the other, who wouldn't want his personal feelings to disrupt international relations, has his spokesman issue a standard boilerplate denial.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

"Trump claims he's 'a very stable genius'"

When Donald Trump first announced in 2015, I didn't think he had a chance. But I was increasingly hopeful as his populist platform struck a chord with the electorate, and was overjoyed when he beat Hillary.

This country needs to defend its borders (an issue that not even other Republicans dared broach before Trump). We needed a lower corporate tax rate to discourage companies from moving abroad. We need to force China to practice fair trade. We need a Supreme Court with more Constitutionalists. We need to support the police, rather than discouraging them from doing their jobs.

And it's high time someone in a position of power scoffed at the censorship that political correctness has imposed.

The price we pay for a President with these views is, well, Donald Trump's personality.

It's a small price to pay, given the issues at stake. But it is a price.

Yesterday, in response to the publicity over Michael Wolff's book, Donald Trump said:

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart....I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star . . . to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius . . . and a very stable genius at that!”

In a six-year-old, such childish grandiosity would be cute. In an adult, it's not.

It's certainly not the way we want our President to behave, not only because it's embarrassing, but because it makes him less effective. (Why needlessly give your enemies so much ammunition?)

But, once again, a real sociopath would hide his ego behind a curtain of insincere modesty. Trump seems incapable of that.

I know, it's a little pathetic that at this point I'm defending Trump by saying, well, at least he's not a sociopath, he's only extremely narcissistic -- assuming the story in the previous post isn't true.

That's awfully faint praise.

But sometimes it takes someone with the ego of a narcissist to be willing to speak the truth about certain things. And it's his ego -- as well as a certain impetuousness -- that has allowed Trump to blurt out things about immigration and so on that many would not dare to, for fear of being declared an apostate by the false idols of the media.

It takes a bold, narcissistic personality not to be cowed by their collective vituperation.

So, looking at it from another angle, maybe we should be grateful for Trump's lack of circumspection.

Friday, January 5, 2018

"Trump thought bedding friends' wives made 'life worth living: book"

I have no idea whether this story is true, and the author of the book it quotes from, Michael Wolff, evidently has a history of being less than truthful.

But if it is true, I have to reconsider whether Donald Trump is a sociopath.

I've said in the past that he's a narcissistic personality with ADHD. I generally agree with him politically, but can't deny that he's boorish, boastful, thin-skinned, easily distracted, and not particularly articulate. Of course, none of that spells sociopathy.

And no matter how hard the MSM tried to put a negative spin on all of Trump's words and actions, I just couldn't see any sociopathy in him.

But if he actually talked to his friends and tried to draw them out about their sex lives while he had their wives secretly listening on a speakerphone, then that's a level of perfidy could only be reached by a sociopath.

Again, I'd emphasize, it's not necessarily true. (If it's not true, it's a new low even for the MSM.)