Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mother superior

The story of the Chinese "Tiger Mother" has really grown legs. I last posted about it here. Since then she's received a storm of criticism and even death threats. Here's one of many critiques.

Then there's the Chinese Mother-in-Law.

Here's a more general article about "extreme parenting".

I tend to agree that too many parents these days treat their kids more like "friends" than children, which can lead to problems like an excessive sense of entitlement. But going to the opposite extreme is no better.

I'm concerned about educational systems that don't teach students how to solve real-world problems. They didn't do it in the Seventies and they sure as hell don't now.

I'm so glad I never had kids.

Dr. Oscar Predicts

I predict that none of the following will have any impact at all on astrology as it is practiced here in the West.

You may have heard recently that the Babylonian zodiac has been "corrected", throwing astrologers into a tailspin. So what? I don't care whose feelings I hurt, astrology is BUNK. It's as real as the miracles in the Bible. Here's yet another statistical analysis, brilliantly visually displayed, that demonstrates once again the sheer vacuousness of the "art":

I can understand perfectly why people want to believe. But it isn't true. Get on with your life.

Alien Sex Fiends

You may recall my brief mention of alien abduciton aficionados in my recent post on repressed memory. I'm thrilled by UFOlogy researcher Robert Sheaffer's report that the world of abduction gurus David Jacobs and Budd Hopkins has collapsed:

"So what happened recently that has left Abductology for dead? In a deadly one-two punch, a woman who was one of Jacobs' subjects is publicly accusing him of unprofessional conduct, and has recordings to back herself up. This was followed by Hopkins' ex-wife spilling the beans about his extreme loosey-goosey "investigative" methods, and showing him absurdly credulous in accepting subjects' obvious fabrications, in fact sometimes actually complicit in helping cover them up!"

Concerning the the first accuser, "Emma Woods" (not her real name):
She accuses Jacobs of telling her, during hypnosis sessions, that she suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). She also accuses him of "planting" false memories in her of evil aliens abducting her, raping her, and even trying to kill her. She says she felt sick every time she saw the ocean because she "remembered" an alien hybrid holding her head under water.
All standard "recovered memory" bullshit. As for Hopkin's ex-wife Carol Rainey, it gets better:
Upon reading "Emma's" account, she jumped into the fray: "the trusting and vulnerable patient delivered up to Jacobs his hoped-for narrative of predatory hybrids among us— exactly what he ordered for the book he was writing. However, it’s anything but a typical abductee’s experience: violent sexual encounters with a human/alien hybrid; a request by the good Doctor (Ph.D. in history, non-medical) to send him her panties, unwashed, so they could be tested for alien sperm; and a proposal that she wear a chastity belt with nails across the vaginal opening, which he’d locate for her from (in Jacobs [sic] words) “a sex shop that specialized in bondage/dominance, a place that I frequented quite often.” "
I'll have to sit and savor this for a while. Couldn't have happened to nicer pair of crackpots.

The Alien Abduction Lamp is selling well. You still have time to be one of the 1000 lucky owners of this collectors' item.

Alien Sex Fiend had a lot of good records back in the Eighties. Takes me back...

Here's some tunes on YooToob.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Glenn Beck 180

It seems the High Liar of Beckistan was all for violent rhetoric before he wasn't. For some odd reason he's been on a tear lately trying to re-write his vitriolic legacy. This Wednesday he appeared on the NBC's Today show to promote his new book and told host Meredith Vieira that "I was a very bad man." Was. Past tense. No longer. On his January 11 radio show he claimed that you'd have to go back to his nasty statement about Michael Moore in 2005 to find that old, neanderthal Glenn Beck.  But now it seems that as of June 9 this good-guy transformation hadn't happened yet.

Yeah boy, I'll bet that rant got everyone's blood flowing. Let's take down this grammatical dog's breakfast:
There are politicians like the Ayatollah Khomeini who will do revolution for power. And then there are people like this who are mad men. I never thought I'd say we better learn something from the Ayatollah Khomeini, but here it is.
The Iranian revolution wasn't about power, at least not to the faction that wound up in power. They wanted to create a conservative Islamic state. Let's see who he thinks is "Khomeini" and who who thinks are "madmen".
The media and the politician [sic] have all of this wrong. In every single walk of life — you want to know why TV doesn't reflect you? You want to know why Washington doesn't reflect you? Because they don't understand, from the radical revolutionaries to the Islamic extremists — and yes, DOJ, they do exist — to the Tea Party movements.
Did he just compare the Tea Partiers to Islamic militants? Oh, I get it. He's just saying that "the media and politician [sic]" don't understand extremists.
Just because you in Washington and you who are so out of touch with life in the media, just because you don't believe in anything doesn't mean nobody [sic] else does. We do. You know why you're confused by this show? It's because I believe in something. You don't.
I understand your show perfectly, Glenn. The fact that you "believe" in something doesn't necessarily make your point of view better. The Islamic extremists believe in something, too. Does that make them right? Does it make them better than the people you're castigating?
Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.
Shoot him before he runs out of bullshit to say about the history of this country? Sounds good to me. Do us a favor and off yourself, Glenn.
I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don't. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep's clothing — change the pose. You will get the ends.
You've been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You're going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning [sic], they may shoot you.
Now let's be very clear about this one. He did not say that Righties need to shoot the Lefties or vice versa. What he did say was that the dominant faction in Washington been infiltrated by extremists and that the Democrats/liberals need to "shoot them in the head".

All this is yet another classic example of projection. It's a technique used by people of the paranoid, inadequate, intimidated and outclassed stripe, most of whom turn to the Right for succor. What Beck has done is to take the fact that the Republican party and conservative politics in general have been take over by crazed Right-wing extremists and project that reality onto the Left. It's the Left that's filled up with loonies, not us! They're crazy, we're the sane ones! The key to dealing with people who believe this ass-backwards, doppelgänger logic—and their Pied Pipers who lead them around by the nose: Beck, Palin, Coulter et al—is to simply flip their arguments around 180° and you've got it right. Simple.
They are dangerous because they believe.
I could say the same thing about your followers, Glenn.
Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind [sic].
Holy bat turn, Batman. Flip that last sentence 180°. Projection—it works.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

People who suck

It's that time again—the 50 Most Loathsome Americans (2010 edition).

Jenny McCarthy is a threat to "our" children. See the current body count.

In America a preacher can call for burning the Qur'an on 9/11. Not in the UK.

If you get locked out of your Brooklyn apartment after midnight it's a great way to make new friends.

Christ, I almost forgot that the Wannsee Conference was 69 years ago today.

 So much for the Jews.

The chairman of the conference, Reinhard Heydrich, was attacked in Prague May 27, 1942 with an IED. 

He died several days later. So much for Heydrich.

Fuck the Nazis.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The religious wrong

There have been a number of reports lately of US soldiers being forced to take a "spiritual" examination. Here's a report from an actual troop who was subjected to religious harassment over his low score:
When this chaplain told me that I failed the SFT because it was “Jesus’ way of personally knocking on my door as an invitation for me to come to Him as a born again ‘REAL’ Christian”...I thought of 3 things. First, I thought of the fact that I was already born a Christian and did not need to be born again. Second, I thought of my battle buddy (name and rank withheld) who took a bullet for me in his face during the Battle of (name of Iraqi battle withheld) and that he was the same kind of Christian as me and this chaplain is telling me that my battle buddy (name and rank withheld) is burning in hell for all time. Third, I thought how I wanted to blow that fucking chaplain’s head right off.
Damn right. Send his ass straight to "hell" (note the comments from the True Believers™). 

There's a new governor in Alabama. Here's his first official statement after being sworn in:
"So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."
Irony overload—he said this on MLK day in a church that King used to pastor.

Meanwhile, in Ireland:
Storero wrote that canon law, which required abuse allegations and punishments to be handled within the church, "must be meticulously followed." Any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome...
Associated Press

The film is called The Third Jihad. It is 72 minutes of gruesome footage of bombing carnage, frenzied crowds, burning American flags, flaming churches, and seething mullahs. All of this is sandwiched between a collection of somber talking heads informing us that, while we were sleeping, the international Islamist Jihad that wrought these horrors has set up shop here and is quietly going about its deadly business.
This is pretty toxic stuff, the kind of film likely to spark a picket line at a local theater. In this case, however, the impact is somewhat more sinister, since the audience was law enforcement officers attending a mandatory prep session on what to know about the terrorist threat.
The Village Voice

Here's a video of narcissistic exhibitionist, militant Zionist and Rand-tard J.A.P. Pam Geller showing off her  (✡)  (✡).

Not in a million years, bitch.  :P

RatCave Book Club, January 19, 2011

Updated 2011.08.24

Welcome to the second installment of the RatCave Book Club. Here's another round of interesting books I've read over the years...

Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D. & Katherine Ketcham
The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse

This will probably be one of the oddest "book reports" you've ever read....

This is one of the scariest and most gut-wrenching books I've ever attempted to read. Forget Stephen King. Forget Clive Barker, Edgar Allen Poe and Lovecraft. Forget Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter. Forget John the Revelator and Kerry Thornley.

I made it to page 41 of this book. Page forty-fucking-one. I know because that's where I left the bookmark. I couldn't stomach any more. How Loftus and Ketcham even managed to write it without throwing up is a mystery to me. Maybe they took turns.

In the Eighties and Nineties something really bizarre began happening in America. Horrific stories were cropping up all over the place about extreme cases of sexual abuse of children, including cases of serial abuse, followed by stories of "ritual Satanic abuse". Let me assure you up front that it was/is all bullshit, the result of bad psychotherapy and crazed, paranoid Christians looking for Satan under every rug. We know that now. But at the time it was all shocking and mystifying. How could all this be going on under everyone's nose all this time? Where will it end?

In the first 41 pages of this book the authors describe numerous cases of abuse by psycho-"therapy". How young women were cajoled, conned, and coerced into believing that they had been abused in ways that only only a writer of torture porn flicks could think of. In fact, this was one of the "proofs" given of their validity. No one could make this sick shit up so it had to be true.

Lives were ruined. Families torn apart; innocent, baffled parents sent to prison. Many of these young women were only marginally troubled, suffering from mild depression or anxiety when they entered therapy. Before it was all over they were emotional wrecks, even suicidal. Some of them were institutionalized multiple times. Things didn't get better until they finally broke with their therapists.

Loftus is an expert on memory. She's testified as an expert witness in many criminal cases. In time, thanks to the testimony of experts like her, many of these cases were overturned on appeal and a number of therapists defrocked and sued. But the damage had been done.

I'm not sure how to recommend this book. It's an important story that needs to be told. It's amazing that, cynical as I am, I couldn't get very far. Being bipolar didn't help; this sent me straight into hypomania. This is not a bedtime story. Even though it was written in 1994 (when Newt Gingrich was still a rising star and working on wife #3) and much has come to light in the last 15+ years, it's still relevant. There are still people making these ridiculous claims to this very day (note that Newt Gingrich is no longer relevant).

For those who are already scared off of this book here's an article by Loftus that's an excellent overview of the topic if you have the balls to read it. She mentions alien abduction; the abduction craze and the abuse frenzy really got rolling around the same time and have a lot in common. Both rely on people highly prone to suggestion and fantasy, an interrogator that uses authority as a velvet club and, most important of all, improper use of hypnosis. In the right setting, using the right technique, you can get some people to make up "memories" of the most amazing things and actually believe their own fiction. Things like being ass-raped when you were eleven months old or kidnapped by aliens and being given a physical. Note that some people get a start on the road to fantasies of abduction or demonic attack because of the phenomenon of sleep paralysis. I've experienced it myself but no aliens ever showed up. Damn.

BTW, it's funny how these technologicallly-advanced "aliens" seem to always use needles during these "exams". Did Dr. McCoy use fucking needles in the sickbay of the Starship fucking Enterprise? No. Hell no. Fuck no. So why are these stupid Greys so fucking backward? They must be sadistic bastards who get their jollies out of sticking L'humains.

Remember when I said that the sheer incredibleness of this crap was used as proof of its validity? As mentioned in the Loftus article above, one high-profile victim of this approach to the alien abduction madness was Dr. John Mack, professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. Despite his death by drunk driver his Institute is still cranking out the woo.

In The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan devotes a good deal of space to this rubbish and demolishes it with ease. It's an excellent place to start. In fact it's such a good book that you should stop everything you're doing right now and read the damn thing already.

Back to Loftus. She co-authored a paper with Melvin J. Guyer entitled "Who Abused Jane Doe? The Hazards of the Single Case History". The paper was a withering critique of a case history of recovered memories of sexual abuse published by psychiatrist David Corwin and his collaborator Erna Olafson in 1997. It was such a hot potato no peer-reviewed journal would publish it. Eventually it was published in Skeptical Inquirer in 2002 (part 1part 2):
Case histories make contributions to science and practice, but they can also be highly misleading. We illustrate with our re-examination of the case of Jane Doe; she was videotaped twice, once when she was six years old and then eleven years later when she was seventeen. During the first interview she reported sexual abuse by her mother. During the second interview she apparently forgot and then remembered the sexual abuse. Jane’s case has been hailed by some as the new proof of recovery of repressed or dissociated traumatic memories, and even as proof of the reliability of recovered memories of repeated abuse. Numerous pieces of “supporting evidence” were given in the original article for believing that the abuse occurred. Upon closer scrutiny, however, there are reasons to doubt not only the “supporting evidence,” but also that the sexual abuse ever happened in the first place. Our analysis raises several general questions about the use of case histories in science, medicine, and mental health. There is a cautionary tale not only for those professionals who advance the case history, but also for those who base their theories on it or would readily accept it as proof.
 I read it when it was originally published. The inevitable litigation began. And ended:
After wending its way for years through the California courts, ending with a ruling in early 2007 by the California Supreme Court, the case was finally resolved. Taus lost resoundingly on twenty of the twenty-one counts. The Skeptical Inquirer’s right to publish the articles was completely supported; Loftus, Guyer’s, and my right to write and talk about the case was given complete protection; and the Supreme Court ruled that because the defendants won the “overwhelming majority” of Taus’s claims, we were entitled to recover fees and costs.
The follow up article Whatever Happened to ‘Jane Doe’? details the legal wranglings and includes a concise summary of the original paper for those whose eyes glazed over while attempting to read it.

I can't go any further. There's more that could be said but I'm burnt. So much for the "books" I was going to review. It's amazing how these things can get out of hand.

Enjoy the SI articles, they're great. My next book review will shorter—hopefully.

There's a list of all my books reviews here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Toilet degrees

There's yet another growing problem in America. Yes, another one. There's an niche of blogging know collectively as "toilet law" which first made me aware of the situation. The basic problem isn't, however, limited to law schools. It's caused by the rise of for-profit educational institutions feeding on the student loans the federal government is so freely handing out. These schools of higher but not "hire" learning are all too glad to welcome loan-qualifying students and saddle them with crippling mountains of debt by graduation day. Debt that these ex-students can't pay back because—surprise—the jobs they were "guaranteed" all along don't exist.
Jackson filed for bankruptcy last year, listing $99,000 in student loans, the majority to pay for Brooks College. Unemployed, she lives on $725 a month, according to court records. In her most recent position, she earned $13.24 an hour, working in a call center for a credit union.
Jackson’s testimony was “credible” that she couldn’t find work in graphic arts because the degree from Brooks was “of little value in securing employment,” Bankruptcy Court Judge Walter Shapero wrote in his August opinion. He noted that Brooks was the defendant in a class-action suit, alleging that students were misled about employment prospects, salaries and the quality of career services. Career Education settled the suit in 2008 for $12.2 million, and Jackson received $2,750, the judge wrote. Career Education has since closed Brooks.

What the hell kind of legal education system are we running where we charge people more than they can afford to get a legal education, and then prevent them from being lawyers because they can’t pay off their debts?
Above The Law

Meanwhile, in tangentially related news...
A lawyer charged with dropping his pants while counseling two 19-year-old men on Friday says he exposed himself as part of a mentoring program to help at-risk youths.

A few days ago I posted a link to a “Chinese mother”. It seems I'm not the only one who thinks she's an arrogant cunt:
What Ms. Chua does not seem to understand is my commitment to being a Koala Mother is not because I'm afraid of being a Tiger Mother. It's because I think Tiger Mothers are self-absorbed narcissists. They have serious problems with boundary issues; apparently they think that their children are extensions of themselves, and exist to advertise the superiority of their Tiger Mothers.

Oh boy. It seems that Oprah protégé Dr. Mehmet Oz is really jumping off the deep end on his TV show. Here’s Martin Gardner on Oz:
It is not widely known that Oz has been profoundly influenced by Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish Protestant fundamentalist who, late in life, became a spiritualist and Sweden’s most famous trance medium. In the November/December 2007 issue of Spirituality and Health, a glossy bimonthly devoted to New Age topics, Oz coauthored an article titled “Mehmet Oz Finds His Teacher,” about how his wife Lisa introduced him to the theology of Swedenborg. (Lisa, by the way, is a Reiki Master. Reiki is a Japanese form of alternative medicine developed by a Buddhist monk.)

I leave you with The Battle Hymn of Sarah Palin:
And when she gets to Washington / It'll be cold as hell
They almost got it right. The lyrics should be "It'll be a cold day in Hell before Sarah Palin gets to Washington."

Monday, January 17, 2011


I forgot to include this in my last rant...

November 4, 2010. Game. Set. Match.

And this link was only attached to a picture in the previous post. I think it bears closer scrutiny.

The Victim Party

MANSOUR: I just want to clarify again, and maybe it wasn't done on the record enough by us when this came out, the graphic, is just, it's basically -- we never, ever, ever intended it to be gunsights. It was simply crosshairs like you see on maps.

BRUCE: Well, it's a surveyor's symbol. It's a surveyor's symbol.

MANSOUR: It's a surveyor's symbol. I just want to say this, Tammy, if I can. This graphic was done, not even done in house -- we had a political graphics professional who did this for us.

"There's been a lot of crazy talk from the American Right in recent years. And crazy talk — especially condoned at the highest social levels — has a powerful effect on people who are already crazy"—David Neiwert, author of The Eliminationists.

The vitriol-loving members of the right-wing are now, in the wake of the Tucson shooting spree, embracing victimhood full-on. And why not? Just last night one of the shooting victims attacked scardy-cat Tucson Tea Party co-founder Trent Humphries at a town-hall meeting.

The Usual Suspects™ are also upset about all the unseemly applause at Obama's Tucson speech. But this is easily explained—those college students were merely responding to the teleprompter.

I missed this statement by Rush Limbaugh last week:
What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. He’s sitting there in jail; he knows what’s going on. He knows that a Democrat [sic] Party — the Democrat [sic] Party — is attempting to find anybody but him to blame.
Let I get this straight—Loughner is sitting there in his jail cell laughing over how the Democratic liberals are successfully albeit falsely accusing conservatives for fostering a crime committed by a man who wasn't politically motivated. The clever bastards. But since he wasn't politically motivated, why would he be sitting there thinking about that? He wouldn't. He isn't. Non-sequiter. That's the best "conservative rhetoric" the Mouth of the Right can come up? They must really be rattled.

Apparently Mr. Loughner was a big fan of the "documentary" Zeitgeist. Which happens to be a crock of conspiracy theory shit. Tim Callahn (see Prophets or Profits?) takes it apart here.

Chief target Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has a history of being a target of violence.

Tom "The Hammer" Delay, former Republican House Majority Leader, convicted money-launderer and a no-longer-relevant-yet-still-on-TV celebrity, has officially declared himself a victim of a left-wing lynch mob in Texas.

Republican Governor of New Jersey and Sarah Palin agnostic Chris Christie has rapidly backtracked following his recent—and dare I say cogent—remarks about her. "It wasn't a criticism of her. It was an observation" he now says.

It's Dr. Martin Luther King day. Here's what the dickhead governor of Maine had to say to the NAACP (watch the whole thing).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Float on

Living here in the tourist trap known as the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia I'm surrounded by attractions. Caverns, Civil War battlefields, the Skyline Drive, Monticello and "antique" shops aplenty. Recently I visited an attraction I hadn't heard of before, American Celebration. The parent company has been in the parade float business since the Forties. The owner has a habit of saving everything and buying more. He was there that day and we had quite an interesting talk. He has a 400,000 square foot facility up north that's completely full. Some of the overflow is on display at here at Shenandoah Caverns which he also owns. I didn't take enough pictures but here's a sample of what's on display

All of the floats are self-propelled with custom built drivetrains. The figures are sculpted with steel rods and covered with various materials. They've appeared in parades all over the US including the Rose Parade and presidential inaugurations (note the seal in the picture above).