Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A New Kind of Airline

Air passengers can take heart: Slut Airlines is now providing service between Washington or New York and the West Coast.  Instead of first class seating, it provides sleepers for those tiring transcontinental flights.  For those intrepid passengers, the airline offers an overnight stopover in Las Vegas with the complete package!  

Already it is rated highest for the 18 - 34 tear-old male demographic.  Unlike the no-frills Virgin Airlines, this new carrier really has customer satisfaction in hand in its operations and gives passengers a really great flight!

Let Slut Airlines fly you to where you really want to go, including selected west coast cities!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dead Peasants' Insurance

The term 'dead peasants' insurance' is a derisory way of referring to company owned life insurance: a policy or group of policies in which the employer company is the beneficiary on a life insurance policy that is taken on an employee, sometimes without the employee's knowledge or consent.  In usual practice, this kind of policy is taken on key employees whose untimely death may cause a financial loss to the company.  



But not always.  Some employees may take out policies on lower-level employees such as sales associates and janitors.  This raises some ticklish issues.  For one it seems ghoulish in concept.  And it is similar to the story told by Nikolai Gogol in Dead Souls.  And what if the company holding the policy needed to rapidly increase its operating capital?  Might it be tempted to make redundant those extra employees with extreme prejudice?

Here's a possible scenario.  East Coast Polytechnic Institute took out employer's owned life insurance policies on its professors; and for a nominal fee, also took out policies on the grad students.  However, the professors were not recycling at a satisfying rate; and many were too valuable to meet with untimely "accidents."  Anyway, being a professor is not exactly a hazardous job, unlike being a police officer or fire person or mental hospital worker.  But grad students came cheap; or at least it was the conclusion that the Comptroller had: after all, they were bought cheaply.

So the Comptroller got in touch with some heavies from New Jersey, and made a deal to cull out the herd, so to speak.  The capo sent Guido over to the Poly and that evening he made his first hit.  It was Karin, wearing a lace overlay peasant corset to surprise her sugar daddy who was coming over for a relaxing evening and expected the serf to be up!

Sugar Daddy got an unexpected surprise!  The local police could not account for the rise in seemingly professional hits that seemed to be targeting seekers of advanced degrees.  Previously, they simply had ulcer problems.

When the police investigated, they concluded that the hapless grad student was a working girl who was the victim of some sex maniac!

On another occasion, Guido revisited to kill off some chemistry lab technician.  In his case, he seeded the site with drug paraphernalia and the means to concoct more.  The innocent student was besmirched and that this set up his being viewed as a gang-related killing.

It was hard to account for the homicides of teaching assistants and junior professors.  This was attributed to anger over low grades; and D- and F- students were looked into.

And so on.  Guido was extremely creative with the others; and this crime wave was viewed as the local campus being located in an increasingly dangerous zone.

[I made up this story.  However, some 215 companies did have policies on lower-level employees.  There was even a case where a policy owner on an employee contracted someone to kill that person to collect on the dead peasant policy.


Young woman wearing a cute peasant dress.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Defining Tacky in Law

It eventually had to happen:  The influx of Yankees and the gentrification of Balsam Ridge led to some changes.  The flatlanders who had moved in systematically passed some laws requiring property owners to spruce up their places and keep them tidy.  Goodness knows, the place had gotten into a state; and a little improvement would not have hurt, no how!

One of those ordinances is that lawn must be grassy; no weeds or substances that is not bona fide lawn stuff.  Two of the local residents, Marge and Buford, now were in legal arrears.  Marge, it seems, planted her front lawn in sweet basil and rosemary.  The nearby neighbors had no problem with that.  Marge would given them clippings and their cats smelled damned fine when they returned home in the morning.  As for Buford, he was plumb lazy; and replaced his grass with carpet from old miniature golf courses!  He had daffodils grow in the holes in the carpet!

So as to make it crystal clear and in local language, the City Council passed an ordinance against "tacky lawn decorations."  Now tacky, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  But when the local constable started issuing citations, folk began to get to questions about definitions.

What is tacky, after all?  Are pink flamingos tacky?  How about lawn gnomes?  What about toilets as lawn decorations?  What about that 1978 Ford Fairlane on concrete blocks?  Or any streetworthy Chevy?  And, very importantly, is it tacky to have indoor furniture on your front porch?  In order to address this matter, the puzzled citizenry consulted two Big Dude Philosophers from the State University.  In a childlike innocence, they sought enlightenment.

One of the philosophers, Manny Kant, opined that since there were intuitive Categories of Thought it would follow that there are some intuitive categories of tackiness.  This in turn is related to kitsch! 

The other one, Georgie Porgie Berkeley, stated that, following the rule esse est percepte, tackiness is in the eye of the beholder.   The City Council, by now well over their heads in elevated thinking, decided to judge specific examples of objects as categories.  Council Member Bill James suggested taking a pragmatic approach.

To go into specifics, those council members mandated that garden gnomes were classy as long as they were not mooning people; but they did not go so far as to require them.  Plastic flamingos were illegal as the city council labelled them as really tacky.  Perching a toilet on one's lawn, or even worse, on one's porch was met with a $1000 fine.  There is an extra fine imposed if it's a working model.  Putting an indoor sofa on the porch was deemed rednecky: only college students were given dispensations for this decorative barbarity.

What about cars?  The City Council, Solomon-like, made it illegal to have more than one car on concrete blocks, whether Ford or Chevy.  Immediately, a contrarian put his Honda Accord on concrete blocks.  Leave it to someone to find a loophole. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Supposedly there was a Supreme Court justice who said of pornography that he could not define it, but he knew it when he saw it.  Now, while that may be legally troublesome, I think we can appreciate his predicament.  Porn is off-putting, it contains a cringe factor.  It's not normally affirming or amusing.

We have something of a dilemma when it comes to an understanding of creepiness or disgust.  Why do some people set off our sense that they're creepy?  In my opinion, there's no common set of stimuli that we all respond to.  No, it's more likely to be the result of individual trial-and-error learning.  Furthermore, there is no "look" to people who are real creeps: you can't reliably distinguish between sex offenders and golf pros.  Unfortunately, people often pride themselves as being good judges of character.  Here's a heads-up, folks:  People who are found to be creepy look like everyone else, unless they do some serious self-handicapping, like the villain in No Country for Old Men.

To give you an example of such self-handicapping, having facial or neck tattoos usually sends a signal, which is not complimentary unless you are trying to look fierce while in maximum security state facilities.   They scream "ex-con" and "loser", very much like an above-the-buttocks tattoo screams "tramp stamp."

No, creeps are reliably known as a result of their acting creepy.  The smooth-talking preacher who peeps in windows, the politician who has an underage woman in tow with him at those good government conventions, or those smarmy people on morning television do it.  However, there are a number of warranted genuine creeps who fly under the radar, so to speak.  

The best strategy is to let the creeps self-identify.  Concoct a slogan, "I'm a creep, and I am proud!"  And sell hats for them to wear.  Most will be proud to do so, given their twistedness:

For the more subtle ones, a Creepometer may be of value, should someone invent this useful gadget:

And, of course, the Stare Test is foolproof.  If he stares at them for more than 10 seconds, he's a creep!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mike Gets an Epic Road Trip

This may be one of the most epic college pranks of all time; unfortunately, LSU was the butt of this  one nearly 65 years ago.

At that time, probably before the LSU - Ole Miss rivalry became primo, LSU had one with Tulane.  Like that little university in New Orleans. 

Anyway, LSU's teams were known as the Tigers since 1896, and they obtained Mike the Tiger as a real live animal mascot back in 1936.  Mike would show up and roar appreciation for his team at home games, and a few away games as well.

It so happened that LSU was playing Tulane on December 2, 1950, and they brought Mike along to New Orleans for the game.  Four Tulane students who had been on a coon hunt (!) happened upon Mike the Tiger in his traveling cage.  They acted on impulse and pulled the cage away even though their car had no trailer hitch.  They did a little carpe diem, you might say; and made off with a 14-year-old, 500-pound Bengal tiger!

Now different accounts have it that the tiger's cage was painted green; and some even say that Mike the Tiger was painted green.  However, the most credible one is that the cage was decorated with green and white crepe paper (Tulane's colors).  No cats were harmed in that escapade. The tigernapped feline was returned before the LSU - Tulane game, with the encouragement of the N.O.P.D.  Perhaps they tracked down the guys who were buying kitty treats by the case!

LSU took a dim view of the whole escapade, Mike the Tiger's unofficial road trip.  The four Tulane culprits were banned from the LSU campus for 50 years!  According to one Georgia newspaper, one of the participants regularly told the story of the tiger heist.  Mike was, fortunately, not worse for wear despite being in New Orleans for a while.  By the way, the game ended in a 14-14 tie.

There were six Mike the Tigers;
this is one of them.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Red-Headed Schoolteacher Gives Advice on Love

Hello, you uns.....I'm Tammy, the red-headed school teacher from Mt. Brushy; and I have some timely advice to make your love life more successful and enjoyable.  You know, guys: a little long-range planning can come in handy, even though most of you are not really into that as a life strategy.  You really, really miss out on a lot of the good feelings that go with mountain courtship by your emphasis on immediate results.  You got to win her over, if you expect any North Carolina lovin', if you know what I mean.  

First of all, if you see someone you fancy, call her for a date a few days before.  Asking on the same day gives a girl the feelin' that she's an afterthought.  

Secondly, take a bath or shower before each date with her, even if it isn't Saturday night.  Use deodorant while you're at it.  Who knows?  You might get lucky.

Thirdly, set the stage for a successful evening by bringing her a bouquet of flowers.  Get them at the supermarket, not from a cemetery! 

 Of course, plan with care the specific activity you are inviting her on.  A sophisticated movie in Asheville and a visit to a coffee shop is fine, as is a nice dinner out.  Don't take her for coffee at the gas station, even if they have those flavored coffees!  

Now here's the hard part: do some serious talking with her.  But be careful: don't talk about your brother getting drunk, your time in jail, old girl friends, sore toes, or NC State football if she's a Tarheel fan!  Of course, if she's a Wolfpack fan, she's no good for you.  Being seen with her will cause your kinfolk no end of shame and embarrassment!

Be respectful of her kinfolks, even the ones who served time in prison. 

If she has a yen to go to church on Sunday, take her.  Or a chick flick.  Of course, if she expresses a desire to see some NASCAR, by all means.  Don't mind her fancy on Jeff Gordon.  He's really hot!

If the one you are trying to woo reads real books, then by all means read some good quality ones yourself.  Pro tip: she's not likely to be impressed that you read Tom Clancy or Lee Childs.

As for attempts at intimacy with her, it's best to move slowly.  Don't try to get her intoxicated.  

And, never, never try doing that with wine that comes in a box!

Answer her texts ASAP; and start some on your own.  But to really impress her, try your hand at a sonnet.  Really, you need to get beyond that "Roses are red, violets are blue ...." formula.

Go all out on Valentine's Day to make her feel special.

Finally, remember you all:  Whatever she wants, she gets, especially if she's a redhead!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ma'am and Other Terms of Endearment

It seems that there's always something to be sensitive about.  Another social landmine is how you address strangers.  Having worked as a barista, I've done my share of this while purveying natural caffeine-based highs to people.  Now I was not so crass as to address people as "dude," even if they were wearing faux western garb; nor do I address a mixed group as "guys." even if they are conspiring to blow up Parliament.  No, Mama brought me up right.  Sorta.

So how do we address people whose name we do not know?  Some people use terms like "honey," "sweetie," or "dear"; but this might open them to criticism, unless they're waitresses who happen to be characters and address everyone in that fashion.  Then there's the old standbys, "Sir" and Ma'am."  Those generally are noncontroversial in the Deep South; but some from other parts find the latter to be offensive due to it being gendered, subservient on the part of the user, or implying that the person being addressed is decrepit.  "No, Ma'am.  You would rate a ma'am even if you were 20!" 

"Wham, bam!  Thank you, Ma'am!"

Therefore, don't get your knickers in a knot when visiting the South and hearing that form of address!  Now here's Angel's rule when it comes to using ma'am or not:  If grits are on the local restaurant menus, it's okay to "ma'am."  If not, then you're on your own.

Now this would not fly outside of Orleans, Jefferson, or St. Bernard Parishes, but addressing people as "podner" or "missy" or "dawlin" is usually taken well there.  Well, maybe not Uptown.  Those uptown women do stand on ceremony.

Finally, one last point.  It's considered bad form and too old-fashioned to call or address letters to boys younger than 8 years as "Master."  It may cause them to assume they're boss, or worse.  Think of Norman Bates!  Could being addressed in that manner have made him self-conscious and affected him later as an adult?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Should Children See on Television or in Print?

I remember from my childhood sensing an uncomfortable response on my parents' part when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke and was given extensive television coverage.  Immediately it became a problem as to which of their children could or should watch the news.  

Now with me at that age it was usually a nonissue, as I would rather go off and come back later and watch the Weird Science television program.  TV news was too much like those films of earnest education value we got in school.  Likewise, Mike, the brother closest to my age, was told to go to the boys' room and occupy himself with homework or playing WNOE or one of those FM stations he discovered.  

As for my three oldest sibs, they were allowed to watch, even as the story became more sordid.  Unfortunately for that strategy, these older siblings were quick to impart their knowledge to the others.  Now our response was "Ewww!  Yuck!", as children are wont to say.  And we felt slightly disfranchised.  Nowadays I avoid televised news if I can.  Seeing it in print, especially the Times-Picyaune, is my preference. 

Now at that time the Times-Picyaune used the catch-all term crime against nature, which I assumed could include picking flowers in the park or something.  Believe me, I was mindful not to pick the flowers; even the Indian paintbrushes or railroad daisies that grew in City Park almost randomly.  

Okay, my long intro aside, what should be covered in the televised or print news?  As some old slogan had it, "All the news that's fit to print."  Which was easily satirized as "All the news we can fit, we print."  Children are naturally disposed to sarcasm.  Blame it on television or video games, if it makes you happy.

Then there's excessively graphic violence.  Recently, Atlantic online had a picture from the Iraq war that I found to be stomach-churning.  My thought was that this was too much information, especially before my bagel and coffee!  I know the writer was trying to make a point; but goddam......

It was too graphic for me.

With news coverage or pictures the writer or illustrator should always keep her or his mind on the prize (the story), and not given into the cheap frisson of sensationalism.  News is not keeping up with the Kardashians or other filler beloved by the gossip publications.

Also, they should keep in mind their likely audience.  My fictional characters Al Gautreaux and Missy Chauvin would never go in for the cheap coverage that is too much for kids or dotty old professors even though New Orleans local news has plenty of scope for that!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Anime Parodies of "Liberty Leading the People"

One of the most dramatic, heroic, and beloved paintings is Eugene Delacroix's famous painting, Liberty Leading the People.  Different anime artists have made parodies of it:


Delacroix's original painting

Friday, September 12, 2014

Clowns Are Evil

There's an odd societal disconnect: Most children are put off by, or actually afraid of clowns; and yet they are frequently featured in entertainment settings such as circuses and street corners.  Specifically, an English survey of 250 children between four and sixteen found that most disliked or feared clowns.  There's even a term for fear of clowns: coulrophobia.  There's even a web site for people who hate clowns:


In our dysphemistic time, one of the few non-offensive put-downs is to describe someone as a clown; and that's not flattery!  

I'll have to admit that I was afraid of them as a child; even now my feeling toward clowns or mimes is of the "thanks, but no thanks" kind.  Even nowadays, I lower the blinds when I shower lest a clown peek in . . . .  

An article in the Smithsonian described 19th century portrayers of clowns as sad and sinister.  In the opera, Il Pagliacci a clown is even portrayed as murderous!  Now why don't the N.O.P.D. simply arrest guys for dressing like clowns?  And then there was the example of John Wayne Gacy, a clown and mass murderer from earlier times!


Obviously, children are not burdened with this negative history regarding clowns; they seem to give a gut reaction of dislike of them.  This is possibly an example of the uncanny valley effect.  This involves a revulsion that occurs when human features on a person or object look like and move similar to, but not exactly like a natural human being.  Wax figures, lifelike models, and other examples that are close to, but not exactly the same as, cause this type of response in some people.  We implicitly form schema regarding how people should look and act.  On the other hand, people are sometimes socialized otherwise.  Clowns and mimes would fit into this paradigm.  And I learned one kind of prudence at an early age: stay away from guys wearing makeup!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Post-Viet Nam Pessimism in a Soft Rock Song

It's been sometimes said that when it comes to rock music, the listener should focus on the beat, as opposed to the lyrics.  Indeed, this is often because the lyrics are so trite and provide a scaffolding for the song, like some of the really silly plots of operas.

I recently looked into the lyrics of one soft rock song that I like for its arrangement, and this is how I interpreted it:

The singer/narrator begins by describing to a woman how a bauble is displayed to advantage against her skin; and that he would like to engage in outdoors, nocturnal coitus with her while under starlight in a desert setting.  Sounds sexy, yet slightly salacious if they're not married or even long acquainted.

The singer feels that he might come to know her in the Biblical sense, whether as his lover or as his friend with benefits.  But something makes him uneasy about it all: this might be simply a one night stand, and no more easy sex afterwards.  But that's alright: he doesn't have unrealistic expectations about it all.  He's already standing on the ground, and will take what he can get.  At least she's likely to be an acceptable sexual partner.

Well, it's hardly a love song, but maybe it's a musical reflection of that era of confusion in the American psyche.  The 70's were a musical era with its dark side in lyrics: American women were scorned, people were crossing deserts with nameless horses, a woman plaintively declared that "It's too late, baby," a singer waxed maudlin over one of the Carolinas, men moaning about cakes left out in the rain, a guy dying, a woman inviting another to reside with her in a graveyard (I think), all of the Windy City dying, a weird one about American Pies (kind of pie unnamed) and so on.

Is this only in this song; or does this reflect a more general malaise of that time?  This song was released over 40 years ago, during the latter days of Viet Nam war.  Maybe that has something to do with it.  Or maybe it is symptomatic of the Nixonian era.  

But the joy of love, the romantic ideal, the constancy of true hearts is not found in the lyrics.  Was this the course of love in the 1970's?  It must have been a sad time.  On the other hand, maybe the infectious beat provided a complex sense of optimism despite the lyrics.  Well, at least I can deconstruct the song and sound very profound while doing so.  

A peaceful, easy feeling without complications.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Crazy Chester and The Prophetess Madeline Stage a Flash Mob

To protest peacefully is a bygone grace in America nowadays, as the unfortunate recent events of unruly mobs protesting civic or police misconduct.  This sort of thing troubled our pair of New Orleans equine actuaries, and they decided to set things right; but in a law-abiding way.  They decided to stage a march on City Hall; or maybe the Courts.

Madeline, the mystic of the two, came to the conclusion through prayer and her humor that both should be targets for their efforts. And that the best way to protest civic misconduct was through a mass prayer for good government!  Crazy Chester, the more down-to-Earth one, thought that this could call for organizing a flash mob that would spontaneously appear before those dens of iniquity and express their collective disappointment and call for them to change their wicked ways.  Since it's New Orleans, Chester thought it would get a wider response if the mob was in costume and accompanied with a jazz band.  All in the spirit of fun, of course.  Wearing Mardi Gras beads were optional.

So Chester called some people he knew.  As did Madeline.  They invited all to come in costume to a Funeral with Music* for Good Government, and to bring a an implement easily found in a hardware or grocery store that would best symbolize this desire to clean up things.  Nearly 700 people massed in front of City Hall!  This was unexpected; so they called out the police and wondered if they needed the State Police too.

On the day the flash mob assembled, it was led by the jazz band playing that old standby, "A Closer Walk With Thee"; and all were carrying toilet brushes!  Chester and Madeline could be off the wall at times, but the officers from the Third Precinct could not complain that this gathering was disorderly.  They even offered to clean the jakes at City Hall as well as the Augean Stable there!  Well, Madeline kissed her boyfriend Officer Pete; and Crazy Chester gave an honorary toilet brush to the Sergeant.  He later carried it when he patrolled Bourbon Street on Friday night.

In our country there is a problem of protest fatigue.  It's hard to make the national news when you protest something: too much competition and the same old routines.  But the toilet brushes put a welcome kick to a story that might have not gotten news coverage otherwise.

*A jazz funeral.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

When Did Snarkiness Become Acceptable?

"Come listen, my men, while I tell you again
The five unmistakable marks
So that you might know, wherever you go
The warranted genuine snarks."
-- Lewis Carroll (The Hunting of the Snark)

Lewis Carroll expounds on these: a meager and hollow taste, a habit of getting up late, slowness in taking a jest, a fondness for bathing machines, and ambition.  If we can take this as representative of 19th century thoughts on snarkiness, how did the present day meaning come about?  And why is it now okay to be snarky nowadays?

Possibly the meager and hollow taste cited by Carroll resulted in the person becoming sharply critical, cutting, or snide.  The snarks, by not understanding something, feels threatened by its existence.  God knows, however, why anyone should feel threatened by Hello Kitty!

First of all, let us ask when and where snarkiness or snarky remarks are acceptable.  Sermons and funeral orations are not accredited occasions for snarky comments.  Sometimes the social situation calls for people to play it straight.  And a politician seeking office should strategically not try to be too clever.  Read my words: Americans admire smartness, but not cleverness.  To be seen as clever is to be smart and up to something!

Also, who can be snarky?  Typically, newspaper or television critics or reviewers are allowed to be clever.  To them, and to the readers, their reviews are as much a tour de force of being clever as a simple imparting of information.  Was the Times restaurant critic awarded the chef's ears and tail for the devastating review of that Times Square restaurant, much like a toreador who dispached El Toro in style would be awarded the bull's ears and tails?  Anyway, critics, like newspaper columnists, are not to be taken very seriously.

High schoolers can be snarky.  Sorry, people, but it's a function of the setting.  After all, high schoolers have to go to school, and the power is in the hands of the teachers and principals!  A little bit of under the breath snarkiness serves to counter the sense of being in a P.O.W. camp, even with the periodic roll calls and substandard cuisine.  Being snarky is often an attribute of the powerless.  After all, do the real movers and shakers make much in the way of snarky remarks?

My theory is that snarkiness can be a manifestation of the Tall Poppy Syndrome: the social tendency to cut the prominent and powerful down to size.  It can be manifested in how a lame duck President is treated.  The high school students gain satisfaction from ridiculing the teacher or principal.  The talentless or unventuresome movie or food critic snipes at the noted moviemaker or chef.  The bon mot becomes their reason for being.  

However, it is at a cost in some cases.  Jon Stewart's or Stephen Colbert's snarkiness on the Comedy Network render few to take them seriously.  In that way, they are the victims of their own jokes.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

On Nude Pictures and Garbage Cans

No doubt you've seen the stories about several actresses and models having nude pictures hacked from their iCloud accounts.  In all likelihood these stories have garnered more readership than the continuing drama of ISIS, Ukraine, Gaza, and the first weekend of college football.  There's something twisted in our national psyche that requires this sort of obsession.  However, all nude (or nekkid) pictures are not equal.  I doubt that, should actress Hortense Gurtz's* iCloud be hacked and all her naughty parts revealed to the world, there would be hardly a peep in the media.  No, the two persons most named include the currently most favored actress and the best-loved supermodel!

First of all, let me state unequivocally that those who hacked those accounts are despicable; not to mention the on-line sites that published them.  And I'll unequivocally state that those who seek out and view those intrusions are part of the problem.  There's a lot of blame and douchiness to parcel out.  

But . . . . whoa!  This sort of thing happened before.  I remember when a relatively dumb, not very well-liked celebrity's sex tape came out despite her lack of intent or willingness, there was nothing of the same degree of indignation but rather an implicit invitation on the part of the media to join in the feeding frenzy!  Okay, I can get it.  I'm sure that if nude pictures of Sarah Palin were somehow revealed, the NYT, the WaPo, and the L.A. Times would be quite willing to share this noteworthy visual information!

But in the way the recent nude pictures story was covered, there was a certain amount of hypocrisy in the national media coverage: they deliciously mentioned specific names, inevitably two very prominent ones in particular!  Was there not some media self-interest in mentioning those names?  Sure.  Those names in particular make the story more newsworthy, its likelihood of being read, particularly on-line.  And by mentioning the more noted victims by name, they contribute to the bozofest that naturally ensued! 

Consider how another crime was covered: if a non-celebrity woman was raped, a newspaper with class** would not mention the victim by name or elaborate on the gory details.  There would be some grace in trying to spare the victim from further, unnecessary grief.  Plus, the crime is the story, not the victim!  

In short, the media sources that mention those victims by name are secondarily part of the problem!   I deliberately avoided mentioning any actual victims' names in writing this.  Maybe that is what should be done by the big newspapers and other media sources!  Right?  You betcha!

Turing from nude pictures to garbage can diving, I recently read an article in The Atlantic regarding a literary camp follower writing on the content of the garbage of a major 20th century writer.  Well, there's an element of creepiness to this, I think.  But the article included a tidbit that the author disposed of some honorary degrees granted him as well as a few other things.***  Maybe his wife simply told him that he needed to downsize his souvenirs, especially those from minor colleges, and keep only those from BCS-eligible institutions.  Well, the creepiness extends to the magazine as well!  

A personal note.  I was told that TAs should shred any proofs of exams before disposing them in the garbage, as some ethically dubious students may go through your can in order to find them.  My first thought was that I threw away an old bra the week before!

More seriously, shred anything sensitive before putting it in your garbage.  Privacy violators may look in the oddest places!  
*I hope there is no one that actually has this awful name!
**Possibly an oxymoron.
***I confess to knowing now more about his garbage than his books.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Myths of Pop Psychology

"A little learning is a dangerous thing.  
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring, 
Where shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, 
And drinking largely sobers us again." 
- Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism

Pop psychology, as opposed to the Real Deal, has a few myths to sustain it.  Well, a little mythology can be a good thing in some cases: look at the typical governmental budget!  Anyway, here's pop psychology's contribution of noise in the realm of lucid thought:

1.  Human beings are basically good.  (We have Jean-Jacques Rousseau to blame for this.  Not that Thomas Hobbes' pessimistic view of human nature is any more valid.)

2.  You cannot have too much self-esteem.  (Traipse off into the realm of unreality where no man or woman has ever gone before.  You too can be a Kardashian.)

3.  You shouldn't judge anyone.  (Yeah, even ax-murderers or child-molesters?)

4.  You cannot love others until you love yourself.  (Actually, the opposite is more likely to be true.)

5.  All guilt is bad.  (The concepts of sin, responsibility, or accountability are quaint notions accordingly.)

6.  It's better to express anger than to keep it in.  (In fact, expressing anger or listening routinely to angry messages tends to increase anger.)

7.  It's better to be extraverted than introverted.  (Either fall within the realm of normal behavior.  Extremes, such as found with the histrionic personality disorder or the schizoid personality disorder are not normal.)

8.  You should refrain from having inhibitions.  (Would that even involve doing naked twerking on the courthouse lawn?)

9.  The full moon causes craziness and crime.  (Just a folk belief; but it did give rise to the word lunatic.)

10.  Opposites attract.  (This is more a story line in movies than in reality.  I do not expect to hit it off with Taliban Johnny or ISIS Walter.)

11.  The insanity defense is often used by criminals to avoid execution or being sent to prison.   (Actually, this is seldom claimed, much less successfully used.  It may seem to be more common because of the prominence of some cases in which this is successfully claimed.)

12.  Some people have clairvoyance, precognition, or psychokinesis.  (Is the Law of Conservation of Energy suspended on holidays or for left handers?)