It's been over four years since I wrote anything on this blog and to be honest, I'm very rusty about how to use it.
This is a test entry to see if I can get links working.
Does it hyperlink?
It’s not often that a multiple murderer gives you a guided online tour of his home, so anyone interested in the psychology of homicidal loners should check out George Sodini’s Youtube clips before someone demands that they be taken down. Sodini killed three women in a planned attack at a Pittsburgh gym in 2009, injuring nine others and killing himself. Afterwards a profile emerged of a healthy and relatively prosperous man, with no strong political or religious convictions who worked as a systems analyst for a law firm and lived alone.
He had given hints on his blog of his deadly intentions, but no intervention ever took place. Perhaps there was nobody reading his site. In it, the 48-year old Sodini wrote of his loneliness and sexual frustration, having not had sex for 18 years and not spent a full night with a girlfriend for 26 years.
His life might have been simpler if he’d been willing to settle for a woman of his own age, but he instead became a disciple of the seduction ‘guru’ R. Don Steele (RDS) whose books and seminars claim to teach men over 35 how to attract women aged 18-34. As part of the groundwork for one of these courses, Sodini filmed these two clips: one telling of how he concealed his unhappiness and another showing his home environment.
What’s striking about the home tour is how antiseptic his house seems. The walls have no decoration at all. There is little sign that he had any hobbies or interests apart from mention of some music MP3s. I can’t see any books apart from the self-help seduction manuals he displays on the coffee table. There’s nothing threatening to be seen, just a glaring emptiness.
I wonder whether there are a lot of men out there like him. There can’t be many things more embarrassing than to be a heterosexual man who just can’t seem to attract women. The feeling of failure must be crushing, and yet for Sodini, much of the problem stemmed from his circumstances. He was a non-lawyer in a legal firm; in a technical specialty that required a problem-solving mind with little scope for interpersonal development. The majority of people in his line of work would have been male, whilst the women he saw at work would probably have ignored him, as he was in a support function rather than a lawyer. There is mention in his writings of a terrible family background – especially a bullying older brother. I wonder whether he was mildly autistic. For all the clear signs of frustration, there’s little sign of human empathy. But that could be a result of decades of being ignored. It’s hard to know what’s cause and effect here.
Our police and security services are often on the lookout for the impressionable young muslim male and the angry white male with fanatical religious, racial or political opinions, but I can’t help thinking we should also watch out for those who are lonely through little fault of their own. In decades past, families were larger and more people belonged to churches and political associations (or even trade unions). As much as anything else, these provided safe settings for the sexes to mingle. As these have declined in significance, the danger grows of there being more and more lonely individuals who can’t reach out without seeming desperate and ensuring their own rejection, as clearly happened to Sodini. In the end, they may decide to die famously than be ignored for the rest of their solitary lives.
Happy New Year! Oh dear - my first post of 2010 and it's mid-June! Facebook-led inertia strikes again. I've been woken out of my slumber by a reply to a post I made nearly four years ago, concerning Phil Laak. Back in September 2006 I wrote this:
and today, someone purporting to be the man himself has replied to tell me that Phil is now 'the bomb' since breaking the record for poker endurance by playing a 115 hour session at the Bellagio. I'm equally impressed and revolted. It can't be healthy. But well done anyway.
What's amazed me about this is that someone, possibly Laak himself, has bothered to comment on a 4 year-old post made on an obscure blog that hasn't had a fresh entry for six months! When I got the notification, it took me about twenty minutes to find the original. I'm curious whether someone bookmarked the original post at the time and waited until now to reply. Or whether Phil employs someone to trawl the internet looking for comments about him. I must ask him when I see him again. I say "again", because I've since met the man and his girlfriend Jennifer Tilly and found them both thoroughly charming. If you're reading this Phil (which I doubt), I once gave you, Jennifer and Neil Channing a ride back to the Metropole hotel from the Vic.
Anyway, apologies again for the lack of posts. I really do believe that Facebook, and perhaps Twitter too, are killing blogs like this. Andy Ward and Roger Kirkham are finding the same thing. It's hard to summon the enthusiasm to post a blog entry when these social network sites are so much more convenient for small messages that don't require long elaboration.
Wow! Has it really been four months since I blogged? No doubt about it, Facebook's to blame. It's just so easy to substitute the status updates for proper posts. There is, after all, a significant overlap between those whom I've befriended on there and the readers of this site. Apologies to the rest of you. Must try harder.
Anyway, over in Copenhagen, the great and the good are battling to save the world from Global Warming. The Guardian's George Monbiot tells us that this is a battle to redefine humanity. I'm glad he's put it like that, because he's actually hit the nail on the head. It's your attitude to humanity that is most likely to drive you to one side of the debate or the other. Monbiot's attitude is ... well, interesting to say the least. Tell me what you think of this:
"flying across the Atlantic is now as unacceptable as child abuse"
That's Monbiot writing in 1999. Does that way of thinking strike you as normal? I personally haven't crossed the Atlantic since the summer of 2007, but I've got friends who have been to Vegas several times since then. Am I really to think of them as being on a par with child abusers? I really recommend you read the whole thing, especially the part where he says:
"Stand in Liverpool Street station on a Friday evening, while some of Britain’s richest people are going home to enjoy the fruits of their labours. Do they look happy? Stress oozes from them like sweat, anger shudders beneath their skin. No retail therapy, no holiday in the Caribbean could restore the damage done by this self-consumption. The drive to make more money than you could possibly need, to buy more goods than you could possibly enjoy, is a species of mental illness."
Misanthropic arrogance seeps from every pore. What a bitter, spiteful and miserable creature this man is.
It's time for some light relief! I'm often accused of having a bias towards Israel, so it's time I posted a link to a brilliant Palestinian blogger:
Nizo is unashamedly homosexual and lives in Quebec. Some of his output is NSFW, though you'll probably get away with it. Homophobes should avoid though.
Hilarious stuff, must read.
Could we have got where we have in Iraq if we'd gone around burning Iraq's oil fields? Hardly. So why do we expect to win in Afghanistan while wrecking the country's poppy fields? I'm getting increasingly annoyed at the senseless prolongation of this conflict.
Just who is this pointless war on drugs protecting? Don't ask me. I've seen people dealing drugs (I suspect it's heroin) right under the block where I live. Thanks to prohibition, I've got criminals plying their trade right under my nose. I don't feel safer knowing that what they are doing is illegal. I'd rather the addicts could get their fix legally at low cost somewhere else.
I do know who the war on drugs is hurting: British soldiers in Afghanistan, whose popularity with the local populace is wrecked because they are forced to stop the Afghans making the one thing that would get them out of poverty faster than anything else. What a gift for the Taliban!
Check out this map:
The province where British soldiers are fighting and dying is also the major opium production area. The areas of the country where security risks are low are those that don't cultivate the crop in meaningful quantities. If we could only see sense and end this insance prohibition. Crushing the Taliban (who murder girls who go to school and plan attacks on the west and India) is a worthy cause. Stopping some moron in the UK from wasting his life isn't. Innocent people are dying so that others can pose as 'tough on drugs'.
Let's focus on the war that's worth winning.
I read one of Agatha Christie's earlier novels last week. The following extracts are quite revealing. From "The Seven Dials Mystery" (1929):
He slipped his hand into the pocket of the dark blue suit into which he had just changed and held out something for Bill's inspection.
'A real, genuine blue-nosed automatic', he said with modest pride.
'No, I say,' said Bill. 'Is it really?' He was undoubtedly impressed.
'Stevens, my man, got him for me. Warranted clean and methodical in his habits. You press the button and Leopold* does the rest'.
* for some unexplained reason, he calls the gun Leopold.
Loraine rose and dressed herself in a tweed coat and skirt. Into one pocket of the coat she dropped an electric torch. Then she opened the drawer of her dressing table and took out a small ivory-handled pistol - almost a toy in appearance. She had bought it the day before at Harrods and she was very pleased with it.
So in 1929, you could buy a gun in a department store. You didn't even have to show up in person - just send your butler to buy it for you. Of course you had to be careful whom you shot.
'I'm glad you didn't shoot', said Jimmy. 'I'm a bit tired of being shot at'.
'I might easily have done so' said Mr Bateman.
'It would be dead against the law if you did', said Jimmy. 'You've got to make quite sure the beggar's house-breaking, you know, before you pot at him. You mustn't jump to conclusions. Otherwise you'd have to explain why you shot a guest on a perfectly innocent errand like mine.'
Luckily we live in more enlightened times when guns are not available to the general public and of course we enjoy far lower levels of crime than they did in 1929. /<sarcasm>
More proof, if any were needed, that religion fries your brain:
"JERUSALEM – The outbreak of swine flu should be renamed "Mexican" influenza in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork, said an Israeli health official Monday.
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions and "we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu," he told a news conference at a hospital in central Israel.
Both Judaism and Islam consider pigs unclean and forbid the eating of pork products."
Is he mad? Shouldn't he be grateful that this is surely the one catastrophy that can't be blamed on jews (or muslims) by anti-Semite conspiracy-theorist nutjobs!
If there's one thing that's always amazed me, it's how some people will admit to being dishonest and then be surprised when you don't want to go into business with them. About ten years ago I showed a room in my flat to a French guy who'd seen the advert in Loot. Within minutes of being in my presence, he explained that he was doing work for a French company overseas instead of national service. The company would pay his rent, provided that he submit an invoice from me showing the rent that I was charging him.
You can perhaps guess the rest. In return for inflating the actual figure we would split the saving 50/50. He seemed genuinely surprised that I didn't want to share a house with someone who'd just told me that he was dishonest. I didn't bother explaining.
Wind forward to 2009 and my e-mail address appears in a group e-mail, sent to people who subscribed to blackbeltpoker. Apologies swiftly followed from them for failing to blind copy the address. Sure enough, someone was soon to take advantage of this mailing list:
To - subscription list
From - "Tea Towlel"
I have bought Cole South's $1850 E book and although it has extremely improved my game I cannot play at the stakes it is suited to, I am a micro stakes player and I withdraw my roll to pay bills etc. I would like to recoup some of the money spent on it so am offering to send you a copy if you are interested. I printed it and scanned it back onto my computer as well as a few other things to get round the security and anti copying measures. I am letting it go for $100 as it is only a copy, still a massive bargain though as i bought it for $1850!
Email me back if you are interested, I will accept payments on Cake/Ipoker/FullTilt
To - "Tea Towlel"
From - "Tea Towlel"
LOL, you've never watched a knock off DVD or listened to knock off music, LMAO welcome to the real world, i've sold 10 already.
To - "Tea Towlel"
From - "Tea Towlel"
You trying to tell me you have never watched a dodgy DVD? Get real.
To - "Tea Towlel"
From - "Tea Towlel"
STOP WASTIN MY TIME PLEASE
To - "Tea Towlel"
Saw an interesting interview with Ben Goldacre of Badscience on his site. In it he relates how journalists get sources for their stories. They use a service called Response Source. It connects the worlds of journalism and PR. Tell it that you're a journalist and fill in the form to get a press release to crib from! That's the hard work done, so off to the pub, trebles all round. If you're wondering why you should pay money to read a re-written press release, you can just log onto Response Source and see the latest releases as they come out.
So that's the 'news' covered. What about readers' opinions? Well there's no need to bother trawling through the idiocy on message boards like Have Your Say or AOL comment any more. Just go to the Twat-O-Tron at Speak You're bRanes and read some frighteningly lifelike computer-generated drivel. It's the closest thing you'll see to a successful Turing Test. Click 'new' to get a sample and you'll never need to talk to a cab driver again. Here are a few:
"Oh here we go again. the bbc pretends its not true but EnviroMENTALists are promoting homosexualism becaus Gordon is too busy lining his pockets. when will this government smash the system. What a mess.
"I read about this in the Daily Mail here come the pc brigaed and the annny state! the British sheeple are interfering in our lives againb ecause they are trying to cover up their mistakes, Come on get tough, If you disagree SHUT UP!!!!!
glos, United Kingdom"
and so on....
'Ist er ein Junge oder ein Vater?' - That's my main memory of being taken to a coastal resort in Germany when I was 13 - a little girl asking whether I was a boy or a father. Of course the two are not mutually exclusive, as we are reminded by the case of 13-year olf Alfie Patten shown in this video with his offspring.
Many people are expressing their shock. For me the real eye-opener comes in this exchange with the reporter:
Reporter: "What will you do financially?
Alfie: "What's 'financially'?
Marvellous. He's 13 and doesn't know the meaning of the word 'financially'. I've often speculated that the problem with telling young people to use condoms is that it assumes that they can read the instructions on the packet.
A friend asked me to comment on something to do with the current economic mess. I wrote back about what I believed to be the core problem (with minor changes):
New visa rules came into force yesterday for those wishing to enter the United States. UK visitors will no longer be able to fill in the Visa Waiver form on the aircraft and must instead be pre-cleared with ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) at least three days before departure. Already there are unscrupulous operators trying to charge money for this free service, so in order to save you from wasting money, here is the correct link from the website of the US embassy in London:
From the embassy's site:
Travelers don't need to have specific travel plans in order to register. Registration is valid for two years or the life of the traveler's passport, whichever is shorter. So far, 99.6% of those registering have been approved - most within four seconds.
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