Lessons in Leaders

At the moment there are at least two world leaders suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You know who I mean. In the psychological parlance of the old days one of them is an egomaniac while the other is a classic narcissist. Let me explain the distinction.

Egomania is the psychotic version. Narcissism is the neurotic version. Both think they are the greatest person possible and everyone should love them unquestioningly and absolutely. The difference is when the delusion is challenged the psychotic lashes outwards, becoming violent and blaming the fault always on others. The neurotic becomes sad and can’t understand why someone wouldn’t agree they are perfect.

Ultimately if the neurotic’s delusion is challenged long enough or hard enough or by sufficient numbers they will slip into a psychotic state and lash out violently as well. A psychotic’s reaction, however, will never ‘reverse’ in such a manner.

People with such disorders are not suitable as leaders. History if full of examples of what happens when they do fill such positions, and it never works out well. Yet it happens repeatedly because they believe they would be the perfect choice for leader and are able to charm others into believing it as well. Up until the delusion is challenged. Right now there are two having a pretty good go at destroying their own countries, and one of them seems fairly determined at taking out the rest of the world as well.

You know who I mean.


The Twisted Tale of Teri

A few weeks ago I finally got around to watching one of the movies I brought back with me from my Dad’s estate, Young Frankenstein staring Gene Wilder – and Teri Garr. She was quite a good actress with a great sense of humour and also good-looking in my opinion. I wondered whatever happened to her. Good ol’ Internet provided an answer.

It seems she stopped acting after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which is a nasty disease that causes somewhat randomized symptoms that come and go and aren’t really the same in any two people. It’s all down to damage to the nerve coating which causes stimulation that “isn’t real” so to speak. The victim feels things that aren’t happening and has motor control problems such as double vision. The affliction can flare up, die down, come back, et cetera. Fatigue is the only thing mentioned as being an across-the-board indicator. There’s no definitive test for diagnosis either.

Hmm. That sounded somewhat familiar in fact. For eight years I’ve been going to one specialist after another complaining of similar symptoms. Most of the doctors were certain they knew what it was and ordered tests – which would then come up negative. They’d then get mad and dismiss me, passing me on to some other would-be genius who would insist they’d get to the bottom of it. And who then wouldn’t.

The last one, after much genetic testing that discovered only anomalies not linked to any known disorder, “closed my file” when she couldn’t categorize the problem. If you don’t understand it, just deny it right? Anyway I’m now up against a medical profession that doesn’t want to hear about it, and certainly doesn’t want any suggestions from a lay person who thinks he has some idea what it is and what tests can be done to indicate for or against it. What would they have to lose anyway? It’s not like they have to undergo the MRI to look for the lesions.

So a weird chance watching a movie and wondering about a performer in it has given me my best possible answer at the moment. It may be wrong. I’m willing to believe that. I’m not willing to believe there’s no problem, because I live with the apparently randomized symptoms every damn day – and they’re getting worse.

That nothing can be done about it doesn’t matter. As it is now with no known explanation nothing can be done about it either. That’s not relevant. What is relevant is that if I know what it actually is I can also know what to expect in progression and can plan ahead as is suitable. Also either way it looks as though that plan needs to be a fairly radical alteration of lifestyle as I’m already having significant problems doing the everyday things that allow for the one I’ve got now. If I’m going to not-so-slowly crumble I want to do it with as little pain and aggravation as possible.

More Movie Mentions

Thought I’d look through my little video collection and give a thumbs up to some of the more stellar editions. I know no one reads this so it doesn’t matter.

Amadeus: The first thing you have to understand is that this is fictional. Too many people think it is a historical documentary. It’s not. It’s an engaging story with a clever plot that is well written, directed, and acted all around. There are no weak performances here. Never mind the “flaws”; it’s entertainment and it has great Mozart music to boot. I think the oddest thing is that the maid seems to show the most sadness at Herr Mozart’s death.

Barabbass: You want to see a bad ‘biblical’ movie? This one is bad, but not so much so as to be unwatchable. The plot is a good idea, but it is so poorly executed as to be laughable. The directing is amateurish to the point of being idiotic. The writing nonsensical. It is obvious that any remake effort could only improve it. Anthony Quinn demonstrates his lack of talent to perfection, and both Jack Palance and Ernest Borgnine are wasted. It drags you through the mud (well, dust) and kicks you repeatedly with its lack of subtlety. Compelling awfulness.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: If you’re not a Hunter S. Thompson fan you won’t get it. Johnny Depp is perfect in his roll. Terry Gilliam’s direction is sometimes oblique and mindless or over-the-top (one of the best scenes was cut but is on the DVD as an extra) but over-all accurate. The writing when it’s straight from Thompson is golden: the way he suddenly switches from everyday drivel to a deep social commentary shows the genius behind the madness. The profanity is excessive sometimes so it’s not for the squeamish, otherwise it’s the right word in the right place (“Finish the fucking story!”). My favourite vignette is when he sees the real HST in an acid flashback to the ’60s. Nice little cameo that bolster the effect no end.

Galaxy Quest: Good heavens if this doesn’t go down in history as a classic there’s no hope for the human race. It has no faults. None. Tim Allen manages to hold his own against what are admittedly better and more experienced actors. The writing is sharp as a scalpel, the plot brilliant and intricate, although there are some small flaws that can easily be shrugged off. It does not go overboard on special effects either, which is a common flaw in any type of sci-fi movie.

How To Steal A Million: A romantic comedy with perfect chemistry between Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. Much snappy comedy. Good plot with the usual heist-film flaws. Eli Wallach’s character is the worst job in the whole show, and it’s not that bad. Not a classic exactly, but an enduring favourite.

I, Robot: Forget the writing it’s based on as it is a fairly loose base. This film stands up in its own right and could easily have been called something different. The flaws are in excessive and unnecessary profanity in a few places and some rather dragged-out ‘action’ sequences that look like ‘filler’. The best performance is by a ‘dead guy’, but even the bit players are at top level in this one. I like the fact they toyed with a sexual connection between the two main characters but didn’t fall into the trite trap of going there. The funniest bit is the one about cats (I won’t go on; just watch it). One plot hole I can’t get past: why would Landing’s house be torn down after he dies? No explanation given, and none plausible can I think of. Bridget Moynahan gives a fantastic performance as the genius scientist and is way too sexy in this roll without being a Hollywood bimbo version. Will Smith’s best performance in my opinion, even better than Men In Black.

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: Money chase is always a good plot. Writing? Eh. One liners; who needs more? We just fill the movie with the best comedic actors we can get our hands on (including some clever cameos) and let it go wild. Allegedly after the cast was shown some of the stunts filmed Buddy Hackett said “whadda ya need us for?” No, it’s not cinematic history. It’s a watch-it-repeatedly comfort comedy.

Jesus Christ, Superstar: It started as an album, then they made the movie. The stage version came after that. Kind of backwards from the traditional method, but it works. Fantastic acting and singing by most of the cast. Ted Neeley struggles but Carl Anderson shines like no other! Andrew Lloyd-Weber music, Tim Rice Lyrics, story from The Bible, Norman Jewison directing. Hard to miss with that combination. It was quite controversial at the time (and may still be) despite the fact any honest theologian would admit it’s the most accurate retelling of the story regardless of the unusual method. My only complaint is the use of modern military ‘props’ for emphasis. Doesn’t really work. But you’ll come away humming and singing the songs anyway.

Kelly’s Heroes: Okay I did this one already; Kelly’s Heroes

That’s enough for now: I’ll leave off here and continue next week I guess.


Abandon your religion

Believing in something there’s no proof of is a delusion. It’s a mental illness. In some forms it is harmless. In others … not so much so.

You know there is no god. It doesn’t matter what name you give a mythical being. You scoff at the polytheism of ancient cultures yet insist that your monotheism is real. You have no proof, and what you submit as proof is fantasy and fiction or explain by other means.

That book you pretend to believe in is fairy tales. Not a word of truth in it. Yet you insist it’s absolute truth, while at the same time selecting only those passages that support your preconceived notions of how things should be. When the errors of your processes and its contents are clearly demonstrated to you, you respond with violence in the fashion typical of any mentally deranged person whose fantasies are challenged.

Over centuries the lies of religion have served only to control and to justify slaughter, torture, and conquest. They have never done an ounce of good for anyone anywhere. You point to missions of mercy to counter the fact, but those missions were not dependent on the god who doesn’t exist; they were the actions of people with kind hearts. These come from no god. Indeed they come in spite of the fake gods and the phony profits and often operate in contradiction to the beliefs that supposedly support them.

You’ve pretended your religion is everything and the only thing good, and now it’s killing you. Conflict of beliefs has caused many bloody wars in the past, many persecution of innocents, many deaths of so-called ‘martyrs’. Now it is easier than ever before, and you can’t avoid it. You gather for your worship and your god does not protect you when the murderers come, because your god does not exist. Neither does theirs. Pretending to ‘accept’ the outcome as “god’s will” only excuses inaction to prevent the next slaughter or to justify retaliation against the current one. It does no good. There is no comfort in the words of your holy book because they are lies.

Abandon your religion. Wake up to the fact it is fake and false and serves only to enslave you and make your life miserable. Grasp reality. Deal with it. Don’t wait for the enjoyment of a heaven that doesn’t exist; make living enjoyable. Take the target of your belief off your back. Take action against the murderers. Your god doesn’t want you to die because it doesn’t exist. The question you have to ask is: do you want to live?

This applies not just to the so-called “Abrahamic” faiths but to all such spiritual beliefs from all cultures. There is no reason to respect or honour any of them, because they are all the same lies merely told by different liars.

You can not live with a religion. You can only die from it. If you believe in any faith you are already dead spiritually. The waiting surprise is you won’t come alive when your body dies as well. Kill your god and live.

And then nothing happened

In the latest round of sensational terrorism forty-nine people were murdered by a “white supremacist” spouting the usual trash justification for his crime.

And then nothing happened.

You can bet no one in any government got to grips with combating terrorism. They didn’t pass any new laws to make these gangs of violent offenders illegal. They didn’t issue any executive orders to round up and prosecute the long list of known offending affiliates. The didn’t call for better control of access to weapons. They didn’t instigate efforts to shut down the dissemination of radical viewpoints on social media.

No one did any of these things.

They made no effort whatsoever to solve the problem, same as always.


Because they don’t actually care.

It doesn’t matter who shot who: the hate groups have no real agenda other than to hate and instill fear. They will twist whatever reality there is to support their alleged manifesto, but in reality they just like to kill and terrorize. If there were no “them” for their “us” to be against they’d turn on themselves. It isn’t about realizing a goal; it’s abound inflicted chaos through mindless violence. Freedom fighters attack definitive targets with a plan to bring about change. Terrorists just attack.

And why don’t the politicians and law enforcement officials try to stop them?

Because they’re the same.

While those Muslims died in New Zealand, members of every government in the world cheered the attack silently in the privacy of their own heads. They want the controversy. They want the issue. They have false promises to make and elections to win. It doesn’t matter how many innocents die; other people don’t matter, only they do.

No surprise then that the White Supremacist dictatorship in Washington, D.C. puts out disingenuous statements of sympathy and condolence: in reality they are happy more Muslims are dead. Why, the dictator himself tried to twist it into an excuse to justify his favourite hate project.

Face it: we’re living in a world run by self-serving hypocrites who would murder their own grandmothers to get whatever they wanted. That’s how they got into power, that’s how they stay in power. And those groups who claim they want to change this really mean they want to change who benefits by it, the same as always.

You could tell the Muslims to abandon their religion to avoid being targets, but the murderers would just find another way to hate and kill. They’d slaughter communities, kids in school, businesses … whoever and wherever they need to achieve the terror they seek.

Unless society is willing to systematically and methodically remove such people permanently from our midst there is no hope for the future.

Things I wanted to be

It is standard to ask young children what they want to be when they grow up. It’s also ridiculous because they haven’t got enough life experience to even guess and there’s no way any of us can ever know what our path will be; how it may twist and turn and change our plans. Nevertheless we ask. The truly clever children unsettle adults with bizarre responses like “a horse” or “god”. John Lennon is alleged to have said “happy”, which is probably the best answer ever – albeit also the least likely to achieve, at least for all of the time.

Speaking as someone who is definitely on the opposite end of growing up I can say I always found out too late what I wanted to be. Many of the desires of my ideal existence would shock any who know me and probably those who don’t as well; we all have that aspect inside us, and most have the good sense to keep it locked away as a matter of self-preservation and to make our own life’s journey smoother.

When I was young I didn’t want to be a policeman or a fireman or even a race car driver – and that last fact would surprise those who do know me. I also never would have answered most of the things I have been in my many years, with the exception of “mechanic”. That last one, once revealed, earned me a rebuke from my sister who pointed out I was “too smart for that”. Dear sister, it is not such a simple profession after all.

So I learned how to set type. I learned photography. I worked odd jobs and became technically proficient at many trades including painting (not artistic), carpentry, plumbing, electrical wiring, electronics. Oh and being a mechanic, although I took that a bit beyond the ordinary grease monkey level.

I found myself saturated in learning and occupied with jobs demanding physically and demanding physics. Nothing like exercising four different kinds of engineering skills in practical applications. Many interests, many needs; fill the position that is required and you’d better learn fast how to do what you don’t know. At one point I was even a farmer. Anyone who thinks that is simple has no knowledge of the field at all (pun intended).

At one point I decided what I really would like to be was an architect, although it was far to late by then to start over. Besides most of the successful ones seem to be lacking in knowledge about house design, something you definitely learn if you spend any serious amount of time fixing them. I had an interest in music, learning to play guitar after a fashion and trying my hand at a few compositions, but instinctively knew I hadn’t the talent to make it in that line. Even those who do rarely succeed, although sometimes those who don’t do.

Over all I sort of went through life like a ball on a bagatelle board, bouncing off and careening around from one position to another. After years of being a househusband and assistant accountant I settled down to volunteer work designing solar electric power installations before being retired by ungrateful sponsors whose understanding of the process consisted of “sell products for us” and nothing else.

Retirement! Ah that fine time when you can get down to doing anything you want. I haven’t yet, partly due to a lack of huge piles of loose cash lying around but mainly due to too many mundane daily things still requiring my attention. Yet another lifestyle I have somehow slipped into which lacks any hint of sunsets on tropical beaches and women in grass skirts serving drinks.

There is now only one thing left to do in my life, and that is die. Looking back on all that has been I am somewhat curious as to what might interfere with that plan and instead take me on yet another not-particularly-wild adventure instead. In some respects I know exactly how it feels to be Rincewind.

When suddenly

Yesterday was bad. I nearly choked to death. This can happen when you start coughing while trying to swallow. I spent the rest of the day sipping cold water and fearing it would happen again. I did not dare eat dinner. Nor even take a pill. My throat felt as if I’d been strangled: not the ‘inside’ pain associated with disease, but ‘structural’ pain from having been tortured. No, I am not ill. Not in the cold/flu sense of the word.

It all comes down to muscle. In this case the muscles that affect breathing and swallowing. In general I have trouble with all my muscles; they are constantly tired, occasionally inoperative or weak, and often spasm. Toes to eyeballs. Every single day. Try and imagine what that’s like. I hope you don’t know from experience.

So something went wrong when I swallowed and then the chain reaction came. Now it still hurts and I’m leery of drinking or eat for fear of a second such episode. It also points towards a diagnosis where none has been forthcoming before. I’ve been to a lot of doctors over the past 8 years, and had numerous tests. It started with chest pain that was eerily like a heart attack (angina pectoris). Over time more symptoms appeared, and as one specialist after another dismissed me for not having what they originally guessed and one test after another (include genetic profiling) failed to show a definitive cause I was shuffled about with no hope in sight. There still isn’t any.

The common denominators of all the symptoms are nerves and muscles. Both were ‘checked’ – somewhat – and found to be okay. This I knew was a lie. They simply hadn’t tested when symptoms were present, so how could they tell? It was coming up on my being dismissed as having a psychosomatic complaint, but they didn’t even bother with that.

In a strange case of starting out with something completely unrelated I came across something that would explain it. Now, how do I convince the doubtful medical profession to check for that? I have no medical degree, and once again there is no single test which gives definitive results. (Sorry if the real world is analog, not digital.) They haven’t been listening well all along, and frankly have stopped completely. No wonder people turn to fake medicine and woo mongers.

Or maybe I’ve convinced myself this is what I’ve got and the body has reacted by creating the symptoms to fit. I doubt it. If it were the case, could I not convince myself I don’t have it and the symptoms would go away? I doubt that too.

Whether or not it’s whatever it is, the problem is real and has to be dealt with.

I’m rapidly running out of coping mechanisms.