Friday, December 14, 2012

Well, here we are...

Well here I am again, at the end of another semester of law school, preparing to write some more on my  MA research project and attempting to see my son over the Christmas holiday break between semesters.  I'm a little bit closer to my goal of returning home to Florida.  Divorce difficulties with my son's mother continue, as they probably alway will to some degree or another.  But that's the easy part.  Finally developing a strong relationship with someone who means so much more to me than my ex ever did, and am quite surprised by this welcome development.

As I opened my eyes the morning after this semester's last final and the afterglow of The Hobbit wore off, I was shocked by this morning's news of the terrible school shooting in Connecticut.  And then news flashing across the ticker of an equally horrible attack of over 20 children in China.  It makes me wonder, how much longer will we adults visit our horrors on our children?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One Final Left...

Hang on, only one more exam and then I'll return to regular posting.  Wish me luck, readers!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Politics Blog by Charles Pierce 

TAMPA, Fla. — It was about halfway through the speech given by Mary Fallin, by the grace of a pitiless god the governor of Oklahoma, where I finally came close to losing it. She rolled herself into this remarkable passage:
The history of my great state of Oklahoma offers a great example of pursuing the American Dream. It was built and settled by pioneers movibe west to seek better lives. During the Great Land Run of 1889, thousands of families rushed to put a stake down on empty plots of land. They built tent cities overnight. They farmed the land and they worked hard. And, in 1897, eight years after the land run, a handful of adventurous pioneers risked their own money — not the federal government's money — to drill Oklahoma's first oil well, the Nellie Johnstone. By doing so, these early-day pioneers changed the future and Oklahoma forever and today Oklahoma is one of the nation's key energy producers and job creators. President Obama wants us to believe that Oklahomans owe that success to the federal government — to the Department Of Energy,to the EPA, to the IRS, or maybe even to him. Mr. President, we know better. As we say in Oklahoma, that dog won't hunt.
Handed in as a seventh-grade history essay, this would get no better than a D. Delivered to the convention of one of our only two political parties, it was perhaps the most singularly dishonest speech I have ever seen a politician give, and I grew up in Massachusetts, and Willard Romney was once my governor. My god, Oklahomans wouldn't even have Oklahoma without the federal government, without the Homestead Act of 1889 or the Railroad Act — both, by the way, achievements of a Republican presidents named Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Harrison. And the land wasn't exactly "empty," Governor. It got emptied by a big-government program called the United States Army. You know what your state would be without the federal government, Governor, without the votes for the legislation from congressmen from the east and north, without the soldiers from New England and the Great Lakes? You know what Oklahoma would be?

Sand, with a whole lot of pissed-off Native Americans.

I'm not sure if it will be played this way. Ann Romney was sweet and lovely — and very defensive about people "attacking" hubby's success, but only as a "mom," of course — and Chris Christie brought down the house. But the Republican Party did something remarkable at its convention on Tuesday. It set out on an experiment to see exactly how much unmitigated hogwash the American political system can contain on a single evening. The Republican Party has set out at its 2012 convention in search of the Event Horizon of utter bullshit. It has sought to see precisely how many lies, evasions, elisions, and undigestible chunks of utter gobbledegook the political media can swallow before it finally gags twice and falls over dead, leaving the rest of America suckers all the same. What you didn't see in primetime, from Arthur Davis to Ted Cruz, and from one 2016 contender to another, was the GOP embarking upon the task of seeing exactly how much nonsense it could produce at top volume before democracy screams and gives up, like Noriega in Panama when they played the metal music at him.

It was something to see, I'll tell you. An entire evening based on a demonstrable lie.

The theme was We Did Build It — which, as every sentient being knows, is a mendacious barbering of something the president said a while back. (On the video screens in the hall, television commercials based on a severely edited version of the president's remarks were interspersed between the speeches, just in case somebody sought relief from the lies for a couple of seconds.) And there also was a lot of talk about how the various speakers Did Build It.

There was Jack Gilchrist from New Hampshire, the metal-shop owner, who was briefly an important Romney surrogate until it was revealed that his company took a few cool millions in small-business loans. There was Sher Valenzuela, running for lieutenant governor of Delaware, who talked about how she and her husband Did Build their business. She also talked about her husband, who was a soldier, and her father, the former drill sergeant and "a blue-collar union guy." She did not talk about her sideline, which is giving PowerPoint presentations to people — probably, I am sure, not in convention centers built with tax dollars — on how to suck up government contracts. There was a similar thing going on with Bob McDonnell, the slippery, up-and-coming transvaginalist of Virginia, who proved that his family Did Build It, by having his father join the army, his children doing the same, and himself, finding the "same job" in government once held by Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. After listening to this laughable bafflegab for a spell, you begin to wonder whether or not the U.S. military is a rather large venture-capital concern with anti-tank weapons.

It was an entire evening based on a demonstrable lie. It was an entire evening based on demonstrable lies told in service to the overriding demonstrable lie. And there was only one real story for actual journalists to tell at the end of it.

The Republicans simply don't care.

They don't care that they lie. They don't care that their lies are obvious. They don't care that their lies wouldn't fool an underpaid substitute Social Studies teacher in a public middle school, who would then probably go out one night and get yelled at by Chris Christie. ("They believe in teacher's unions. We believe in teachers," he said in his speech. Yeah, you just don't believe in paying them.) They don't care that their history is a lie and that, by spreading it, they devalue the actual history of the country, which is something that belongs to us.

Did Ted Cruz really quote Martin King in this hall? Did Artur Davis, the newly minted Republican turncoat from Alabama, just cite Jack Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Lyndon Fking Johnson as examples of "leaders" who "reached across the aisle"? Lyndon reached across the aisle? Yeah, he did, and he grabbed their peckers and put them in his pocket, and he didn't give them back until the skinflint bastards coughed up Medicare. Jesus, this was pathetic. They don't care that they lie so obviously that they always get caught, like they did with the evening's entire theme, like they have in and around the Tampa Bay Times Forum, or with the story of poor Jack Gilchrist. The Republicans will just tell the lie again. And again. And once more, until people get tired of telling the truth in response.

It was an entire evening based on a demonstrable lie because it was an entire evening based on rejecting — publicly and dishonestly, and without caring that the facts of your own biographies give the lie to the words you're saying — the idea of a general political commonwealth as expressed through the national government, which has been the great engine behind the expansion of the country's size, the country's wealth, and, yes, the country's freedom. It was a purchase in that political commonwealth, and not in a loose confederation of states, that King sought, and that Lyndon sought to give the country's poorest citizens, including the vote, which the government of John Kasich in Ohio is presently working assiduously to roll back.

It was an entire evening based on a demonstrable lie, and it was topped off by a demonstrable liar named Chris Christie, who talked about how the president can't lead, and that nobody wants to tell the Americans the truth of the sacrifices we have to share, and talked about "politicians who pander" at a convention that is preparing to nominate Willard Romney, which was the final hilarious lie of the night, since Romney hasn't stopped pandering since he walked down the steps of the Massachusetts State House in 2006.

Earlier, though, Christie rang the theme of the evening's overriding demonstrable lie, too. He talked about how his family Built It, his Irish father and his Sicilian mother.
They both lived hard lives. Dad grew up in poverty. After returning from Army service, he worked at the Breyer's ice-cream plant in the 1950's. With that job, and the GI Bill, he put himself through Rutgers University at night to become the first in his family to earn a college degree.
Chris, old man, you didn't even build yourself yourself. The tax dollars — the federal tax dollars — of, among other people, my parents paid your father's Army salary, and they paid for the G.I. Bill. The tax dollars of thousands of other people paid for his education at Rutgers, which is, as it proclaims, The State University Of New Jersey. All of them were proud to do it, because they knew that they were part of a political commonwealth that has as its proudest expression a national government in which all citizens have purchase.

And, Chris, and Bob, and Sher, and Jack, and all of you, you're welcome.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Jazz/Tango Fusion!

New El Todologo Podcast:

This episode features jazz/tango fusion from the Federico Lechner Trio with support from Franco Luciani. Enjoy! And please leave a little feedback! Click HERE for the podcast!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where I'd go if I watched NFL football

Mayfair Hotel holding Super Bowl viewing party
The Mayfair Hotel & Spa is throwing a Super Bowl viewing party at their Rooftop Pool & Cabana Club this Sunday, February 5.

Enjoy: Rooftop pool, Flat screen TV's around the bar area, Full poolside menu, Margherita Pizza and Bud Light pitcher: $15 /$3 domestic beers / 50 cents a wing (minimum of 20).

Ladies wearing NFL attire receive a complimentary glass of Prosecco.

Cabana Rentals: $125 including a bucket of 5 domestic beers
*Reservations recommended.
Bring the family!
The Mayfair is at 3000 Florida Avenue.
305.441.0000 /

Mayfair Hotel Info

South Florida Daily Blog: The Komen Foundation Needs To Be Cured

South Florida Daily Blog: The Komen Foundation Needs To Be Cured: From the NY Times : With its roster of corporate sponsors and the pink ribbons that lend a halo to almost any kind of product you can think...

I was just about to type up a quick rant about this issue when I noticed that South Florida Daily Blog had already beat me to the punch...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spotting the psychopaths among us

Spotting the psychopaths among us


Not all psychopaths are criminals. Some are bosses. Some are neighbors. With no empathy and no conscience, they manipulate us with charm and false feelings.

A persistent myth about psychopaths involves the belief that they are callous, emotional void criminals (particularly serial killers). The mass media (e.g., television shows, films, and books) often reinforces this inaccurate image. For example, a recent ABC program, "Secrets of Your Mind," presented a story of an incarcerated terrifying serial killer/psychopath who was diagnosed as having brain abnormalities in regulating his emotions.

Two facts contradict the false belief. First, a number (possibly most) of psychopaths are found in managerial or power positions rather than in prison/jail (see my early post: Why some psychopaths are in leadership positions and fellow blogger Sandra Brown's pertinent post). From the perspective of evolutionary biology, psychopaths flourish in society because most of them actually have the skill to avoid prison. Both criminal and managerial psychopaths are detrimental to others' well beings. However, unlike the violent criminals who rely on physical aggression to maintain their control over individuals, managerial psychopaths are inclined to employ verbal brutality, deception, and emotional abuse and ploys to ruin people's lives.

Second, psychopaths do not lack emotions. Emotions can be divided into self-serving and pro-other ones. Although they lack pro-other or social emotions, they have plenty of self-serving and/or maladaptive emotions. Psychopaths in power positions are good at harming and controlling others in part because they know how to use emotions to manipulate others at the expense of others' well beings.

Research and observations show that managerial psychopaths possess many self-serving and/or maladaptive emotions, such as: Arrogance, grandiosity, pleasure, anger, rage, hostility, contempt, overweening, envy, jealousy, greed, suspiciousness, impatience, and irritability. Because of their superficial charm, people often misperceive their impulsivity and unscrupulousness as being courageous and determined, and mistake their self-inflation and self-admiration as signs of self confidence.

On the other hand, research and observations also reveal that psychopaths are severely deficient in pro-other emotions, such as: Love, compassion, gratefulness, peacefulness, pleasantness, sympathy, guilt, remorse, empathy, and general moral emotions (e.g., shame, anxiety, and fear). Certainly, they pretend to mimic the emotions, but theirs are very shallow and artificial.

One question remains to be answered: Why do emotionally intelligent, nice people often become the victims of the psychopaths, who have abusive tempers and exhibit glibness, irresponsibility, and deception with an excessive need for control and interference corresponding to their sense of incompetency? In my observations, this is because managerial psychopaths use emotions, including your emotions, to advance their interests.

Let me use a midlevel manager as an example. He used three typical tricks to defeat his victims:

First, he constantly told lies to another as long as it helped maintain his control over the person. The victim, who attempted to communicate with the manager always met frustrations because the boss always denied what he did or justified his actions by saying "What's wrong with it?"

Second, although the manager had no guilty feelings, he managed to make his abused victim feel inadequate by repeating "It is Ok" (right after his violent emotional outburst against the person who disagreed with him). Basically, he made the victim feel that the victim's normal emotional reaction to the abuse was overreacting. As the result, the victim felt guilty.

Third, he was good at using another's empathy. Although anger was his primary temper for controlling others, he was excelled in shifting his emotional expressions from extreme angry to extreme sadness, automatically or voluntarily. Suddenly, he appeared to be a helpless and sad person, needing immediately to be babied by others, arousing his victims' empathy right away (This shift is part of his performance, different from the emotional instability as observed in borderline personality disorders).

How to deal with them? I agree with Martha Stout's suggestion that the best method to deal with psychopaths is to detach from them or the situations in which they operate.

However, I do not share the consensus that there is neither a cure nor any effective treatment for psychopathy, which has a strong genetic component. I think that the late British psychologist Hans Eysenck's research on conditionability and conscience sheds a light on psychopathy (even though he has not examined psychopathy per se). Eysenck contended that people who are impulsive, lack (or have not learned) the sense of guilt or conscience have low conditionability, which was influenced by the process of classical conditioning, particularly during childhood. Although the limbic system regulates the effectiveness of classical conditioning, more frequent and intensive conditioning processes can improve the innate low conditionability.

In short, psychopaths represent a much more complicated category than the offenders portrayed in the media. They thrive not because they lack emotions in general, but because they use emotions (in addition to other tricks) to control others.