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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Trump's "Grab 'em by the pussy" comment

Here's Trump's infamous quote, word for word:

You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

What most people seem to have ignored are the five words, "they let you do it." 

By definition, if they let you do it, it's consensual. And that was the whole point of Trump's boast. 

"Grab 'em by the pussy" isn't a particularly romantic formulation. And, taken out of context, it does imply a certain forcefulness. But it's true that if you're a star, women are far more likely to accept and even encourage awkward passes.

Trump wasn't entirely right, as we can see from all the famous people being taken down by #Metoo. But to deny that some women are dazzled by stardom is to deny human nature. 

Trump's comment may have shown what an egotistical buffoon he is, but it did not reveal him to be guilty of assault.

The real message of the #Metoo movement

The most recent men named in the mushrooming sex scandal are, Leonard Lopate (of WNYC radio):

Johnathan Schwartz (of WNYC radio):

Playwright Israel Horowitz:

Public radio personality John Hockenberry:

Conductor James Levine:

Congressman Trent Frank:

And Judge Alex Kozinski:

The real message of the #Metoo movement seems to be, "Don't make a pass at us if you're old or ugly, otherwise we'll scream bloody murder. But if you're good-looking, well, then it's okay."

 Isn't that lookism?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Al Franken

I'm not sorry to see Franken go, but his "crimes" didn't strike me as being particularly bad. He was widely lambasted for the picture he posed for with a sleeping Leeann Tweeden:

It was obviously meant as a joke, and not as a serious attempt at molestation. He's mugging for the camera as if to say, look at me, I'm a horny, sneaky, funny guy!

It wasn't particularly funny. And it was the kind of thing you'd expect from a high school student, not a successful comedian. But no matter how lame, it was still a joke.

And that the nation would take it so seriously in this #Metoo moment shows that we have collectively lost our sense of humor.

Though there may be more to it than that. As Steve Sailer pointed out today, even people in his own party can't stand Franken because he's such a jerk.

On TV he comes across as arrogant and self-satisfied. In person, off camera, he's supposed to be worse.

Back in 1999, he wrote a book titled Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations. That pretty much sums up Franken's abrasive personality.

I always sort of hoped someone would write a book titled, Al Franken is an Ugly Obnoxious Dwarf: And Other Observations.

It would have been exactly what he deserved.

He finally got his deserved comeuppance today. Just maybe not for the right reason.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The tax bill

There's been a lot of recent talk about the new tax bill, the conflicting versions the House and Senate have proposed, whom it will benefit, and what its chances of passage are.

What the majority of the electorate wants is something that will be fair, bring jobs back to this country, and stimulate the economy enough so that revenues for the government don't decrease.

Of course, everyone has a different definition of what's fair. Poor people want rich people taxed more,  since they can afford it, and the rich feel that they already pay enough, with the top 1% paying 45.7% of all taxes and the bottom 60% of the country paying only 2%.

Both House and Senate plans lower taxes on all the existing income brackets. But as long as we have a graduated income tax, it seems unfair that a married couple making half a million a year pay the same rate as a hedge fund manager making 20 million a year. We should have new brackets, with higher rates, kicking in at 1, 2, 5, and 10 million a year.

People who make half a million a year are paupers compared to those who make ten.

The corporate tax rate definitely needs to be lowered -- not so that CEOs can make more money, but so that companies will stop reincorporating abroad, and even worse, running their profits through foreign shells. We currently have the highest rate in the world, which is partly why some domestic companies have become foreign ones. Moving the rate from 35% to 20% sounds about right. And, we shouldn't allow large companies to run their huge profits from elsewhere through countries with low taxes.

Almost everyone -- except Tim Cook and his tax lawyers -- can agree that allowing Apple to run its profits through Ireland so it can be taxed at 2% is not an ideal state of affairs.

While we're at it, we also need a tariff for products from American corporations which manufacture them abroad. We also need to respond in kind to countries which either put tariffs on our goods or dump goods here (think China).

The Right tends to look at inheritance taxes from the viewpoint of the parents, who worked hard and paid taxes on their income and want to leave something for their loved ones. The Left looks at them from the children's viewpoint: it's unfair that some children get more unearned bounty than others. Both sides have merit.

So, the inheritance tax should probably be kept as is, with roughly five million passed along tax free and the rest taxed. If we abolish the inheritance tax -- as Trump wants -- we'll move toward feudalism. America's strength has always been its social mobility.

The House wants to cap the home mortgage deduction at $500,000, the Senate wants to keep it at a million. The House version is better: why should someone get a tax deduction for living in a mansion?

Eliminating the state and local tax deduction seems politically-motivated: the highest state tax rates are in blue states. But putting pressure on these states to get their budgets in order isn't a bad idea. (It's not entirely coincidence that these are also the states with the highest deficits, and the highest unfunded pension liabilities.)

Taxing colleges is a great idea. Harvard has roughly 37 billion: why should it be allowed to operate tax free? College tuition has way outstripped inflation over the past 30 years, as student loans have proliferated and colleges themselves have gotten bloated and fat. At the same time, a typical college education now consists largely of pc propaganda, the opposite of teaching students to think for themselves. Tax the rich propagandists.

If you ever doubt how loudly money talks, consider this: the carried interest deduction for hedge fund managers isn't even up for discussion. This provision basically means that hedge fund managers get taxed for their work at the same rate as their investors, the long term capital gains rate. There is no one who understands this who approves -- beside hedge fund managers and the politicians they contribute to.

That deduction should be done away with, immediately.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sagittal crests, Part IV

Saw an article this morning about Julia Jacobson, 37, an Army veteran whose body was just found buried with her dog in a shallow grave near Riverside, California. She had been missing since September.

It was also reported that her ex-husband, Galen Ware, had been arrested for her murder (back in October). Here's a picture of them:

And here's an earlier picture of Ware from his football-playing days at Arizona State University:

I keep seeing pictures of powerfully built men (Ware played cornerback, and was listed as 5'11", 190) who are violently inclined who seem to have vestigial sagittal crests.

Maybe it's coincidence, maybe not.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

"The Mask of Sanity"

I recently read Hervey Cleckley's The Mask of Sanity, the first book about sociopathy (and one which had been on my reading list for a long time). It was recommended by commenter GUINEA HENWEED, who has said he's a psychopath. (He provided this free link to the book.) A self-proclaimed psychopath, by the way, is someone you'll almost never encounter in real life.

Cleckley lived from 1903 to 1984, and published the book in 1941. He was a psychiatrist who first worked at the Veterans Administration, and subsequently at University Hospital in Augusta, Georgia. It was there that he came across number of apparently sane people who'd been committed by their families after repeated brushes with the law.

Cleckley deserves to be called the father of the field of sociopathy; before him, sociopaths had never really been defined as a specific syndrome. Previously, the phrase "morally insane" had been applied to sociopaths, but not much was really known about them. (Individual sociopaths were more likely to have simply been termed evil, or shameless, or villainous, or, even earlier, as being "possessed by the devil" or some such.)

Cleckley came into contact with enough of them to realize that there was something at work there that couldn't be classified as ordinary insanity, yet wasn't quite normal, either. He noticed the traits these people all seemed to have in common, and described what he saw in straightforward terms.

What struck me most about the book was the way Cleckley's experience at that hospital colored his perception of sociopaths.

All the people he described were inexplicably irresponsible, and most had drinking problems. They would do things like go on a bender and wander aimlessly around the countryside, then be found lying in the woods somewhere. They could never hold onto a job, let alone stick with long term goals. When younger, almost all were truants from school. Many loved practical jokes. And they would write bad checks, commit petty thefts, and freeload.

Almost all of the cases that Cleckley saw had parents who worried about them and were mystified by their behavior, so brought them to the psychiatric ward of University Hospital.

What was missing from Cleckley's descriptions was the poison. I've never known a sociopath who wasn't consumed with jealousy, envy, spite, and hatred. I've always said that the two surest giveaways of sociopathy are serial killing and a constant, willful dishonesty; but endlessly overflowing with ill will would come in a close third.

At the time Cleckley wrote his book, they hadn't yet made the connection between sociopaths and serial killing. Had he worked in an institution for the criminally insane, and had he dealt with sociopathic killers, his experience -- and his book -- would have undoubtedly taken on a different hue.

Cleckley alluded to subjects who got into numerous street brawls or arguments, yet he seemed to attribute this to the alcohol they had consumed and the company they kept. Had he actually witnessed those brawls, and seen how they got started, as opposed to just seeing their aftermath, his view might have shifted.

Cleckley also never touched on the extreme schadenfreude which causes so many sociopaths to actively undermine their colleagues and acquaintances, purely for pleasure of watching them fail.

He also never mentioned the inherent emotional falseness that accompanies sociopathy much of the time. Sociopaths are forever laying claim to some noble motivation, or tender feeling, which they are simply incapable of.

Also missing was any sense of the dysfunctional backgrounds from which sociopaths usually spring. The idea that most sociopaths come from loving families is simply misleading. In my experience, even with the ones from outwardly successful families, something is always missing, and that something is usually a bond between the mother and child. (In other words, love is absent.)

Yet Cleckley generally described the sociopaths' families as concerned and worried about their wayward child. Cleckley's views seem to have been skewed by the fact that University Hospital was the type of place where a concerned relative would take the black sheep of the family.

He did capture sociopathic egotism. In the various case histories, he described how they strutted about, puffed up with pride, and how they see themselves as being better than everyone else.

He also described the absence of shame or even embarrassment in their personalities well. And he did recognize how sociopaths are easily bored.

Clerkly also painted a vivid picture of the way sociopaths come across when you first meet them -- even more reliable, sane, honest, stable, and straightforward than most people. And he recognized how extremely that contrasts that with the way they actually are (far less so in every regard).

Cleckley made an effort to describe his patients' appearances, and how that affected one's view of them. He even discussed their attractiveness in a way that people these days are reluctant to do for fear of being labeled superficial.

And he described perfectly the manner in which sociopaths expect you to believe them no matter how outrageous their claims, and how they lie in such a wholesomely convincing manner that you're inclined to believe them. And he captures their utter lack of embarrassment when caught in a lie.

Cleckley mentioned something I hadn't been aware of, but which makes perfect sense: sociopaths are far more likely to make melodramatic threats of suicide, which they almost never follow through with.

Given that Cleckley's contact with sociopaths was limited to those who were institutionalized, he also seemed to have little sense of how sociopaths can achieve success as well. In his practice, he would never have come across, for instance, CEO's, the type who masquerade as pillars of the community, and pay lip service to all the right values, as so many sociopaths do.

He just met the feckless ones who wound up in the nuthouse, whose families cared enough about them to actually put them in a private sanatorium. These, he gave a great description of. But his mix of patients wasn't exactly a typical cross section of the sociopathic population.

At the end of the book, on page 364, Cleckley lists "failure to follow any life plan" as one of the  defining characteristic of sociopaths. Had he met, say, Bill or Hillary Clinton, they would undoubtedly have shifted his opinion on that matter. There are plenty of sociopaths -- in Washington DC, on Wall Street, and in Hollywood -- who have very adroitly realized their life's ambitions in a way that ordinary people are not able to, simply because they are more skillful at manipulation and shamelessly self-promoting.

But, people like that generally don't get sent to psychiatric institutions of the sort where Cleckley practiced. They are, instead, lauded as great human beings by those who don't understand sociopathy, or who have something to gain from the sociopaths.

But this is basically a minor quibble. Hervey Cleckley is unquestionably the father of the field, and deserves immense credit for having been the first to define sociopathy.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Baby doll voices, Part II

Yesterday morning Rona commented:

Baby doll voice in a grown woman is so disturbing I tend to categorize these women as of questionably sanity. It sends a signal of something being not quite right about a person. Maybe I'm prejudiced because it creeps me out, I wonder if they did a study comparing baby voiced women to normal women.

I replied:

It's not really a question of sanity so much as it is of just phoniness. It's sort of like when women thrust their breasts at you and pout and act overtly sexual: I've always found that to be a big turnoff. And the baby doll voice usually goes hand in hand with that kind of behavior. It's almost as if these women think they're appealing to the child molester in every man when they act like faux little girls. What I always seem to hear, though, is a faint echo of, "Daddy, why did you leave when I was a little girl? Wasn't I cute enough for you?"

It's sad, but simultaneously off-putting.

It had never really occurred to me before I wrote that reply yesterday, but when you really think about it, what exactly is a woman trying to accomplish with that voice? (I'm not talking about women with naturally squeaky little voices, only those with whom it's an affectation.) If she thinks that by sounding like a little girl she's going to be more attractive to you, what she's implying is that, at heart, you're a child molester. 

And women who speak in an effusively syrupy-sweet voice, which often overlaps with baby doll/sex kitten voice, are almost guaranteed to be the opposite. 

Whenever I hear that voice, I just assume there's a viper lurking inside.

Update, three days later: I realized, after being given several examples of women who speak that way, that I was overstating the case; they're not all vipers. I should have said, when you hear a voice like that, it's anybody's guess as to who's behind it. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Today's show

The Washington Post, among other outlets, quoted Matt Lauer's recent words to Bill O'Reilly, on the subject of O'Reilly's firing:

“Think about those . . . women and what they did. They came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at. Think of how intimidating that must have been, how nerve-racking that must have been. Doesn't that tell you how strongly they felt about the way they were treated?”

You have to wonder exactly what Lauer was feeling as he said those words. Was he filled with self-righteous fervor? Was he actually angry, at any level, with O'Reilly? Was he mostly thinking about how wonderfully moral he appeared? Or did he feel, one would hope, just a little sheepish? 

The comment comes at 4:08 of this video if you want to watch it. (The line was actually delivered fairly blandly; it's the words themselves that are damning, of O'Reilly, and even more so, of Lauer.)

Think about that video the next time you see some sanctimonious liberal on TV. 

The other thing that was stood out about today's scandal was that Lauer evidently could lock the door to his office with a button located under his desk. 

How exactly did he arrange that? 

Can you imagine phoning up Human Resources, or maintenance, and asking for that to be installed? How do you justify it?

"Uh, well, you see, I'm in a lot of important meetings where, uh, I don't want to be disturbed. We're, uh, discussing sensitive matters and, uh, I don't want people to feel that their confidentiality is going to be, you know, compromised or anything. And, you gotta understand, sometimes I just don't have time to get up from my desk to lock it."

I guess being able to lock your office door from your desk must be some kind of liberal thing. 

Kadian Noble

Actress Kadian Noble has brought suit against Harvey Weinstein. The relevant quote from today's article in the NY Post:

British actress Kadian Noble said Tuesday she was head-over-heels impressed when she first met Weinstein at an event in London because he was hanging out with model Campbell and had megastar Oprah “swinging off his arm.”

“I thought, obviously, this man has something amazing in store for me,” she said during a teary-eyed press conference in Manhattan to discuss the sex trafficking lawsuit she filed a day earlier against Weinstein in Manhattan federal court.

Instead, Weinstein used promises of career advancement to lure the actress to his hotel room in Cannes, France, where he forced himself on her, she said.

I have no idea whether there's any merit to Noble's lawsuit. It seems to me that whether Weinstein was socializing with Naomi Campbell and Oprah is irrelevant. I wouldn't be surprised if he did hold out the sugar plum of acting roles in order to entice her to his hotel room. And it certainly wouldn't be out of character for him to have been aggressive about obtaining sex from her, either. 

But, I obviously have no idea about what went on between the two of them. 

What made the article interesting to me was Noble's picture:

This is a classic sociopathic pose: wiping away a nonexistent tear. Look closely at that photo, and see if you see any evidence of liquid emerging from her eye, or on her cheek. And note that her eye makeup remains unsmudged. 

Again, I have no idea about the merits of the case. And I don't know anything about Noble other than that she brought this suit.

But I do know a little about people who pretend to wipe away nonexistent tears. They tend to be sociopaths. 

Music to his ears

Now that Matt Lauer has been taken down by the sexual harassment tidal wave sweeping the nation, it's hard not to wonder how Harvey Weinstein reacts each time he hears about another man being brought low.

He must absolutely love it, in a misery-loves-company sort of way. For him, each new scandal must be like a mug of hot cocoa on a cold winter day.

Each time a new figure gets accused of some sort of sexual misbehavior, his own crimes fade just a little bit more.

The accusations that have been made against various men range from the ridiculously inconsequential (dirty talk and relatively mild overtures) to the serious (actual assault and rape, and not just as defined by the third wave feminists).

The more actual assaults there've been, the smaller a piece of the overall picture Weinstein's crimes were. And the more silly accusations that get made, the stronger the backlash will be when enough people finally realize that to some extent, men are simple being penalized for being, at worst, ill-mannered.

And both of those things benefit Weinstein, if only in a vague and indirect way.

Of course, Weinstein is reportedly guilty of several rapes, along with a number of other less serious, but boorish behaviors.

So, whatever backlash ensues won't help him.

Nonetheless, he must delight in each new scandal. Maybe, in his own twisted way, he even takes "credit" for them coming to light.

After he gets out of prison, and after he settles the various lawsuits, how will Weinstein present himself? You have to think there's going to be a certain amount of reinvention involved. Maybe he'll become seriously religious, a la Ivan Boesky. Maybe he'll try to present himself as one who has seen the light and repented, and even become an advocate for women. Or, maybe he just avoids all publicity.

It'll be interesting to see.

Monday, November 27, 2017

If I were Lindsey Graham's PR guy.....

Lindsey Graham was in the news again recently for seeming to favor the Democratic candidate over Roy Moore in the Alabama Senatorial race. Earlier, he had said about Moore, "I've got a general rule, if you can't be in a mall, you shouldn't be in the Senate."

I doubt I'm the only one who heard that and then wondered what could be said about some of the places Graham has been.

Which got me to thinking: if I were Graham's PR guy, I'd hire three or four women to bring a sexual harassment suit against him. I'd have them tearfully relate how he practically tore their clothes off and  almost raped them in his Senate office after-hours. And I'd have them recite similar stories, just to give them some credibility.

The timing is perfect, as the #Metoo movement is probably peaking right about now.

More to the point, Graham is probably the only Senator whose image would actually be improved by such accusations.

I'm also guessing his South Carolina constituents would find them, at some level, reassuring.

Imagine how good Graham would look, standing there at the podium, vehemently denying the accusations.

"I categorically deny all these scurrilous accusations against me! I want to promise you right now that these young ladies are practicing revisionist history -- they were plenty willing at the time, believe me. Now, I've always tried to be a gentleman and not talk about my love life, even when that led to some ridiculously off-base speculation about me, but I'm afraid these women are forcing my hand. If I get called in front of an ethics committee, much as I'd hate to do it, I will recite chapter and verse on each of those seductions. And I can guaran-goddamn-tee you, those were seductions, and not rapes. I have never, ever used my powerful position, nor my immense physical strength, to pressure a woman into having sex with me."

"Oh, and by the way, I'm sure I can get plenty of other women as character witnesses to testify as to what I'm like when it comes to, uh, matters of romance."

Then, after a suitable interval, I'd have those young ladies withdraw their accusations, or, at least, tone them down considerably.

The other thing I'd do as Graham's PR guy is feed him a few steroids. If he didn't want to take them, well, I'd just slip them into his coffee. That might carve some of the softness off of those estrogenic cheeks of his --

-- and reshape his image a bit. Who knows, the steroids might even change his mannerisms. So that instead of sounding petulantly -- yet breezily -- aggrieved by those false accusations, he could thunder against them as he pounded the podium with his fist, testosterone oozing from his every pore.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Supreme Allah, Jr.

An article in the NY Post yesterday described the tragic and senseless killing of local anti-crime activist Shuri Henry in Newark, NJ.

It's hard not to be struck by the name of her 18-year-old killer: Supreme Allah, Jr.

Does a kid with a name like that have any chance in life? Wouldn't you sort of half expect him to develop a misguided sense of omnipotence?

Presumably, if he's a Junior, he has a father with the same name. Did his father change his own name to Supreme Allah, or was that his given name as well? (I'm guessing the former.) How many delusions of grandeur did the father have, if he did adopt that name?

It's not as if the Muslims need any more bad publicity, but it's tempting to file this murder under the heading of terrorism. That last name implies jihad, even if the first name has sort of a black twist to it.

All in all, a sad situation.

Shuri Henry, who was trying to do some good in the community, can do so no longer. And her feral 18-year-old murderer will be housed and fed at taxpayer expense for the next few decades.

Baby doll voices

I've never, ever, known a grown woman who affected a baby doll, sex kittenish voice who didn't come from a screwed up background; usually, at the very least, the father was missing.

I've previously said that "gay voice" is the surest giveaway of homosexuality in men.

Sex kitten/baby doll voice is probably the surest giveaway of phoniness in women.

It makes perfect sense: phony voice = phony person.

That rule applied to Madonna's English accent, Hillary's black accent, and Obama's black accent.


I got a comment from someone who called herself "Redhead Girl" recently on the post about Dr. Michelle Oakley, and that got me to thinking about how I've simply never found redheads attractive. I'm not suggesting there's any rhyme or reason to this: attraction is purely subjective, so trying to analyze it in some superficially objective way is essentially silly.

(Not that that's stopped me in the past.)

In my case, it may have something to do with the fact that for others, red hair is a plus, and so I've had various redheads pointed out to me as beautiful, and I always think, nah, with those features, if she were a brunette, she'd be pretty ordinary-looking, so what's the big deal?

To prove myself right, I Google-imaged "beautiful redheads." I kept scrolling through the pictures, and thinking, aha, I was right, these women simply don't attract me. Even though some actually were beautiful, which means that maybe it's the hair color itself which puts me off.

Then, I ran across this picture --

-- and actually got that old, breathless, high school feeling of having a crush.

Sometimes, it's gratifying to be proven wrong.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The revenge of the shiksas

During this ongoing, ever burgeoning, season of sexual harassment recriminations, there have been a few themes. But one of the ones it's impossible to miss is that the majority of men accused have been Jewish.

Not all, of course. A fair number of those tarred, like Roy Price, John Lasseter, Kevin Spacey, Steve Jurvetson, Ed Westwick, Terry Richardson, Chris Savino, and Charlie Rose, are gentiles.

But over 50% of the prominent men ensnared in the recent wave of scandals have come from the 2.4% of the population which is Jewish: Harvey Weinstein, Brett Rattner, Oliver Stone, Steven Seagal, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Piven, Mike Oreskes, Leon Wieseltier, Louis C.K., Mark Helperin, Glenn Thrush, Al Franken, Murray Miller, Andrew Kreisberg, Jeffrey Tambor, and James Toback.

What do we make this? (Other than to pretend we don't notice, which is the socially acceptable thing to do.) Since this upheaval has been about men who've abused their positions of power, one easy conclusion is about who holds the power in this country. Especially in Hollywood and the press, where the scandals have centered.

Does it say something about Jewish attitudes toward the goyim that they considered the gentile women they hit on to be suitable prey? (If we are to take the feminist viewpoint here, "prey" is the right word.)

Most of the women these men targeted were gentiles. Mark Oppenheimer characterized Harvey Weinstein's trespasses as being peculiarly Portnoy-like in Tablet Magazine:

Better than perhaps any other author, Roth captured the particular anxiety of the Jewish American man in the twentieth century, finally coming into power but, having not grown up with it, unsure of what he’s supposed to do now. All those years craving unattainable Gentiles, but never before the means to entice them. The result is Alexander Portnoy of Portnoy’s Complaint, a grown man whose emotional and sexual life is still all one big performance piece, just as it had been when he was a teenager and pleasured himself with a piece of liver....

Harvey is cut from the same cloth. Growing up in Queens, he fantasized of fame and fortune, and, once he got them, he struggled to maintain them by building himself into a larger-than-life figure. He yelled at employees like he was a studio boss from the 1920s—the only thing missing was a riding crop. He ran Oscars campaigns like they used to in Old Hollywood. And he harassed women not necessarily to use them as instruments of his pleasure, but to use them as instruments of his power.

It's a little ironic that for the past half century, feminism has been largely led by Jewish women, yet most of the men caught in its latest iteration have been Jewish. It's doubtful that Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Susan Brownmiller, Naomi Wolf, Gloria Allred, Andrea Dworkin, Betty Friedan, Susan Sontag, Wendy Wasserstein and company started out by saying, "Okay, we're going to tear down the Jewish power structure in this country!"

It was the WASP power structure that many of these ladies had in their sights back in the 60's. But what they set in motion has come back to bite them, or, at least, their sons.

Because just as surely as first wave feminism begat second wave feminism, the latter begat third wave feminism. And it's the third wave that has redefined the ordinary pass as an "unwanted sexual advance," then redefined that as "sexual assault." (This is not to say that actual sexual assaults don't take place, merely that an attempt at a kiss -- or talking dirty -- is not a rape.)

It's also ironic that so many of the men caught in this net have been prominent liberals. It's almost as if the more lip service you pay to feminism, the more lip service you expect from pretty young women.

(It's been speculated that this is all a calculated preamble to impeaching Trump for similar sins; but if so, it's an awfully roundabout way to accomplish that.)

Jewish sexuality is no different from goyim sexuality. (The only possible twist there is that masturbating in front of a woman, at least when not in prison, seems to be a peculiarly Jewish thing.)

But back to the larger question: are Jewish attitudes towards the goyim different from non-Jews' attitudes towards Jews? Is there a certain lack of respect, a certain lack of consideration, that these powerful Jewish men showed towards the good-looking shiksas they surrounded themselves with? ("Shiksa" was originally a Yiddish term meaning, according to Wiki, something impure, or an abomination, or an object of loathing.)

There may be some truth to the difference in attitudes. Although it's not talked about in polite company, Jewish ethnocentrism is a far stronger group ethic than, say, Anglo ethnocentrism. (Anglo ethnocentrism is invariably referred to as "racism.") But, it's also true that powerful men -- of whatever ethnicity -- will always use their power to get more women, one way or another. That happens everywhere, with everyone, all the time, and has always been the case.

This brings us to another question: are the "victims" (some real, some less so) who are now striking back motivated partly by resentment towards the current Jewish power structure?


Another theme it's hard not to notice, which I've mentioned before, is that a lot of the men caught up in this scandal been named have been undeniably ugly. And, a lot of them have been unmistakably Jewish-looking at the same time. It seems unfair that a handsome guy and an ugly guy can behave in exactly same manner, and one is accused of sexual harassment while the other simply enjoys a good time.

What do we make of that?

So what were the shiksas' thought processes, exactly? ("Ugh, I wouldn't have given this ugly dwarf the time of day in high school, and he thinks because he's a powerful producer now I'm gonna blow him? No way!")

Another possibility: even if they weren't anti-Semitic before, might their experiences with Harvey, Brett, and their ilk possibly have nudged them in that direction?

It's hard to say. All these factors are intertwined, and many of the women in the casting couch parade were willing participants. And for a fair number of these women, their own thought processes probably aren't clear even to them. (Consider Rose McGowan.) Actresses generally aren't known for their mental stability and rationality.

In any case, they do seem to be getting their revenge.

And it's the best entertainment Hollywood has given us in a while.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Glenn Thrush, the perfect NY Times reporter

Business Insider reported today that the NY Times has suspended its prominent White House correspondent Glenn Thrush today because of allegations of sexual harassment against him by four separate women in a Vox article. 

The most revealing excerpt from the BI article: 

Laura McGann, the author of Vox's article, said Thrush put his hand on her thigh and suddenly started kissing her when the two were at a bar in Washington, DC, five years ago. At the time, both worked for Politico.

McGann said she rejected his advances and left the bar. She said a male Politico colleague recently told her about a conversation he had with Thrush the next day in which Thrush said McGann had come onto him at the bar and that he had "gently shut it down."

The colleague told McGann, she said, that Thrush often told that same story with different female colleagues as the subject and that Thrush painted himself as the "grown-up" who stopped things from escalating.

This story reveals the character of Thrush perfectly: what kind of guy gets turned down by a woman, then tells all their colleagues the next day that he turned her down? 

One who is willing to take the truth and twist it 180 degrees in an effort to make himself look good. Note that Thrush not only falsely paints himself as the object of desire, but gives himself credit for tact as well: he didn't just shut McGann down, he did so "gently."

What a gentleman!

It's sort of hard to miss the parallel here. The New York Times, too, covers the news by twisting the truth around till it's unrecognizable, all the while disingenuously claiming the moral high ground. 

You can say that at this point the Thrush scandal is merely a "he said she said" situation. But really, with four different women coming forward, it's a "he said they said" situation. And I believe them.  

Especially since Thrush evidently told that same story several times, each time trying to impress his colleagues with tales of how these women lusted after him. 

It would be bad enough if he regaled his colleagues with these tall tales if he were telling them about anonymous women he met at a bar. But he was telling them about one of their fellow reporters, who'd have to work with them afterwards. 

As the original article in Vox pointed out, when the Mark Halperin/MSNBC scandal broke last month, Thrush wrote:

“Young people who come into a newsroom deserve to be taught our trade, given our support and enlisted in our calling — not betrayed by little men who believe they are bigger than the mission.”

Vox quoted a young woman who'd met him:

“He kept saying he’s an advocate for women and women journalists,” a 23-year-old woman told me, recounting an incident with Thrush from this past June. “That’s how he presented himself to me. He tried to make himself seem like an ally and a mentor.”

She paused. “Kind of ironic now.”

Actually, it's not all that ironic, if you're familiar with the Times.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Life is like a well constructed screenplay

It is said that in a well constructed drama, all of the action must be character-driven, and that every word out of each character's mouth could have been spoken only by him.

It's amazing the extent to which that holds true in real life. Think of the people you know. When was the last time one of them acted out of character? Smart people tend to act smart, dumb people act dumb, lame people act lame, nice people behave themselves, and selfish people act obnoxiously. Everyone seems to have a certain set level of pretension and subterfuge which they consistently weave into their speech.

All the time. 

People have varying levels of intelligence, which they never exceed (although they can often fall short of it). They have a certain level of narcissism, which also never deserts them, and a certain detachment (which is sort of the opposite of narcissism).

Whenever I hear a dullard say something insightful and/or funny, my first reaction is always: I wonder where he heard that?

People can put on acts for a short while, but they always revert to form. Everybody just has a certain way of.....being. Life is like a particularly well constructed screenplay that way, even if it usually lacks dramatic tension. (And, usually, heroic characters.)

I sometimes like to play a game at dinner: I suggest everybody act like one of the other people at the table, and say things that only that person would say. The game usually devolves into a situation where someone won't play by the rules: if I say something obviously stupid which the person I'm role-playing has actually said, that person will sometimes get angry and, whether or not he's supposed to be playing me, say, "Oh, I'm John and I'm a stupid asshole."

Which, believe it or not, I actually don't say. (I may act like one from time to time; but I never 'fess up to it in quite those words.)

Anyway, it's a fun game, and I recommend it, with the caveat that if you play it with someone unable to take joke, be prepared for anger.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sociopath alert: Grace Mugabe

An article in yesterday's NY Post highlighted the behavior of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace.

At first glance, it might seem difficult to tease out what is truly sociopathic when such behavior might be hard to distinguish from the difficult situation in Zimbabwe. But Grace Mugabe's behavior illustrates so many different facets of sociopathy that it's impossible not to come to the conclusion that she is one.

A few excerpts from the article, in italics, with my comments in between:

Meet the woman whose insatiable appetite for power set in motion Zimbabwe’s ongoing military coup: First Lady Grace Mugabe.

[Both "insatiable" and "appetite for power" are, at the lest, yellow flags for sociopathy. Combine the two, and they become a red flag.]

The 52-year-old shopaholic, who has earned the nickname “Gucci Grace” thanks to her taste for designer clothes, allegedly convinced her hubby — dictator “President” Robert Mugabe — to sack his heir apparent, ushering in a military backlash that left the 93-year-old despot under house arrest while she high-tailed it out of the African country to parts unknown. 

[A "shopaholic" is one with no restraints on self-indulgence, a sociopathic specialty -- especially when spending ill-gotten gains. And note that when her husband got into trouble, Grace didn't have the loyalty to stick around.]

“I say to Mr. Mugabe, you should . . . leave me to take over your post,” the silver-tongued Grace said in a church meeting, according to the The Globe and Mail. “Have no fear. If you want to give me the job, give it to me freely.”

Then, she gave him the not-so-subtle instruction to ax his vice-president and right-hand man of 40 years, Emmerson “Crocodile” Mnangagwa — so-named because the beast is his clan’s totem and because his erstwhile political resilience has been likened to the leathery reptile’s skin.

“The snake must be hit on the head,” Grace hissed, referring to Mnangagwa.

[Sociopaths always project their own character traits onto others.]

Within a few days, Robert delivered a proverbial crocodile-skin handbag to spendthrift Grace by ousting longtime ally Mnangagwa. The plot cleared the runway for his fashionista wife’s ascent to leader — until the military intervened Tuesday.

Grace’s tale is equal parts Imelda Marcos and Lady MacBeth, a profligate first lady who has incurred a struggling nation’s ire while manipulating her powerful husband.

[Good comparisons: Imelda Marcos was at the very least an extremely narcissistic personality, and possibly a sociopath, and Lady MacBeth, while fictional, is often cited as the ultimate exemplar of devious manipulativeness.]

The South African native’s rise began in the early 1990s, when she was a single mother and secretary in Robert’s typing pool.

“He just started talking to me, asking me about my life. ‘Were you married before?’ Things like that,” she told South African journalist Dali Tambo in 2013. “I didn’t know it was leading somewhere. I was quite a shy person, very shy.” Robert’s wife at the time, Sally Hayfron, was still dying of kidney failure when the president first bedded Grace — who is 41 years his junior — even though it “appeared to some as cruel,” he said.

[No one who was ever shy demands to be named President of her country. The fact that she felt obliged to misrepresent her own character like that in an effort to disguise her own sociopathy is typical of sociopaths.]

“She happened to be one of the nearest and she was a divorcee herself. And so it was,” he told Tambo in the same interview.

In the years since, she has insinuated herself deeper and deeper into politics, executing by 2016 what critic and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called a “palace coup.”

[Palace intrigues are another sociopathic specialty.]

Now she is considered next in line for the presidency, a position military allies of Mnangagwa found so detestable that they took the nation’s capital Harare by force this week days and imprisoned Robert in his own home. Critics fear her inauguration would only accelerate decades of mismanagement by her husband....

[I]n the three decades since [Mugabe gained power], he has raided his country’s resources, leaving most of his fellow countrymen near starvation while he and his family live in opulence....

Meanwhile, the flamboyant first lady allegedly blew $120,000 on a 2002 shopping junket to Paris that got her banned from entering the US and EU member states as punishment for wastrel spending while Zimbabweans back home went hungry.

[That much money could have fed a lot of Zimbabweans for a long time, a fact which didn't seem to bother Grace.]

Aside from her exceedingly pricey tastes, she is notorious for her shrewdness and outsize intensity.

["Shrewdness" is characteristic of sociopaths: they are forever scheming for self-advancement. And "outsize intensity" is another way of saying "without scruple or inhibition."]

In October, she had to publicly deny trying to poison rival Mnangagwa after his claims that an August bout of food poisoning was actually the result of an assassination attempt...

[Who knows whether Mnangagwa's claims are true; but if they are, it would not be surprising.]

Grace allegedly savaged South African model Gabriella Engels with an electrical cord in August after she found the hottie partying with her Robert-sired sons, Robert Jr. and Chatunga, in a Johannesburg hotel. “She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug. Over and over,” Engels said at the time. “I had no idea what was going on . . . I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away.”

Photos showed a gash on Engels’ head that required 14 stitches and bruises on her thigh. Grace, who claimed the “intoxicated and unhinged” stunner lunged at her with a knife, never faced charges because South African officials granted her diplomatic immunity.

[What incentive did Grace have for attacking Engels? Grace is a good-looking woman, but most would consider Engels more so; was she jealous of Engles for that reason? Was she simply jealous that Engels was having fun? Did she just think that Engels wasn't good enough for her sons? Or did she suspect Engels was, as she herself had been, a scheming vixen hoping to glom on to some of the Mugabe power and riches?]

Robert reportedly lobbied South African President Jacob Zuma to have the situation “solved amicably,” though Zuma denied any role in the proceedings.

Back in 2009, Grace reportedly chased down British photographer Richard Jones and pummeled him in the face while her bodyguards held his arms behind his back — all because he tried to take a picture of her outside a Hong Kong hotel.

[Again, the lack of self-restraint and viciousness.]

Her blood feud with Mnangagwa goes back at least to 2014, when she signaled her entry into politics by taking over the women’s league in the ruling ZANU-PF political party where they were both members.

At the same time, she raised eyebrows by announcing she had obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Zimbabwe after just three months of enrollment there in what became a national joke.

[Embroidering on one's academic credentials is a common theme with sociopaths.]

“I feel sorry for the University of Zimbabwe dragging its name into the mud and trashing its credibility as a place of excellence,” quipped longtime party member Simba Makoni, according to South Africa’s Independent Online news outlet.

Grace’s thesis was never made publicly available.

The striking thing about Grace Mugabe's sociopathy is how, despite the fact that she's from a completely different culture, it takes so many similar avenues. The lack of self restraint, the unbridled spending, the lust for power, the ability to ingratiate herself and seduce a powerful sponsor, the jealousy, the viciousness, the complete lack of inhibition, the academic fakery.

Cultures vary, but sociopathy is a constant.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How to slow down a sociopath

The best way to deal with a sociopath is the same way he deals with you -- by focusing on his weaknesses. In his case, that means his vanity, his desire for admiration, and his need to hide his true character.  

If he's been misbehaving -- something you can always count on -- raise the subject of sociopathy in some oblique way. This implies you're starting to suspect him, and in an attempt to dissuade you from your suspicions, he may actually behave, temporarily.

Alternatively, ask something along the lines of, "You never talk about your mother much. What was she like when you was growing up?" This is likely a sensitive point, and may spark a strong reaction. But it will also imply that you're at least somewhat onto him. 

If you're in the mood to anger him, ask, clumsily, "Hey, what did you think of Ted Bundy?" -- as if you think he's going to blurt out, "Oh, I thought he was a great guy!" This will show him you're onto him, and you can have the satisfaction of making him bristle at your incredibly awkward attempt at psychoanalysis.

(I'm not seriously recommending the above paragraph.)

But the overall idea is to imply that you're wondering about whether he's a sociopath, without making it a statement of fact. There's a chance he'll think he can fool you into thinking that he's not one, and will be on his best behavior, at least for a while, as a result. 

Other hints:

Sociopaths tend to think they're fooling people when they're not. Let your sociopath think he's fooling you when he's not. Express admiration for one of his claimed accomplishments you know is false, then get him to embroider on it. Then, once he's painted himself into a corner, you can pick it apart. 

Sociopaths are particularly susceptible to flattery. Tell your sociopath he's too smart to do something you don't want him to do.

Let him think others admire him for something you want him to do; he'll likely believe it. For example, tell him that people admire him for his loyalty, and that you know he's the kind of stand up guy who'll show up to help at a certain occasion. He may be swayed. 

When a sociopath is in full lying mode, tape him surreptitiously, or even videotape him. It's easy enough to do with a smartphone. Just have it ready, then hit "record" at the appropriate moment. It may be unethical, but he would do the same to you. (Of course, that's the same justification he uses to do similar things to everyone else.)

Just be ready for the sociopath's revenge; make no mistake, it will be uninhibited. But, have that smartphone handy. He probably won't be able to resist threatening you first. So get him on record making the threat.

But the best advice, as always, is simply to put as much distance as you can between yourself and him. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Human nature isn't confined to Hollywood

I have to admit, I'm enjoying these almost daily revelations of Hollywood, and journalistic, misbehavior. What's been most enjoyable about them is that the people being tarred are for the most part virtue-signaling liberals who pay lip service to feminism. And many of them expressed abhorrence for Donald Trump, partly for his allegedly having made "unwanted sexual advances" to women in the past.

Harvey Weinstein was a big Hillary supporter, and a major Democratic donor. Remember when Hillary said that every woman who claims to have been raped "deserves to be believed?"

Ben Affleck, another prominent liberal, declared that the allegations against Weinstein "made me sick." Then it turned out that he himself had been a harasser, albeit on a smaller scale, and there were similar allegations against his own brother Casey, whom he had supported.

Kevin Spacey was also a Democratic donor.

And journalists Leon Wieseltier, Michael Oreskes, Jann Wenner, and Mark Halperin are prominent liberals as well.

So, seeing these "feminist's" true natures exposed is gratifying.

But does anyone doubt that men in positions of power in other fields act exactly the same way?

Does anyone think that the CEOs of various corporations across the country aren't having it off with  their various subordinates?

Does anyone doubt that there are plenty of corporate managers below CEO level who are having affairs with women who work for them?

Does anyone doubt that all of these women think that having sex with their bosses will help them professionally?

When I worked on Wall Street, over half of the good-looking women there that I knew were having sex with, if not their bosses, someone else who could help them get ahead. Their resumes may have included stints at Drexel Burnham Lambert, or First Boston, or Salomon Brothers, but in spirit, what they were doing was not really all that different from what the ladies at the Bunny Ranch in Nevada do.

Does anyone doubt that a lot of college professors regularly have sex with their students? (At most colleges, this is against the rules.)

Does anyone doubt that there is a lot of hanky panky that goes on in the military? We occasionally hear of harassment cases at West Point or elsewhere, but those are undoubtedly just a small fraction of the incidents that take place.

And does anyone doubt that at medical practices across the country, a fair percentage of doctors aren't having it off with pharmaceutical reps and nurses and other staff?

Just to be clear, it's not always the man in the position of power.

In many of these cases, these incidents are taking place with the full and enthusiastic participation of the subordinates involved. And in some, they're doing it purely for professional advancement. And much of the time, it's a combination of the two.

Also, varying amounts of brazenness were undoubtedly shown by both parties in instigating the affairs.

But virtually all of these situations, if presented in the right light, could be made to sound like sexual harassment.

But exactly where is the line defining "harassment" drawn? There's always going to be a huge gray area there.

We probably won't hear about many of these incidents, since most people have no incentive to report them. (Just as the women who voluntarily slept with Harvey Weinstein to land roles have not had much to say.)

But the idea that sexually aggressive behavior is confined to Hollywood is incredible silly.

Men tend to be the aggressors about sex, and they express that aggression with varying degrees of subtlety. And women play along -- or don't -- with varying degrees of coyness. That's the way it's always been, and the way it will always be.

If these instincts didn't exist, the human race would long ago have died out.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Louis C.K.'s earlier non-denial denial

Comedian Louis C.K. has come clean and admitted to having masturbated in front of numerous women, something he had been rumored to have done for years. He didn't even attempt to deny it, or throw any accusations back at his accusers, or lawyer up, or hire Black Cube.

He just said, yep, it's true. His straightforwardness was almost admirable. 

But it was a far cry from the way he had previously deflected the accusations when asked about them: 

”Well, you can’t touch stuff like that,” he told New York last year. “There’s one more thing I want to say about this, and it’s important: If you need your public profile to be all positive, you’re sick in the head. I do the work I do, and what happens next I can’t look after. So my thing is that I try to speak to the work whenever I can. Just to the work and not to my life.”

That's actually a masterpiece of obfuscatory language. If you were to hear it in person, it would be difficult to know how to respond, since the "answer" he's already given is so hard to digest. That blizzard of words was designed to leave you so confused that you would be unsure how to keep pressing him for an answer. 

But let's parse that statement, sentence by sentence.

"Well, you can't touch stuff like that."

Was Louis saying that the interviewer was venturing into forbidden territory by having the temerity to ask such a question? Or was he saying that it would be verboten for him to discuss it? And whom, exactly, did he mean by "you?" Himself?

Louis certainly had no qualms about touching his own stuff in the presence of all those female comedians.

"There's one more thing I want to say about the, and it's important: If you need your public profile to be all positive, then you're sick in the head."

You have to admire the way he emphasized his own statement's importance, as if it was an urgent moral message which everybody should pay attention to. But doesn't practically everyone in Hollywood need their public profile to be "all positive?" Isn't that what all those agents and PR people are for? And isn't that what all that virtue signaling is for? So is Louis C.K. saying that all of Hollywood is sick in the head?

Well, at least he was being honest on that score.

But when you claim that others are sick in the head, you're at least implying that you yourself are healthy in the head. Does a guy who forces women to watch him wank it really fit that description?

"I do the work I do, and what happens next I can’t look after." 

Imagine a foreman at the GM plant in Lansing saying, "I do my job responsibly every day, but after my shift is over, and I have a few brewskis, well, I can't be responsible for what happens next."

But isn't an adult supposed to be responsible all the time? And if you can't look after your own behavior, who will?

"So my thing is that I try to speak to the work whenever I can. Just to the work and not to my life."

See? He's just doing his thing. Which is to "speak to the work" whenever he can. (Is that phrase vague and meaningless enough for you? No one actually chats with their own work, so you have to think about exactly what he means.)

"Just to the work and not to my life."

His meaning might have been clearer if he'd just said, "I try to speak about my work whenever I can. Just about the work and not about my life."

Then again, Louis obviously didn't want to be clear. He wanted the interviewer to back off, confused.

It's a little ironic for Louis to be making that distinction between his work and his life, given that his life is his comedic material.

And, at the end of all that, he still hadn't answered the question.

Why couldn't he have just replied, "I'm not going to tell you."

Or, "I'll take the Fifth."

Or, "That's none of your business."

Well, because those responses would have been admissions of guilt. The response he gave was designed to make people think, "What? Wait a sec.....what am I missing here?"

The only reason anyone ever obfuscates like that is because they have something to hide.

Louis used his words the same way a squid uses a blast of ink: to cloud your vision while he makes his escape.

That skillful use of words is probably what made Louis C.K. such a great comedian.

Even if he was sort of a jerkoff.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Allegations are evidently enough

One of the striking things about the recent sexual harassment scandals is that mere allegations are all that's necessary to derail someone's career. Due process has been tossed out the window.

Now, I have no doubt that what all those women are saying about Harvey Weinstein and James Toback are true. And I'm pretty sure that the allegations against Kevin Spacey are true too. There are simply too many people pointing their fingers in the same direction.

But still, none of these guys have been convicted in a court of law, yet their careers have been derailed. Is this fair?

In the case of those three, their trespasses were so blatant, so constant, and so aggressive, that even if they somehow escape conviction, they deserve the verdicts handed down in the court of public opinion. And they deserve to lose their lofty Hollywood status.

But there have been other guys tarred by the #Metoo movement, guys who aren't really guilty of anything other than being a little pushy in the ways that guys often are.

Roy Price, whom I'd never heard of him before the scandal that enveloped him, had to resign from his job as head of Amazon Studios because the executive producer of one Amazon show accused him of lewdly propositioning her on several occasions in 2015. She didn't accuse him of grabbing her, or touching her, or being overly forceful. Merely of propositioning her.

Jeremy Piven was accused of putting his hands on the breasts and bum of Ariane Bellamar --

-- at a party at the Playboy mansion. I have no doubt that Piven's a jerk, and he's undoubtedly worse when he's had a few drinks. But does an awkward pass really reach the level of "assault?"

Dustin Hoffman has also been accused of sexual harassment. Hoffman evidently asked a 17-year-old intern if she'd had sex that weekend, and other mildly intrusive flirtation. He also reportedly put his hand on her butt a couple of times. I know Hoffman's type: an older guy who hides his horniness under the guise of friendly banter, as if he's just a playful uncle. Meanwhile, he's hoping that she'll give him some sign she's interested, but he's not quite willing to make an overt play because he doesn't want to suffer a rejection. (At least give that much to Weinstein: he put himself out there, and didn't play coy.) In any case, Hoffman's was a common type of behavior, and hardly worthy of being brought up 30 years later.

Another point has to be made here. If a good-looking guy acts in exactly the same way, and these women found him attractive, they might have just gone to bed with him. But when an ugly guy follows the same script, he's guilty of sexual harassment.

So the exact same behavior is either rewarded, or punished, depending largely on how good-looking the guy is. Somehow, that doesn't seem quite right.

(Would this current #Metoo movement even exist if Harvey Weinstein weren't so hideous?) Note that Warren Beatty, one of the most famous womanizers of all time, has yet to be named.

Here's another thing to consider: would all of these women be coming forward if these men weren't famous? Of course not.

I made my share of awkward and occasionally overly aggressive passes when I was young. I guess it's a good thing I never became famous, otherwise I'd be up for my 15 minutes of shame. (To paraphrase Andy Warhol.)

At least, with all these new "victims" coming forward, let's stop calling them courageous. It would have taken courage to be the first person to accuse Weinstein, or someone else. But after all these other women have already come forward? It's merely lemming-like.

As I said earlier, Weinstein deserves the censure he's gotten, and if he's guilty of rape, he should go to prison.

But in the cases of some of the other guys, it's a lot more questionable. Just a few unsubstantiated allegations and someone's career is derailed?

This doesn't seem quite fair.

That said, I'd like to take this opportunity to announce that Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and John McCain have all molested me.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"Video shows 'abducted' jogger unshackled, running to safety"

That sexy spokesmodel for Munchausen Syndrome, Sherri Papini, may have been lying about her purported kidnapping a year ago, but she certainly wasn't lying about being a jogger, as the video embedded in this article shows.

You can see her in the background in the first part of the clip, moving along at quite a respectable pace.

And if her original story is true, and if she was in fact wearing shackles while running like that she'd be an amazing athlete indeed.

Especially after two straight weeks of being starved and beaten.  

Monday, November 6, 2017

Wall Street sayings

Trading stocks or bonds is a big, complicated, murky business, and it's human nature to try to make some sort of sense out of it. Some of the expressions you hear regarding investing are basic good advice, but many are misguided, or conflict with each other. 

One of the things I noticed when I worked on Wall Street was that for many adages having to do with trading, there’s an equal and opposite expression. A lot of people will recite these cliches as if they’re giving you the wisdom of the ages, but once you’ve heard enough of them, you realize that many tend to contradict each other. And while there’s a little bit of truth to each of them, many are correct about fifty percent of the time.

When I worked there, my boss would say, “Cut your losses and let your gains run.” On other occasions he would say, “Bulls make money, bears make money, and pigs get slaughtered.” (In other words, don’t get too greedy.) But those expressions are diametrically opposed to each other.

You'll hear that "Wall Street is just a big machine for transferring money from the impatient to the patient." But you'll also hear, "It never hurts to go to the bank,” and "No harm in ringing the cash register," both of which contradict the first one.

Another expression you hear a lot is, “Be greedy when everyone else is fearful, and fearful when everyone else is greedy.” That's basically sound advice. The problem there is figuring out when the
"fear" and "greed" have run their course. Up or down a thousand points on the Dow? How about four thousand? Bear in mind that this expression applies much more to overall market swoons and peaks than it does to individual stocks, which can go up tenfold, or to zero (unlike the market, at least in the short term).

Another thing you’ll hear is, don’t use leverage (margin) and become overextended. That’s true: there’s no quicker way to go bankrupt (or to get rich). Think of it this way: the difference --  in terms of both peace of mind and lifestyle -- between your current net worth and zero is far greater than the difference between your current worth and double that.

Another thing you’ll hear a lot is John Maynard Keynes' famous quote, “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.” That's certainly indisputable: you may have logical, compelling reasons for why a stock – or the market – should be higher or lower, but that doesn’t mean that either will revert to reason in the near future. Another reason not to get overextended.

"Markets always tend to swing too widely." This echoes Keynes, and is often true: markets do tend to get overexuberant on the upside, and can reflect too much pessimism on the downside. (But neither necessarily implies an immediate correction.) You'll usually make money by buying the large swoons, but they don’t come all that often. And when they do come, the question is, as always, is this the end of the swoon? 

Another truism is to invest in what you know. The idea there is, if you go into, say, a Costco, and you like the way the store is organized and you like the prices and you see that they’re getting a lot of business, you should invest in Costco stock. The only problem with that is, a lot of other people have already been to Costco, and had the same idea, and Costco’s shopper-friendliness is almost certainly already factored into its price.

However, the corollary to that is unquestionably true: don’t invest in what you don’t understand. (Warren Buffett has always been a big proponent of this.) If someone tells you that such and such a company has a hot new product, unless you really understand how and where it will be used, and who the players are, and what competitive advantages each has, it might be best to stay away. Unless you have complete faith in whoever told you this. 

Another thing you’ll hear is, don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. That's inarguable. You can drive yourself crazy thinking, wow, with the amount of money I lost on that stock could have bought a new car! I’m not suggesting you torture yourself this way, but going through that mental exercise beforehand is worthwhile. It’s too easy to start throwing large sums of money around as if it’s a different currency than the one you use in your everyday life.

An investing expression I first heard a few weeks ago is, "All you need to do is find a two inch high bar and then jump back and forth across it." In other words, you're generally going to be better off finding a little niche and exploiting it than you are by making grand predictions about the course of the overall market.

I've never known anyone who's consistently right about market direction; I'm not even sure I've ever known anyone who was right more than fifty percent of the time. There are just too many variables. It’s like trying to predict the weather a year from now. No one can possibly take into account what the Fed, the dollar, the economy, world events, the stock market, interest rates, commodities, and computerized trading systems will do, and how they will all affect each other. Yet, some people try. One thing I found on Wall Street is that the surer someone sounds about market direction, the more full of crap he is in general.

"You're never as good as you think you are, you're never as bad as you think you are." This is another way of saying that luck plays a huge role in investing. With you, and with everyone else. Of course, people tend to use this expression more often when they’re doing poorly. But never underestimate how much luck has to do with outcomes. If picking the right stocks were purely a matter of intelligence, all you’d have to do is hand out IQ tests and follow the lead of whoever scored highest.

"He's talking his book." Often true. Fund managers often appear on TV to talk about how such and such a stock is a fantastic value. When you hear that, bear in mind that he’s merely trying to goose demand to send the price of a stock he owns up (maybe, so he can sell it). Likewise, bank analysts usually talk up a stock if their firm is handling its corporate financing. The “Chinese wall” that supposedly exists between the finance side and sell side of a bank has always been extremely porous.

"It's harder to manipulate the top line than the bottom line." In other words, you can always adjust things like good will, amortization, accounts receivable, set-asides for potential problems, etc., to fudge your profits. But it's much harder to massage the amount of revenues you have coming in. This
is true, and why companies always announce their revenues as well as earnings per share.

Another thing a lot of people look at is insider selling and buying. You always hear that insider selling means less than insider buying because there are always all sorts of reasons for people to sell a stock: because they want to buy a house, get divorced, diversify, etc. But if insiders buy, it’s almost always a good sign. Who else is in a better position to know that their stock is going up? Some investors base their stock trading entirely on following insider buying; that's not a bad strategy.

"Don’t get married to a position." If you own a stock for a certain period of time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, I’ve held it this long, just think how mad I’ll be if I sell and then it finally goes up. But that’s letting your own emotions – or potential emotions – drive your trading, and that’s never wise.

Those are sayings and bits of advice that have become cliches, some for good reason. Let me add a few things here I've learned on my own. (I'm not suggesting these thoughts are original, merely that they don't come attached to Wall Street cliches.)

As an individual investor, be aware that you're going to be the last person to hear about things that go wrong with a company. And there are an infinite number of things that can go wrong. A competitor could produce a superior product. The company could be sued for something not its fault. There could be production glitches. Any "act of God" -- as the insurance companies phrase it -- could go against them. Legislation, both foreign and domestic, could negatively impact them. Maybe they've been cooking the books. A single rogue employee could singlehandedly bring disaster. You can’t trade as if you’re always expecting disaster, but the possibility is something to be aware of.

Given that you're at an informational disadvantage, also be aware that the stocks of small, early stage companies are even more vulnerable to new information. Unless you have a network of well placed spies, you’ll be the last to hear news which could send a thinly traded stock soaring or collapsing. Given which, you may be better off sticking with huge, liquid, widely traded stocks like GM, XOM, AAPL, and AMZN, which react more to macro trends than to little bits of inside information.  

While we're on the subject of inside information, be aware that on the day before an announcement that a company is being bought out, its stock almost always trades up. It’s extremely suspicious, but only rarely does anyone gets prosecuted for insider trading as a result. (It happens, but rarely; my guess is, it’s far less than one percent of insider traders are caught.)

Be leery of taking friends’ advice. I’ve had a lot of friends give me a lot of advice. It was all well meaning, and I’ve never let a piece of bad advice affect a friendship. But just because someone is smart, or witty, or conversant with market terminology doesn’t mean he knows which way a stock is headed. And even if someone has a good track record, in the end, no one is infallible.

Even hedge fund managers aren’t necessarily better than the rest of us. They’re just confident guys with big egos who figured they could outperform the market, were good at convincing others of this, and thus were successful at raising money. Some did outperform the market, and got extremely rich by making bets with other peoples’ money. Others didn't, and simply closed up shop. And even those with good records don't have hot hands which last forever.

If you think that hedge fund managers are brilliant, take a look at their stock picks. It’s surprising how mundane many of them are. They’re usually invested in the most obvious, widely traded, heavily capitalized stocks. When you hear that a certain financial wizard’s largest holdings include Facebook, Apple, Netflix, General Motors, Exxon, Amazon, and Citigroup, it leaves you wondering, where is the genius in that? Most don’t seem to have researchers who tell them which small biotech is going to be the next 20-bagger. This is not to say that such people don’t exist, merely that most fund managers are simply good salesmen.

Some hedge funders have consistently outperformed thanks to insider trading. The Feds were convinced that Steven A. Cohen, who ran one of the biggest funds, was guilty of this, and managed to convict a couple of people who worked at his firm, but were never able to ensnare him. I, of course, don't know, but my guess would be that they were suspicious of him for good reason.

Mentally separate your long term positions from your short term positions. If you buy a stock because you think it can double, don’t then sell because it’s up a point. There’s no harm in day trading a small portion of a large position, to try to capture the daily zigs and zags. But unless the longer term trades start going against you in a big way, sequester them, and continue to think of them as long term. Likewise, if you bought something for a day trade, don’t let it turn into a long term investment.

If you see that a company is run by a guy who comes across like a sociopath, stay away. I’ve ignored that rule in the past, to my detriment. A sociopath is far more likely to be lying about results, or about expectations, or embezzling, or somehow using company funds for his personal use. Or, maybe he just has overly grandiose expectations for what he and his company are capable of, and thus is far more likely to be using leverage and getting overextended (sociopaths like risk). And, he’s likely creating discord within the company, and using bad judgment to drive it into the ground.

Also be aware that while sociopaths constitute only 3% of the overall population, they represent a far larger percentage of CEOs.

Most of us are easily conditioned by the last mistake we made. (And every trade, unless you put all your money in at the very bottom and then take every last cent out at the very top, can be defined as a mistake.) So if you overstayed your welcome in a stock last time, chances are you’ll sell early next time; and if you got out too early last time, you’ll likely hold longer next time. Half of the time that will be the right thing to do, the other half the wrong thing. Just be aware that you’re probably being a little too swayed by your last trade.

Maybe the most important thing is to recognize your own quirks. Are you by instinct a bull, or a bear? Are you a momentum trader, or a contrarian? Do you prefer value stories, or growth stories? You have to recognize your own instinctive tendencies and, if not counteract them, at least, take them into account.

Everybody has personal idiosyncracies in terms of how they invest. And you must be brutally honest with yourself about this. It’s the smartest thing you can do as a trader. The only way you’ll ever learn is by constantly asking yourself, how did I screw up this time?

I’m a contrarian by nature (in case that wasn't apparent from this blog). And one of my weaknesses is that I'm impatient, too quick to take a profit. So what I do more of these days is sell covered calls against stock I own. That way, instead of making one point on a stock if it goes up, I might make two. (And if the stock goes down, I'll be "hedged" by the amount of the option premium.) That limits my upside, but since that was already limited by my impatience anyway.

If you're a patient investor, this is probably isn't right for you. But the point is, I try to be aware of and take into account my personal idiosyncrasies.

Finally, remember what I said at the beginning of this post, that a lot of Wall Street adages are right approximately 50% of the time – and that probably includes much of what I just said.