Category Archives: News

Book revue: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Book revue: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Norman was not, technically speaking a psychopath, but you might be.

Just finished “The Psychopath Test: A journey Through the Madness Industry” by the guy who brought you “The Men Who Stare At Goats.” The book, not the movie.

Ronson’s prose reads like TV, especially with the juicy chapter stops built like commercial breaks, but that’s not a bad thing. This is a lively, fun read and thought-provoking to boot.  The thesis, and the main focus of the book, is that psychopaths are a lot more ubiquitous in our society than we know and funnily enough, psychopathic tendencies align very well with characteristics can that make one stunningly popular and successful in politics, business, etc.

Ronson comes upon the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, meets its architect and other interested individuals including psychopathic patients and captains of industry, and begins picking at the notion that our society actually rewards madness, even requires it in a subtle, sinister, reality TV-based way.

There’s more thought provoking here than thought following or thought fleshing, but it’s not a superficial book. To chase down the implications that occur to Ronson through his journey would require academic treatises and senate subcommittees and possibly jackbooted shock troops. It’s just that while the premise concerns our wider society, the only insights ultimately furnished are local ones about you, what you’re watching on telly, and if you’re over-medicating your kids or being over-medicated yourself. It’s very worthwhile, and I recommend the book. Go on and buy it. It’s the kind of book you’ll want to lend out and revisit once Campaign 2012 really gets underway.

(Google “Newt Gingrich psychopath.” You know you want to. Or you will after you read this.)

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by | January 29, 2012 · 5:27 pm

Buy Curious

Following up on Edward’s excellent internet blackout solidarity post — and I’m not only referring to the judicious use of Telly Savalas sprechcroon, although he surely improves everything he touches by a factor of 5 — some of you may have heard of musician Jonathan Coulton’s pithy tweet on the demise of file-sharing Mos Eisley, MegaUpload:

“Any other musicians out there notice that ever since they shut down MegaUpload, the money has just been POURING in?”

Zing! Ring-a-ding-ding. I like this guy already.

Well, after this caused a fair amount of what we may assume was negative or confused feedback, Coulton expanded his views on internet piracy legislation in a thoughtful, nuanced, and well-informed blog that is really worth reading.

I particularly cleave to the argument that every file shiftily acquired via MegaUpload or YouTube or Kazaa or whatever the kids do nowdays does not equal a lost sale. This is absolutely true. If you make a good product and you make it available to the public, they will pay for it. I know. I’m one of them. Just last week I bought this, while I could easily just listen to it on Spotify. Last night, I watched an old episode of MST3K on the YouTubes, but only because the VHS tape (remember when THEY were the Satan in this argument?) I originally recorded the episode on is obsolete and they have not made the episode in question commercially available in any other format, be it streaming or DVD. Trust me, if it were commercially available, I would pay for it. (Dear Shout Factory: the movie in question is Mole People. Do not tell me anyone is barring the rights to that thing.)


And this is a show that I originally only paid for through a cable subscription. Those box sets range between $30 and $50 each, the single titles anywhere from $15 to $20. And that’s not counting the money I’ve spent on the same guys’ different post-MST3K projects: The Film Crew, Rifftrax, Legend Films commentary tracks, Cinematic Titanic. When my husband and I saw Cinematic Titanic live, those tickets were, like, $70 each.

Don’t ask me how much I paid for the Gizmo and that Poe ragdoll.

So, traditional distribution channels have failed the Bidness. Well, all ineffective things come to an end. The one thing I really am convinced of in this argument is that the consumers will never fail the content creators, if we’re given the least opportunity to do the right thing.

I bet someone’s downloaded that “Who Loves You, Baby?” on iTunes thanks to YouTube’s archiving of Telly Savalas, long after big companies with an alleged interest in keeping his content under their banner have forgotten all about him. And you know, I have a mad posh to go iTunes this Jonathan Coulton guy’s new album, produced by John Flansburgh (eeeeeee!)…although I might go check it out on Spotify first.

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SOPA’s On The Rope-uhs

SOPA's good food? This is currently the first place Google Image Search result for SOPA. Mmmmm.

The best thing about SOPA is that it has shut down most of the cool stuff on the Internets.  That’s probably why you’re here.  You can’t go to boingboing or Reddit or even Wikipedia.  (The Oatmeal has the best SOPA front page, BTW) And so you’re like Paula Deen after she’s been denied her daily butter bath.

Here at The Poubelle, we’ve made the brave decision to bravely support the brave sites that chose to bravely go dark by not going dark, thus giving you, fair computer user, something to waste 3.76 minutes of your incalculably invaluable time on.  You like LOLcats. right?  How about a song about LOLcats and SOPA?

The number two result in the Google Image Search for PIPA is totally hot.

Though SOPA appears to be DOA, PIPA is AAW*.  At least for now.  To my feeble brain, this is proof that the Internets are indeed capable of being heard over the piles of cash entertainment industry lobbyists showered upon congressional reptiles to get this legislation on the docket at a time when congress can’t seem to do anything other than rename post offices that are about to be closed. This gives me faith in humanity.  Not much.  But enough to reward you with a few slices of prime cheese.  Who loves you, baby?  Petite Poubelle love you long time.

Put on your disco pants and Indian headdresses and boogie oogie oogie til SOPA/PIPA is no mo.

Or maybe you prefer Korla’s Indian headdress and dancer…

But there’s really only one song that can sum up my sentiments about SOPA/PIPA.  I’ll let the boys from Ween explain.

*alive and well

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Are You Fracking Kidding Me?

What’s not to love about fracking?  It makes your tap water flammable, causes earthquakes, and inspires great art.  It’s also really fun to say.  Unfortunately, a lot of people find the side effects of drilling for natural gas using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to be annoying.  Can you believe there are people out there who don’t think it’s totally rad to have a kitchen sink that doubles as a flamethrower?

You may recall that after the fuel shortage crisis in the ’70s, the U.S. set forth on an unprecedented effort to escape the death grip of foreign oil.  The clean energy sector, heavily subsidized by the government, stepped up to the plate, providing literally billions of gallons of sunshine and trillions of barrels of wind.  In fact, the wind and solar farms that sprouted across the country did so much good for the environment, that something had to be done to reverse the effect.  If the wind and solar farms were allowed to proliferate further, there would be no contaminated water and no smog to mutate future generations.

Many critics contend British Petroleum's recent efforts to curb rampant environmental purity didn't go far enough.

Thankfully, a few small, brave oil companies struck out on their own, without any governmental assistance, and made great strides against Big Enviro.  And now, thanks to the Obama administration’s recent decision to embrace fracking, the fight against the Naturazis can continue.  This is good news.  Not only does it mean we can get more natural gas at a time when inventories are at record highs and prices are at record lows, but we can finally begin getting those precious chemicals into pristine aquifers and wells.  Finally, states like Ohio can experience the excitement of being just like California.  It’s like the disaster ride at Universal Studios, except it’s real.  And who wouldn’t want to live on the edge like that?

The Obama administration has flipped and flopped on Big Enviro issues like a mackerel trying to shake off its fresh coat of oil so generously supplied by BP.  The Big Enviro supporters who swept Obama into office are, of course, in a tizzy over his willingness to frack the land while the well-reasoned Drill Baby Drillers have been stymied by Obama’s refusal to grant unfettered access to the hell on earth that is ANWR.

And just today, the Obama administration has formally nixed the marvelous Keystone XL pipeline that would have been like a super duper  Slip-n-Slide from the vacation paradise of the Tar Sands in Canadaland to Nederland, Texas, home to wooden cowboy boots and Baconator Broodjes.  This is a huge disappointment, especially after getting fracked so good just a minute ago.  Obama is like that guy you pick up at the bar who talks a good game and does actually blow your mind in bed when you get him home.  But then he takes off while you’re fast asleep and you discover not only did he give you a fake phone number, but he left a turd the size of a Louisville Slugger in your toilet.  But given the choice between that and the taste Santorum leaves in my mouth, I suppose I’ll take getting fracked by Obama.

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Filed under Humor, Nature, News, Politics, Science!

Millionaires Support Warren Buffett’s Tax Proposal As Long As It Doesn’t Apply To Them

From the “This Will Surprise No One” files comes this tasty little tidbit from Bloomberg News:

Millionaires support Warren Buffett’s view that the wealthiest should pay more in taxes, as long as it’s other rich Americans, according to a survey released today.

I’m not even sure there’s anything I can add to that.  Where is the disconnect?  Is it that they don’t consider themselves to be wealthy because their net worth is in the millions and not the billions?  Sorry, Daddy Warbucks, but you can’t pretend to magnanimously support Buffett’s call for top earners to pay more taxes and then exclude yourself from the equation.  Why bother with the charade?  Just come out and say “I got mine, so screw everybody else.”  At least that would be believable.

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Christopher Hitchens Memorial Statue Campaign

I know, I know. The notion of a statue of Hitch for anyone who genuinely appreciated his work can seem only slightly less moribund than the mummified V.I. Lenin displayed like Snow White in her glass coffin. There is that. But what persuades me this proposal is not a repudiation of Hitch’s legacy as Hitch himself intended it is that a statue represents the status of his ideas in our society. For years, the Crackpot Right has been threatening a Culture War, and by God — essentially by God — they’re bringing it. Particularly in the current U.S. political environment where all the credible Republican candidates (Huntsman and Ron Paul are not really conceded as credible by anyone, right?) are at least unstinting religious zealots, those of us who are sane need our heroes and we need to be inspired to stand up. So damn the contradictions, immortalize the essential Contrarian, as the very existence of this statue will be a refutation to those who take their wisdom from on high or not at all.

I also find it a delightful notion to consider a golem of Hitch staring balefully out onto a society of hovercars.

Christopher Hitchens Memorial Statue Campaign.

(Crossposted to


Filed under Atheism, News, Politics

Catholic Church Opposes Repealing Limitations On Child Sex Abuse Claims Because It’s Bad For Business

Recent revelations about the systemic sexual abuse of children in sporting institutions has many legal scholars and children’s rights advocates lobbying to get the statue of limitations on reporting such heinous crimes extended or lifted altogether.  This is the right thing to do.  The fact that in some states, the statute of limitations to make legal claims against abusers ends two years after the victim turns 18 is outrageous.

I left the Catholic church when I was in high school.  I’m proud to say my mother left the Catholic church after the child sex abuse scandal broke a decade ago.  I have many issues with the Catholic church, but the story I heard on NPR yesterday shocked even little jaded old me.

Most of the story is about legislative efforts to extend or repeal the statutes of limitations on sex abuse claims.  In 2003, New Jersey offered a one-year window during which the statute of limitations was waived and other states are considering similar measures.  But the Catholic church is against it.

Why?  It’s not because they deny the allegations.  Nobody in the church is claiming these heinous, despicable acts never took place.  They’re not saying the people making the claims are libeling the church with false accusations of priestly misconduct.  On the contrary.  In fact, in a rare moment of bizarre transparency, the executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference testified against the legislation saying, “The reality is this proposal simply fosters lawsuits.”  You don’t say?

So there you have it.  The Catholic church is against child sex abuse victims’ rights because it’s bad for the bottom line.  When New Jersey cracked the window open for one year, 800 lawsuits were filed.  The church know if the statue of limitations preventing victims from finally seeing some justice goes away, they will be sued out of existence.

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