November 22, 2017

The IM Saturday Brunch: November 11, 2017

THE INTERNET MONK SATURDAY BRUNCH

”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis (2017)

Oh, we’ve had a gorgeous week of fall weather this week in central Indiana after torrential rains last weekend. The temperatures have dropped and we’ve seen some frosty mornings. But during the days, the air has been crisp and clear, the skies blue, and the trees that haven’t lost their leaves yet have been brilliant. It’s my favorite season and my favorite kind of weather. Here are a few shots of Eagle Creek Park on Indy’s northwest side from an afternoon walk this past week. Click on each picture for a larger image.

• • •

YARN-BOMBING

From NPR:

From door handles to double-decker buses, Magda Sayeg “yarn bombs” inanimate objects by wrapping them in handmade knitting. She wants her bright, fuzzy artwork to make the world a little friendlier.

Considered to be the mother of yarn bombing, Magda Sayeg transforms urban landscapes into her own playground by decorating everyday objects with colorful knitted and crocheted works.

Her work has evolved from a single knitted stop-sign pole to large-scale installations around the world. She has also been featured at festivals and museums such as South By Southwest and La Museo des Esposizione in Rome.

Here are more examples:

• • •

NOTABLE NEWS BRIEFS
Interspersed with Comics for Carl Sagan’s birthday — Nov. 9, 1934

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A police interrogation of a Kansas City man charged with drug and gun offenses ended prematurely when an investigator was driven from the room by the suspect’s excessive flatulence. A detective reported that when asked for his address, 24-year-old Sean Sykes Jr. “leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering.” The Kansas City Star reports that Sykes “continued to be flatulent” and the detective was forced to quickly end the interview.

DUNCAN, Okla. — An Oklahoma woman who married her biological mother has pleaded guilty to incest. Court records show 26-year-old Misty Spann of Duncan pleaded guilty Tuesday in Stephens County District Court. Under the deal, she was sentenced to 10 years of probation. Her mother, 44-year-old Patricia Spann, has pleaded not guilty to incest. Prosecutors say the two married in 2016. Court records show the marriage was annulled last month at the request of Misty Spann on the grounds of fraud and illegality. Patricia Spann has said she thought the marriage was legal because she had lost custody of her daughter and two sons years ago and isn’t listed on their birth certificates. Prosecutors say Patricia Spann also married one of her sons. That marriage was annulled in 2010.

AP — Police in Pennsylvania say they’ve arrested a man who showed up to an elementary school intoxicated and hoping to vote — on the wrong day. Authorities charged Douglas Shuttlesworth, 34, with a DUI after they found him at a school in Harrisburg on Monday. Police say Shuttlesworth appeared intoxicated and they later found out he drove to the school thinking it was Election Day. A woman who identified herself over the phone as Shuttlesworth’s mother says her son mistakenly thought it was Tuesday. He was not available to comment on the charge.

The Duplex

NEW YORK, NY — It lasts just a split second, almost imperceptible in a two-hour score. It’s over too quickly to summon the dogs of the Upper West Side or to break any nearby windows. But brief as it is, the A above high C that the soprano Audrey Luna reaches in Thomas Adès’s new opera, “The Exterminating Angel,” is so high, it has never been sung in the 137-year history of the Metropolitan Opera.

• • •

ONE LESSON FROM TEXAS

One of the lessons last Sunday’s shooting at the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas should teach us is this: we need to pay more attention to domestic violence. Devin Patrick Kelley, the shooter, was a habitual abuser who “had a lot of demons or hatred inside of him,” his ex-wife said in an interview with CBS News.

Kelley pleaded guilty in 2013 to hitting, choking, kicking and pulling her hair. The then-23-year-old Air Force airman also admitted to fracturing the skull of her young son. On Friday, she described the marriage as filled with abuse, and said she was once threatened over a speeding ticket.

“And he had a gun in his holster right here and he took that gun out, and he put it to my template and he told me, ‘Do you want to die? Do you want to die?'” Brennaman said.

The guilty plea earned Kelley a one-year sentence in a military prison, followed by a bad-conduct discharge.

She said he threatened to kill her and her whole family.

…Investigators have said Sunday’s shooting appeared to stem from a domestic dispute involving Kelley and his mother-in-law, and that he had sent threatening messages to her. The mother-in-law sometimes attended services at the church but was not present on Sunday.

Nancy Nason-Clark at RNS comments:

One angry man arrived at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Nov. 5 and began shooting those assembled for worship. His private woes, his access to weapons, and his rage produced a tragedy that is almost unparalleled in terms of the magnitude of suffering that it spawned. This massacre changes forever the congregation and the community of which it is a part. So many grieving families. So much pain. So much heartache. They will never forget. And neither should we.

However, there is a holy hush that permeates church life when it comes to thinking about domestic violence within and beyond congregational life.

Holy hush silences pastors and church leaders. Far too often, they fail to speak out against abuse in intimate relationships, or to highlight the vulnerability of children who witness or experience violence at home. Sometimes they lead themselves or others to believe they do, when they don’t.

Michael Spencer saw this same “holy hush” in the churches in his region and wrote about it several times. Here are a couple of iMonk posts on the subject, and one we published about our friend Ruth Tucker and her book about her own personal experiences:

• • •

THE REAL PROBLEM: A CULTURE AWASH IN ANGER

Some have tried to blame mass shootings and a lot of other violence on mental illness in our society. But, according to Laura L. Hayes at Slate, mental illness is not the problem.

Violence is not a product of mental illness. Nor is violence generally the action of ordinary, stable individuals who suddenly “break” and commit crimes of passion. Violent crimes are committed by violent people, those who do not have the skills to manage their anger. Most homicides are committed by people with a history of violence. Murderers are rarely ordinary, law-abiding citizens, and they are also rarely mentally ill. Violence is a product of compromised anger management skills.

In a summary of studies on murder and prior record of violence, Don Kates and Gary Mauser found that 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall. In a study of domestic murderers, 46 percent of the perpetrators had had a restraining order against them at some time. Family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate anger, express it constructively, and move beyond it.

Hayes quotes Paolo del Vecchio of the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration who has said, “Violence by those with mental illness is so small that even if you could somehow cure it all, 95 percent of violent crime would still exist.”

She also notes studies that show hat 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall, and that family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Nearly half of domestic murderers have had a restraining order against them at some point in time.

Laura L. Hayes puts her finger on how we are blaming the mentally ill and other factors while ignoring real causes of violence. Her final paragraph (emphasized in bold below) is wisdom worth its weight in gold:

The attribution of violent crime to people diagnosed with mental illness is increasing stigmatization of the mentally ill while virtually no effort is being made to address the much broader cultural problem of anger management. This broader problem encompasses not just mass murders but violence toward children and spouses, rape, road rage, assault, and violent robberies. We are a culture awash in anger.

Uncontrolled anger has become our No. 1 mental health issue. Though we have the understanding and the skills to treat the anger epidemic in this country, as a culture, we have been unwilling to accept the violence problem as one that belongs to each and every one of us. We have sought scapegoats in minority cultures, racial groups, and now the mentally ill. When we are ready to accept that the demon is within us all, we can begin to treat the cycle of anger and suffering.

• • •

HOW ‘BOUT SOME GOOD NEWS ON THE CRIME/VIOLENCE FRONT?

In the quarter century period between the early 1990s and 2015, the homicide rate in America fell by half. So did rates of robbery, assault and theft. In cities like New York, Washington and San Diego, murders dropped by more than 75 percent. Although violence has increased over the last two years in some cities, like Chicago and Baltimore, even those places are safer than they were 25 years ago. Shootings are at a record low in New York, and crime has continued to fall in other cities as well.

The Unsung Role That Ordinary Citizens Played in the Great Crime Decline is a piece by Emily Badger at the New York Times that looks at ground level activism that made a difference in this regard, giving us hope for what ordinary citizens joined together can do to tackle tough issues like crime, violence, and murder and make their communities safer.

Noreen McClendon, the executive director of Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles

Most theories for the great crime decline that swept across nearly every major American city over the last 25 years have focused on the would-be criminals.

Their lives changed in many ways starting in the 1990s: Strict new policing tactics kept closer watch on them. Mass incarceration locked them up in growing numbers. The crack epidemic that ensnared many began to recede. Even the more unorthodox theories — around the rise of abortion, the reduction in lead or the spread of A.D.H.D. medication — have argued that larger shifts in society altered the behavior (and existence) of potential criminals.

But none of these explanations have paid much attention to the communities where violence plummeted the most. New research suggests that people there were working hard, with little credit, to address the problem themselves.

Local nonprofit groups that responded to the violence by cleaning streets, building playgrounds, mentoring children and employing young men had a real effect on the crime rate. That’s what Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, argues in a new study and a forthcoming book. Mr. Sharkey doesn’t contend that community groups alone drove the national decline in crime, but rather that their impact is a major missing piece.

“This was a part that has been completely overlooked and ignored in national debates over the crime drop,” he said. “But I think it’s fundamental to what happened.”

Perhaps it’s time to focus some more attention (and dollars) on the kinds of grass-roots efforts described in this story as viable and proven means of strengthening and supporting community infrastructures that promote safer, more peaceful communities.

• • •

TODAY IN MUSIC

Finally, some perfect autumn sounds, courtesy of a band the High Road Touring website describes as a “world-weary, seven-piece orchestral-pop ensemble known as Hey Marseilles.”

I love their mix of melancholy, melodious sounds, undergirded by restless percussion, that all supports an insightful lyricism.

This song is one of my favorites, from their 2013 album, Lines We Trace.

Comments

  1. First, I guess.

    Most homicides are committed by people with a history of violence. Murderers are rarely ordinary, law-abiding citizens, and they are also rarely mentally ill.

    Uncontrolled anger has become our No. 1 mental health issue. Though we have the understanding and the skills to treat the anger epidemic in this country, as a culture, we have been unwilling to accept the violence problem as one that belongs to each and every one of us.

    Wait….don’t these two statements contradict each other?

    Is the violence problem a result of a minority of people with histories of violence, rather than the majority of “law-abiding citizens”? Or is the violence problem one that belongs to “each and every one of us”?

    Are murderers rarely mentally ill? Or is uncontrolled anger our “No 1 health issue”? I mean, is or is not uncontrolled anger, including that of murderers, a mental illness/mental health issue?

    • Screwed up the blockquotes. I did not mean to blockquote the last three paragraphs.

    • I noticed that contradiction, too. Maybe anger issues aren’t a mental health issue until it crosses over into “uncontrolled anger”…?

      • On the one hand, the article says that the vast majority of violent crime is not the result of mental illness; then it goes on to say that the uncontrolled anger that leads to violent crime is a mental health epidemic in our society, and that we are all responsible for it. The problem is that the article wants to have its cake and eat it too: It wants violent crime to be understood as being the result of the activities of a minority of individuals, but at the same time it wants to make the actions of those individuals the result of a society-wide dysfunction, and so the responsibility of the whole society. In its eagerness to reach its goal of ascribing universal guilt/responsibility for violent crime, it leaps over the gap where there should be, but isn’t, a logical connecting link explaining how the inability of a few to cope with their anger is connected with and caused by a supposedly society-wide mental health epidemic of anger. Let me get this straight: so the few committing the violence are not mentally ill, but they are themselves the pathological symptom of a society that is itself mentally ill with anger? Sounds like patent liberal psychologizing of a social problem, with plenty of hand-wringing, virtue-signaling, and universal guilt to go around (I say this as a liberal myself, who sometimes is loathe to drink the Kool-Aid).

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > The problem is that the article wants to have its cake and eat it too

          No, the problem is that the article is poorly written. The point seems solid underneath the sloppy writing.

          Anger is not Mental Illness. Beating your wife will not get you a diagnosis, neither will gunning your car towards pedestrians, screaming at neighbors, of spewing racial slurs at a meeting. However, all of those things should make people worried about what else you are going to do.

          We do have a problem with Anger in our society; it is too readily given a pass.

          > so the few committing the violence are not mentally ill, but they are themselves the pathological
          > symptom of a society that is itself mentally ill with anger?

          Yes, exactly. I do not see how that statement is “hand-wringing” or “virtue-signaling”. That statement is not even remotely novel; many people talk about the pandemic of Anger.

          I will go even more ‘liberal’ on you – I believe that the radical disaffiliation within our culture is very much a part of that problem. People feel that they cannot confront or deal with anger, that they have nobody to turn to [family, church, community, government], that there is nobody who will have their back; so the bully just goes on and on, unchecked. If you’re bullied – we’ll blame you.

          And, yes, every time some thug shoots a bunch of people there is the “Mental Illness!” thing bandied about. When Mental Illness is rarely involved. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY A STIGMATISM OF MENTAL ILLNESS. It is an unjust stigma – and it is also a diversionary hand-wave. Mental Illness is NOT people-we-do-not-like, it is an illness. Violent people are violent people – and that violence very rarely appears out of thin air; the quiet guy who just goes off and slaughters a bunch of people **IS A TROPE**. The conflation of those two things in our culture is so deep that even this article gets caught up in that entanglement.

          • I don’t doubt that the vast majority of perpetrators of violent crime are not mentally ill; I doubt that it is meaningful to talk about a society as being mentally ill with anger. Isn’t that like the idea that corporations are people? Such widespread anger does seem to indicate a deep and wide problem in social relationships, but I don’t see that the mental illness model really works as a helpful description.

            If anger is as pervasive as you and many others are saying (and I acknowledge that it may well be, though I’m not sure how to compare our current state of anger with that of other times — what is the metric?), it likely also means that many of us are just managing to cope with our own anger, and have no idea how to help the ones who are on the threshold, or beyond the threshold, of out of control anger. The situation appears bleak, and cries out for solutions, but I don’t see that making everyone responsible does anything to help move toward solutions. It seems to me to instead stoke more anger among those who are managing to cope themselves, but can’t or refuse to add more to their own already staggering burden by assuming the responsibility for others.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says:

              > Isn’t that like the idea that corporations are people?

              But people talk about “corporate culture” all the time. And many a corporation has been run into the ground by its internal culture.

              > don’t see that the mental illness model really works as a helpful description.

              Ok, and I agree that is where the article gets into the same entanglement it is trying to argue against.

              > it likely also means that many of us are just managing….

              Yes, but it is like moods vs. emotions. Everyone has Anger, just like everyone has Sadness, but not everyone is Depressed. When an emotion becomes ‘chronic’ and destructive it become a different kind of thing.

              And speaking as someone who has has anger management issues – Anger has an addictive quality, Anger brings with it the illusion of Power [which may be the whole point of Anger, functionally].

              > but I don’t see that making everyone responsible does anything to help
              > move toward solutions

              I think to point is primarily against the hand-wave of blaming these things on Mental Illness. Attributing something falsely is certainly not helpful.

              • Josh in FW says:

                The anger article and the back and forth about it here are very helpful. Thanks.

              • –> “And speaking as someone who has has anger management issues – Anger has an addictive quality, Anger brings with it the illusion of Power [which may be the whole point of Anger, functionally].”

                BINGO! Anger is both addictive AND related to Power, an incredibly caustic combination.

                We discussed anger quite often in a men’s group. One conclusion we drew was that anger and power were quite related, and that the reason people HOLD ONTO ANGER is because giving up anger means LOSING CONTROL over a person or situation. Our example was: getting cut off in traffic. Initial reaction is ANGER and the desire to GAIN POWER by flipping the person off, yelling at them, perhaps cutting them off. By NOT reacting in anger means relinquishing your right to SET THINGS RIGHT, giving up the desire to RE-GAIN a feeling of being in control and the power you have to accomplish that. And anger tends to fuel greater anger. That’s why curmudgeons tend to become more curmudgeon-y as they age, rather than less.

                Same goes for domestic violence. DV people react in anger because they’re losing control of the situation and/or relationship. I think their anger gives them POWER and a sense that they’re regaining control over that which they’ve suddenly lost control.

                Anger is usually in reaction to feeling harmed or slighted. To break that pattern requires something Jesus taught: forgiveness. And forgiveness involves giving up your right to “get back” at the slight or harm done. People who are VERY ANGRY rarely let things go, rarely give up their right to get back at the people that “done them wrong,”

                Is it possible to teach and train people to “forgive” and “let go”, to replace the pattern of anger with the pattern of forgiveness? And…is forgiveness the opposite of anger? And…are people who have learned to forgive “more sane” than those who can’t or are unable to forgive?

                • Additional thoughts…

                  Angry people tend to get angry at little things, too, or PERCEIVE slights and harms that aren’t actually there. I mean, is there any reason to go ballistic when someone cuts me off in traffic? Why am I so angry when I lose six feet of pavement during a twenty-mile commute?

          • But then, I’m not a good one to reflect about anger, having grown up in a family that was constantly in the grip of anger, or denial about anger, and continuing to struggle with anger myself for all these decades, unhelped by many years of professional counseling that hasn’t even scratched the surface of the problem.

            • I think one of the difficulties here is semantic. The popular press equates mental illness with insanity. They are *not* the same thing, at all.

              Most people on this planet experience things that are chapter, verse (and diagnostic code) from the DSM at one point or another in their lives.

              People who commit violent acts while having a psychotic break? Very, very rare.

              Mental illness does *not* exclude culpability, by definition.

  2. Susan Dumbrell says:

    Further to my screw up of listening to/for God of last week.

    I was thinking about Elijah,
    so today I might clarify.

    thin silence pervades
    deep in my cave I hear it
    was it a whisper?

    Happy Saturday all!
    Susan

  3. Three cheers for the grass-roots groups that have worked so hard, and so anonymously, to promote peace and stability in their own communities!

  4. Correlation does not equal causation, but it is interesting to reflect that the levels of background anger are rising at the same time that the number of people smoking tobacco is falling.

    Life gets you one way or the other, it would seem.

    • “But Gandalf laughed, and replied: ‘You would not wonder, if you used this herb yourself. You might find that smoke blown out cleared your mind of shadows within. Anyway it gives patience, to listen to error without anger.”

      J R R Tolkien, *Unfinished Tales*

  5. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    Charlie Brown is spot on. Too often I’ve been listening to someone tell me something ‘profound’ about the universe, humanity, god, or the government and thought to myself: “I miss my dog”.

    My dog looks out the window at the universe and says: “There is a park, next to the river, the river is muddy, and food trucks park there.” Yes, sometimes he says that at 7AM, but his point stands: mud and food trucks are underrated.

    After the dramas of an election day I very much appreciate my dog’s perspective.

    • Dan from Georgia says:

      I like this! My wife and I joke once in a while about how, with all the messiness and controversy in the world today, our dog’s main concern is getting to the treat that rolled underneath the couch!

    • That Other Jean says:

      I think I’d like your dog. A practical, material view of the world is often under-rated.

    • “If more of us valued… food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

    • Bingo!

      ‘I miss my dog’ is one of the most profound of human statements especially when a pup passes and we don’t hear the sound of paws on the floor, and the water and food dishes are put away, and the vet bills are all paid up and the account closed, and there is no tail wag when we walk into the house, and we break down crying in the dog toy section of the local supermarket and . . . . .

      ‘I miss my dog’ has to be the most poignant way of saying ‘love is eternal’ ever.

      my pup is still living, thank God, but when our neighbor’s dog died, it was heart-breaking to see the sadness of our neighbor of many years, an elderly man who is a widower
      . . . . there is a certain kind of love that asks little and gives much and when it is gone away from us,
      it is much missed.

      Charles Schultz . . . . a theologian/philosopher for the ages, yep

  6. Hoping we can avoid that potential segue into politics today.

    Where and how does one with limited resources treat anger?

    • I’m such a one. Over the decades I’ve sought professional counseling through organizations I’ve been put in contact with by churches (mainline churches, including the Roman Catholic Church). I’ve gone through different counselors and kinds of treatment modes, including medication to which I had negative side-effects, but have had only the most limited improvement or amelioration of my underlying anger, and the issues that come with it.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Where and how does one with limited resources treat anger?

      The resources may vary greatly depending on where you are, or your circumstance.

      And much of it may be boring stuff that Angry people will resist: exercise, diet, sleep. Those three cannot be dismissed from the answer. Unhealthy habituation regarding these basic behaviors is a root cause of many things.

      Beyond that I’d hope there is a pastor or someone whom you can take at least semi-seriously [I know how rare that can be these days] who can point you towards something else if more help is required.

      As a formerly Angry person – it can end – and life is much more fun without it.

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        Absolutely this.

        Diet, exercise, and sleep would ameliorate a whole constellation of ills we suffer from, not just anger. Everything proceeds better on one of my bike-into-work days. My mind seems clearer, less distracted, better able to focus, and, yes, with a much lower level of angry and sub-angry static going on in the background.

        The fasting periods of the Orthodox Church, one of which is coming up in a few days, require me to take more thought about what I eat. If I do it well, and eat tasty well-balanced meals with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. the fast is a veritable Paradise; prayer is easier, chastity, mental and physical, is a snap. If I get careless, and start to lean to heavily on carbohydrates and processed soy products, fasting becomes a chore. Prayer recedes, depression overpower me, and everybody tells me to quit the fast, not for my sake but for theirs.

        Proper rest – I cannot begin to comment on this. I wonder how many shootings would be averted if people got at least seven hours of sleep nightly. Living in one of the Cities That Never Sleeps, where you can get halal or Korean BBQ at 4:30 am, it is always a temptation to stay up past my bedtime.

    • For what it’s worth, here’s an earlier take on anger from here on iMonk. Many of you who are commenting wisely today had wise things to say then.

      http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/62688

    • Affordable mental health services can be hard to find, especially in a rural area like the Texas church shooter lived in. I live in a rural area, so I see it often but there are other issues as well. Mental illness here is sometimes seen as a flaw, a moral failure, not a treatable illness. But more often than not, people like the shooter are simply known commodities that everybody pretty much ignores & excuses. “Oh, you know how Bob’s kid is. He’s gets a little angry some times, but he’s basically OK. We know him and, well, Bob kind of has a temper, too, but he’s basically a good guy. Would give you the shirt off his back. Sure, sure, he beats his wife some, but only when he drinks. He’s had a hard life.” Attitudes like this are not at all unusual here, so the issues are never dealt with.

      • There is also fear. People fear intervening or being seen to intervene, and thought to interfere, in the lives of their neighbors and acquaintances, because they are afraid of backlash if their intervention is not well-received by others in their social groups and networks. The same thing keeps people, both male and female, who are witnesses to sexual and other harassment at work from saying anything to management, including the victims themselves: fear of retaliation from people more powerful than they, or people who, though not necessarily more powerful individually, as a group have the power to shun and banish them. This is why so much harassment goes unreported, by victims and witnesses alike.

    • I can personally testify to the power of diet. I used to be one of the people that thought all the preaching about diet was bunk. I was suffering from anger, anxiety, and depression among other physical symptoms such as migraines and joint pain. I was incredibly fortunate enough to end up at a Doctor (board certified psychiatrist and allergist) who thinks a little outside the box. After some significant testing, it was determined that inflation was a major cause of my symptoms and that I had a few specific food intolerances, dairy/soy, sugar cane, and corn in my case, that were primary causes of this inflammation. Changing my diet has been a huge help. It hasn’t eliminated my issues, but the severity has been reduced to a manageable level.

      I REALLY REALLY miss cheese and icecream. I have a new level of empathy for addicts.

  7. On the good news front and some positive news about evangelicals. The Republicans tax plan originally called for eliminating the adoption tax credit. Some of the most vocal critics of this were conservative evangelicals. That plan has since been changed and will now leave the adoption tax credit alone. I don’t know what all changed their minds, but it was good to see conservative evangelicals speak up.

  8. senecagriggs says:

    Gentlemen, you can test yourself for the Dark Triad of personality traits.

    https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/SD3/

    • senecagriggs says:

      I scored well

    • Burro [Mule] says:

      My problem with that test is I know what answers to give to score high, and I always want to be more psychopathic and narcissistic than I really am.

      • My problem is that I know which answers would make me seem psychopathic and narcissistic to give, both to myself and others, so I give the answers that make me look more civilized, because it makes me feel better about myself. There is a heaping helping of self-deception and internalized shame in this.

      • I scored highest on Machiavellianism, but I suspect that is due less to my being manipulative and more to my being cynical about others’ gullibility. :-/

    • Gentlemen, you can test yourself for the Dark Triad of personality traits.

      This isn’t a “Gentlemen Only” club…..

      • Susan Dumbrell says:

        “A Gentleman is a man who owns bagpipes and chooses not to play them”

        Some of us Ladies are browsing and contributing to this site as we speak.
        All power to us!

        Susan

      • Heather Angus says:

        Pretty close, though. But thanks, Robert.

  9. Mike, beautiful pictures! Thank you.

  10. senecagriggs says:

    It’s a for males – they may not be gentlemen.

    • Burro [Mule] says:

      What goes unspoken is that people who display Dark Triad traits, male and female, are more attractive to the opposite sex than those who do not exhibit them. I can see why. If the evolution of human society is a played-for-keeps version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, having Dark triad traits coupled with the ability to disguise them would be an immense advantage.

      Alas, why this important even at the distance of years and domesticity from the time in my life when this would have been baffles me, but it is.

  11. My take a away from the article on the issue of violence is that “anger” not mental illness is the issue. I believe the social disconnect fostered by our computer age social interactions lead people to believe they can be angry as they are right or they have been wrong, or no one understands etc. Take the coward Texas shooter, history of family abuse, history of animal abuse, history of threats , discharge and place in mental hospital he escaped from, order weapons to kill his officers, made threats to his girlfriend and no one seemed to think he needed to be locked up and treated? How many red flags do the immediate people who knew him need and even at that what would the legal/medical system do anyway? I put about 70 percent of the blame on ACLU and good meaning but wrong social justice warriors who fought hard for the “rights” of people with mental health issues including anger management. The mental health institutions were shut down and money not given to support these needed hospitals, Now we see the flood of homeless, mentally ill, angry people on the streets, They control about 25 percent of San Fran which leads me to ask who has the mental problems, I would say the voter of San Fran and a lot of major cities. Involuntary medical holds and treatment are too short and ineffective. Then the incompetence of the bureaucracy is at play such as the Texas shooter angry nut not even added to the do not sell list plus no attention paid to his history by anyone. Also the family and people who are in the orbit of people like the Texas nut need to come forward and report and lobby for the involuntary hold or monitored medical treatment of their immediate family. Anger and mental illness excuse just leaves me numb and excuses are like noses, everyone has one, too rich, too poor, too loved , too neglected , too lonely, too supervised etc. Personal accountability and family responsible is not even a part of the discussion any more.

  12. Such beautiful photos! Makes me want to go out and take a walk in silence and wonder.

  13. Excellent post. Excellent comments. All well and good. In the meantime would it really undermine our liberty to make it just a wee bit harder to get firearms?

    • If the mass slaughter of children at Sandy Hook didn’t result in it being made harder, nothing will. America has decided that it’s just the cost of “freedom”, including when children are massacred.

      • Hi Robert F
        I remember after those children were slaughtered that maybe THIS TIME people would wake up. So instead, we get the crazies with their ‘Sandy Hook was a hoax’

        (sigh)

        apparently, in the Red States, conspiracy theories are far more easily accepted as ‘true’ . . . . especially lately

        but I don’t understand how people can be proud of buying into that garbage and promoting that they ‘believe’ in it and challenge those who do not . . . . . all I can sort out is that maybe ‘belonging’ to the conspiracy crowd requires one to ‘say the words’ and ‘come forward’ and then they have a crowd to join, a group to belong to, they are one of many

        in short, spouting conspiracy theories might be a kind of ‘code’ among a certain population . . . . that ‘it is true because we say it is’ ……. or maybe like the gnostics, these people are privy to some ‘inside info’ that no one else has? Gosh, that gives the creators of the conspiracies a LOT of power to control men’s minds, if those men are malleable to propaganda

        ?

        does anyone else understand what is going on with them????

        • The will to power. People prefer a lie that allows them to feel powerful like powerful insiders, to a truth that makes them feel weak. This is scary stuff, and we haven’t seen the half of it yet. It’s way beyond Trump.

          • Christiane says:

            I feel like Trump has helped to open a Pandora’s box. It IS scary.

            I saw an interview today of a White House aide (Marc Short) who said that nukes in N. Korea were a greater threat than the Russians advertising on our social media . . . . . I was really shocked that this educated, well-spoken man didn’t ‘get it’. He was challenged, thank goodness, but he seemed like one of those ‘true believers’ that not only sees the world that way but is proud to announce the coming of this ‘new’ idea that Russian interference in our democracy is a minor threat, if any. Scary? Oh yeah

            What is the right’s game plan to do with Russia?
            and
            What on Earth does Putin have on Trump????? My goodness, Russia is our number one adversary and has been since the end of the cold war.
            Sea change?

            “the end of living and beginning of survival”
            (Chief Seattle)

            • My guess is that Trump was involved in money laundering on a huge scale, and Putin’s proxies were the launderers. The indictments against Manafort would be in line with this guess.

              Right now, Putin works Trump like a hand puppet. It’s appalling, and embarrassing.

              Did you read about tens of thousands of fascists (that’s what they are) marching in Poland yesterday? Chanting about their hopes for a “Muslim Holocaust”? If only this ugliness were only here in the US; but Europe is staggering on the abyss of ugliness just as elemental and demonic.

              Our help is in the name of the Lord…

  14. A Southern Baptist Church that I am familiar with has had armed guards in the parking lot and halls for several years. The response of the pastor to recent events is to increase arms and give instructions for women on how to duck and hide. It is all very upsetting to me. I refuse to go there, even to visit.

    • does anyone know WHY the pastor is so very fearful ?

      he sounds terrified

      • I did think that it was an isolated situation, but in rural areas and small to medium churches, it has become quite common. Their social network memes and news articles (Facebook…) has convinced them that ISIS is going to come in and start shooting. I have learned not to under-estimate how much power the articles they pass around on Facebook have impacted their thinking.

        • john barry says:

          Allen, Christiane, I think the Pastor of the church might have heard about an attack on a SBC church in Texas where the insane, irrational, nut went and killed 26 people without protection. I have been in Walgreen’s, banks and many stores in areas, cities that are prone to be robbed by force who have armed guards? Do you refuse to go there? How about a federal courthouse or airport ? Not going to go there. How about the Vatican , do they still have the Swiss Guards or have they disarmed? Does the Vatican still have the wall around it? Why do we have the Capitol Police, it is a gun free zone at the Capitol. I agree with you about the Facebook issue, it is one of the problems in our society where preconceived notions are reinforced and open discussions and facts are not appreciated. Christiane, you summed it up the Sandy Hook conspiracy nuts should have not gotten one bit of publicity that they sought.

          • Christiane says:

            Hello John,
            I fear the conspiracy theorists to do with Sandy Hook massacre did aim at the parents of the dead children and some of those parents have been harassed as fall out on top of their grief and loss. I got it that those hawking the conspiracy thing were doing it to ”support the NRA”.

            ??????

            It’s so horrible, I can’t get my mind around what kind of people ARE these? You have to be beyond sick to try to hurt parents who have buried their little ones who were slaughtered like lambs. It’s too sad. ???

            • john barry says:

              Christiane, the crazy nuts from all sides of an issue get far too much publicity and news coverage than they deserve. With the cable news 24/7 time to fill and the internet needing new click bait stupid crazy groups fill the void. Then there can be panels, counter points and soon 20 nuts that propose a Sandy Hook insane theory get air time. Westboro Church the crazy, insane , totally terrible group got a lot of undeserved attention with their funeral, gay and Sandy Hook protest, no publicity given, no Westboro Baptist anymore in the public awareness. At least the Haley Bop nuts only got attention when they killed themselves, otherwise they were rightfully ignored.

  15. That Other Jean says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that train and bus and tank and tree cozies are a waste of yarn and fun design, when they could have been made into really great blankets to keep someone warm?

    • flatrocker says:

      But why then isn’t all of art guilty of the same indulgence?
      Maybe it actually would have been more prudent for Mary to sell the perfume and give the money to the poor. Why did he let her anoint his feet?

      • That Other Jean says:

        This sort of art seems particularly self-indulgent, though Sort of like Christo, wrapping trees and islands and coastlines in fabric. He did it, and it was noticed, and it was taken down in three weeks, but then what? He’s famous for a while for weird art. What will happen to the wrapped tree? It will be unwrapped and the yarn thrown away, presumably. It seems a waste, to me, that could have been made into something beautiful and lasting.

    • I was thinking that if I had that skill, I could make hats for children who lose their hair from chemo . . . . something my beautiful Aunt Yvonne did until her last sickness
      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-G7gODeb_H4U/ULaNugppYeI/AAAAAAAAAr8/Zu9ZmfxQtJ0/s320/homepage.jpg

  16. This kind of thing always leaves me saying but what about this or that. I have a friend in the mental health fiels who specializes in anger management, but I notice he’s not giving any of the rest of us his secrets. What should I have said to the neighbor who looked at me as if I were a criminal for feeding and talking to the community cats? I assume he is also to blame for the disembodied head of one of those cats left on our lawn. Am I concerned? You bet. Do I have the faintest idea what to do about it? I do not, and wonder if he would then come after me for bringing up the subject. I don’t understand why anyone should think they should be able to have any control of what I do on my property. And yet, this seems to say that somehow I could make a difference, assuming I survive the confrontation. I have also known someone who took an anger management course. Apparently, their background was such that they somehow never realized that you really can’t control other people, in fact pressure of that sort generally just makes things worsel It was a revelation to him, but I doubt he would have heard it that way from me.

    So, if you want us regular people to make a difference, give us details. Give me some vocabulary that will get through, because I have had trouble all my life with bullies, and saying please stop rarely works.

  17. Vinny from Tennessee says:

    Should there be any veterans among you hippies, liberals, and Lutherans, I’d like to wish each of you a “HAPPY VETERAN’S DAY!” Thank you SO much for your service! If you’re a Vietnam Vet, you are heroes to me. Why?
    I got my draft notice while in Navy boot camp & just barely missed going to the jungle. #GodBless #GodBlessAmerica