The good, the bad, and the Ugly

I was once hiking with a local group, and one Jewish man told me that he had seen this absolutely beautiful woman on TV – but she was talking of her admiration for Osama Bin Laden. He couldn’t get over the fact that such a beautiful woman could admire a man responsible for killing thousands of innocent Americans – people who went to work one day, and never came back.

I have unfortunately always been a person to judge by appearances. Its kind of automatic – and we all do it, at least initially, to some extent. The tall willowy blonde woman with green eyes makes a better impression in general than the overweight diabetic woman with big glasses.
I might be more comfortable chatting with the overweight diabetic woman, but I would be more likely to check my appearance in a store window after meeting the willowy woman with green eyes.

So is this a valid way to initially judge people?
I think to some extent it is, as a rough sketch. If you see a man with bloodshot eyes, a paunch, and a bloated face, he is likely to be an alcoholic, for instance, and that may (or may not) tell you about his character. A person with a healthy lifestyle, who has led a fairly low-stress life, will probably look better than the opposite.

I do believe that seeing people in motion, and watching how their expressions change when provoked, can tell you much more.

Take a look at these static faces, and guess who is good, and who was bad:


The first one is named Suzanne Spaak.
The second is named Lisolette Meier
The third is Henrique Gomes da Rocha
The fourth was named John Allen Williams
The fifth is Temar Boggs

Suzanne left the comfort of her upper-class home in Paris to join the Underground and rescue Jews.

Liselotte Meier, joined her boss, an SS officer on shooting parties in the snow, hunting and killing Jews for sport.

Henrique confessed to murdering 39 people, including a 14-year-old teenage girl and homeless people.

John Allen Williams shot people randomly with a sniper rifle in the states of Maryland and Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Ten people were killed and three others were critically injured. He admired Osama Bin Laden.

Temar Boggs helped save a 5-year-old girl when he and his teen friends chased down her kidnapper’s car on their bikes.

So the faces don’t really tell you much.

The playwright William Shakespeare (born 1565) wrote that “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.”

But as I said earlier, I think when you see a flitting series of expressions on a person, and you also have the context for the emotional reaction you are seeing, you can tell more than most people would think.

Then again, as my mother says, “Never Assume!



Pirate gold in the yard, Pirates in the halls.

Imagine that you have a treasure chest of pirate gold buried in your back yard. Its been there since 1700, but you don’t know about it. So you struggle at to pay the rent and the mortgage, and to put your kids through school, and now you have a large debt, and cannot retire, but nobody wants to hire you because you have macular degeneration.  You end up in an old age home subsidized by the state.

The point I’m making is that you could be in close proximity to a major solution to your problems, but if you don’t know about it, it might as well not be there.


Conversely, imagine you’ve been in a jail cell for 20 years. The cell has a window with bars, and a cot, and a toilet. Twenty years have passed, and you are about to be let out. You jump around for joy in your cell, and accidentally kick the toilet out of place. Under it, you are astonished to see that a previous inmate has secreted a metal file. In other words, you might have escaped decades ago, by using that file on the bars.

But again, what you don’t know about might as well not exist.


Does this kind of thing happen in reality? In a way it does. I once hiked with a group in a scenic area north of Phoenix, and got to talking with one of their members. The whole group had worked for Motorola, originally. The hiker told me that Motorola had a big lead on cell phones, but decided to go with analog technology, rather than digital. So it missed the boat (or the treasure chest).
As an aside, many of this hiker’s former colleagues were unemployed after it collapsed, and quite a few decided to go on disability, rather than search for a new job.


Another example, this time of warnings that could have saved people, was the story of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. He warned that small planes could successfully bomb big ships, and he warned that the Japanese would attack America, and would bomb Pearl Harbor.  Instead of being listened to, he was court-martialed! (He wasn’t court-martialed for making that warning, but still, the point is, if you don’t believe the truth when it is handed to you, you will can end up in a disaster.)


In my case, I’ve not been believed for many years. I’ve tried to warn society, and I’ve tried to warn my own family. I won’t go into the details here, but it is interesting to see what non-belief means. I can tell my family that their house is not secure, that it is being entered, every day, every night, by bad people who have decided to make me, and possibly my parents as a bonus, into a grand pharmacological experiment. Of course nobody would believe that, but the interesting part is to see the serene calmness that reigns among the people in my household, when in my world, a slow-motion horror movie is occurring there.

Arguments I hear are:
“Bad guys are not interested in persecuting people like you. They are interested in money!”
“Nobody but you believes this crazy story”.

And so forth.

In truth, I can’t presume to explain “bad guys”, but they can be motivated by many things, even ideology. They can be motivated by a desire to keep a lid on someone who knows too much. They can be motivated by revenge. They can be motivated by disgust. They can be in a situation where they don’t want to kill you, but they don’t want to let you go either.
Psychopaths are often motivated by a desire to “make people jump”, according to Martha Stout, who wrote a book about them.

People don’t understand the implications of the existence of organized crime either. Criminals are early adopters of technology, and are often very determined people. Organized crime is in every state of the United States. Criminals can hold a regular job, and yet have their secret identity, like the superheroes in our comic books. I’m not just talking about bodegas that sell drugs on the side, I’m talking about people who could be a receptionist at an office, a social worker, a doctor, and so forth.

It is my view that at least some criminality is like autism. A certain percent of the population is going to be born with it. They see the world differently. It is a big mistake to rule out any harmful motivation with some assumption like “They won’t hurt me, they are just interested in money!”

May I ruin your day?

In case you are feeling obnoxiously cheerful today, and positive about the American future, I wrote this post to deflate your mood.

Here are some of the negative trends (all via statistics).

1. Americans killing themselves – On average, 20 veterans a day committed suicide in 2014.
To despair to the point of suicide you do not have to have seen combat though. Between 2007 and 2015 there was a 31% increase in suicide rates for young males, and for young females, the suicide rate doubled.
(Middle-age white people account for a third of all US suicides.)

2. One reason could be loneliness. The National Science Foundation (NSF) reported in its General Social Survey (GSS) that unprecedented numbers of Americans are lonely. the study featured 1,500 face-to-face interviews where more than a quarter of the respondents — one in four — said that they have no one with whom they can talk about their personal troubles or triumphs. If family members are not counted, the number doubles to more than half of Americans who have no one outside their immediate family with whom they can share confidences.

3. A healthy home environment might help, but single motherhood has grown so common in America that demographers now believe half of all children will live with a single mom at some point before the age of 18. Does that matter? It does for children – they are far more likely to live in poverty than children of married parents. They also have more problem behaviors and more trouble finishing school.

4. Feeling good about yourself – its harder to do that if you are very overweight, and obesity in America is at an all-time high. Nearly 40 percent of adults and 20 percent of children are considered obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Sleep deprivation, unbalanced diet and lack of exercise are three main factors for the widespread unhealthiness.)

7. I would think it is also hard to feel good about yourself, let alone respecting others, if you see people degrade themselves. The pornography (adult entertainment) industry is an entity that generates billions of dollars in the United States annually. Some estimates suggest that the figure is as much as 13 billion. What is more notable is the fact that 90% of young boys and 60% of young girls have been exposed to pornography before they reach the age of 18.

8. Not feeling good about your country: In places like Edina, Minnesota, the Left has transformed K-12 schools into indoctrination factories whose overarching purpose is to train students to be reflexively racist and anti-American.
Educators in Edina, a wealthy Minneapolis suburb, don’t even try to conceal their sinister goals. Elementary school students there are subjected to an A-B-C book titled A is for Activist. Among the alphabetized propaganda points are these gems:
“A is for Activist. Are you an Activist?”
“C is for … Creative Counter to Corporate vultures.”
“F is for Feminist.”
“T is for Trans.”
“X is for Malcolm as in Malcolm X.”
When Donald Trump won the election last November, anarchy and partisan bullying paralyzed the high school.
“I felt like the school was descending into mass hysteria,” one student said of the day after the election. Another said Trump’s victory was treated as “the end of the world as we know it.”
Students reported “[e]very teacher was crying in class, one even told the whole class ‘Trump winning is worse than 9/11 and the Columbine shooting.’”

9. Educators may teach social activism, but they are failing to teach the basics. Recently, it was found in America that:
14% of adults can’t read.
28% of adults didn’t read a book in the last year.
50% of adults can’t read a book written at an 8th grade level.

10. Those educators also don’t provide a peaceful environment for learning:
Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.
Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.

11. Fewer young people, whether on the right or on the left, believe in free speech:
The original poll that showed that was discounted, because it used online respondents who could opt-in. A new one from Republican pollster John McLaughlin was also conducted online but weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the country. The results from the new poll were even more extreme than the first. It was found that even among women, more than a fifth are willing to condone violence to stop someone from speaking. As much as right-wingers would like to crow that this is left-wing fascism at work, there’s virtually no partisan gap — a result duplicated by the other survey of college students, which found Republican students slightly more likely to condone violence than Democratic ones. Many believed in shutting down “hate speech”, so McLaughlin asked about that, wondering how many students would agree or disagree that “Hate speech is anything that one particular person believes is harmful, racist or bigoted. Hate speech means something different to everyone and you just know it when you see or hear it.” Result: 66 percent agreed with the definition versus just 24 percent who didn’t.”

12. I could add other negative trends – the ability of a few terrorists to kill hundreds of people with one truck full of explosives, as they did a day ago in Somalia. Mass shootings as happened  recently in a country music concert in Las  Vegas.   I could add negative trends from my own particular experiences which are really hair-raising.  Oh, and support for protectionism and also socialism are both  on the rise.

So have I ruined your day yet? No?

I’m depressed. I can’t even do that.

There is one more point to make though.   I read a book (Saving Freedom)  a while back by Jim DeMint, who was  a businessman who became a senator, and he said that in his day,  business activity was mixed with socializing and also charity.  He could  meet people at a  local charity who might give him business contacts, etc.  There was an active community for civic improvement in that sense.  In early America also, it was observed that  there were many organizations by private citizens to accomplish positive goals.   Various people have written that  we should not have such a huge charitable government sector that  subsidizes single motherhood, fails to educate large numbers of the population, puts a large tax on economic initiative, and so forth.

In other words, past efforts trying to help may have made matters much worse.


Sometimes a banana peel is only a banana peel – but don’t bet on it!

I am walking down the street. A bright yellow banana peel is in my path. Anyone else would assume that someone ate a banana, and being inconsiderate, threw it out of his car window.
However, I interpreted this banana as a warning from a mysterious criminal organization that I would be like the slapstick characters in old movies who slipped on banana peels and fell!

Sometimes, as Sigmund Freud, (the father of psychoanalysis) said, a cigar is just a cigar.
Freud is interesting, because he made an influential theory (in 1896) which tried to explain patterns of behavior by causes that were often very related to the idea that a cigar was not just a cigar. (Or that a mother of a mentally ill child was responsible for the mental illness. Mother blaming first became a national pastime in the early 20th century, when psychology declared the mother the dominant influence on a child’s development)
So a pattern was seen where there was no pattern.
Causal patterns are important in understanding our world, as is understanding our fellow human beings. This is obvious of course, but consider some recent examples:

  1. People know that Hollywood is socially liberal, and that many films coming out of it are overly obsessed with sexual topics. But after the recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein, a married film-CEO who sexually assaulted actresses or hinted at relations with them when they were in the vulnerable situation of being anxious to start in films, the worst (and craziest) rumors become believable. Not only because of Weinstein, but because of the rash of testimony from actors and others who worked in Hollywood or attended parties there. More than one man complained that his private parts were grabbed. Another insider said that pedophilia was common
    This is strange. Why should people in any industry behave this way? It show me that I am missing some understanding of my fellow human beings. I do understand incentives – if you are a lecherous slob in control of a movie studio, and pretty actresses keep asking you for a movie-part, you might take advantage of them. But still…

2) I’ve read essays by various people on the left and right who want to trust Russia.

I wonder what they think of this item:

A museum was ceremoniously opened in Russia recently to Felix Dzherzhinsky, the founder of the notorious Soviet secret police, with the event attended by MPs and members of the FSB, Russia’s modern-day security service.  The week also saw an important development in the latest closed court hearing of the widely condemned trial of Yury Dmitriev, a 61-year-old historian who has devoted most of his life to uncovering the mass graves of the victims of the Soviet secret police and identifying the perpetrators.
The shift towards rehabilitating the perpetrators of the Soviet Terror and muffling information about the victims began within a few years of ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin’s rise to power.  The results are evident in the record number of Russians who have a positive attitude to the murderous Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and the fact that Stalin’s portrait is found openly hanging in FSB offices.

Putin was supposed to be post-Communist – a man of faith, family values, a simple nationalist.

So why would he do this?

Causes and human nature are very interwoven here, and people often get them wrong.

I wrote a blog post a few years ago on the Vietnam war, addressing the question of whether the Americans committed atrocities or not.  (Some undeniably did, at My Lai, for instance).

I believe the motive for the war was to stop Communism. Communism had swallowed up Russia, a country that is so huge that it stretches across nine time zones, it had swallowed up China (a country with three times our  population), it would have swallowed up Korea except for a war that the Americans (and allies) almost lost.  So it is plausible that JFK was telling the truth when he said he  believed it had to be stopped from swallowing up more countries. But I’m no historian, and consider this explanation by Bob Buzzanco:

The U.S. had no singular interest in Vietnam itself, but put a huge priority on establishing global economic hegemony and, therein, on creating or restoring capitalism in Asia, with Japan (and China before 10/1/1949) as the linchpin and American partner. In that context, a small country like Vietnam was critical to provide an outlet for Japanese capitalism—via markets, consumers, raw materials, and investment. (On this point, see especially Andrew Rotter, The Path to Vietnam, also Lloyd Gardner, Approaching Vietnam, and William Borden, The Pacific Alliance.

Buzzanco is quoting three books. I will never be motivated enough to read those books, and I would not know how to evaluate them if I did.

Then as far as my citing various soldiers on the nature of the Americans who fought in Vietnam, there is this:

In his book, “Kill Anything That Moves,” Nick Turse, a historian and investigative journalist, states, “Murder, torture, rape, abuse…were virtually a daily fact of life throughout the years of the American presence in Vietnam…they were the inevitable outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest levels of the military.
In “America’s Needless Wars: Cautionary Tales of U.S. Involvement in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Iraq,” historian David Contosta writes that in Turse’s analysis of the records of the War Crimes Working Group stored at the U.S. National Archives, the eyewitness testimonies of American soldiers showed that “every major army unit in Vietnam had committed atrocities against civilians.”  According to Turse, “every infantry, cavalry, and airborne division, and every separate brigade that deployed.

So who am I to believe? Am I motivated enough to read Nick’s book? Would I be able to evaluate it if I did?   The people I quoted in my original post (and others who are shown in Ken Burn’s documentary) come across as very believable, and they didn’t see this sort of thing.  In fact, some were tortured  by the Communists to say that it was happening, and resisted.

Anyway, here we have two separate issues, one causality (why the U.S. fought a war in Vietnam) and another – human nature, or how the average American soldier behaved toward the Vietnamese. Depending on how what you believe on these issues, many other conclusions follow.

So how do we get to reality?

I once had a discussion with a mathematician about convincing people with information.  He thought it was “quantity” of information that mattered.   I replied that quantity of ‘information’ was not enough, it was the kind of information that mattered. I gave the example of astrology. I told him that if I heard 10 stories by people who listened to their horoscope and avoided a danger, I would dismiss the stories as a false correlation. I said even with more of that type of information – say a thousand examples, I would be unconvinced. But, I said, if you could give me a causal path that made sense, that would be worth more than a thousand stories.
It doesn’t make sense to me that the arrangement of stars in the heavens have anything to do with whether I will have to change my car tire today, but if you could show that the ripples in the “big bang” that caused the distribution of matter in the universe led to both the arrangement of stars and also the arrangement of potholes in my street, I might reconsider.


Unfortunately, in many cases, you don’t have the full causal explanation, even for genuine patterns.

Or the pattern may not even be a pattern.

Back to the banana peel. Suppose I told you that I was persecuted by a Mafia (and you believed me) and suppose I told you that I was riding my bike on a slight downhill, and suddenly, I was on the ground. I hit the ground pretty hard, and ended up with lots of road-rash, but did not break or fracture any bones. I was dazed, but fortunately a woman in a car told me to get out of the road, and then gave me and my foldable bike a ride to the nearest train station.

Now suppose I tell you that  I was riding my foldable bike on purpose, because it was a mountain bike, and not as high as my other bike, so that if I did fall, it would not be too violently.
Now lets add a belief of mine that the “bad guys” in my delusional system did not want me to bike, and another belief of mine that they could spray me from a car with a gas – an invisible, odorless gas, that would drift me into unconsciousness. If I were on a bike, I would fall off your bike. (suppose you believed me on that too).
Now lets skip past some other evidence here, and say that after this accident, in an attempt to appease the  “bad guys” I announced to anyone who would listen that I would stay off my bike for a few months.
Now the scenario: I walk down the hill from my house. I turn the corner. I walk a few paces, and there… is the banana peel!

So is a cigar still a cigar?


I will leave that topic, but I should say that even though I’m frustrated when I tell my stories and they are not believed, I only have subjective evidence, or evidence that to other people is not evidence of anything unusual at all.

I have “sensations”.

I hear voices… For instance, if you tell me I’m a slob, I will hear your voice telling me I’m a slob. To my family, who do not see you, I’m hearing voices.

Once a person expects a pattern, he may find it. I remember reading of a disease that was discovered, that has a constellation of symptoms, and it was noted that many doctors now saw it in their patients, where in the past they had just seen random unrelated symptoms.

I have a paranoid? pattern that leads me to sometimes what is called “false positives”, but sometimes to see things are really there, which for other people who witness them would be “false negatives”.

There is a final problem in getting to reality. Suppose reality means embracing a causal explanation that you really don’t want to believe, perhaps for ethical reasons?

Heather Heying, a biology professor at Evergreen University (her husband was Bret Weinstein, another biology professor, and both had to leave, but that’s another story) says this:

perhaps most alarming, there are concerns that what is true might be ugly. Those who would impose scientific taboos therefore suggest that it is incumbent on scientists not to ask certain questions, for fear that we reveal the ugly. …
People often imagine that when a biologist argues that a pattern is the product of adaptive evolution, they are justifying that pattern. Philosophers have named this confusion the naturalistic fallacy, in which “what is” is conflated with “what ought to be.”

For instance, many people feel gender roles are caused by society and are unfair.

A scientist would ask, how do you falsify that?
In fact, some Israelis were accidentally scientific and did a test:

what if a society actually existed—not just a theoretical utopia—whose inhabitants yearned for androgyny? What if a society existed whose citizens, motivated by a burning passion for perfect justice, committed themselves to a total reorganization of the traditional family system, with the express purpose of eliminating gender? Such a society has existed, of course: the early Israeli kibbutz movement. The movement wasn’t just a precursor to modern feminism, it’s important to add. The kibbutzniks were utopian socialists who wanted to construct a society where the ideal of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” would govern the production and distribution of goods. It was as part of this larger socialist vision that the kibbutzniks set out to wipe away gender.
Kibbutz parents agreed to see their own children only two hours a day, and for the remaining 22 hours to surrender them to the collective, which would raise them androgynously (trying more to “masculinize” women than “feminize” men). Boys and girls would henceforth do the same kind of work and wear the same kind of clothes. Girls would learn to be soldiers, just like boys. Signs of “bourgeois” femininity—makeup, say—would now be taboo. As if they had stepped out of Plato’s Republic, the children would dress and undress together and even use the same showers.

The experiment collapsed within a generation, and a traditional family and gender system reasserted itself. ‘

If you were still not convinced, you could go to a National Park in Uganda (Africa), and find that:

Young chimps in the wild play boy and girl games, much like their human counterparts, scientists found.
Although both male and female chimpanzees play with sticks, girl chimps treat sticks like dolls copying their mothers as they care for infants…
It was even found that when juvenile monkeys are offered sex-stereotyped human toys, females gravitate toward dolls, whereas males are more apt to play with ‘boys’ toys’ such as trucks.
The findings were the result of 14 years of observation of the Kanyawara chimpanzee community in Kibale National Park, Uganda.


These findings are disturbing. First of all, nobody wants to be like a monkey 🙂 Secondly many people want to believe that disparities in certain fields (like math) are the result of discrimination, rather than preferences.

Heather Heying claims that the extreme leftists

have abandoned rigor and replaced it with “lived experience” as the primary source of knowledge. Little credence is given to the idea of objective reality. Science has long understood that observation can never be perfectly objective, but it also provides the ultimate tool kit with which to distinguish signal from noise—and from bias. Scientists generate complete lists of alternative hypotheses, with testable predictions, and we try to falsify our own cherished ideas.
Science is imperfect: It is slow and methodical, and it makes errors. But it does work. We have microchips, airplanes and streetlights to show for it.

In a meeting with administrators at Evergreen last May, protesters called, on camera, for college president George Bridges to target STEM (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) faculty in particular for “antibias” training, on the theory that scientists are particularly prone to racism. That’s obvious to them because scientists persist in using terms like “genetic” and “phenotype” when discussing humans.

But just because you don’t like the idea that genes affect brains, and brains affect behavior, does not mean that you can force the idea to be false by anti-bias training.

Plus, if we are talking about  choice, we should look at what college majors men and women freely choose.   In the U.S., we find that a similar percent choose math and science and business.   But we also see that more men choose computer science,  and more women choose education and social work and art.   (see
A radical might say that this disparity is due to discrimination, but given that there is no disparity in choosing math, science, and business, that does not make sense.

There are other examples of this kind of thinking too, where a conclusion that people don’t like is rejected, and they then try to explain reality without it and the reality they end up with is very distorted.

I explain my reality by leaving out the “cause” that is obvious to other people – that I’m insane, hallucinating, delusional etc. But suppose I’m right. Then the people around me are explaining reality by leaving out a cause – in fact they are leaving out a whole drama, much of which I myself  am not aware of, but grasp at straws to explain. Even in my reality, there are a lot of loose ends, and motivations that I don’t understand, and so forth. In other people’s reality, there is just a crazy delusional system by a person who hears things and sees things, and which is nicely explained by lunacy, though there are some anomalies.

People tend to strive for coherence, which means that if there are anomalies, they are ignored or explained away. Paul Thagard, of the University of Waterloo in Canada, says the coherence involves parallel constraint satisfaction. Some of those constraints could come with a very emotional tinge, and that can interfere with our seeing reality. But so can our lack of understanding of human nature.

Perhaps it would help that when we are confronted with something hard  to believe, we ask ourselves – “what would it take for this to be true?”

Ken Burns’s War Stories

Finding horror in your home town, a tale of a member of “The Admitted.”

Being a good poet can lead to great things in North Korea. Jang Jin Sung, a government propagandist and poet, wrote the epic poem Spring Rests on the Gun Barrel of the Lord as part of recurring competitive poetry writing among different North Korean Government departments.

Kim Jong Il (leader of the country) liked the poem and as a result Mr. Jang gained the class status of “The Admitted” which gave him special privileges.

At the time North Korea had a intense famine, partly due to floods and drought, and mostly due to the mismanagement of the Communist leadership.

Jang lived in the capital city of Pyongyang, but found out how bad things were when he visited his home town, 39 miles away.

He tells the story in his book “Dear Leader.”   He got in line for the train. “Queues are the same everywhere in North Korea.”  He explains that all queues have three signs showing the way to lines for Cadres, Military Personnel, and ordinary residents. Jang was returning home in clouds of glory as one of the Admitted, so he went to the Cadres line. People in this queue were offered a separate waiting room, so there was no tedious standing in line for several hours like the other passengers.

(In North Korea, there is no freedom of movement. You can only buy a train ticket by showing an official travel pass. If you travel without such a pass and are discovered, the sentence is three months of hard labor.)

The 39 mile trip took half a day, and then Jang leapt excitedly from his seat.

Mr. Jang recounts:

When we set off to the right of the station square, I wondered if we had taken a wrong turn. This was not the park I remembered, covered with vibrant foliage; there was no sign of the deer or pheasants that used to roam here. Instead of a single pavement running straight through the park, there were many dirt tracks leading in confusing directions….long lines of squatting hawkers in shabby worn clothes, old and young, male and female, tempted travelers with their trinkets.
…The wares optimistically placed on display by grimy hands were not the kind one would expect to pay for. I asked one woman why she was selling an empty insulated flask for twenty won. She replied by saying that if I filled it with hot water, I could hug it during the night to keep warm.
It also bewildered me to see tap water on sale. It cost ten won to wash your face with soap and water, and five to wash with water alone.

This was because not only was there famine, but the water supply had dried up.

…Turning towards the far corners of the park, I could see a swarm of homeless people who looked to be either dead or dying. There was nothing between these men and women and a cold grave but their own shadows, and even those who were still alive were clearly waiting for death.

The horror went on:

Mr. Jang writes:

…When I met Soon-yong from next door—I used to have a crush on her and she was always my play wife in our childhood games of marriage–she had become a disfigured old woman…Myung-chil, once famous for his strength and envied by all the other boys in town, had turned into nothing but skin and bones…When I asked after some neighbors I could not see in the crowd, the matter-of-fact reply was that each one of them had starved to death.

Jang had planned to stay for a few days, but he had seen enough, and decided to cut the trip short. His friend, Young-nam, told him

We live no better than animals….You know how the standard greeting used to be, ‘Have you eaten?’ But now, you can’t say that, because what can you say in response? ‘No. I haven’t and what the fuck can you do about it? Can’t you see? It’s different outside Pyongyang.

Young-nam accompanied Mr. Jang to the train, and on the way they walked through a market. Then a siren went off, which indicated a public execution was about to take place in the market. Young-nam explained to Mr. Jang that there was about one execution a week.

Soldiers rushed in from all directions to surround the square, herding us into the center with the butts of their rifles.

Of the prisoner, Mr. Jang said:

The man’s eyes were full of terror.. For him, this truly was hell on earth, and his fellow men must have seemed as frightening as demons.

The People’s Trial was over in less than five minutes…

The sentence was “Death by firing squad!”

The man riddled with bullets for stealing rice had been a starving farmer.


Jang Jin-Sung


It has always been surprising to me (the blogger) that Communism, which says it is for “the people”, and against “exploitation”, keeps producing societies where such horrors occur. What’s the point of being for “the people”, if in practice, you torment the people?.

A commenter on this blog told me that Communism is not at all similar to the leftist movements in countries of the West, because the Western movements are democratic. But there are similarities, in my view, because the leftist Western movements want nationalization of some sectors of the economy (such as health care, and now in the U.K, the banks), and are in general in favor of much government intervention in the economy to create more equality.

The North Korean government admits no fault and presents itself as on the moral high ground.

Our left constantly claims to be on the moral high ground  too by championing one group of victims after another. As one ridiculous example, the children’s book’s by  “Dr. Seuss”, is now accused of being racist. This all seems very fake to me.

A friend of my mother’s tells of being in a hospital waiting room in New York, with some other people, and the form they had to fill out was asking which pronoun they would like to be referred to (along with he and she, you now have Ze, Zis and other transgendered pronouns). The lady sitting nearby, who was black, systematically crossed out all these questions and described them as “bullshit”. But you can see why the hospital asked those questions, when you learn that New York City Commission on Human Rights imposes a $250,000 fine on people who keep calling other people by pronouns that the other people don’t accept.


You wonder at this great compassion by the people who have the levers of power – at least they have the power to impose such fines.  They must care deeply about men who think they are women trapped in men’s bodies, or women who think they are men trapped in women’s bodies, and so compassionately, they stop all possible hurting of feelings of such people.

As that black lady said, this sounds like BS.   In my view, the members of the HRC should get real jobs, and I doubt they are  particularly compassionate.

You also wonder at the population of New York City, who elect a admirer (or at least former admirer) of Nicaraguan Socialism to be their mayor. (see )

Some day in the not too distant future a North Korean nuclear missile will be able to hit New York, mayor and all.  They may not fire it, but the capability will make them invulnerable to retaliation by us for anything that they do, such as perhaps invading South Korea.


Dear Leader – Jang Jin Sung (2014)


Not all is dreary in North Korea:


Dysfunctional in Syria

Wafa Sultan was brought up in the Muslim country of Syria, before it fell apart, and came to the USA. She pulls no punches about the culture she lived in..

When she was a medical student in the town of Aleppo, she boarded with a family. She said that:

From my room, I would often hear the mother of the family shouting, “Wafa, I need your help—come here and be my witness,” and I would find her elder son [all of 5 years old] threatening his mother and telling her that, if she didn’t do what he wanted, he would tell his father that she had spoken to a man on the phone, opened the door to someone, or left the house.

(In some Muslim cultures, the honor of a woman who talks to a strange man is suspect.)

When Wafa was a fourth-year medical student, she writes that

at the bus stop one day near the hospital where I was doing my training, I saw two small boys aged about six and eight. Each boy had a small bird in his hand and was plucking out its feathers. The birds were cheeping with pain and struggling to escape. The sight upset me and I went over to the boys and said gently, “Boys, you mustn’t do that. Please stop it.” The elder boy fixed me with a piercing stare that seemed to penetrate every cell of my body and said vehemently, “There’s nothing wrong with plucking a bird. What is wrong is that a woman like you should be walking around off the leash in mixed company with a head covering. Go and bury yourself at home!

Wafa points out how strange that is.

As far as that boy is concerned, a woman who walks down the street without a head covering is no more worthy of respect than a dog found wandering off the leash.

A real horror story happened after Wafa became a doctor and got a job:

In the Syrian hospital where Wafa worked, there was another female doctor. She was named Amal. One night Amal was rushed to the eye department after suffering chemical burns on the eyes and face. She had wanted to leave the house to go to a friend’s wedding. Her brother, who was fifteen years younger than she was, and had not even graduated high school, warned her not to leave the house. When she tried to push him away, he poured a fuel bucket over her head.

She complained to Wafa

All my scientific and educational accomplishments are not enough to give me the credibility to run my own life, and my brother, who doesn’t know how to write his own name, is considered better equipped to look after me than I am myself.

Burns sound bad, but murder of women also occurred:
Since Wafa was a female doctor, she heard stories that a male doctor would not have learned of. She tells of rape victims who, if they became pregnant, were murdered to keep the scandal hidden. Some victims were deliberately poisoned with the pesticides that were used to spray the apple trees in that region famous for its apple production.


When Wafa came to the U.S. she first worked as a gas station attendant. She said she got more respect in that job than she did as a doctor in Syria.

Syria was not as bad as some cultures, such as that imposed by the Taliban.  At least in Syria a woman could become a doctor.   Syria had a dysfunctional culture, but we could guess that when Middle Easterners came to the U.S. they would embrace the relative freedom here.

But not always:

I used to get involved in word battles with some of my expatriate Muslim friends here, especially over their attitude toward Americans and American culture, and would find myself surprised by their terrifying opinions, which revealed enough resentment to destroy not only the towers of the World Trade Center, but the whole of America. But should one of my American acquaintances happen along while I was in the company of that same resentful person–in a fraction of a second he would become more American than Abraham Lincoln.

Wafa asked another Muslim friend why she didn’t sort her trash into recycle bins, instead of throwing it all into one garbage can. The reply was:

God curse them! Do you expect me to help them look after their environment? Don’t you know what they did in the first and second Gulf War? They poisoned our country’s environment with their waste. Have you heard about the prostitutes with AIDS whom Israel sends to Jordan and Egypt so as to spread AIDS in our countries?

Wafa says that “We imbibed with our mother’s milk hatred for the Jews and for anyone who supported their cause.”  This carried over to America:

One day my husband came home from work complaining of his bad luck. He had sold his car to a client who had given him a check for five hundred dollars. Only after he had accepted the check had he discovered that this client was Jewish, and now he told me he thought that the check would probably bounce. But this was not the end of the story, as I discovered the next day that I had washed my husband’s shirt with the check in the pocket by mistake, and that nothing remained of the money except a few scraps of paper. My husband called the [Jewish] purchaser the following day and told him what had happened. Within less than half an hour he arrived at my husband’s place of work and gave him five hundred dollars in cash, saying jokingly, “Man! Don’t trust your wife! Next time I won’t be able to replace the money.

I don’t know any Muslims personally, but my superficial experiences have been mixed.  I’ve met some who were genuinely friendly, and I’ve met two who gave me the look that I interpreted as: “this is an enemy!”.   That last might sound crazy, but some of the cultures they come from are out of touch with reality.     Not that all of us Americans are in touch with reality either.



A God Who Hates – Wafa Sultan. (2009)



Not quite Elvis

I was once compared with Elvis, by a mother to her child in Irvington.

So lets see what Elvis accomplished:

He starred in 33 successful films. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. Without any of the special privileges, his celebrity status might have afforded him, he honorably served his country in the U.S. Army.

Lets see what I accomplished:

I starred unwittingly in one truly awful film.

Now quite a few people didn’t get the reason for my supposed Elvis effect. I’ve been described as having a “coon head”, a “dog face”, and one woman puzzled to another about it, then indicating my bloated nose, and saying “and not only that, but that NOSE!”
I’ve been confronted by one woman saying to the other that I must attract older, lonely single women.

My favorite response though was from a woman of the subcontinent (India or Pakistan) several years ago. After being told who I was, she looked at me and said “America is on the way down!”

But at least she gave me a smile afterwards.

I will say this though. I don’t feel enthusiasm. But I do sometimes see people look at me with admiration, even enthusiasm. Maybe they are mistaken, but the intention is good, and they have a lot of heart. Personally, I feel like an empty suit.

Anyway, here is the real Elvis: