Book Review #18

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness Of Crowds

I am ticked off…. or rather, this book is ticked off the reading list challenge that I don’t follow.

It was originally published before I was born – more than a century before. It was first printed in 1841. The copy that I got on an inter-library loan was reprinted in 1980. It had 3 prefaces – the original, a slightly revised version when the author had it reprinted 30 years later, and yet another from the 1980 re-release.

The 1980 instigator was taking a University Psychology course, when he thought he heard the instructor speaking of an old book about The Madness Of Krauts. He didn’t realize that Germans were called Krauts, that far back. A check of the University library showed him his mistake, but since the copyright had long expired, he felt that he could make a little money by having it reprinted.

This book was a disappointment, yet also a delight to me. Even since the ‘70s, there have been great changes and improvements in psychiatry and psychology, but since I only knew of the 1980 publish date, I hoped to get some fairly up-to-date insights into mob behavior. The 1841 composer rendered none of that. He only provided recountings of historical events which were notable for mass delusion.

These included the likes of the monetary bubble, collapse of the Louisiana Investment scam/scandal, the sad failure of the earliest attempt at a German Crusade, and the ongoing hysteria of the witch hunts. While the historical details were interesting enough, he delivered them all with the long-winded panache of someone reciting a Life Insurance actuarial table.

With the German Crusade, 100,000 young men were said to have started out, but only a handful survived, even to reach Constantinople, because of fighting among themselves, and with the armies of states and countries they marched through and denuded for food and drink.

As usual, the section on the witch hunts provided the worst atrocities. It was both a Church and State viewpoint that, “Because of the seriousness of this offence, none who are accused of this horrid crime shall escape torture to make them confess their sins. It is better that a million shall die, than that one witch shall be allowed to escape.”

Even while trying to do good, the well-intentioned did bad. As the witch-hunt frenzy was ebbing, a minor member of British Nobility tried an experiment. He was unconvinced that torture-induced confessions, and especially the naming of other witches, was valid.

He was acquainted and friends with, two Jesuit priests who acted as judges at the torture trials. To convince them of his viewpoint, he used a woman accused and imprisoned as a witch. They all attended the torture chamber, and he acted as interrogator. He had the woman stretched on the rack, and afflicted with the gamut of horrible tortures. Within a day, she admitted that she was a witch. Skillfully using leading questions, he also had her claim that the two Jesuits were wizards, calling them by name.

As they left the building, leaving the poor woman to her undeserved fate, the senior priest said, “It is well that this was done by a friend, rather than by an enemy.” And so, the witch-hunt frenzy slowly died, but not before thousands of innocent people also suffered and died.

This book is old enough to display some of the some of the English language’s spelling shifts. Words like ‘showed’, and ‘shown’ were printed as shewed, and shewn. While it was not what I thought I was getting, still it was an interesting read.

7 Of 9’s 4th Of 30 Challenge

Another Challenge

Star Trek

That title’s a vague, old, Star Trek, Voyager reference, and it’s still not the fourth, it’s merely number four, on a thirty-day list that I’m chaotically crashing through.

  1. What you wear to bed

This list creator is seriously disturbed.  You could be, too.  There is not enough vodka or qualified psychiatrists in the world, to erase the mental picture of me, rolling out of the old fart sack.  For a while, I dated only blind women.

When I first got married, I slept in the nude, because – you know – sex could break out.  My wife informed me that, when it came to sex, I was self-sufficient, so I took the problem in hand.  Sex did occur a couple of times, and soon we had a couple of kids in the house, one of them female.  I couldn’t go looking for my BVDs in the dark when one of them had a bad dream, or go wandering down the hall with my dangly bits….uh, dangling.

I took to going to bed in my undershorts, and continued for decades.  Never know when you’ll have to run outside to escape a fire.  The house is 72/73 F, summer and winter, although we have an electric mattress warmer to keep us cozy in the winter.

When my doctor confirmed the diagnosis of an enlarged prostate, she prescribed a medication that will shrink it, and keep it shrunk.  Without any explanation, she asked me if I wanted Cialis.  That’s like offering a dog a driver’s licence.  Erectile dysfunction didn’t seem to be the problem, so I said no.

After doing some research, I discovered that drugs like Viagra and Cialis were originally developed to increase blood flow.  When test subjects were asked if they experienced any side-effects, many of the men replied, ’Uh, yeah.  I don’t roll out of bed anymore.’ and a lucrative secondary market was discovered.

The maintenance dose of Cialis that I was offered is supposed to increase blood flow, to help the medication work, so I quickly said, yes.  As I neared 70, my normal low blood pressure and slow heart rate were no longer enough to keep my feet warm enough to sleep at night, even with the Cialis.  Perhaps at my next doctor’s appointment, I’ll ask for a higher dosage level.

SDC11122

The wife made me a hand-knit, custom-fit pair of socks, which I wear to bed over my regular socks, and sleep comfortably.  They, and my bikini briefs, are enough to allow me out on my back deck, when the new puppies start rowdying in the morning, ‘cause no-one lives behind me, to see what I wear to bed.  😉

They’re (One-)Lining Up

Comedy

I told my psychiatrist that I keep hearing voices in my head and creating imaginary people….
….He told me that I don’t have a psychiatrist.

***

My mom said “you treat this place like a hotel”………
……..she will regret that when I give her a low score on Trip Advisor for ‘rude staff’.

***

The book that I wrote about poltergeists….
….is flying off the shelves

***

The only thing that Flat Earthers fear….
….is sphere itself

***

I was arrested last week for stealing helium balloons……
…..the police held me for a while and then let me go.

***

My pet rock is not doing well today….
….I think it is stoned

***

I’ve been searching for my stolen bed…….
………I won’t rest until I find it.

***

My ex girlfriend just found out that I’ve replaced her bed with a trampoline…..
……She hit the roof.

***

My girlfriend had her driving test the other day. She got 8 out of 10……….
……the other 2 guys jumped clear.

***

My optician told me today that I’m color blind…….
……..that came right out of the orange!

***

I’m hoping to find a cure for my hiccups…..
……but I’m not holding my breath.

***

I bought a pair of shoes off a drug dealer……..
……..dunno what he’s laced them with,
………but I’ve been trippin’ all day.

***

I just bought a book called, “How To Avoid Being Ripped Off.”….
….best $100 I ever spent.

***

Someone just told me to stop acting like a flamingo………
……..so I had to put my foot down.

***

I turned to drink when my girlfriend left me….
….I like to celebrate in style

***

My doctor told me that jogging can add years to my life…….
……he’s right; I feel 10 years older already.

***

Breaking News….
….Ne ws

***

Just saw an ad that read, “TV for sale, $1, volume stuck on full high.” I thought to myself….
….I can’t turn that down

***

Scientists have recently discovered a gene that causes shyness…….
……they found it hiding behind two other genes.

***

My friend told me that he’s been constipated for two years….
….I think he’s full of shit.

***

I once dumped a cross-eyed chick….
….I thought she was seeing someone else.

***

My doctor gave me six months to live, so I shot him….
….The judge gave me twenty years.

***

My friend sent me an empty email….
….His message was clear….

30 Day Challenge – A Day At A Time

Another Challenge

Four Fun Facts – 50 Things About Me/My Blog – Reading Challenge – 30 Day Challenge There are all kinds of memes out there that bloggers are seizing, to both give them a blog-theme, and to connect with their readers.  Sometimes the challenge reveals more about the person who compiled it than it does about those who choose to use it.

I’m surprised that the person who drew up the above list was able to finish it before they were arrested outside someone’s bedroom window, or had to rush off to their weekly psychotherapy appointment. So, with appropriate trigger-warnings, and suitably evasive diplomatic wording, I plan to work my way down the list, a couple of items at a time.

#1 – Weird things you do when you’re alone – Which is tied to
#14 – Something disgusting you do

Politically Incorrect

The compiler of this list really needs some mental health aid. “Oh no you don’t!!  Just because I keep my curtains drawn, you don’t get to ask shit like that.”  The first question is about weird things – ‘things’ – plural, as if we all have a list of questionable personal activities.  He sneaks back in at #14, by upping the ante to ‘something disgusting.’

I have a note here “Suffrage = Power” which, at this long-forgotten date, I take to mean more than merely the right to vote. I believe that I meant more like Christ’s quote, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”  I think I want to be allowed (suffered) to do whatever I want in the privacy of my own home/life, as long as I actively harm no-one else.

Then the English Nazi/amateur psychologist takes over, and asks who gets to decide what I, or anyone else, do, that can be considered ‘weird’ or ‘disgusting.’ Some people consider the word ‘moist’, disgusting.  Compared to that, I’m normal.  I march to the beat of a different flautist, because I feel that much of mankind is weird.

I’m never ‘alone’, to do anything weird. All the voices in my head see to that.  ‘Does your brother talk to himself when he’s alone?? I don’t know.  I’ve never been with him when he was alone.’  If I were, I would not be judgemental.  I think that expecting others to bare their soul, and openly admit their peccadilloes, is both weird, and a bit disgusting.  I’m saving my weird and disgusting revelations for my upcoming autobiography, the one that Steven King is ghost-writing.

Stop back again, perhaps next month, when I insult crazy people again, and answer another prompt or two. 😛

ICEBREAKER

ice

Recently, it seems that there’s a lot of people, who want to know a lot, about a lot of other people. A while ago, I published a post in two parts – 31 Facts In 31 Days.  Scarcely had I put it up, than I found another, apparently compiled by the neighborhood pervert voyeur.  It contained questions like, “What do you wear to bed?” There’s not enough vodka or trained psychiatrists in the world, for me to get into that.

This one is called Icebreaker, and can also be used at large meetings and seminars where people don’t know each other. Although, by the time you fill yours out, and read everybody else’s, I don’t know how much time would be left to actually get anything productive done.  I guess that’s what big meetings are like anyway.  It’s probably better than Angry Birds, Candy Crush, or Words With Friends.

This old Iceberg broke off the parent glacier about five years ago. It has been drifting down and blocking the blog-lanes ever since – a publishing hazard to sanity and good taste.  I thought in that time that I had pretty much revealed all, perhaps not though.  If you have the guts and the stamina, read on MacDuff.

Are you named after someone?
My paternal grandfather was Howard. My father was Cyril Howard.  There was a whiny kid in my town who everyone called ‘Howie’, and I grew to hate the name, so I never admit that my second name is Howard.
When is the last time you cried?

Guys cry??  Okay, okay – the last time I heard a real feel-good, beat-the-odds story, my eyes leaked – a little.
Do you like your handwriting?
Dear Lord no! With my tremor, my writing looks like a chicken on meth walked across an ink pad.
What is your favorite lunch meat?

Spicy Tokay or Mexican, salami
How many kids do you have?
Three, one of each….no, wait, just daughter, LadyRyl, and son Shimoniac.
If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
I’d have to be a member of a select group, because of my take-no-prisoners attitude and opinions, but, yes!
Do you use sarcasm?
Are you F**king kidding??  Hell yes!
Do you still have your tonsils?
No. Back when it was all the rage (1950), a surgeon cut my throat.
Would you bungee jump?
I have to take care of an increasingly fragile old body, but I would say yes – maybe till I got to the edge.  I’d like to skydive, into my bucket list.
What is your favorite cereal?
Spoon Sized Shredded Wheat, with strawberries
Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
I wear (cowboy) boots – no laces. When I don’t, I do.
Do you think you are strong? Physically?  More so than most men my age.  Mentally?  Emotionally?  Probably the same answer
What is your favorite ice cream?
In a bowl, or cone – Black Cherry.  With cake or pie – French Vanilla
What is the first thing you notice about people?
Often, how they inter-react with others, including me
Red or pink? I am seldom understated.  Intense blue, purple or green.  If I must – red.  It makes a statement.
What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself?
My increasingly failing memory, thank (insert your favorite deity) for search engines
What color pants and shoes are you wearing right now?
In the privacy of my own computer room??  You should be reading this with your eyes closed.  Dark blue track shorts and slippers.
What was the last thing you ate?
A small slab of white cake with some 10% cream and diced peaches
What are you listening to right now?
The sounds of both my allergic cat, and dog, snoring, as they lie guarding me
If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Plaid?  Probably Royal Blue
What are your favorite smells?
Oh, so many….wood smoke, rustling dry leaves, frying bacon
Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

Some Paki named ‘Kevin’, who wanted to clean my ducts.  I told him to….
Favorite sport to watch?
Pretty much stopped watching TV.  Almost watch no sports.  Maybe American Pro Football
Real hair color?
I’d like to say black, but that was then, and this, is now mostly white.
Eye color?
Brown.
Do you wear contacts?

It’s all the wife can do to get me to wear my glasses.  Frightened as a child by the Three Stooges, I don’t poke my own finger in my eyes.
Favorite food to eat?
Yes please.  Probably tonight’s supper – potato pancakes
Scary movies or happy endings?
Some big explosions, car chases, gun fights, a little Punch and Judo, people hanging off tall buildings – that can be scary.  Then the bad guys are defeated, and it’s all a happy ending.
Last movie you watched?
Star Trek Into Darkness….see above
What color shirt are you wearing?
Maker claims it’s ‘Dusty Blue’.  I say it’s Steel Blue (greyish-blue), one of my more subdued shades.
Summer or winter?
Autumn!  If I must choose….Summer.  I don’t have to shovel rain.
Hugs or kisses?
Depends on the time, place and person….and if anybody’s watching
What book are you reading?
John Brunner – Wrong End of Time, Tom Clancy (actually, Mark Greaney) – Support And Defend, James Rollins – Devil Colony
What is on your mousepad?
Cat hair
What is the last TV program you watched?
Bones
What is the best sound?
One or more of my cats purring, preferably in my lap
Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
Different strokes for different folks – a bit, but not too much, of both, liberally mixed with many others.
What is the farthest you have traveled?
Since all trips have to be by car, I drove to Key West, Florida – 2765 Km = 1730 mi.
Do you have a special talent?
Yes!
Where were you born?
In the front bedroom of the family home, in Southampton, Ontario, Canada.

 

The Wages Of Sin

ten-commandments

I recently read a post from a young(ish) woman, titled, “I saved myself for marriage, and now I can’t have sex with my husband.” [Tough luck. Looks good on you. Oops – did I type that out loud?]

She had had a string of boyfriends since high school, but had informed each of them that she intended to remain a virgin until she was married. Perhaps that explains the ‘string of boyfriends.’  She was 26, and her husband was 27.  Maybe one or both were beginning to get a bit desperate.

She had been raised in an ultra-conservative, Fundamentalist-Christian home, and had it pounded into her, and pounded into her….and POUNDED into her, that premarital sex was evil, dirty, sinful! She suffered from vaginismus, a painful spasming of the vaginal walls which made it virtually impossible to engage in intercourse.  I find it ‘interesting’ that they did not find this out until they returned from their honeymoon in The Bahamas.

Possibly it was only the diagnosis and name of the affliction that they found out. While not ‘common,’ this problem is well-known in psychiatric circles.  It occurs in many other hyper-Christian families.  The girls are told over and over and over that sex (and by extension, them, if they perform it) is bad, bad, bad.

Nothing is said about the acceptability – inevitability – necessity – of marital relations. When these women try to have sanctioned sex, they are still overwhelmed by the cognitive dissonance.  No-one ever tells them about the good side.  No-one ever tells them about anything except the evil.

She now goes for daily(?) physiotherapy, and weekly psychotherapy. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just hire a hooker to come over a couple of times a week?

When I was young, and learning about sex, my Father obtained a couple of comedy albums by a bawdy Jewish woman who worked in Nevada and Catskills clubs. She said, if you liked her act, her name was Rusty Warren.  If you didn’t, it was Lois Lipchitz.

Come early – get a good seat. She would pick a woman down front wearing a vee-neck sweater, and ask her if the V stood for virgin.  “Hmm, must be an old sweater.”  She told a story that she claimed happened to her.

Every day, as she left for school, her mother sang the same cautionary song.  “Don’t take gum!  Don’t take candy!  Don’t talk to strange men!  Don’t ride in strange cars. Keep your legs crossed, your panties up, and come home from school in a group!  And whatever you do, DON’T DO IT!”

Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3….especially when she went to high school, the admonition was always the same. “Don’t take gum!  Don’t take candy!  Don’t talk to strange men!  Don’t ride in strange cars!  Keep your legs crossed, your panties up, and come home from school in a group.  And remember….DON’T DO IT! Don’t do it!

She finally got a boyfriend, who became her fiancé. On the day of her wedding, her mother was with her at the Synagogue.  As the happy couple ran down the steps to their car, her Mother yelled, “It’s OK!  You’re married!  Now you can do it!”

She stuck her head out the window of the car, with a confused look on her face and said, “Do what??!  You never told me!”

These ‘Good Christians’ tell the rest of us that the wages of sin is death, but the wages of this self-righteous hypocrisy is….truly Karmic.   😯

Sunshine And Lollipops

sunshine2

In my 300 post, I mentioned, again, the fact that some of the long-established bloggers are disappearing, or cutting back on their volume of posting, due to life changes. I thought by now, that just about everybody had a blog, except perhaps, coots even older than me – and yet, new ones keep popping up.

One such new one is Cordelia’s Mom. She must be the youngest retiree ever. Such a lovely lady can’t possibly be almost as old as I am. I know she’s not as surly. Cordelia doesn’t have much to say, but her Mom is full of wit and wisdom. Click on the link above to go have a look for yourself.

Mom has been blogging for about six months. We often use the same tags on our posts, so I kept running into her, and began commenting. Perhaps intrigued by the lack of references to psychiatric treatment, she started visiting my site.

I received my first blog award when I had only published 14 posts, and didn’t really know what to do about it. Similarly, Cordelia’s Mom recently received two awards. One was the Sisterhood of The World Bloggers Award, welcoming her to the distaff side of writing and soul-baring. The other was The Sunshine Award.

Since I don’t qualify for the “Sisters” award, she kindly passed on a version of the Sunshine Award to me. To prove how well she knows me already, in her nomination post, she lists me as Grumpy Old Dude – Archon’s Den. She sent a big chunk of Sunshine my way. I’ll just have to reflect it on you as best I can.

This is my kind of award. Other than acknowledging receipt of it, there are no rules. It’s just a way of showing that other bloggers are aware of and appreciate you, and perhaps bring a few more readers to your site, by being part of an ever-widening circle of writers.

By begging and whining to the wife, but without actually tripping over my ego, I managed to get a copy of the Sunshine Award graphic installed at the top of this post, just to prove that I’m not hallucinating (again). I thank Cordelia’s Mom effusively for including me in her group of worthy recipients.

I don’t have to answer any questions, or make up new ones. I don’t have to reveal even more about myself, which is good. There’s only so much toilet paper on a roll. Once it’s empty, it’s empty.

My co-defendant buddy, Oscar the Grouch, tells me that I can take The Fifth – even though we don’t have it here in Canada – and not actually nominate anybody else for this award, to protect my persona. He and I are going to do some tequila shots, put a big platter of nachos out of our misery, and watch the Die Hard marathon. If anybody wants to make something out of that, just knock on the garbage can lid.