Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Nibs" in Eugene

We went to dinner tonight at a new place for us: Nibs.

Boy howdy, what a great place! The service was excellent and the food was foogasmic. The Babe had cinnamon-smoked buffalo short ribs; I had Ancona duck breast with black trumpet mushrooms and butternut squash tortellini. Dessert was a buckwheat and rye chocolate soufflé with salt caramel ice cream. Even the coffee was first-rate!

They make a great cosmopolitan and they serve Kriek lambic by the glass cheaply. Life was good. We're going back there again.

The United States of Awesome

As a direct counterpoint to the United States of Shame article from the other day, FlavorWire has put out an article (and a graphic) on the United States of Awesome. As the article puts it, "Because isn’t it nicer to congratulate Michigan on its heart health than dwell on Louisiana’s gonorrhea problem?"

The United States of Shame

This is a lovely article from Pleated Jeans on the records of shame held by the various states. What is your state last in place for? Mississippi actually has number of records. :) There's a great chart, too.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Apropos of the post a few days ago

Given the post about Sarah Palin the other day, I thought it appropriate to post this as well. It's from a couple years ago, but it's delightful: John Cleese saying that Michael is no longer the funniest Palin in the world.


A really cool emoticon

From Miles Kurland, a Cthulhu Emoticon:


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Haiku du jour

(This is a different category, I grant you, but it's really good. From Karen Mulholland.)

Somebody "fixed" something,
Now everything is broken.
Word that starts with F.

Quote du jour

"Only in America can you be Pro-Death Penalty, Pro-War, Pro-Unmanned Drone Bombs, Pro-Nuclear Weapons, Pro-Guns, Pro-Torture, Pro-Land Mines, AND still call yourself ‘Pro-Life.’" ~ John Fugelsang

Something you may not have known about Sarah Palin

(Warning: bad words ahead!)

I tend to say "Sarah Palin is a narcissistic bitch." (Actually, "bitch" is not the noun first to my lips, but it'll do.) I'm not damning her in any wise because she's a woman; hell, I'll call her a narcissistic sonofabitch, a narcissistic idiot, or even a narcissistic prick, if you like. The noun isn't really the hot issue; it's the narcissism and the complete failure of her "human" test that's the key point here. But in fact, this is all shorthand that sounds like casual name calling for something that is actually much more serious. Yeah, she truly is a narcissistic [use the imprecatory noun of your choice], but there's more to it than that.

Sarah Palin has a borderline personality disorder. I've seen it before in maybe half a dozen people. Statistics say that this is predominantly in women, though about a quarter of all cases are in men. In her case (and in the others I've personally encountered), it's related to money. It frequently comes from some combination of growing up in grinding poverty, with daddy issues, substantial emotional and/or physical abuse, incredibly low self-esteem, and lots of ridicule in and out of the family.

The manifestation is most visible as being "poor" rather than "broke." What do I mean here? "Broke" means having no money. "Poor" means believing you'll never have money. We've all been broke at one time or another in our lives. Being broke is, generally, transitory, but there's frequently light at the end of the tunnel. We may be waiting out a crappy economy, having to wait until we complete a degree, or even finishing an existing job, but there's hope. We know that the money tree may be poorly leaved, even bare right now, but there's the possibility of it blooming again.

Being "poor," on the other hand, is an eternal condition. People who are poor are poor right to the bone. They believe they'll always be poor. There's nothing for it. No matter how much money they get in, they won't be able to do anything long-term to better themselves or their living situation because they don't feel they're in control of their money or their personal fortune.

Some of this is a learned response to growing up in grinding poverty, but it's a self-destructive pattern that doesn't fit well. I've known several people who are worth millions, making more interest on safe investments than they could ever need, enough to retire on happily and clip coupons and be a benefactor to personal causes... and they're still worried that this could all vanish in a moment and nevermore be seen. Well, sure, things can happen as we've seen thanks to the clowns on Wall Street, but the kind of money we're talking about is enough to buy gold, real estate, Swiss bank accounts, and Picassos, and these folks still feel like it's all at risk. This isn't healthy.

Okay, but how does being poor rather than broke work out in the symptoms for this type of borderline personality disorder? If you're poor, you believe that everything could be taken away from you in an instant, trickle through your fingers, and you've got no real control. This seems to go more to the idea of unspent money in investments or savings, because it's just "numbers." So one of the things you see with this disorder is compulsive spending. "I may lose my money tomorrow, but at least I'll have these clothes, this car, this flat-screen TV." There's little point in longterm investments if you can't depend on there being a long term. This "gimme, gimme, gimme!" mentality translates to other things as well. It's a very childish and self-centered response. (Also part of the pathology.)

This disorder has a number of common contributing factors: dominating but emotionally distant fathers and an attempt to gain their approval, likely sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse, and growing up incredibly poor and being teased about it. It's a fairly common mental disease, unfortunately. From what I've read, it's not very treatable and the people who suffer from this are particularly resistant to treatment. Start thinking about behaviors you associate with "trailer trash." You'll recognize a lot of these as "thinking poor."

How this translates is that if you're in a position where everything you have could be taken away from you, then you're always in danger of losing it. As a result, you can't entertain doubts. Being wrong could mean that One Fatal Misstep that costs you everything. It's all black and white thinking: "if you're not for me, you're against me." It leads towards religious fundamentalism and other weird, rules-based pathologies. (Drinking alcoholics and white-knuckle drunks have this problem, too, which is why our former president was such damaged goods.)

But because there's no room for doubt, nobody around you can entertain doubts in you, either, because they're then not to be trusted. As soon as someone shows the slightest uncertainty, it's as if they were completely disloyal: it's a betrayal and they are now an enemy. There is no forgiveness for this kind of thing, either: if they doubted you once, everything about them from now on is suspect. And remember: if someone's doubting you, it means that they're threatening your income stream and your very existence... which in turn means that they're threatening your life. It becomes a survival issue... and there are no rules in a survival fight. That's why SP sounds so shrill when she's responding to critics and that's why anyone who doubts will be cast out.

And that's why there are only true believers around SP, little slavish idiots with their forebrains on "simmer" who have no critical thinking and are taken in by the glamour she's casting. Fuck 'em all for being stupid and failing their "human" test. Many of them suffer from the same mental disorder, but not all of them, certainly: I've seen lots of people who think she's great who are unthinkingly Republican because they're not very bright to begin with, but who aren't actually mentally diseased: just ignorant peasants.

Hand-in-glove with this pathology is that SP has been attending a Dominionist church. It's all rules-based stuff with this pathology, and the harder and clearer the rules, the better for people like this. You remember how Faux News made a big fuss about Obama's church and the Rev. Wright? It seemed like a tempest in a teapot. I never quite got the nature of the complaints people were making: he thought that black people (well, anyone who was non-white, really) were still being oppressed by an essentially racist society and that everyone needed to band together and address this, something like that? Well, I think there's a strong case to be made for that: this is still an essentially racist society, though not nearly as bad as it used to be 50 years ago, thank goodness, and we could all do a helluva lot better. As far as I could tell, that was most of the complaint.

I didn't see a real issue with the Rev. Wright at the time, particularly not when you're looking at a candidate for Vice President whose church has the tenet of believing in Christian theocracy. Dominionism is part of Christian Reconstructionism, a movement founded in the 70s by R. J. Rushdoony. He felt that we need a government based on the laws of God, which would require all citizens to observe the strict Reconstructionist form of Christianity, and which would punish moral sins ranging from blasphemy to homosexuality with death.

I know people who don't think this connection is anything significant. My feeling is they're not paying attention, they're ill-informed, or they may just be in denial: some people don't like to think that folks can be that malign and toxic. (We call them "the slow gazelles in the herd.") Evangelical Christians who think that they need to be running the country as an evangelically-conservative Christian country make me want to reach for my wallet and my weapons, and not necessarily in that order. They've got the look of Jesus in their eyes and they will kill you in order to save you and/or to stop your sins from corrupting the rest of Amurr'ka. We've already seen what they think of witches. (For those interested in more about the dangers of this set of beliefs or who just doesn't believe that Sarah Palin could be that fucked up, you can read this, too.)

There's a difference between knowing you can slide down the ladder and not wanting to be broke, versus being poor. It's a bit subtle, but there's a clawing, low-class greed to the latter. I believe that there will be more money and that the money tree is never completely bare, though it may take some real doing to harvest something. I believe this. Chances are that you have a similar belief, too. SP does not. Any money that comes in might truly be the very last that she sees.

SP is not a Horatio Alger story. According to a Faux News producer I know, she's loathed by all the old GOP hands up in AK who say that she's never once failed to bite a hand that fed her. From just what we can see publicly, her narcissism knows no bounds. From what we can also infer--like when she brokered a deal to keep her daughter out of jail a couple Xmases ago--that's only the tip of the iceberg. She's a ghastly excuse for a human being and you'd never want to be associated with her.

I am completely mystified why anyone would admire this bitch. Her character flaws are visible from blocks away. Anyone who is capable of admiring intelligence, articulateness, and political acumen should run screaming, as these are all qualities that SP lacks in abundance by any possible measurement. I can't see admiring someone who I don't care for morals or values of.

For example, I am really impressed by effective public speakers. Well, Hitler was an amazing public speaker. Really. He used to practice speeches continually and had dozens that he could just whip out at the drop of a hat. He had exceptional timing and a good voice. Even if you don't speak German, you can watch footage of him and see how his pacing is flawless. And if you do speak German--and I do, some--you can hear the rhythm of his language, too. Hitler practiced EVERY day in stray moments. You can appreciate this quality in him, but ignoring the rest of his, uh, personal shortcomings is asking an awful lot of anyone but Pat Buchanan--who has expressed a great admiration for Hitler on many public occasions. So looking at someone who might have risen from trailer trash beginnings to a brief elected office that she quit, but is herself a complete moral, social, and intellectual vacuum is, similarly, asking way too much of anyone paying attention. There are people who've accomplished an awful lot by being honest and grateful and not by being greedy, narcissistic pigs that I can list who are far more worthy of admiration.

SP is poor to the bone. I mean, she really thinks of herself as "poor" and she doesn't believe that she's going to ever be able to hang on to money. The pathology fits perfectly. With this kind of borderline personality disorder, she could have millions--hell, she does have millions!--but there's a belief that she can't hang on to this. There's a clawing need to her that can't ever be stopped. She's clawed her way to where she is now, and I suppose that that does count for something, after all: becoming Governor is no mean feat for anybody, let alone an ignorant, fairly stupid woman who came from nothing and went to four colleges. But that's her one major accomplishment against a backdrop of being completely awful.

You can describe Sarah Palin as a woman who is suffering from a rather specific and largely untreatable borderline personality disorder that leads her to public displays of ignorance and narcissistic desperation. Or you can just cut to the chase and call her a stupid cunt who's a boil on the backside of American politics. Either works.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Quote du jour

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort." -- Herm Albright (1876-1944)