All The Girls Are Complicated

What I know about romancing women is like a thimble full of salt water compared to an ocean, but one thing I do know is that the whole PUA culture, which seems to be based on equal parts resentment and entitlement, is a bunch of crap. So I thought I’d post something that’s the diametrical opposite of that. Open thread.

131 replies
  1. 1
    burnspbesq says:

    Full marks for picking up on Laura Cantrell, who is a criminally under-appreciated singer and songwriter.

    As for the rest of it, it would be silly if it weren’t so toxic. It’s tempting to wonder whether the easy availability of pr0n to teenage and college-age boys plays a role in their seeming difficulty in dealing with women on a healthy basis.

  2. 2
    tybee says:

    wimmins is complicated. and smart. the one with which i cohabit has me outfoxed continuously and i’ll never figure out exactly how that occurs.

  3. 3
    Morzer says:

    PUA: for sad, selfish men who reek of desperation. It’s a cologne and a colon cleanser!

  4. 4
    tybee says:

    do women really fall for the PUA line? i guess some must or that particular pustule of culture would disappear…

  5. 5
    Morzer says:


    I am still stuck on the second rule of the game – and I am not even that sure of my solution to the first rule.

  6. 6
    Walker says:


    PUAs are largely a con on other men. They market their advice and techniques.

  7. 7
    the Conster says:

    Can we arrange to have PUMAs and PUAs collide, creating a black hole of suckitude?

  8. 8
    Morzer says:


    People buy a ton of self-help books about how to become a billionaire BY PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT REMOTELY FRICKIN’ BILLIONAIRES. I suspect PUA is a different take on the same old middle-period Gingrich grift – sound confident and talk fast and watch the suckers reach for their wallets.

    Admittedly, the quickest way to become a billionaire nowadays seems to be to own an NBA franchise and be caught making racist remarks, but I suspect that this strategy isn’t likely to be useful to the populace at large.

  9. 9
    Amir Khalid says:

    Lovely song, full of wisdom. What does PUA stand for again?

  10. 10
    Steeplejack says:


    People buy a ton of self-help books about how to become a billionaire BY PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT REMOTELY FRICKIN’ BILLIONAIRES.

    I have always wondered this about NLP (neurolinguistic programming). Maybe they are out there, but I never seem to read about people who have used the awesome power of NLP to accomplish things other than writing books and presenting seminars on NLP.

    Note: I am not (completely) dismissing NLP. I think there is something there, but it is buried under so much chaff that one despairs of finding it.

  11. 11
    gnomedad says:

    Has anyone noticed that the Duck Dynasty clowns look like ayatollahs in camo? Actually, that’s not a bad description of the GOP.

  12. 12
    Steeplejack says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    PUA = “pickup artist.”

  13. 13
    aimai says:

    @tybee: Its a scam. Grifters offer to “teach” you a method to get X (that could be fishing, hunting, or any other recreational activity) and then if you can’t make it work they sell you another package of tips or they blame you. Sure, some women may have sex with some guy who is has purchased PUA dating materials but she might have been willing anyway. When she isn’t the compositional fallacy and general human stupidity will lead the Practitioner of the Dark Arts to either blame her (the bitch) or blame himself. PUA s themselves will argue that they can only get a tiny percentage of the women they approach. That is somehow satisfactory to them because their target environment is almost all stranger women who they encounter only briefly. If you thought you had a 1 in 20 chance of getting a woman’s favorable attention with your lines and gambits but you were actually interested in one and only one woman you would not find the method at all persuasive.

    Elliott Rodgers ended up blaming both the method (since he was a member of PUA Hate) and the women in general.

  14. 14
    raven says:

    @Steeplejack: No shit, I mean we are supposed to know this? I had to google it. Define your terms for the olds mistermix!

  15. 15
    raven says:

    @aimai: tybee can be counted on for lasting, accurate fishing info!

  16. 16

    What I know about romancing women

    Each one wants something entirely different, is comfortable with entirely different things, and they’re all seeking different levels of sex, love, long term stability, and friendship. So, just like men.

    Since there are so many women, presumably there’s a large group favoring any particular balance. Thus, there’s probably a large group that responds positively to PUA techniques. Probably. As GOP popularity among blacks shows, if your approach is insulting and hostile enough, the group of people who like it still exists, but gets pretty damn small.

  17. 17
    Silencio says:

    @aimai: Aimai, I’m not sure how the composition fallacy fits here. I know what the fallacy is but (maybe I feel embarrassed?) I’m not seeing how you’re using it. Explain?

  18. 18
    shelley says:


    And lets not forget the plethora of books in the “The 4 Hour Work Week’ genre. The methods they tout to achieve ‘success’ usually involves exploiting a lot of other people

  19. 19
    Morzer says:


    You see, you just don’t want it hard enough!

    (My new ebook on how to become a billionaire without becoming a millionaire will soon be available from Mandalay Poutrage Press).

  20. 20
    gian says:


    or it could be that going back as far as the tragedy of Oedipus that sexual relations are difficult for teens to figure out.

    having read the IV manifesto, the shooters parents did try to work with him and mental health professionals. the celeb psychiatrist wanted him on respiradol and he refused meds. He’d been to one of the star wars movie premiers and his classmates didn’t care, he was obsessed not just with his virginity, but how everyone failed to recognize his greatness. The way he wrote about flying first class on Virgin to the UK is telling – he wrote about giving the plebes who had to wait in line a smirk etc.
    one of his counselors must’ve mentioned social anxiety disorder because he mentions it – the parents even hired people to escort him around town to get him out and socialize. He sent the parents a link to a website that doesn’t like pick up artists as part of his virginity focus.
    Had they gotten him the meds when he was still a juvenile it might have done something. He alienated the few male friends he had by talking about his violent fantasies toward the end of it he dresses him self up in expensive clothing and expects women to just throw themselves at him because of it, literally becoming homicidal when they don’t. (and he wouldn’t actually approach them) Heck the counselors the family hired wanted to move him out of Isla Vista because it was the wrong place for him.
    A lot of essentially not following the medical advice by parent and child.

  21. 21
    raven says:

    Jeremiah Johnson: Y’ever get lonesome?
    Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Fer what?
    Jeremiah Johnson: Woman?
    Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Full time night woman? I never could find no tracks on a woman’s heart. I packed me a squaw for ten year, Pilgrim. Cheyenne, she were, and the meanest bitch that ever balled for beads. I lodge-poled her at Deadwood Creek, and traded her for a Hawken gun. But don’t get me wrong; I loves the womens, I surely do. But I swear, a woman’s breast is the hardest rock that the Almighty ever made on this earth, and I can find no sign on it.

  22. 22
    Morzer says:


    Umm, Oedipus wasn’t actually a teen when he did you know what and you know what to you know who and you know who.

  23. 23
    Silencio says:

    @raven: Did you transcribe that from the movie, or is that dialogue from the book? (Is JJ a novel?)

  24. 24

    He wasn’t? He was some level of young man. In most pre-modern civilizations, that means late teens. His mother had to be young enough to give him multiple children, suggesting they were both under 20 at the time they first married.

  25. 25
    brendancalling says:

    All the girls ARE complicated, but that’s because they’re human beings and by definition complex.

  26. 26
    raven says:

    @Silencio: Movie, it’s burned in my brain. The commentary with Redford, Sydney Pollack and Milius is really interesting. They finally released it on Blu-Ray. all the previous releases have really crappy visuals.

    eta, there were at least 2 books, Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson bf 2 results for Books : Raymond W. Thorp Jr and Mountain Man by Vardis Fisher

  27. 27
    gian says:

    I’ve just returned with my first cup of coffee, that’s what I get for trying to remember some old and common example
    claims that the new generation are somehow more messed up than the previous ones throughout history have been made throughout history.

    If there were cell phones with testing in the 1950s there would’ve been sexting in the 1950s
    same with the 1850s
    the “without sin cast the first stone” parable is about not killing a women for adultery

  28. 28
    Rosalita says:

    No shit, I mean we are supposed to know this? I had to google it. Define your terms for the olds mistermix!

    I had to google it too, and before a whole cup of coffee. Mind boggling that there are enough of these ratfuckers out there that they have their own websites, etc. Ick.

  29. 29
    raven says:

    @Rosalita: God I feel better now!

  30. 30
    Steeplejack says:

    A good start—and end!—to all you need to know about PUA culture is in this Wikipedia article. The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists (2005) by Neil Strauss is the ür-text of the field. I read parts of it when I worked at Barnes & Noble, my interest piqued by its sinister, “double secret info inside!” packaging and by the type of customers who asked for it. (’Nuff said about that.)

    In some ways the book is billed as an exposé, but what it reminded me of—hilariously—was a sort of Carlos Castañeda book (e.g., The Teachings of Don Juan). “I was an ordinary guy, then I met this weird dude who turned out to be an arcane master who initiated me into the secret knowledge,” blah, blah, blah. But, as with my comment on NLP above, the book turns out to be more about would-be PUAs hanging out with one another and arguing about who’s “got game” rather than about, you know, hanging out with actual women. I presume the PUA websites are about the same.

  31. 31
    mike in dc says:

    If you want to get really depressed:
    1. Go to
    2. Search for “dating advice for men”
    3. Scan through the first 200 results.
    4. Exclude books that are actually dating advice for women on how to meet/attract men(there will be more than a few for some reason).
    5. Exclude books that either the descriptions or reviews indicate is a PUA oriented book.
    6. Tally up the remaining titles.
    7. Is it less than half? Waaaaaay less than half?

    Therein lies a major problem. While I’ve seen the assertion that non-PUA-oriented dating advice for men exists, the PUA books tend to monopolize both the actual and virtual shelf space out there. Plus, the PUA books have it all over the other books from a targeted marketing standpoint–promising quick results, better results and not requiring much in the way of introspection or self-criticism.

  32. 32
    Morzer says:


    Young man, yes, but the backstory has him as the “son” of Polybus and Merope for “many years” after being dumped out on Cithaeron, before he is taunted with bastardy, doesn’t get a satisfactory answer from his “parents” and heads off for Delphi, thus setting events in motion. The consensus seems to be that he is in his early twenties, otherwise it’s hard to see how he gets the kingship of Thebes, rather than being set aside for an older relative of Laius. In Athens, the final stage of adolescence, the ephebeia, ended at age 20, at which point young men entered the citizen body as adults, which would seem to be the startingpoint for taking up more serious responsibilities. So, putting things together, you’d put Oedipus in the 20-22 year old bracket at a best guess. Jocasta could have been married in her early teens (ancient writers agreed that puberty began at 13), so she might have been 35-36 when Oedipus married her – old by ancient standards for childbearing, (especially given how much more dangerous it was without modern medicine) but still able to have children by her new husband.

  33. 33
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @raven: Hey, belated happy 15th wishes for you and your bride. I did not get posting when you were around on the actual (yester)day. As someone else said, I wish you many happy years of gardening together.

  34. 34
    Steeplejack says:


    You see, you just don’t want it hard enough!

    LOL. I hadn’t thought of that. Ergo, I am interested in your ideas and would like to subscribe to buy your newsletter e-book.

  35. 35
    Morzer says:


    Well, if you send me your bank account details and social security number I will send you a completely free copy of the book as well as an introduction to a dear friend of mine who, by happy chance, is the recent widow and very wealthy heiress of another good friend who was the Minister of Finance in Nigeria. You will discover overnight how to become a billionaire without becoming a millionaire!

  36. 36
    Steeplejack says:


    You will discover overnight how to become a billionaire without becoming a millionaire!

    Inventive. I thought you were going to go with “Start with $10 billion and lose $9 billion to Goldman Sachs.”

  37. 37
    Morzer says:


    I like to think of myself as ahead of the Laugher curve.

  38. 38
    Silencio says:

    @Morzer: Where does an unnamed Russian fit into your scheme…?

  39. 39
    The Moar You Know says:

    The way he wrote about flying first class on Virgin to the UK is telling – he wrote about giving the plebes who had to wait in line a smirk etc.

    @gian: Reading this jackoff’s “manifesto” it becomes quite clear that his “Day of Retribution” really didn’t have anything to do with sex save for it just being another part of his life where everyone failed to realize that he was the greatest person on earth.

    I don’t think he was mentally ill by any definition. He was just an entitled asshole. I’d sure like to know which one of his parents taught him that he was THE MOST SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE EVAR, because his insistence on his manifest greatness while having, as he admits, not one shred of talent for anything, was not something he came up with one day. He’d been stewing in that mindset since he was a baby.

    My only sorrow is that he killed anyone else, otherwise, I’m glad the little bastard is dead. Had he been a little different, a little more successful at anything, and he’d be the sociopath boss we’ve all worked for at some point in our lives, and he’d have made thousands of people miserable for decades.

  40. 40

    Sure, but you’re putting a top age range of 22 on the boy, a small difference from ‘teens’. Younger than 20 would be very easy – even likely. Remember, he got the kingship because he killed the sphinx. Other viable candidates are not an issue, because they all have a better claim than his regardless of age. I agree that the likelihood of his mother being early teens when she bore him is high. ‘Many years’ is not an argument unless there’s a specific Hellenic interpretation of the term. Fifteen years is ‘many years’. As you point out, children after forty would be downright miraculous in their culture, and thirty five is pretty old for a woman to be childbearing. He had four kids, so that’s likely four years of successful pregnancies. 22 is very much a top estimate. His age could easily have been as low as 15 or 16. Any age below 30 for him is bucking Greek trends, but not what Greeks thought acceptable, so that’s no help.

    I am not asserting any specific age for Oedipus, only that saying he’s not a teenager is unreasonable. It isn’t just possible, it’s at least as likely as him being 20 or up.

    EDIT – Balloon Juice, where we’re educated enough to be able to argue the age of Oedipus, and nitpicky enough to actually do it.

  41. 41
    eric says:

    All i know is I met a girl…a sweet, sweet girl. The kind where butterflies fly around kicking your insides out and you find yourself day dreaming the same things you daydreamed as a teenager…”does she like me, too?” “how much do I like her?” you know, the important stuff. So, all these haters can get their hate on, but keep that shit in the basement with a full allotment of Dew and ‘Tos, so that the rest of us can get our hearts racing ;) (this is not a fictional account….a very recent development)

  42. 42
    karen says:


    I understand how books on how to be a PUA or how to be a billionaire are a scam but how are books about other recreational activities scams? I don’t get it. If I cook for my hobby, is a cookbook a scam? Books that teach you how to do things are a scam?

  43. 43
    JoyfulA says:

    @gnomedad: I was glad that Aldi was closed on Memorial Day and I had to go to WalMart when I saw an aisle display of 50% off Duck Dynasty T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. Warmed my heart!

  44. 44
    Morzer says:


    No, it isn’t as likely. You have to remember that the play is written for an Athenian audience which would be picking up on specific cultural clues. There’s nothing in the play that marks the “young” Oedipus as a teenager/pre-adult in any of the account of his killing of Laios – and the fact he goes off to Delphi, on his own, strongly suggests that he is an adult male, albeit a young one. Given that the person who called him a bastard did so at a symposium, a defined cultural event in which adult males participated, that also makes it extremely unlikely that Oedipus was below adult age. That, in Athenian terms, means 20 years old plus.

  45. 45
    Botsplainer says:

    Just read the Jezebel summation of PUAHate forums after the massacre. I’m safe, in a gym, on an elliptical, and my hair is standing up on the back of my neck while I feel the adrenaline from a fear reaction.

    My God, those people are frightening and more numerous than I would have suspected – and I’m a pretty self-assured physically competent white male Southern gun owner who wouldn’t be afraid to call an Open Carry Texan an asshole face to face while being unarmed.

    I don’t understand these “nice guys” at all.

  46. 46
    eric says:

    @karen: i can explain it to you, but first send $15 US currency and i will send you my book How to Understand Scams.

  47. 47
    Rex Everything says:

    The PUA community consists of guys attempting to project alpha male swagger, dominance, desirability, etc, and actually embodying a sad and off-putting brand of desperation. Funny how that works.

  48. 48
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Morzer: My theory is that he was 49. That’s still young, damn it! I have no textual support for this theory, but it is just as valid as any other one – so there.

  49. 49
    Steeplejack says:


    You rat! There’s a listicle in Cracked you can read for free: “Five Top Tips to Avoid Being Scammed!”

  50. 50
    Morzer says:

    Incidentally, a new scam seems to be circulating, whereby members of a church claim to have prayed and burned candles for you – and they would greatly appreciate it if you paid for the cost of the candles (roughly $50). I have been tempted to write back and claim that I burned twice as many candles, implying that they should be paying me. I am hoping that I can get them to up the ante and “burn” twice as many candles as my revised figure, and so and and so forth!

  51. 51

    There’s nothing suggesting his age at all in the killing of Laios. Laios would likely be well over forty – any fit teenager would be considered at least reasonable in being able to kill an old man, even though the Greeks were more generous about male age than most cultures.

    The symposium argument is good, though. I may bow to that one, since he was away from home to attend it, and even as a prince that is clearly the act of an adult. Running away isn’t, but being in the position where he did so is.

  52. 52
    Morzer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    You’ve cracked the case! John McCain was the Oedipus Killer! This is good news for… oh, wait…

  53. 53
    Violet says:

    @JoyfulA: Duck Dynasty stuff was 75% off at my supermarket the week before Memorial Day.

  54. 54
    Morzer says:


    Actually, if he had been just a teenager when he killed Laios plus escort, you’d expect him to boast about how “I wuz just a kid and there wuz six of ’em, but I done ’em all!” much as a couple of Homeric heroes do in the Iliad. The fact that he doesn’t suggests that he was another adult (youngish, but still) killing adults. At least, that’s how my dark and suspicious mind has it. There’s a book by Frederick Ahl Sophocles’ Oedipus (which could and probably should be called “Conspiracy theory does Oedipus”) that has all sorts of wonderful arguments about how Oedipus really isn’t guilty.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Morzer: There are Oedipus Truthers?

  56. 56
    Morzer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Indeed there are. But now you’ve uncovered the real culprit….

  57. 57
    Weak troll attempt says:

    @aimai: that’s about the sum of it: a scam.

    funny thing is that there are plenty of men and women who will just about sex anything if asked nicely. what “people” like rodgers want is a lot more than that.

  58. 58
    PJ says:

    @burnspbesq: I think it has more to do with perceived societal norms regarding sex and companionship. Even just 50 years ago (before the sexual revolution was widespread), many people in our society were married shortly after high school or college, and there wasn’t a widespread notion that every male should be able to go out there and “get some” outside of the conjugal relationship. Nowadays, the expectation, however deluded it may be, is that every single man should be able to get a date, if not sex, from single women. The reality, however, is that a small proportion of men end up getting dates or having sex with a larger number of women, while a larger proportion of men end up getting no sex at all. This is perceived as unfair, which makes some of the unlucky men depressed and angry, both at women (because they are supposed to be putting out, goddamit) and also at themselves (because they are losers whom nobody is attracted to.) Many of these men lack social skills and some may be unable to pick up on social cues (and a lot seem to be somewhere on the Aspergers scale.) As other people above have mentioned, the PUA industry sells the ability for these men to feel as if they can approach women with confidence, which, in and of itself, is not a terrible thing. But it also sells the expectation, that with whatever techniques they are selling, the new PUA will get dates and/or laid, when, I’m guessing, because women are not clued in that they should be automatically attracted to the PUA, the new PUA will still end up being rejected, albeit perhaps left often. So it seems like the business sets up another cycle of depression and anger to be exploited.

  59. 59
    Morzer says:

    @Weak troll attempt:

    funny thing is that there are plenty of men and women who will just about sex anything if asked nicely.

    Hell, Newt Gingrich doesn’t even need to be asked, never mind nicely!

  60. 60
    eric says:

    @Morzer: let’s have an Antigone discussion and I am all in ;)

  61. 61
    JoyfulA says:

    @Violet: Wow! This WalMart seems like a place where Duck Dynasty would do well, judging by the books section, which I browsed during my search: nonfiction mostly by Fox News and allied pundits or “religious”; fiction largely romance crap. A whole aisle of books and nothing worth reading the back cover. Then again, I was the only browser in the books aisle.

  62. 62
    max says:

    @mike in dc: While I’ve seen the assertion that non-PUA-oriented dating advice for men exists, the PUA books tend to monopolize both the actual and virtual shelf space out there.

    1) The PUA crowd has been around since the 90’s, whatever Wikipedia says.
    2) It’s not ‘dating advice’ – it’s scoring ‘advice’. Or rather it’s a system for scoring. Actual dating is not involved unless it is as part of the con. Lying is encouraged.
    3) They seem to have radicalized some.

    [‘Apparently, they seem to have radicalized.’]

  63. 63
    Amir Khalid says:

    I think Macaulay Culkin must have picked up an instructional book on How To Be a Rock Star.

  64. 64

    I can’t buy the ‘I killed six men!’ argument. Greek heroes boast about that stuff no matter what their age involved. He didn’t boast just means he didn’t boast. But the symposium argument is pure gold.

    Of course, there’s another separate argument that as an author I must put forward. Oedipus has no age at all in the story, and neither does his mother. If the timeline requires Oedipus to do adult things at 15 or his mother to be having children at 50, it’s not a matter of consideration. That hinges on how important the Greeks considered age as an issue. Our current society is obsessed with defining age compared to most, largely because we strongly attach morality of sex, drinking, and adult responsibilities to age in a very idiosyncratic way. I have no knowledge of how much Greeks cared at all. They had excellent records and the common obsession with lineages, so they might have known the exact age of everyone involved. You sound like you know this topic beyond the ‘informed layman’ point. Any thoughts on that?

  65. 65
    max says:

    @The Moar You Know: I don’t think he was mentally ill by any definition. He was just an entitled asshole. I’d sure like to know which one of his parents taught him that he was THE MOST SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE EVAR, because his insistence on his manifest greatness while having, as he admits, not one shred of talent for anything, was not something he came up with one day. He’d been stewing in that mindset since he was a baby.

    {laughs} That’s a mental illness! For some reason people equate mental illness with schizophrenia and people who fill in their toilets with cement to keep the CIA from listening in on them – that is a *form* of mental illness. There are a great many things that fall under the term ‘mental illness’, which is why it makes me nervous when they start talking about mental illness databases – what, you’re going to put half the country in a database?

    At any rate, this kid was the walking definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The simple Mayo Clinic description (different from the previous checklist link):

    Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

    Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school.

    As a PD, it is not normally something that tends to cause people to go out and commit a massacre – for that you need some PUA ideology.


  66. 66
    lamh36 says:

    well it seems Jorge Ramos is on a roll. first calling out Boehner to his face on camera, now calling out O’Reilly while on his show.

    Bill O’Reilly Stunned When Jorge Ramos Calls Him Out For GOP Bias (VIDEO)

    Jorge Ramos offered a blunt and critical assessment of the American press this week. but Bill O’Reilly wanted to make sure the popular Spanish-language broadcaster wasn’t talking about him…

    But surely Ramos recognized there are exceptions to the rule, asked a smirking O’Reilly. The Fox News pundit did not like the answer he received.

    “Of course there are exceptions, but we all have biases,” Ramos said. “You have your own biases. I mean, whenever you’re covering Obamacare or Benghazi or supporting the Republican Party more [than] the Democratic Party.”

    O’Reilly, who has called himself a “traditionalist” for years while insisting that he’s every bit as tough on Republicans as Democrats, couldn’t believe his ears.

    “Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa,” O’Reilly said. “Have you ever seen me do a softball interview with anybody?”

    Ramos said he had indeed seen O’Reilly conduct tough interviews, but he added that he’s also seen O’Reilly “supporting more Republicans than Democrats.”

    O’Reilly said that might be true “editorially,” but “never in an interview.” When O’Reilly lamented that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) won’t come on his show, Ramos observed that the program probably doesn’t have trouble attracting Republicans…

  67. 67

    Personality disorders are personality disorders, though. The concept is that instead of a biological mechanism, the person is so messed up in learned behaviors (in most cases ‘such an asshole’) that they are pathological, destructive to self and others. That’s the basic idea of Axis II disorders.

    I am not putting this forward to make a specific argument. I think that it’s information needed for people to make value judgments. Some will say that deserves no sympathy, while others will say that sick is sick, no matter how you got there.

  68. 68
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @max: The books seem to be the equivalent of cheat codes. How to beat the game by manipulating the programming in ways chumps who play by the rules will never figure out.

  69. 69
    lukeallen1 says:

    Anyone know wtf markymux is rambling on about after again showing what horrible taste in music he has? Did he not get a date to the prom this year?

  70. 70
    Morzer says:


    It’s absolutely true that the Oedipus story is, shall we say, chronologically troubled (leaving aside the massive coincidences that are required to make it work). On that, no dispute – and it hasn’t apparently bothered theater goers (or Aristotle!) too much down the years, so you pays yer obols and yer takes yer choice. That said, the Greeks were very interested in marking the stages of a man’s life and especially the transition from youth to sexually active adult. There’s a whole complex of stories that revolve around getting the timing right and the bad things that happen to young men who turn up too early or too late. Generally, the pre-adult citizen young man is marked as a (sexually inactive) hunter who operates in the wild lands outside the city, as opposed to the (sexually active) adult male who operates within the city or as a citizen soldier on the battlefield. Thus, for example, Actaeon is a hunter who ends up in a sacred grove (one of the prime places for a liminal rite of passage to adulthood and for the taking of oaths) looking at the wrong (virgin, huntress) goddess naked (rather than say Aphrodite) – and ends up being torn apart by his own hounds. (Later you can see Ovid and the Roman poets borrowing this pattern and making Narcissus into a young man, out hunting, who comes to.. yes, a grove – and, because he has delayed his transition to adulthood by rejecting love/sexuality, ends up seeing – nothing but himself, which leads to his wasting away).
    Turning back to Oedipus, if he had been depicted as hunting when he met Laios at the crossroads (Y-intersection, if you want to be picky!), rather than going on the serious adult business of a journey to/from Delphi, it would be a pretty strong hint that Sophocles was showing him as a teenager, who had not completed his military training and was not, therefore, of adult age or a citizen. The thing is though that Sophocles doesn’t deploy any of the markers of adolescence in any of the scenes involving the “young” Oedipus, but does deploy some pretty solid pointers to him being a young adult i.e. 20 plus. The rest is just a matter of calculating how old Jocasta could be to bear children by him and relating their ages. I guess you could assume that Jocasta had a child at age 40 plus, although that would be unusual, and so push Oedipus’ age up to ~26 ish. For my money, it makes sense for Oedipus to have just “come of age” as an adult, apparently set for life as the king’s son – only to have his whole apparently secure identity challenged at an adult institution (the dinner party). To me, that adds a dimension to his tragedy, which is more interesting than the troubled adolescent vision of the story – and gives him a double crisis as an adult – first when he has his legitimacy challenged (a very big deal for Athenian citizens, by the way and the subject of recent legislation against the citizenship being granted to half-blood children), secondly when his apparently successful kingship is called into question.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:


    “If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at, like, the Gas ‘n’ Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?”

    “By choice, man.”

  72. 72
  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:


    I got to hear Ed Catmull (the president of Pixar Animation Studios) talk and he said that when he decided to write a book about management, he discovered that 90 percent of the people who write those books have never actually been managers. At best, you get a ghostwritten hagiography about how awesome an executive is without any actual management information.

    (Apparently the first draft of his book was that kind of hagiography and he had to sit down with the writer (who is credited as co-author) and explain that he wanted to write an actual management book, not an Ed Catmull is Teh Awesome book. They worked together fine after that.)

  74. 74
    Morzer says:


    “If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at, like, the Gas ‘n’ Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?”

    Brand differentiation

  75. 75
    Smiling Mortician says:

    All of this just reminds me of Tom Cruise as Frank T.J. Mackey in 1999’s Magnolia.

  76. 76

    One more day in India, I leave Monday night.

  77. 77
    scav says:

    I’d be hesitent about deep interpretations of all the details of a Greek myth in itself because they are such accretions, they are malleable. Listen in a different city or time and details, major elements!, have changed. Within specific tellings there may — or may not — be an effort at deep meaningful logical coherency. Or something more akin to A Grand Budapest Hotel élan.

  78. 78
    brettvk says:

    @max: Didn’t the new DSM eliminate the personality disorder diagnoses? Like most laypeople, I am horribly naive about mental illness while brushing up against it every day of my life.

    Part of what appears to me to be the in-efficacy of psychology and psychiatry is that, like autism, many mental illnesses seem to be on a spectrum. I was in an intimate relationship with someone who (I later realized) checked a lot off the list for narcissitic personality disorder — but although she made my life hell for a few years, I never thought she would kill me. I myself am pretty depressive most of the time but am only fleetingly suicidal.

    It’s not a therapist’s fault that they can’t immediately see that their current patient will be a murderer, of course. The handwaving about mental illness whenever there’s a mass shooting is mostly a planned distraction. I sometimes doubt that psychiatry will ever advance to the point where we can accurately separate the dangerous from the merely crazy. I would say that as a society we would benefit from more public education about mental illnesses if the knowledge was more concrete.

  79. 79
    Morzer says:


    Sure. but at the same time, the Sophoclean version (which, thanks to Grandpa Aristotle and Daddy Freud we all work with) takes place in a specific cultural context within which there are specific pointers to a character’s assumed age and status. By and large, you don’t get many references to specific ages in Classical Athenian literature (as in, “I Theseus am now 38!”), but they were absolutely obsessed with proving the legitimacy of male children and had a very strongly structured pattern of progression for them through different age groups until they reached adulthood citizenhood.

  80. 80
    WaterGirl says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Wow. I missed most of your trip while I was away. What was the resolution to the ‘MIL wants me to do this ceremony thing and I really don’t trust her enough to do it’ situation? (My take on what was going on, forgive me if my take away was wrong!)

  81. 81
    Anoniminous says:


    …he wanted to write an actual management book

    Machiavelli already did that. Do we really need another one?

    Joking aside, if Terri Kelly (CEO of Gore-Tex) or Craig Jelinek (CEO of Costco) wrote a management book I’d be interested. But Catmull?

  82. 82
    Baud says:

    U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only U.S. service member known to be held hostage in Afghanistan, was handed over Saturday morning by members of the Taliban in exchange for five Afghan detainees held at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. officials said.

  83. 83
    scav says:

    @Morzer: So long as you’re talking about a specific example / instantiation of the myth, sure, argue away, I had hoped to make that clear. I was just trying to point out that these specific interpretations don’t necessarily hold for that amorphous strange-attractor nexus of stories and details that is the myth defined larger. Myths get messy because they were used by so many in so many contexts for so many purposes. They are larger than Classical Greece Sopheclean instances (which may in turn have been tidied and pruned by all the copyists since, but that I don’t know. Just suspiscious of monks et al based on bible scribes).

  84. 84

    @WaterGirl: Your take is spot on. Resolution: Do the ceremonies when I come with back with husband kitteh.

    Latest blog post on the India trip and the other ones are here.

    ETA: I am meeting here for the last time on this trip tomorrow. Keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well.

  85. 85
    lamh36 says:

    @RollingStone 52s
    Bowe Bergdahl, the only American POW in Afghanistan, was freed today. Read Michael Hastings’ feature on Bergdahl:

  86. 86
    Keith G says:

    So PUA’s are the new (according to the media) problem subculture.

    Recalling some highlights from the past, remember when it was:
    D&D Gamers
    Super Predators
    Club Kids
    Trench Coats
    And Various iterations of “scary” hip hop culture

    Consider the above only a partial list of these flavors of the month.

  87. 87
    Morzer says:

    There is one interpretation of the Oedipus myth that has his original name being Oedipais (child of the swollen sea) rather than Oedipus (swollen foot) – which suggests that the story of his exposure on Cithaeron and much else beside is just a clumsy addition to a different story indeed.

    One version of the Oedipus story by Euripides has him killing Laios – and being promptly grabbed and blinded at the roadside by Laios’ escort!

    Before the text of Sophocles got to those monks you mention, it had to get through the acting troupes of the ancient world, which we know were perfectly willing to do some rewriting and sometimes add scenes made up from their sense of how Sophocles et al might be improved. Euripides seems to have suffered most from this, partly because he was easily the most popular of the Big Three tragedians.

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:


    Depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s creative problem-solving utilizing your entire company, then Catmull’s your guy. If you’re looking for advice specific to manufacturing or retail, then it’s probably not what you want.

  89. 89
    Ruckus says:


  90. 90
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: I googled. Holy shit, the soldier disappeared in 2009. That’s 5 years.

  91. 91
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Keith G: yeah. But in this case, the sub culture is a little problematic and the killer was part of it. This isn’t like the goths, where the actual goths most likely didn’t commit the murder they were accused of and those who committed another mass killing weren’t goths.

  92. 92
    cmorenc says:

    The real secret to being a good PUA is the ability to flatter women with intelligent, entertaining attention to them that often makes them laugh because you’re funny rather than stupid. AND (key point) do so without your erect penis sticking out of your forehead at them (no, not the real penis down in your pants, but the virtual one that’s obvious to women but invisible to guys until they’re coming on so strong that even they realize they’re coming across as repulsively obnoxious fools).

  93. 93
    Baud says:


    Yeah. Glad he’s coming home. Hope he doesn’t end up like McCain, however.

  94. 94
    WaterGirl says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I saw something about détente on another thread, so that’s hopeful! But when I misspelled détente, I was offered “detonate” as an option, and maybe that’s no so good. :-)

    All the best, and safe travels home.

  95. 95
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: Bitter and evil? Or were you thinking of something else?

  96. 96
    lamh36 says:

    @ABC 19s
    UPDATE: Sr. Defense official: In exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl release, 5 Guantanamo detainees to be released to Qatar:

  97. 97
    lamh36 says:

    @markknoller 2m
    Aboard rescue helicopter, Bergdahl wrote “SF?” asking if his liberators were US Special Forces. Yes, they said, bringing tears to his eyes.

  98. 98
    Baud says:


    Yep. I never liked that McCain turned his time as a POW into a joke.

  99. 99
    scav says:

    @Morzer: Oh fun.
    Now there’s a swollen sea (love the swollen ambiguity, right up there with wine dark) thread to play with — shades of Aphrodite! — along side the existing foot thread which always tickled Achilles neurons in my brain. Must admit, I prefer wandering around the variant heavy versions as the differences throw such unexpected spotlights into interesting directions. That’s a personal vice.

    Speaking of which! Short relation has just become obsessed with the Percy Jackson et al series. Do you know of any good additional similar reading for that age-set, he’s scarily plowing through the series and we’d like to keep the reading paper button pushed for a bit longer.

  100. 100
    LittlePig says:

    @Baud: McCain’s problem is that his father and especially grandfather were the real deal. Poor little Crash never could measure up.

    Unless the Sergeant has Generals for pap and grand-pap I doubt it will be an issue.

  101. 101
    Morzer says:


    You could try the Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott.

  102. 102
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: Did you read the long story at the link lamh linked to at 85? It’s from 2 years ago. I read/skimmed it and it was worth the time. They have been trying to get this kid back for a long long time. At one point John McCain is completely against the trade because they want to trade this kid “for the 5 biggest murderers”, or something like that. John McCain is a blight on our nation.

    Edit: also from the story, somebody saying something like “we don’t give a shit why he left, we just want to get him home”.

    Also Clinton was against making a trade when she was SOS. Ick. I do not want Clinton as president.

  103. 103
    lamh36 says:

    NBC Nightly News ‏@NBCNightlyNews 8s
    DETAILS: When rescuers confirmed to Bergdahl that they were Special Forces, he broke down crying

  104. 104
    scav says:

    @Morzer: aaaahhhhh, thanks. Jumping historical periods could also prove useful, esp as he does sometimes get into researching tangents.

  105. 105
    Morzer says:


    IIRC, there are quite a few mythological figures in the series, heroes and Gods and monsters, so he ought to have fun with it. The series is complete, so there’s no risk of RobertJordanitis setting in.

  106. 106
    Baud says:


    Just read part of it. I wonder why the Taliban balked in 2012 but agreed to it now.

  107. 107
    lamh36 says:

    ‏@mpoppel 30m
    STATEMENT by the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl:

  108. 108
    Linda says:

    @tybee: I’ve noticed that PUA, according to their books and such, will get you strippers and models. Which, when you think about it, makes a certain sense. Industries that are geared to treat women’s bodies like commodities and in competition with one another create an insecure mindset in women in which “negging” can find a purchase.

  109. 109
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I know you will be happy to say Goodbye to your MIL and Hai to your Kittehs! Safe travels home, s.c.

  110. 110
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: Maybe the taliban have their own John McCain to throw a wrench in the deal.

  111. 111
    Baud says:


    I find that funnier than I think you intended it to be.

  112. 112
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    O/T: Someone on FB put this up (I think from the GOS but wouldn’t swear to it). Anyhow, I’m really glad they got this stupid asswipe:

    ‘Truther’ Who Stole Sandy Hook Memorial Items Has Finally Been Arrested

    His anonymous telephone voice claimed that the Sandy Hook Massacre was a hoax. This cruel taunt, made to two families of its littlest victims, seven-year-olds Grace McDonnell and Chase Kowalski, came from Andrew David Truelove, 28, Virginia. He was arrested this morning in Herndon, Va. with help help of Stonington Police.

    The calls came after Truelove stole the sign honoring Grace from the memorial park in Mystic, Conn. and the sign honoring Chase from this memorial park in Mantoloking, N.J.

    Truelove turned himself in on an unrelated incident on May 26th for a probation violation. While in jail he has been charged for his recent actions, possession of stolen property, with more serious charges to follow. He is held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. Charges in Connecticut and New Jersey are pending said the Virginia police.

  113. 113
    Morzer says:


    Please, dear FSM, let that repulsive failure of a human being be incarcerated for a good, long, preferably permanent time.

  114. 114
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: Now you have me wondering…

  115. 115
    smintheus says:

    The new NYT article on widespread match-fixing in international soccer matches and FIFA’s utterly incompetent investigations of it is an interesting read.

  116. 116
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gnomedad: Indeed.

    “Christian” fundamentalists are little different from “Islamic” fundamentalists, except they use different names for the through the lookingglass deity they claim to follow.

  117. 117
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Keith G: Don’t forget the all time champs of this genre, Satanists, who are everywhere sacrificing innocent babies on pentagrams out in the woods.

  118. 118
    Baud says:


    Oh, nothing specific. I was simply amused by the mental picture of a Taliban version of John McCain.

  119. 119
    Anoniminous says:


    Gore-Tex is more than a manufacturing company and CostCo is more than a retail shop. But I don’t want to get into a foo-foo about it.

    I honestly don’t know what Catmull brings to the table. In the Computer Industry, the one I know, everybody knows what to do and how. They refuse to do it. They’d rather spend time Empire Building and/or telling each other how wonderful they are.

  120. 120
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: Okay, that image made me laugh out loud! I so despise that man; his face doesn’t get any less repulsive when it’s topped by a turban.

  121. 121
    Visceral says:

    Not everything men say and do is meant for trying to get laid. I think a lot more of this culture is about men trying to prove something to themselves and to each other.

  122. 122
    scav says:

    @Visceral: I was thinking along those lines too, but it also just loops back into misogyny as a part of a package deal. The women are seen as trivial, indistinguishable chits although with different external value, not to be impressed themselves but useful as tokens to signal other men with. Cute Blond beats Dumpy Redhead, etc. in most games, but there are others (my ball-and-chain spends more than yours is a grumblebrag. Ability to juggle multiples is a sign of virility, cleverness, plus all the uses of wives to signal allegiance to “Family Values” and similar business alliances.) Women can also be handy about the house and bed, providing (theoretically) non-threatening (if ultimately not truly satisfying) adulation and obedience. Other men are seen as more truly individuated, with opinions that it worthwhile gaining.

  123. 123
    scav says:

    @scav: Note: which is not to say that anywhere near all men are like that, nor that all male-only relationships use those markers. Merely to point out that male-male competition is not necessarily removed or absolved from the practice of misogyny.

  124. 124
    qtip says:

    There is actually a “Groundhog Day” aspect to the PUA community in the sense where Bill Murray actually improved himself by the end. Have you all read The Game? One of his key points is that his time in the community made him a better, more interesting person so he was ready for a serious relationship when it came along. Common advice is to do something to better yourself every day in key areas: exercise, hobby, work. I’m not trying to defend every aspect, just trying to broaden the debate.

  125. 125
    Central Planning says:


    If you thought you had a 1 in 20 chance of getting a woman’s favorable attention with your lines and gambits

    I must have been an unintentional PUA as a teenager.

  126. 126
    Mnemosyne says:


    FWIW, my husband (who went to film school but now works in healthcare) read the book and is thinking about forming a “brain trust” at his office to try and brainstorm solutions to some persistent issues that keep cropping up over and over again. So there apparently is some actual management advice in it.

    Plus, if you have any interest in the film industry, the second half of the book is about John Lasseter and Ed Catmull being purchased by Disney. (Oh, sure, officially Disney bought Pixar, but what they really wanted was Lasseter and Catmull as a management team, not just the company and its assets).

  127. 127
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Central Planning:

    I must have been an unintentional PUA as a teenager.

    Who isn’t? But most guys grow out of it. These guys remain perpetually petulant Holden Caulfields, wondering why the world doesn’t recognize their special and unique existence without them having to actually do anything to earn the adulation..

  128. 128
    Doug says:

    There are a few nuggets of truth coated in a big old shell of toxic misogyny. To meet women, you have to talk with them. Sometimes that’s awkward. The PUA stuff kind of gives some guys the Dumbo magic feather they need to overcome their lack of confidence. And dressing better and being in better shape can’t hurt anything.

    There are other aspects that are pretty dubious, however. Do some women respond with more interest to “negging” than they would to a simple compliment? I’m sure some do. Most? I have no idea.

    And, there is a lot of crap piled on top of that. The evolutionary psychology cargo cult science strikes me as a sales technique. It appeals to the aggrievement of some of these guys trying to figure out why other guys seem to get women and not them – and does so in a way that puts the fault on women and not on themselves.

  129. 129
    mainmata says:

    @raven: Pickup artist is a term that has been around in different forms for a long time. My problem is the author not defining abbreviations and acronyms upon first use, which is your gripe too – doesn’t have anything to do with age. I write for a living; defining first use of an acronym is basic writing etiquette that should be followed by all on BJ given its standards. (IMO – hah).

  130. 130
    Fred says:

    I should write a PUA book for women. It would be easy.
    Instructions for picking up guys:
    1) See guy you want to pick up.
    2) Point at him and say, “Hey you, come here.”
    3) Now tell him what you want: Buy dinner, buy drinks, take you home, rob a 7-11, whatever.

    “Boys Are Simple” $24.95 at fine book emporiums everywhere.

    But women already know all this. Damn.

  131. 131
    opium4themasses says:

    Bullshit. Some women have the same trouble picking up men.

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