May 11, 2012

Thank God The 'Heart Attack Grill' Is A Great Name; Also, How To Learn French

Heart Attack Grill.jpg

The Son Of Man will watch over you



Did you hear about the restaurant called "The Heart Attack Grill?"

For the second time in two months, a customer at Las Vegas' Heart Attack Grill collapsed mid-meal and was carted off to a hospital.

Yummy.  Here's another:

The Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, Nev., has come under scrutiny since one of its patrons suffered an actual heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass Burger there earlier this week.

Or:

(CBS News) Another patron of the Heart Attack Grill has reportedly fallen ill during a meal at the hospital-themed Las Vegas restaurant.

Seems like such a frivolous story couldn't possibly be of any value to anyone.  And yet, I'm about to make a mountain out of a molehill.  Who wants to see something ugly about themselves?


I.


You might guess that this news story is itself a kind of advertising for the Grill.  This cynical view places not just two heart attack victims but all of CBS News at the service of a company's self-promotion.  And you'd be right, another branding piece pretending to be a news story.

But we know what the author wants to be true, the question is what you want to be true: how does this story, like all pop-culture and pop-news, represent a wish fulfillment?  The story does not exist as information, in fact it is deliberately misleading-- the patron didn't have a heart attack. There is no information there.  It is there in order for you to talk about it-- so you have something to talk to others about, through a screen darkly or face to face, because if it weren't for these meaningless media stories which includes all partisan politics people would have nothing to say to each other, and society's collapse into hikikomori narcissism would be total.  Which is why it is correct to say that pop culture isn't a symptom of our dying society, it is its heroic measures.   So take your medicine: what do you want to say about some dummy who had a heart attack at the Heart Attack Grill?

First interesting observation: the reflex position is to defend the corporation, in the guise of pseudo-libertarianism: "No one forced her to eat there!" and, "no one takes responsibility for their own actions!" and "hey, dummy, how could you go to a place called the Heart Attack Grill and not know you'd have a heart attack, what did you expect?" 

This position isn't necessarily wrong, but it is very much a mark of our time that the reflexive emotional position isn't, "those corporate scum shouldn't be allowed to serve that poison, do they feel no responsibility for this?"

Which leads to the second interesting observation: this position is delivered as if it were a minority opinion, full of wisdom, against an uneducated crowd-- as if everyone else blamed the Grill.   And yet a glance at the comments reveals that no one blames the Grill, everyone blames the dummy.  The only blame they get is for using the story as marketing.

If you consider how ready we are to blame corporate scum for everything else, giving them immunity to this obvious blame seems paradoxical. 

So the question for the individual is, why is it so important to be allowed to eat at the Heart Attack Grill yet accepted that there's a good chance you're going to get exactly what you paid for?  I'm going to hide under the bed and wait for your answer.   "Is it freedom of choice?"  Here's a hint: that's never the answer.


II.

You can run the list of "defense mechanisms" and try to link each one to specific personality disorders, which will help you understand the spouse who left you or the spouse you're never going to leave but the point for now is that what makes them defenses is not that they protect you from pain-- they don't, clearly.  They suck at doing this, look around. 

The purpose of defense mechanisms is to stop you from changing.  So that after the trauma or the break-up or the loss you are still you. More sad/ashamed/impotent/enraged/depressed  is fine as long as you're the same guy.

This is what makes treating narcissism particularly difficult: the pathology's Number 1 characteristic is identity preservation. "I want to change."  Nope.   You want to be happier, sure, more successful, feel love, drink less, but you want to remain you.  But that won't work.  The identity you've chosen blows, ask anyone.  Change is only possible when you say,  "I want to stop making everyone cry." The first step isn't admitting you have a problem but identifying precisely how you are a problem for other people.  But I'll save you the trouble, you'll fail at this, too, because of the Number 2 characteristic of narcissism: inability to see things from the other's perspective.  "This isn't really therapeutic, jerk.  You call yourself a psychiatrist?"  Mother's Day is Sunday, get her anything?  I know, I know, she's a jerk, too.


III.

If you want to watch these invisible unconscious defenses play out right in front of you, in real time, in a real way, watch an adult American try to learn a second language.

Short of cauterizing your own genitals, nothing seems like it would change who you are like speaking in an-other's language.  Blech, I'd rather wear someone else's underwear, no thanks, I'll take the 12 credits but no way am I retaining anything.  "Well, science says you lose the ability to learn languages as you get older."  Oh, did NPR just interview TED?   Dummies in other countries and dummies in the CIA learn as adults, are they all using different science?  An American describes another American who is fluent in French as "oh my God, he's so smart, he speaks French and everything" but this statement is easily unmasked as a defense by getting him to describe a Frenchman who speaks English: "well, they all speak English over there."  The bilingualism is robbed of the "intelligence" signification because it's seen as customary.... who they are.  America is a branded-identity nation, which means hearing yourself speak in not-your accent, with not-your vocabulary sounds very not-you, which is why when an American tries to speak French he feels self-conscious, but the Frenchman hearing it feels you aren't even trying.  He'd be wrong, you are trying: trying not to become French.

"Ugh, I hate psychobabble, why can't you be more like Malcolm Gladwell and give me  practical neuroscience based tips like 'get up before dawn' or 'play basketball annoyingly'?"  Fine, here's your concrete advice that you won't take for shaving 6 months off your second language acquisition: master the accent first. Before even one word of vocabulary.  The accent will teach you the rhythm of the words and the grammar-- it will make it okay for you to learn the vocabulary.  And you will think differently.  American exceptiono-isolationism isn't arrogance, it's a cognitive bias impressed on us from kindergarten when we learn that there are only two languages in the world, English and Everything Else.  Which teaches us that a German is more similar to an Italian than a Texan to a New Yorker, and I can predict with 100% accuracy that if that made you pause you only speak English.  Can't wait to hear your foreign policy ideas over drinks.  You should work for NPR.

Once you have the accent down, pick a foreign language actor or actress you admire, and learn the language as if you were them.  Talk like them.  This trick works because you are thinking like someone else, acting like someone else, yet simultaneously distancing yourself from this change-- I'm doing this, but it's not me, I'm just pretending.  The self-consciousness is removed because it's not "you" who is doing it.  Yet it is; and after a time, you'll become it-- and the positive benefit for society is you'll hate the guy you used to be.  C'est la vie.

Which brings us back to the Heart Attack Grill.  All psychological defenses have a common structure: that two legitimate but contradictory beliefs are held simultaneously, one consciously, one unconsciously, alternating variously.  That way all possibilities are covered.  Change is neutralized.


IV.


"Hey dummy, what did you expect would happen if you ate at the Heart Attack Grill?"

Why did you expect it?  Be careful.  It isn't because you knew the food is unhealthy, and I know this because you don't actually know what the food is.  You have no idea if a "Triple  Bypass Burger" is in any way worse than a Big Mac except that it is branded as worse.  If it said "Double Healthy Burger," would you believe that, or does your cynicism only run in one direction? (Let me check the calendar: it only runs in one direction.)  "Well, there's a picture of the giant  burger right there at the top."  Run all you like, Gingerbread Man, I'm still going to catch you.   The truth is you assumed the burger was extra-unhealthy as soon as you read the title, before you knew anything else.  So why are you trying to pretend otherwise?

Take an alternative headline and meditate: "Man Has Heart Attack At Hooters."  Hooters food is poison but there the implication is that the waitresses' boobs were to blame.  But the Heart Attack Grill has equally sexy waitresses and no one blames their boobs.

So the expectation is exclusively the result of the names "Hooters" or "Heart Attack" and the connotations they carry.  Not the reality-- the connotations of the words.  But connotation is the purpose of branding.  So "hey dummy, how could you go to the Heart Attack Grill and not know you'd have a heart attack?"  reveals our secret hope about branding: that it is true, that it has power to affect reality. 

I sense the resistance to this idea.  The simple act of naming doesn't give it power, right?  The restaurant has to live up to its name.  Well, now it has.  Still think you should be allowed to eat there? 


V.

Is the name 'Heart Attack Grill' meant ironically?  The waitstaff are dressed like sexy nurses and doctors, which is meant ironically, i.e. what they provide (fatty food) runs counter to the sartorial expectations.  But the name is... not ironic, it's literally correct-- right?

Wrong.  The name Heart Attack Grill is ironic, because the expectation is that you won't get a heart attack there, and the reason you know you won't get a heart attack at the Heart Attack Grill is -- and this is where you need to judge the strength of your soul--  exactly that it is called Heart Attack Grill.  That's why it is safe to eat there. 

This will sound confusing, because if you actually have a heart attack at the Heart Attack Grill, inevitably someone who thinks Kristen Wiig is funny will say: "umm, hel-lo? Mayor McCheese? What did you expect would happen?"  Well, not this.... I thought the name was ironic.

God may be dead, but we're not yet ready to shine a flashlight into the abyss to see just how abyssy it is; so we put a distance between ourselves and the dark abyssiness of reality, and by "distance" I mean literally "some other omnipotent entity."  And we make that entity exert its power-- prove it has power-- through language.  If something is called the Heart Attack Grill, then it could not possibly actually cause heart attacks because no one would ever allow such a thing, any more than they would allow a Vegas brothel called "Syphilis House"-- unless it was actually free of syphilis.  The final step is the trickiest to understand but the most natural to execute-- it is the atemporal logic of narcissism, aka magical thinking:  the naming of it prevents it from being true. Saying it is ironic is protective.

This is why blaming the dummy is pseudo-libertarianism.  It seems that we don't want any restrictions on our freedom, we want to be free to do things even if they are harmful; but that freedom is always predicated on "some other omnipotent entity"'s supervision.  We want our freedom to eat unhealthily as long as it is "USDA Grade A" meat from a "Board Of Health" restaurant, cooked not by Mexican illegals with no training in handwashing but by chefs-- sorry, not precise enough:  "...cooked by Mexican illegals as long as they are called chefs."  We want things to be as regulated as possible with two absolute conditions: 1.  there must be symbols of the omnipotent entity's existence showing we are being cared for, like a Grade A seal or the absence of the 13th floor or the word "chefs";   2.  the implementation of the power must be invisible so we can disavow it.   And at the very last step of a carefully managed outcome we can bask in the freedom of our pretend choice.     In other words, the fact that we are allowed  to choose something dangerous must mean that it isn't really that dangerous, which is more accurately but confusingly translated: the fact that we are allowed to choose something dangerous causes it to be safe.   And thank God.   "There is no God."  Oh, that explains all the passive voice.


-----


http://twitter.com/thelastpsych


----



Notes:


Two simple examples of this process.


1. In normal people who did not grow up on a farm, drinking milk from a cow will seem more disgusting than drinking it from a milk carton.  The explanation will be that it isn't "pasteurized and homogenized," which is both true and simultaneously a lie, because you know milk is dispensed after pasteurization from an industrial vat into a carton


industrial milk.jpg



but if you had to pick between drinking from that carton at the supermarket vs. from that industrial vat, you'd still pick the carton.  The carton clearly displays symbols of regulation and control, but the vat is too real to drink from.

2. Even if we agree that "taxes are too high" the psychological importance of lowering them is that the regulations that we know to exist will still continue to exist but we are distanced from them; to the point that the person who pays no taxes, or the man who pulls off the grid feels he is no longer affected by those controls; but of course everything he touches is still the result of those forces-- his Cabela's hat and camo jacket are flammability regulated, certain dyes prohibited, factories free of glass shards; all things that he knows are true, but blocks from his consciousness.  "I'm totally self-sufficient."  Ok.  So on the one hand he knows  (unconsciously) he enjoys the protection of the regulations, on the other hand knows (consciously) he is entirely free of their influence.  This will alternate on the day he e.g. catches fire.  This is not a criticism but an explanation: since this disavowal/magical thinking is a narcissistic defense, it's easy to predict that he will have other narcissistic problems, e.g. alcohol, rage, misogyny, etc.

To be clear: what makes this a defense is not that he is wrong, but that he is right, he has a legitimate point--  taxes may indeed be too high, the government too large, too many regulations, etc. If he believed something that was not true he'd be delusional.   The defense is effective only if two incompatible truths are held simultaneously, alternating variously depending on what's going on, so that change is neutralized.










Comments

When I read your writing, I... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 11:52 AM | Posted by JohnJ: | Reply

When I read your writing, I hear it in my head as a kind of rapid-fire, Dennis Leary-type rhythm. What I mean is that it sounds so natural in delivery that I know it must have taken a lot of work to make it sound that way.

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<a href="http://thirdtierre... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 12:10 PM | Posted by Nando: | Reply

http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/

When will the Heart Attack Grill open up a college of law? I can picture the sales pitch already:

"Get a law degree, diabetes, and high blood pressure!" Or maybe customers can order a law degree and triple bacon cheeseburger, for a mere $400.

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In this article you create ... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 12:29 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

In this article you create a straw man - a guy who thinks that a person eating the heart attack grill should expect to have a heart attack. You then attempt to convince us that we are that man, by implying that his belief in the branding symbol is the same as our belief in regulatory symbols.
In doing this, you attempt to make us uncomfortably assosiate ourselves with a rediculous figure, causing self doubt. This creates maliablility, which you attempt to use to convince us that belief that any symbol implies anything is magical thinking.

However, this is quite clearly not the case. We live in a cooperative society, where people have specialisation and expertise in specific areas. We use certain symbols to indcate that in our expert judgement, a thing has certain properties, for the benifit of those who do not have the expertise to make that judgement themselves.
It is no more possible for a man to navigate life without reference to symbols than it is to navigate accross a large city without symbols like signs and maps.
You may invest hours in checking the supply chain of your local butcher, but that is time you are not using to fulfil your specialist role. So you check it is regulated (if you have some reason to doubt that) and be done with it.

There is no option but symbols, if you want to live in a society so complex that no individual can understand everything. A less complex one would not deliver food or personal security, or support so many people.

Regarding the comments at the end of the quite leading article who look very much like your strawman... some people read a 'news' article and enjoy the feeling of belonging that comes with agreeing with it. I think they are more socially well adjusted than dicks like me who flail angrily at the author.

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"Who wants to see something... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 12:31 PM | Posted by JohnK: | Reply

"Who wants to see something ugly about themselves?"

"Mother's Day is Sunday, get her anything? I know, I know, she's a jerk, too."

You bastard!

The way you punish your readers is really effective. You try so hard to make it seem like you hate us, but I suspect you frame your writing this way for other reasons. Will you ever tell us what those reasons are?

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Narcissism. Is it that wors... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 12:51 PM | Posted by Gadux: | Reply

Narcissism. Is it that worse in the US? Wouldn't say so. Probably not the government's fault.

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So the feeling of freedom o... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 12:54 PM | Posted by V: | Reply

So the feeling of freedom of choice is preferred to *actual* freedom of choice, because *actual* freedom of choice means glass in your ice cubes once in a while? Of course, just like people prefer expensive placebos (acupuncture, prayer, homeopathy) to drugs with a 25% chance to make you better.

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Passage II has some real me... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 12:58 PM | Posted by illocution: | Reply

Passage II has some real meat in it. "The purpose of defense mechanisms is to stop you from changing." Thanks for that one.

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The pseudo-libertarian ment... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 1:13 PM | Posted by nohope: | Reply

The pseudo-libertarian mentality is just Calvinism for today-- people who fail, are hurt, or suffer in any way show they deserved to suffer because their suffering was a result of their choices. So, even if a guy did get a heart attack at the H.A.G., we can still laugh at him (and not be sad for him or his family), because by making the decision to eat there, he showed himself a fool and undeserving of any compassion. Which, of course, begs the question that only certain people deserve compassion. No matter how anyone suffers, show how they brought it upon themselves and you justify why you already feel nothing without having to admit to being a monster.

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lol. society of the specta... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 1:38 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by brian: | Reply

lol. society of the spectacle didnt always exist.

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Does it matter? ... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 2:03 PM | Posted, in reply to JohnK's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Does it matter?

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I'm sending my mother flowe... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 3:04 PM | Posted by Mark: | Reply

I'm sending my mother flowers. Can't meet her in person and treat her to a nice dinner this year, unfortunately.

I liked the bit about learning a new language. I don't know if that's what my problem was last time I tried, but I guess it can't hurt.

When are you going to write an article excoriating all of your readers who leave smug comments implying they don't think the article applies to them?

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It does.... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 4:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by JohnK: | Reply

It does.

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I know Zizek is hit-or-miss... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 5:48 PM | Posted by Or: | Reply

I know Zizek is hit-or-miss with you, but he makes some similar points in his talk "The Spectator's Malevolent Neutrality".

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Ahhhh, *now* the double-ent... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 5:49 PM | Posted by Meat Robot: | Reply

Ahhhh, *now* the double-entendre and caption under the lead photo make sense. Savoury bit of rhetoric, sir, savoury!

I think a reasonable question to ask is, "Ok, so if the defence is to keep me from changing and not so much to minimize pain, well, why?" If not changing implies the prolongation of pain, which on some level we very know is the case, then the defences which keep us trapped in our tiny little ego-dungeons must have a very powerful dungeon-master of guilt.

Is this the same master who keeps us locked in ourselves, shunning true freedom, and living in what is honestly a kind of muted agony? How do we fire *that* bugger?

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well TLP is certainly drift... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 7:26 PM | Posted, in reply to Or's comment, by thestage: | Reply

well TLP is certainly drifting in the direction of pop-Lacan. which is to say in the direction of Zizek. which is fine.

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You can't get a heart attac... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 9:51 PM | Posted by Chiara: | Reply

You can't get a heart attack from eating at the Heart Attack Grill. It may be that people who live in such a way as to have a heart attack are more likely to eat at the Heart Attack grill. But until there is some kind of scientific evidence that eating one very fatty and caloric meal can trigger a heart attack by itself, the whole argument is invalid.

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I've been learning French o... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 12:44 AM | Posted by Adam: | Reply

I've been learning French over the last two years or so, and I've picked it up rather well. People can tell it's not my first language when I'm speaking, but I affect a pretty good accent. I can even speak it, when necessary, at work, although that's usually only when the francophones are on break.

Being a long-time reader, it occurred to me that there was an element of narcissism in why I took to it well and why I enjoyed learning it so much. Language is effectively the vector by which your personality is transmitted. When speaking with someone, I judge a lot about them merely by how they talk, not necessarily what they talk about. Accent, mannerisms, sarcasm and humour all form my impression of someone's personality. Want an easy way to become a different person without really having to change who you are? Learn another language, find a hostel, go meet people from a country who speak that language, and strike up a conversation. You talk about entirely different things, but more importantly, the way you talk about those things results in them getting an impression of you that's entirely different from the impression a native English speaker would get.

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Hey, nohope! You met my ex-... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 5:21 AM | Posted, in reply to nohope's comment, by Zo: | Reply

Hey, nohope! You met my ex-husband! "No matter how anyone suffers, show how they brought it upon themselves and you justify why you already feel nothing without having to admit to being a monster." (Neatly said. Thanks!)

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The problem with this kind ... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 5:39 AM | Posted by Nick: | Reply

The problem with this kind of discourse is the same problem with most of the American intelligentsia's writing (The New Yorker etc.) and most of discourse analysis: there's no opposition.

I can offer a rebuttal but what difference would it make to your thinking? I would merely be a part of the rabble down below in the comment section. It's akin to standing behind the photographers on the red carpet and yelling "Hey Kristen Stewart! Your dress might be a bit tacky!"

But of course this is 'Narcissism' because it's about how my opinion should be worth more than what the current system allows, which is all I care about, right? I just want the world to agree with my self-image. But who would disagree with your interpretation? Who has the power to?

How are you going to develop as a writer if you have no contemporaries that disagree with you?

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Nicky-baby, not to worry. I... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 5:53 AM | Posted, in reply to Nick's comment, by Zo: | Reply

Nicky-baby, not to worry. I promise to disagree with Alone's interpretation the moment that i do. He's in good hands. Trust me.

As far as his development as a writer, sweet of you to be concerned, but you know what? I think he may already be Developed.

"I'm going to hide under the bed and wait for your answer." Just kill me, his little throw-away phrases.

Maybe think of him as having something to teach. So few people do, so few give so much of a shit. And if you want to rebut, start a blog! Srsly! (Oh that crafty intelligentsia.)

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Ha, well his writing has de... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 6:03 AM | Posted, in reply to Zo's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Ha, well his writing has definitely improved over the years. I was reading some of his earlier posts and he was all over the place. He's far more focused and coherent now.

Funny you mention the teaching angle. I was walking up to get some pizza and I was thinking along exactly those lines. Maybe history is not a roll call of men who were striving for complete logical accuracy or truth, but merely men who had one thing to say and were really convincing? It's a bit like a cult; people just want to believe that someone has an answer, and exactly one answer is enough. Maybe he can start a cult based on curing Narcissism.

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Interesting thought. Alone ... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 6:23 AM | Posted by Zo: | Reply

Interesting thought. Alone writes more like a fiction writer—which unsettles a lot of his male readers, who seem to mistake it for a pissing contest. The easy confidence of that Voice. But the voice of his writing, his style, if you will, is what makes him so damn readable, so original. Not to mention this penchant for telling the truth.

Curing narcissists. What is the word I want ... right: oxymoron.

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What's so effective about y... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 6:40 AM | Posted by Taft: | Reply

What's so effective about your writing is the way you put the reader in a seat, the reader becomes the object of study. Of course narcissists read this blog. Anyway I just want to ask, as a semi-functional human being who reads your blog and worries he's a narcissist, what can I do if my defense mechanisms won't budge? This is where you say therapy is bullshit (and the Prozac didn't help either). Is the real-deal-Freudian shit any better? I don't even know if you read these comments.

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Maybe he could write a blog... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 7:01 AM | Posted, in reply to Taft's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Maybe he could write a blog titled "If you are worried you are a narcissist, this is how you can tell for sure, and this is what you can do to fix it", rather than leaving his readers to worry in impotence.

It's not the catchiest title but it works.

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When I was a child, somethi... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 7:20 AM | Posted by Roger: | Reply

When I was a child, something really confusing, was how to call you americans. Why their country doesn't have a name? - I used to thought. Well, we have France, Japan, Egipt, Brazil, etc. But, they are "The States"? Not just The States, but "The United States of America". That's more confusing, because, you know, America is bigger than that. North America is bigger, it has Canada and Mexico too. And America has a lot of countries, including mine, Brazil. Can you imagine how this was estrange to a school child learning geography?
Well, and that's a funny thing, because many people, including books, call you by different names. We have, in portuguese language, the "estadunidenses", which is like "unitedstaters", ugly, uh? We also have "the north americans", but that's unffair with mexicans and canadians. And some calls you just yankees. I think southern people will disagree with that.
But dont worry, majority, including me, just calls you americans. Its easier, we know you prefer this way, so we better let you decide how you want to be called.
Another thing that really bother us, is the way americans think the "western world" are basically you, britain, france and maybe a few guests. Hellooo? Western World whithout Greece? Without latin countries? (oh, by the way French are latins too). But you simply forget not just geography, but history. Roman Empire, remember? Western world is latin world, you were the barbarians at first.
Speaking this way, some will think i don't like America. Not true. I really love America. I love it. HEY, I SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE AND NEVER LIVED IN YOUR COUNTRY. I support and defend America a lot. But i think you are blind and wrong in many ways, and that's really sad and bad for your own selves.

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Yeah, this seems like the o... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 10:12 AM | Posted, in reply to Chiara's comment, by MattC: | Reply

Yeah, this seems like the obvious answer. Heart attacks aren't caused by what's in your mouth at the time, so I can be confident that the Grill really isn't responsible, not because of the government or whatever other authority, but because that's not how heart attacks work. Those people were going to have heart attacks anyway; it's an entertaining but meaningless coincidence that they got them at a place called the Heart Attack Grill.

Um, right? Seems like there's nothing more to say here.

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I didn't get my mom a gift ... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 12:44 PM | Posted by Paul: | Reply

I didn't get my mom a gift because she *is* a certified jerk. She's a borderline. So, yeah...

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Actually overeating (as wel... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 3:10 PM | Posted by ghost-in-the-machine: | Reply

Actually overeating (as well as excessive exercize and rage) CAN trigger a heart attack.

But then,that's kinda missing the point of this article, isn't it?

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So?... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2012 9:13 PM | Posted, in reply to Paul's comment, by Anonymous Blotch: | Reply

So?

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Does anyone else think thes... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 1:13 AM | Posted by BHE: | Reply

Does anyone else think these entries are all journal entries and that he writes to himself? Translate the German.

Still love it though.

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Actually the reason I don't... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 1:48 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Actually the reason I don't expect to get a heart attack after eating at the heart attack grill is that I'm not a credulous child. The odds of getting a heart attack there are probably about the same as getting one while eating in McDonalds, or in the shower, and significantly less than when I make a 100m dash to get the bus. It's being a lazy, overweight, under exercised blob that is going to give me a heart attack, not my patronizing any particular restaurant. As Matt C said, it was just a hilarious coincidence

As for your opinion on dangerous choices, well, it's hardly a choice unless I know exactly what I'm getting. It's not that whatever authority has made my choice no longer dangerous, but it has at least in some way quantified the danger, and lets me then weigh that against some other, less risky alternative. Since pretty much all choices boil down to a cost benefit analysis, how could choice even be possible without knowing the costs? The authority of my knowledge of statistics tells me Russian roulette with 1 bullet is better than with 5, and the authority of the health inspector tells me that the restaurant without (many) rats is preferable to one with.
But then, maybe I just need to be freed from the magical thinking imposed by math

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If pretending to be someone... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 1:55 AM | Posted by Pigsy: | Reply

If pretending to be someone else reduced narcissism, the most humble people would be actors.

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Meh. I wasn't a fan of this... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 3:11 AM | Posted by Kevin: | Reply

Meh. I wasn't a fan of this piece.

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What was the point of the p... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 3:21 AM | Posted, in reply to ghost-in-the-machine's comment, by Chiara: | Reply

What was the point of the piece? Oh, right - "The Last Psychiatrist sees into your soul!! He knows your poorly reasoned arguments, inaccurate assumptions, and societally-imposed blind beliefs, even though you yourself are unaware of them! Oh, and you are also a deluded narcissist, but you are too deluded and narcissistic to know it!"

Normally I'm a fan, but not of this one.


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Well,this is not new. What ... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 10:51 AM | Posted by car: | Reply

Well,this is not new. What about theme parks with the Ferry Wheel of Death? People may throw up in there, but most people wont. Should I be thinking 'hey, these rides should not exist because they are dangerous? ' They are dangerous if they break and you fall to your death, not if they make you dizzy. That is what you pay for. In the grill you pay for the chance to gorge on burgers, if you are unlucky and you have some health problem, then the problem is that you ordered 2 kgs of beef and it happened to make you sick.

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Yeah, the point about contr... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 1:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Chiara's comment, by Carlier: | Reply

Yeah, the point about contradictory beliefs and defense mechanisms was great and made reading the article well worthwhile, but the rest felt like a rambling mess.

TLP's style of relentlessly analytical scrutiny seems to work better when he's dissecting a detailed position that people are emotionally invested in, rather than, e.g. four out of fourteen people posting "lol fatties" in a news article's comment section. The latter doesn't have enough substance to support the weight of his analysis; he might be right about everything he says, but with so little to go on about anonymous commenters, there are plenty of other narratives that are equally plausible. He has to make guesses about so much that what he ends up analyzing feels insubstantial.

The foreign language bit is wrong for a lot of reasons, most notably because the American aspiration toward being worldly exists and exists on a massive scale, and it itself a desire for narcissistic identity. "Having traveled" is a branded identity that middle class Americans crave, much like "having a law degree," "wearing a Rolex," etc. It's the reason why these Americans talk about the importance of "traveling" or "learning a second language." That's the level at which they think about it: where they go or what they learn is less important, as though a native English speaker learning German will gain the same benefit to perspective as they will learning Maori.[1] Because the perceived benefit is not tied to anything specific about the language. The language is just a prop for the real goal, that of becoming a cosmopolitan duder and therefore better than his untraveled counterparts (a.k.a. uneducated peasants).
__
[1] In the cases where there is a preference, it's still not based on anything about the language but on its prestige. Many Americans, for example, will be more impressed by French than Spanish, because they associate it with "sophisticated" restaurants and movies, whereas Spanish is regarded as just Mexican-talk.

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In the linked articles that... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 9:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

In the linked articles that nobody read, it says that the Heart Attack Grill gives you free meals if you weigh over 300 pounds.
i.e. if you're the kind of person that doesn't care if their diet gives them a heart attack, this place is for you.

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"hikikomori narcissism"... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 9:21 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"hikikomori narcissism"

Go on.

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The bit about foreign langu... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 9:24 PM | Posted by Dasha: | Reply

The bit about foreign language learning is fascinating. I have worked as an EFL teacher in a few different countries, and I have noticed a similar hang up in some of my students. They want to learn English for whatever reason, but they don't want to learn it too well, because that would be giving up something of their own identity. It's frustrating as a teacher, because these students express frustration and annoyance that their skills are not progressing, but it's difficult to get them to understand that they are the only ones standing in the way of their success. Students without this kind of hang up progress much faster, regardless of age, intelligence level, or previous exposure to the language.

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this seems like the obviou... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2012 9:40 PM | Posted by http://www.bootspascher.net/: | Reply

this seems like the obvious answer. Heart attacks aren't caused by what's in your mouth at the time, so I can be confident that the Grill really isn't responsible, not because of the government or whatever other authority

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I did not read this article... (Below threshold)

May 14, 2012 10:01 AM | Posted by meistergedanken: | Reply

I did not read this article, therefore it wasn't for me.

The point? According to TLP's unalterable and endlessly repeated rationale, this makes me alone among all the commenters immune from critcism!

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The following highlight som... (Below threshold)

May 14, 2012 12:23 PM | Posted by Mirk Schillems: | Reply

The following highlight some of what I and presumably many with me don't understand about narcissism.

because of the Number 2 characteristic of narcissism: inability to see things from the other's perspective.

I recognize the above as true, but simultaneously it awakened some thoughts to the contrary revolving around someone I've known my whole life, someone very much a TLP textbook example of a narcissistic personality. In addition, he's intelligent, attractive, wealthy and above all a master manipulator.

For decades he has played his "friends" and family for various forms of benefit - this guy behave like a calculator with feet. The readers here get the gist of it, I'm sure. In order to be an effective manipulator you need insight about how things are perceived for the one being manipulated - e.g ability to see things from others perspective. You probably know the question now, which is how to reconcile these contradicting perspectives.

My take would be that a person with strong narcissistic traits very much has the _ability_ to see things from others perspective, but choose not to - out of habit or lack of motivation. These two reasons might be integrated as motivation is partly about expectation for an outcome, and very often we do see what we're trained to look for.

Anyone?

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You could read the archives... (Below threshold)

May 14, 2012 3:52 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You could read the archives, but here goes:

You're describing a sociopath, not a narcissist. The sociopath sees others' perspectives just fine, he just doesn't give a shit (like the honey badger). Sociopaths are a problem for everyone they meet or have power over. Narcissists are only a problem for themselves and people that care about them. The reason TLP writes about them so much is because he thinks there's an epidemic of narcissism.

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I think problem is you have... (Below threshold)

May 15, 2012 2:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Meat Robot's comment, by Dogs: | Reply

I think problem is you have an excuse not to go and try again. To avoid changing and stick with the devil you know. And the solution is to just at least act as a good person, to make good decisions that help others, to not think about if it's fair or advantageous to you. Fake till you make it kind of thing

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All psychological ... (Below threshold)

May 16, 2012 9:56 AM | Posted by nwt: | Reply

All psychological defenses have a common structure: that two legitimate but contradictory beliefs are held simultaneously, one consciously, one unconsciously, alternating variously. That way all possibilities are covered. Change is neutralized.

Just read an example so obvious that it's embarrassing I didn't immediately think of it after that quote. By samo85 on this picture of a bomber:

Imgur:

  • picture of the plane = "fuck these bombs!"
  • versus

  • picture of the pilot = "god bless, thanks for protecting freedom!"
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    Apart from the first paragr... (Below threshold)

    May 17, 2012 9:51 PM | Posted by James K: | Reply

    Apart from the first paragraph of part I, I disagree with most of this. If we go to a burger joint, we know the food is nutritious but unhealthy, particularly if it forms a large part of a person's diet.

    People try to make us feel bad about liking this kind of food. Mostly we go furtively to McDonalds, and hope the nurse who measures our cholesterol at the local hospital doesn't see us. The selling point of the Heart Attack Grill is that it invites us not to be furtive: instead to celebrate our love for unhealthy food, despite our knowing it is unhealthy.

    If the Grill gets free publicity like the stories mentioned here, that's a bonus.

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    Uh, wow. So many commenters... (Below threshold)

    May 18, 2012 5:36 PM | Posted by Oelsen: | Reply

    Uh, wow. So many commenters already wrote about the inexplicable fixation on French and travel. I wanted to add that it really annoyed me too that the US is just... the US. And as an adult now I am amused that there was a time where U(dS)S(R) was a legal regex for the then valid geopolitics.

    Anyhow. Everybody is learning English because everything is written in it. Searching a solution to your Ubuntu-related problem? Sending a letter abroad where you do not know the language? Reading about geopolitics, energy, stock exchanges etc? English everywhere. There are probably more French speaking North Americans (without Quebec etc.) than Germans. But you admire English speaking Germans. How... short sighted. Germans do not learn French in school. They all want English.

    You should admire a German that speaks French, Polish and English. Or an Italian that speaks Spanish, Arabic and Greek. Or a Swiss that speaks French, English, Italian and Russian. Or some African Dude that writes and speaks 6 languages fluently. See the pattern here?

    French. Pfffft. US Americans should learn Spanish, Mandarin and Russian. At least. And then move out of the country :P

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    I was going to return the w... (Below threshold)

    May 19, 2012 4:23 PM | Posted by Noir mujer: | Reply

    I was going to return the wallet I found because of Karma, but then I remembered this post and bought myself a steak

    Thanks a $35, Alone!

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    The only thing that I would... (Below threshold)

    May 22, 2012 9:47 AM | Posted by Vlad: | Reply

    The only thing that I would like to comment is that Frenchmen who truly speak English are a small minority. They are every bit as solipsistic as Americans are, if not more.

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    "why can't you be more like... (Below threshold)

    May 22, 2012 10:29 AM | Posted by Than: | Reply

    "why can't you be more like Malcolm Gladwell and give me practical neuroscience based tips like.... 'play basketball annoyingly'?"

    Bravo. A long way to go for a punchline, but well done.

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    I have a question: are psy... (Below threshold)

    June 6, 2012 6:06 PM | Posted by Lily: | Reply

    I have a question: are psychopaths good at accents? If they aren't wired to emotionally care what people think of them, does this mean they are automatically free of all the usual narcissistic barriers to picking them up?

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    Yeah. Alone has some unusu... (Below threshold)

    July 8, 2012 5:27 AM | Posted, in reply to JohnJ's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

    Yeah. Alone has some unusual punctuation habits.

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    "readable" isn't a word I w... (Below threshold)

    July 8, 2012 5:41 AM | Posted, in reply to Zo's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

    "readable" isn't a word I would use, but I reckon you've nailed everything else, in one post, Zo

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    Ha! If Mom is Borderline cr... (Below threshold)

    July 8, 2012 5:48 AM | Posted, in reply to Paul's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

    Ha! If Mom is Borderline cray-cray, then Pop is probably a Narcissist. Ergo, Junior is probably a Narcissist, too......

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    Yeah. Except that that one... (Below threshold)

    July 8, 2012 6:04 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

    Yeah. Except that that one of the many components of a Sociopath's personality IS Narcissism.

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    "Apart from the first parag... (Below threshold)

    July 26, 2012 1:32 PM | Posted by Clothilde: | Reply

    "Apart from the first paragraph of part I, I disagree with most of this. If we go to a burger joint, we know the food is nutritious but unhealthy, particularly if it forms a large part of a person's diet."

    I'm not sure how nutritious burger joint food is. Chicken McNuggets contain something derived from silicone- not nutritious. fast food is about shelf life, product consistency, cheapness to produce, ability to withstand high cooking temperatures (that's why trans-fat is so popular in fast food). All kinds of things affect the nutrition in food- the soil it's grown in, how it is cooked, any additives, how it is preserved, whether the salt in it is iodized or not, etc. But generally I think saying fast food is neither as nutritious or delicious as what you can make yourself is fair. Not to mention cooking at home is cost-effective.

    Working in a hospital, sometimes people ask me amazing questions. "I had chinese with MSG last night. Is that what caused the stroke?" says a person with a history of hypertension who can't afford his medication and has been off it for six months. the same goes for things like "smoking can't be that unhealthy, I see nurses do it." and "I ate at the Heart Attack Grill last night, could that by why I am in ER with chest pain?" Or it could be years of your own crappy cooking at home with hydrogenated oils and lots of red meat, no exercise, no cholesterol checks, no vegetables and fruits, no maintenance for your body at all, not as much as you do for your car, even.

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    He isn't talking about whet... (Below threshold)

    August 13, 2012 2:57 PM | Posted, in reply to Chiara's comment, by doejohn: | Reply

    He isn't talking about whether or not the heart attack grill will cause you to have a heart attack.

    He is talking about THINKING(or not thinking) that the heart attack grill will cause you to have a heart attack, and then what happens next.


    I hate when people misinterpret discourse due to their narrow minded simple brains and then project thin diluted ideas onto beauty.


    You basically just took a piss on a painting because you're too retarded to know where the bathroom is.

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    maybe she didn't misunderst... (Below threshold)

    August 13, 2012 5:19 PM | Posted, in reply to doejohn's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

    maybe she didn't misunderstand. maybe she just had an idea she felt strongly about and felt the need to express, and she saw an opportunity. maybe you're the one who misunderstands. but one thing for sure, you're an asshole.

    Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -1 (1 votes cast)
    I'd argue for most of the h... (Below threshold)

    January 16, 2013 12:13 PM | Posted, in reply to brian's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

    I'd argue for most of the history of civilization it has, it's just that our current age has refined it to a science

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    Hi, I read your blog... (Below threshold)

    March 21, 2013 1:48 PM | Posted by jinka: | Reply

    Hi,
    I read your blog, more as a thesis on narcissism for my understanding. Until I read this post, i thought largely what you wrote about was universal about the privileged class everywhere.
    But your thesis about the expectation from the nanny state, diverges the narcissism of west and east. I guess, while in west you have been taught since childhood to trust the systems, the regulators, the 'omnipotent entity' - in east, its the reverse. Success is predicated on not trusting the system - to be prepared, to watch out, to save up on gold (instead of buying insurance). well, that's changing as we 'westernize' too and go for the standardized trash food instead of road side food.

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    Oh man, you're talking abou... (Below threshold)

    April 1, 2013 4:29 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

    Oh man, you're talking about my older brother:

    -=-=-=-
    This is what makes treating narcissism particularly difficult: the pathology's Number 1 characteristic is identity preservation. "I want to change." Nope. You want to be happier, sure, more successful, feel love, drink less, but you want to remain you. But that won't work. The identity you've chosen blows, ask anyone. Change is only possible when you say, "I want to stop making everyone cry." The first step isn't admitting you have a problem but identifying precisely how you are a problem for other people. But I'll save you the trouble, you'll fail at this, too, because of the Number 2 characteristic of narcissism: inability to see things from the other's perspective.
    -=-=-=-=-

    I cut off all contact with my brother after his last raging tantrum at me, where he shook the wheel of the car at 75mph while screaming. All our lives he felt better if he was able to make me feel fear, or cry, or otherwise lose it. He admitted it to me several times, and to our mother, but can't stop doing this.

    As we got older and I escaped the trap of living under the same roof, it became harder and harder for him to get a rise out of me, because I wasn't instantly available. He'd call me on the phone, and at the first veiled insult (he'd converse for about 5 minutes before starting in, so I wouldn't be expecting the slam) I'd hang up. Sorry, the tears store is closed. The anger store is always open, but you're not here for that, are you…

    Once I had to go to his house to pick up something, he started insulting me while he was in the bathroom. I walked out, no goodbye, nothing, left the item there - apparently the price was not just driving across town, but accepting degrading insults (Can't you take a joke? What's the matter with YOU?). He was so busy spewing crap (from both ends, presumably) he didn't notice for about 5 minutes, probably because he couldn't hear me crying or screaming at him.

    He kept asking, why can't we be friends? Why can't we spend more time together like when we were kids? And I kept saying, because you're an asshole who turns every contact into an opportunity to try to make me cry or become terrified. When we were kids I was trapped, I had no choice but to put up with this; our mother didn't want to listen to me, she just wanted us to "get along" and not make any parenting work for her.

    The psychopath test where they read the predicate but not the consequence is exactly how my brother is. "I want X". "You can't have X because Y". "But I want X." The Y just drops off, disappears. Even the If disappears - If X, then Y. And forget about processing negations - only if it serves his interest.

    He will never change. He will never stop wanting to make me cry, because it makes him feel instantly powerful. He makes others cry too, but they ditch him immediately when he pulls his stunts - or better yet, some of them use him, and ditch him when he's no longer convenient for them. He wants what he had when we were kids - a forced audience, someone he can be abusive and controlling to, just push a button and feel instant power flowing from my tears.

    I wonder if the trap for narcissism is built by the parents, or if it's genetic. Is there only room in mother's heart for one giant narcissist? The rest are forced into narcissistic supply? I've met several cousins who have very similar behaviors to my brother, but we weren't raised together. In one set of cousins, the younger sister of the narcissist committed suicide. In another set, she became a drug addict because she couldn't take his crap. So maybe some of the others couldn't tolerate as much as I did. The closest I got to drug addict was Paxil - but I'm off that now, since I seem to be better able to manage with some serious emotional distance.

    So for anyone suffering from a narcissist's abuse, there's no cure for them, only escape for you. Get out while you can; chronic abuse is still predictable and "comfortable", and for some, that's more important then risking whatever's out there in the world. If that's the case, I'm sorry for your trap.

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    I had a guy read something ... (Below threshold)

    May 21, 2013 9:11 PM | Posted, in reply to JohnJ's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

    I had a guy read something I wrote, and in this instance, he complimented me on my "subtle rhyming scheme."
    The truth? I was writing a shot-gun blast of pondering and musing. I not only did not intend to make any rhymes, but I studied the piece and never could find a single rhyme.

    My point is that you might be fabricating the "flow." I suspect he wrote this in one shot without attempting to make any kind of rhythm.

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    leather bomber jackets and ... (Below threshold)

    May 24, 2013 2:31 AM | Posted by Nadia: | Reply

    leather bomber jackets and flight jackets made in the USA,Nylon Bomber Jacket fit the bill quite nicely.
    However, it had an ancestor, a forefather so to speak ---the Military B10 and B15 Canvas Service Jacket.

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    Fantastic content.... (Below threshold)

    July 22, 2013 10:56 AM | Posted by Vance: | Reply

    Fantastic content.

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