Archive for the ‘Critical Thinking’ Category

Dystopic Implications of Sam Kriss’s Trial by Social Media: Oct 18, 2017

October 18, 2017 1 comment

The event discussed in this post is a bit obscure, and not well publicized, but it carries highly dystopian implications. While I have mentioned its central character in an older post, it is worthwhile to quickly go over some relevant details. Sam Kriss, is a young but somewhat well-known freelance journalist whose articles have been published by a number of alternative and not-so-alternative online media outlets such as VICE, Jacobin, Slate, Politico, Baffler etc. He is known for his verbose and often personalized style of writing, which includes insulting some of the subjects of his pieces. It is also worthwhile to know that he has strong leftist and marxist leanings (at least in his articles) in spite of being born to wealthy parents. His outspoken support for the “feminist cause” during the Gamergate controversy is relevant to the current controversy.

So did the current kerfuffle, which is the topic of this post, start? Well.. like many controversies nowadays it started with a celebrity driven social media phenomena and a social media post. More specifically, the “#metoo” campaign on twitter in the wake of revelations of prolonged sexual improprieties by Harvey Weinstein has seemingly opened the floodgates of accusations against men of some fame in the entertainment and media industry. While some of the new accusations are likely true and rather disturbing, more than a few of the newly publicized accusations seem to be less about rape than about aggressive and unwelcome sexual comments and advances. In other words, many of the newly surfacing accusations are about stuff that is not illegal under current laws, but could be perceived as unwelcome or insulting by one party to the interaction.

If that was not the case, many of those being accused would have been tried and convicted by the existent legal system a long time ago. Either that, or those making the accusations would have been far richer than they are now.

Why is any of this relevant to the main focus of this post? Well.. it comes to the circumstances of the recent accusations made against Sam Kriss. A day or two ago, a woman journalist published a lengthy denunciation of Sam Kriss on FaceBook. In it, she claimed to have been sexually assaulted by him on at least one occasion. As you might expect, tons of twitter feminists and their “male allies” went on denunciation spree of his alleged actions based solely on her version of the story. Anybody who dared to suggest that the accuser’s version of the events might be incomplete or not completely true was brushed away as ‘mansplaining’ and evidence of patriarchic oppression or complicity with “rapists”. As it turns out there was more than side to this story and one detail which was very relevant to what occurred.

Sam Kriss published his response yesterday. To quickly summarize, he does not deny that the alleged incident took place. He does, however, provide the very relevant detail that he had a pre-existing casual sexual relationship with his accuser when the event in question occurred. Let me rephrase that, he already had sex with her on more than one occasion prior to the events in question. He claims that he was just aggressively flirting with her with the expectation of another sexual encounter. He also claims that she did not at any stage of that encounter, ask him to stop. Moreover, she continued to message him for many months after that encounter suggesting that a future hookup was possible. As it stands today, it is still his word against her- though I am sure that both parties have some electronic evidence of their past conversations.

And as most of you would expect, these accusations have unleashed a storm of “indignation” (for public display) against Sam Kriss based solely on accusations made against him on a social media platform. To be clear, it is hard to know which of two parties is being untruthful since there has been no formal process of (legal) discovery, let alone a formal criminal or civil trial. Personally, I think it is unlikely that the accusations made against him would stand in any half-decent court of law- largely because it is one of those ‘he said-she said’ type situations without physical evidence to decisively support either of their accounts. This has however not stopped some of the media outlets which had previously published his articles from dropping him from their roster. A backbench Labor MP in UK has even called for him to be locked up even before he is formally accused (if that will ever happen) and proven guilty in a court of law.

It is hard to ignore the similarities between witch hunts in previous eras and such cases. In both, the accuser (or accusers) version of the story was usually believed in an uncritical manner while all evidence contrary to the accuser’s version of events was suppressed or deliberately ignored. In both cases, prosecution of the accused was justified as a moral good and backed up by an ideology, irrespective of any evidence that it was neither. In both cases, those who dissented were labelled as enablers of “un-goodness” and agents of the “great deceivers”. In both cases, kangaroo “courts” and mob “justice” were seen as far more desirable than due process and a fair trial. My point is that making significant decisions about the innocence or guilt of any person without due process or a fair trial is a reversion to the pre-enlightenment era rather than an improvement over the current setup.

As an amusing side-note to this story, it is worth recounting that Sam Kriss was an outspoken supporter of “social media feminists” who ranted and raved about all those “sexist” male gamers during the Gamergate controversy. While it is hard to say what drove him to make fun of all those “loser” male gamers and their concerns during that period, whatever he did was unable to protect him from the witchunt caused by an accusation of sexual aggression (and maybe assault) on social media. Notably, almost none of the “feminists” he so vocally supported during the Gamergate controversy appears willing to give a fair hearing to his (very plausible) version of the story. Maybe, uncritical support of a bunch of ideologues with no real interest in fairness or due process was not a good idea in the first place. In any case, it will be interesting to see how this story develops in the near future.

What do you think? Comments?

An Explanation for the Odd Behavior of Harvey Weinstein: Oct 15, 2017

October 15, 2017 7 comments

As regular readers know, I have previously written two posts (Link 1, Link 2) about this topic. Both were a mixture of some news items about this still developing topic as well as initial speculation about why others in the industry remained silent for so long. To make a long story short, it is very likely that similar behavior is common in the entertainment industry and Harvey Weinstein is unlikely to go down without a series of nasty fight- which might end up exposing other prominent figures in that industry.

We are, however, still left with the unanswered question about the real motivation behind his actions. I mean.. what would motivate a very rich, famous and powerful guy to chase down often unwilling women of far lesser means just to expose himself and jerk off in front of them. While it is certainly possible that the majority of women he propositioned in that manner did indeed go along with the ‘script’ and have sex with him. Why not just hire super-attractive escorts or make an explicit sex-for-money arrangement with women he fancied?

The method used by Harvey Weinstein to proposition known and aspiring actresses/models was not especially efficient in addition to being significantly riskier than just purchasing sexual services from them. What makes his choice of method especially odd is that he seems to be an especially smart, rational and pragmatic guy in his long and very successful professional life. There is also the question as to what pleasure he was obtaining from jerking off in front of often disgusted women.

Conventional feminist-influenced explanations for his behavior ranger from obviously unrealistic to sublimely absurd. There are, for example, theories centered around his behavior was yet another example of “male entitlement”. The people who peddle these theories do not however explain why most men are not turned on by the idea of jerking in front of unwilling women. Others want to blame industry ‘sexism’ for his behavior. But that still does not explain why he did things that way when he could have simply offered those women money for sexual acts.

There is however a different, and far more rational explanation, for his behavior.

Let us start to by asking the simple question- when he did he start propositioning women in that manner? Well.. as far as we know, to date, he was propositioning women in that manner since the mid-1980s. In other words, Harvey Weinstein was propositioning women for at least a few years before he became really famous. In other words, his behavioral pattern was established before he became famous. Subsequent public acclaim and successes simply brought him more opportunities to indulge in that pattern of behavior.

So how did it all start? For starters, he was born to a fairly average middle-class Jewish family in NY. It seems that both he, and his brother, appeared to be smart and driven- even as kids. But his overall upbringing and rather non-elite educational background (SUNY- Buffalo) must have been shared by many tens of thousands of kids- none of whom grew up to be Harvey Weinstein. So what made him the person he ended up becoming?

Part of the answer to that question might lie in an unusual and somewhat tragic event which occurred when he was 10 years old. Long story short- he lost one of his eyes in a playground accident. It took him about 6 months to recover from the accident and it was during this time that he first got seriously interested in the entertainment industry. Basically, a series of events resulting from his losing an eye is what drove Harvey Weinstein to the career which would make him rich and famous.

And this brings us the next question- What other effect did losing an eye at that age have on him? Well.. for one, it would not have helped his social life in school or university. Between his general appearance, lack of inherited money and lack of one eye- his normal sexual advances towards women were likely met with scorn, contempt and very high degree of failure. To put it another way, he likely suffered a lot of humiliation from women during the earlier part of his life. Maybe, he never forget that humiliation.

Given that his behavior towards all those women was largely about humiliating them (through exposing himself, jerking off in front of them or making them have sex with him), it is very likely that he saw it as payback for what he had received before he became wealthy, famous and powerful. That is also why he preferred to impose himself on women rather than quietly pay for sex. It was about redressing his perceived grievances with women. It is also telling that he went after attractive women irrespective of their overall body type, race or fame.

His behavior was, therefore, less about sex and more about payback for all the rejection and humiliation he had received from far less attractive women in the past. And that is also why he started doing it so early on in his career. He just wanted to dish out what he had received, albeit on a far larger scale. To summarize: his behavior was a peculiar manifestation of vengeance and payback, maybe not exactly legal or “nice”- but rational nonetheless.

What do you think? Comments?

Some More Thoughts about the Harvey Weinstein Saga: Oct 12, 2017

October 12, 2017 8 comments

In my previous post on this topic, I made an observation that the most likely cause of silence about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior over multiple decades was that such behavior was fairly normal in the entertainment industry. I also wrote that the exposure and ongoing public humiliation of Weinstein might embolden others to do the same to other big names in that industry. So far we have seen some initial signs of this happening, though it is too early to say whether they are an aberration or a trend.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that “Hollywood” is a more abusive industry to people who work in it than say.. corporate poultry farming or working for corporations like Amazon. Indeed, the entertainment industry in USA is generally a much nicer place to work in than most industrial sectors in this country. Having said that, working within it does carry a much higher than usual risk of sexual abuse and drug abuse along with associated psychological issues. Furthermore, these somewhat specific risks have been with us since Hollywood started making its first movies.

Having said that, the Harvey Weinstein saga is unusual in that it involves a very big name in that industry. I mean, this is a guy who have been thanked at Oscar acceptance speeches almost as often as God. However, his abusive and combative personality, over the years, made him far more adversaries than supporters. It is therefore not surprising that so many movie stars and colleagues unloaded on him once it became obvious that it was safe to do so. It is also safe to assume that more women, beyond those who have already done so, will come out with even more accusations of sexual coercion and rape against him.

But what will all of this lead to? Here is what I think is most likely in the near future..

1] In spite of his still strong desire to return to the entertainment industry, it is almost certain that his career in the industry is (for all practical purposes) over. He is just too unsympathetic a person for the public to forgive, let alone care about or support. It is also almost certain that some accusations against him, especially those involving non-consensual sex, are going to be thoroughly investigated by the police in more than one country. Public outcry for legal action against him could very likely result in him being tried and convicted within next couple of years. Of course, like many rich people in USA, he will probably get some sweetheart deal from prosecutors that will keep him out of jail.

2] One theory about why the Weinstein saga came out now, as opposed to even a year or two ago, revolves around some sort of power play by his brother and others to control the company which bears his name. While that is certainly within the realm of possibility, it is also unlikely since his brothers and others in that company are comparative lightweights in the entertainment industry. Also, the Weinstein company and other related ventures are so closely associated with Harvey that this scandal destroys their brand image- which is already occurring. To make a long story short, the company is close to worthless if Harvey ends up getting prosecuted for running a casting couch for the previous 2-3 decades.

3] It is however also likely that Harvey won’t go down without a big and nasty fight. Expect bitter and very public legal battles as he and his team of lawyers try every move to regain control of the company. You might be aware that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that his company and others he established or worked for in the past were fully aware of his peculiar behavior towards actresses and other attractive women in that industry. I would , therefore, not be surprised if the company (and his brother etc) ended up being sued for willfully enabling his actions. The possibility that Harvey might go nuclear and expose other powerful and famous executives in Hollywood is far more likely than most people in that industry want to believe.

4] It is also worthwhile to point out that for a guy who looked like.. well.. himself, Harvey did manage to score tons of prime pussy. Think about it- we are only hearing from the women who felt insulted by his demands. Many more hot young women just went along with them and saw having sex with him as a part of the price for being employed in Hollywood. While his modus operandi was not glamorous or likely to get hot chicks wet and bothered- it did work very well. for him. I am willing to bet that his dick has been inside the various orifices of more actresses and hot women than most famous male actors, musicians and sport stars. Maybe part of the public hate comes from people seeing a guy who looks like him scoring so much prime pussy for so many years.

What do you think? Comments?

A Few Quick Thoughts about the Harvey Weinstein Saga: Oct 9, 2017

October 9, 2017 14 comments

As pretty much every person on Twitter knows by now, Harvey Weinstein was recently exposed by NYT for being a serial sexual abuser. This particular bit of “news” was, however, not exactly new or surprising to people working in the entertainment industry. His behavior was, in fact, well-known enough to be openly joked about in an episode of the NBC sitcom ’30 Rock’ about five years ago. To make a long story short, pretty much everybody in the entertainment industry who knew Harvey Weinstein at some personal level also knew about his.. should we say “peculiar behavior”.. towards women. Heck, even waitresses who worked in restaurants frequented by Harvey were aware of his behavior.

Perhaps more interestingly, a similar story about Harvey Weinstein was spiked in 2004 (almost 13 years ago) after Matt Damon and Russell Crowe called up NYT. It is now almost certain that we will soon hear about more successful attempts in the past by him and his famous hollywood friends to stop the publication of similar stories by other news outlets. And all of this raises the question- why did the allegedly “liberal” part of the moneyed establishment go to such lengths to protect Harvey Weinstein from public exposure of his misdeeds? How did they benefit from their sustained efforts to protect Harvey Weinstein? What was in it for them?

To be clear, what Harvey Weinstein did was fundamentally different from simply paying women to have sex with him– though he may have compensated them in some form or the other. Nor was his behavior some sort of uncommon sexual fetish, public knowledge of which might have made him look “icky”. Instead, he repeatedly and over multiple decades forcefully propositioned women to have sex with him or harass them in highly blatant ways. Given his power and stature in the entertainment industry, a significant percentage of those women probably ended up having sex with him.

It is also noteworthy that his behavior was not affected by his martial status. Nor did his ex-wife or current wife ever raise that issue in public (even during a divorce)- suggesting that they found it more profitable to keep their mouth shut that speak up about it. More interesting, and newsworthy, is the almost total silence about Weinstein’s behavior over all these years from people who had worked with him for years and in many cases decades. While a very few of them have made some feeble attempts, in the previous day or two, to convey their “disappointment” with Weinstein’s behavior. Isn’t it odd that so many Hollywood celebrities who rightly condemned Donald Trump’s behavior towards women were completely silent about Weinstein’s escapades- even when they knew far more about the later?

The simple fact is that Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predilections and behaviors were widely known in the entertainment industry and yet until a few days ago, almost nobody ever wanted to discuss in the public realm. And this leads us back to the same question posed earlier in this post- Why? What was in it for them to not discuss this publicly? What did they gain (or not lose) from keeping it an insider secret of sorts?

So far, the vast majority of theories about why so many kept quiet for so long revolve around his alleged power in the entertainment industry- and there is some truth to that idea. The guy was a pretty big player (producer and studio executive) in the entertainment industry. Also, he is not the first movie producer, director or studio executive to demand sexual favors in return for a job or funding. So maybe, they saw his behavior as somewhat “normal”. But that does not explain why so many were willing to use their personal contacts and effort to keep his behaviors out of the spotlight. Why keep rooting for a guy who keeps doing the same embarrassing and highly problematic stuff year after year, decade after decade?

The other, and more likely, explanation is that Harvey Weinstein’s behavior is actually normal within the entertainment industry and protecting him from public exposure was a way to stop subsequent public scrutiny of the behavior of other famous and powerful figures in the entertainment industry. Think about it.. Harvey Weinstein, though important was hardly the only player of his stature in the industry. If his behavior was actually unusual in that industry, others would have no problem letting him face the music. I mean.. what do they have to lose if they were ‘clean’ of such accusations?

On the other hand, if Harvey Weinstein’s behavior is typical for that industry then allowing him be exposed to public scrutiny would upset the proverbial apple-carts of many other directors, producers and executives. The evidence (so far) suggests that it was fear of subsequent scrutiny of other famous figures in that industry, rather than his power and influence alone, was the main motivation for the elaborate charades and pressure tactics deployed by other Hollywood celebrities to keep him out of the public spotlight. Of course, almost nobody since the days of silent cinema believes that Hollywood celebrities had vanilla or milquetoast personal lives. In fact, many popular magazines would not even exist without public interest in the tawdry personal lives of movie and TV stars.

But it is one thing for some celebrity to cheat on their girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse or become involved in some divorce or substance abuse scandal. People expect that. However, running a ‘casting couch’ for over two decades while randomly propositioning and exposing oneself to women AND then claiming to be a great supporter of “liberal” and “feminist” causes is both nauseating hypocritical and fit for almost endless parody. It is my opinion that the outrage over the Weinstein scandal has far more to with his behavior being incredibly hypocritical rather than just sexually tawdry. Here is something to think about.. would the Weinstein scandal have got the traction it has if it was about him having slept with a thousand escorts? Would anybody have cared if it was just about him buying sexual companionship?

What do you think? Comments?

Some More Newer Facts about Stephen Paddock: Oct 7, 2017

October 7, 2017 9 comments

My original plan, for today, was to finish another post about the situation with regards to North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM program. Then I felt a bit lazy and decided to write something about Stephen Paddock– specifically about newer bits of information relevant to his personality and motivations for the 2017 Mandalay Bay shooting. In any case, if things go the way I think they will- we might have some very interesting news about North Korean ICBM tests sometime late tomorrow afternoon (Eastern Time). If not tomorrow, sometime in the next few days..

Anyway, back to the topic of this post. As many of you are doubtlessly aware of, local police and other national investigative agencies have so far been unable to assign a motivation for Paddock’s decision to commit the largest mass shooting by a single person in american history. Of course, it is very likely that his record will be broken by somebody else within the next few years- but that is a topic for another post. In the absence of an official assignment of motive (and likely inspite of one) there are tons of overtly complex theories, about what led him to do it, floating around the internet.

There are the obvious ones such as him being a secret Muslim convert, secret CIA asset, secret patsy and well.. secret [insert your hobbyhorse here]. You get the point. Then there are others who believe he was a political ideologue who either loved Trump or worshiped HRC and wanted to champion gun control. We cannot forger the ones about him being mentally ill (whatever that means) to having a brain tumor (not totally implausible) to being recently diagnosed with a terminal disease (again within realm of possibility).

However, none of the above mentioned theories provide an internally coherent explanation of facts- defined as stuff we know with very high degrees of certainty. For example, there are multiple lines of evidence that he was a pretty boring person with no history of criminal behavior– at least as defined by law. All of his successful real-estate ventures were fully legal and by all accounts he seems to have been a good landlord, astute businessman and successful self-made entrepreneur. There is also no evidence that he was in any financial trouble, either from his recreational gambling or from real estate deals.

His interest in guns also seemed to be quite mature as he first started acquiring them in 1982. While it is true that he buy a bit over 30 guns and lots of ammo within the last year, many hundreds of thousands of Americans did the same during Obama’s two presidential terms. Nor was his semi-nomadic lifestyle especially unusual given his considerable wealth and lack of children and grandchildren. I mean.. would you not travel around the world, stay at expensive hotels and go to expensive restaurants if you could afford it?

Perhaps most tellingly, he did not leave behind any suicide note, manifesto or anything else (found so far) that would provide his version of what motivated him to shoot up all those people. The note found on a table in his room seems to contain ballistic calculations for improve his aiming. Even the alleged mystery person in his room in the days before that shooting appear to have been one (or more) of the prostitutes he hired during that stay. On other words, it is almost certain that he did it by himself and for reasons which we may never know for sure.

Perhaps the most realistic and plausible reason for his actions was suggested by a commentator on one of my previous posts about him. I have quoted the relevant part below.

He probably was a misanthrope/clinical psychopath who got bored with life and decided to go for a “high score” just to see if he could. – by TAKEmuhMONEYZ

In my opinion, this particular explanation makes the most sense largely because it fits known facts very well. While some of you might find it hard to imagine a person shooting up lots of others just to go for the “highest score” because he was bored, it makes a lot of sense given his apparent boredom with an otherwise materially comfortable life.

Maybe he had no desire to live anymore but wanted to go out with the highest score. This also explains why he appears to have been casing multiple large music festivals for the last few months. It was really about getting the highest score and to his credit- he did achieve that in the end.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Peculiar and New Facts about Stephen Paddock: Oct 4, 2017

October 4, 2017 21 comments

After writing a previous post about this guy, I decided to wait a day or two to find some less sensational but far more revealing information about him. Just to be clear- most articles about him, his girlfriend and that shooting are still full of repetition, hyperbole and wild speculation. Having said that, I am finally starting to see some truly interesting fragments of information which shine some light on his him as a person and his lifestyle.

Article # 1: Las Vegas shooter recalled as intelligent gambler well-versed on gun rights.

and here are the relevant quotes..

An Australian man who came to know Stephen Paddock intimately in recent years has offered the most detailed public portrait yet of the Las Vegas mass killer.He said Paddock was a highly intelligent, strategic though “guarded” individual who won a fortune applying algorithms to gambling, and studied arguments for his right to own weapons under the US constitution. Their encounters came via their respective girlfriends, Philippine-born sisters – one of whom, Marilou Danley, has returned to the US to be interviewed by the FBI in the wake of Paddock’s meticulously planned massacre.

“Yes, I was familiar with him,” the man, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Guardian at his Brisbane home on Wednesday. “He was extremely intelligent, methodical, conservative – guarded – and strategic. A planning, thinking type of guy.” But nothing at the time, including their “robust” discussions about US gun laws, rang alarm bells to suggest that he was capable of “such an inhumane, terrible, vicious act”. Investigators hope Danley can provide clues to unlock the motives that drove her partner to a premeditated onslaught that killed 59 and injured more than 500 at a country music concert.

What did pique the Australian’s curiosity was Paddock’s way of making a living, “as I’d not met a professional gambler” before. Paddock was forthcoming in “great detail” on matters from his “float”, or cash gambling base, to his annual income, which was “very much well over a senior executive’s wage in the US”. “And how he obtained that: the algorithms behind his methodology of gambling – only on machines, not on tables,” he said. The men came to have “robust conversations” about the second amendment of the US constitution and the right to bear arms. It is a debate the Australian said he had many times – but Paddock’s grasp of the detail seemed superior to most defenders of the second amendment.

Article # 2: Las Vegas Gunman Chased Gambling’s Payouts and Perks

and the relevant quotes..

He would sit in front of them for hours, often wagering more than $100 a hand. The way he played — instinctually, decisively, calculatingly, silently, with little movement beyond his shifting eyes and nimble fingers — meant he could play several hundred hands an hour. Casino hosts knew him well. “Not a lot of smiles and friendliness,” said John Weinreich, who was an executive casino host at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nev., where Mr. Paddock was once a regular and where he met his girlfriend. “There was not a lot of body movement except for his hands.”He would sit in front of them for hours, often wagering more than $100 a hand. The way he played — instinctually, decisively, calculatingly, silently, with little movement beyond his shifting eyes and nimble fingers — meant he could play several hundred hands an hour. Casino hosts knew him well.

“Not a lot of smiles and friendliness,” said John Weinreich, who was an executive casino host at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nev., where Mr. Paddock was once a regular and where he met his girlfriend. “There was not a lot of body movement except for his hands.” His methodical style and his skill level allowed him to gamble, and occasionally win, tens of thousands of dollars in one sitting, collecting payouts and hotel perks in big bunches. Last week, as a reward for his loyalty and gambling, Mr. Paddock stayed free of charge on the 32nd floor in one of the elite suites of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, one of his favorite places to play.

According to a person who has reviewed Mr. Paddock’s gambling history, and who requested anonymity because the information was part of an active police investigation, dozens of “currency transaction reports,” which casinos must send the federal government for transactions greater than $10,000, were filed in Mr. Paddock’s name. Mr. Paddock had six-figure credit lines at casinos that afforded him the chance to make big sums in long sit-down sessions, and he was known as someone who always paid his accounts. His rooms were often comped, meaning given to him free, including this past weekend at Mandalay Bay, according to the person familiar with his history.

Mr. Paddock gambled as he lived, his brother said — methodically, always weighing the odds. He was cautious and liked to plan ahead, Eric Paddock said, and didn’t like leaving things to chance. He always carried two cellphones, each with a different carrier, in case one network was down. Mr. Paddock was in the high-limit room at Mandalay Bay last Thursday night, playing a machine that allowed him to bet $100 with each deal of the virtual cards. Nearby, another customer hit a big hand and rose excitedly from his chair. He recalled how his enthusiasm caused Mr. Paddock to pause and turn. “What’d you hit?” Mr. Paddock asked. “A royal flush,” the man said. “Good job,” Mr. Paddock replied. And he went back to playing.

The point I am trying to make is that Stephen Paddock did not display any signs of altered behavior, serious mental illness or diminished mental capacity even a few days before he went on that mass shooting. Furthermore, he had made another similar multi-day trip to Vegas a few days before the last one. Clearly, the guy had decided to do what he eventually ended up doing last Sunday night at least two (possibly many more) weeks in advance. The fact that he had sent his girlfriend to the Philippines on a family vacation in the middle of September and then wired her over 100 thousand dollars to buy a house there only strengthens the idea that he had planned this shooting in some detail some weeks ago.

While the precise set of factors or conditions which led him to go on that shooting rampage are still a mystery- it is clear that his profile is quite different from the typical mass shooter in USA- who tend to be significantly younger and often under some kind of financial, legal, emotional or sexual stress. Stephen Paddock did not appear to be under any such stress- which makes his action that much odder. Who knows.. maybe he was a misanthropic nihilist who had reached the limits of tolerance for other people. Unless they find something like a suicide note or medical evidence of a terminal illness- we may never know why he went on that shooting rampage.

What do you think? Comments?

A Few Preliminary Observations about Stephen Paddock: Oct 2, 2017

October 2, 2017 20 comments

As all of you must have heard by now, yesterday night a guy named Stephen Paddock committed what appears to be the largest solo mass shooting (by body count) in american history– till now. So far, at least 60 people have been confirmed dead and 527 more suffered direct and indirect injuries of varying severity. While numerous smart phone videos of the incident and eyewitness accounts have been heavily promoted on various social media platforms and MSM outlets, the motivations of the alleged shooter remain a mystery.

Here is an attempt to aggregate some of the more peculiar facts we know, thus far, about this most atypical mass shooter.

1] The father of the alleged perpetrator, Benjamin Paddock, was a bank robber of some notoriety in the 1960s and 1970s. However, Stephen appears to have very little contact with his father while growing up and even after reaching adulthood. Also, he and his siblings grew up into quite successful and otherwise normal adults. Stephen himself became an accountant and then started a number of small successful businesses, mostly involving buying, selling and renting real-estate. He also appears to have run and then cashed out of a fairly successful business venture with one of his younger brothers.

2] Stephen Paddock had no criminal record of any significance- as far as we know. There is no evidence that he was unusually impulsive, cruel, violent or homicidal. There is no evidence that he was suffering, or ever suffered, from a serious mental illness. There is no evidence that he committed any white-collar crime for which he was prosecuted. His relationship with his siblings, mother and other close relatives were average for a white man of his generation in north america. To make a long story short, his behavior towards other people appears to have been remarkably mediocre and average- till yesterday.

3] He seems to have been quite well off and was allegedly worth over a couple of million dollars at the time of his death by post-shooting suicide. While he enjoyed gambling for decades, he seems to have been able to control his habit quite well. There is no evidence, thus far, that he was ever in serious financial trouble because of his frequent visits to Casinos. Gambling appears to have been his principal form of entertainment rather than an all-consuming compulsion. Also, he did lived quite modestly while still enjoyed a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

4] A post-shooting search of his principal residence did not reveal a suicide note or manifesto. The inside of the house was allegedly clean and well maintained. There was no evidence of neglect or anything else to suggest that he did not intend to return. There was, also, no evidence of extensive stockpiling of weapons, ammo or explosives. In other words, there was no sign or hint that he was going to go an a massive murder-suicide spree. Curiously, his hotel room contained a large cache of guns and ammunition.

5] He had been married and divorced twice- last in 1990. He had no children from that marriage or any other previous or subsequent relationship- that we know of. His current girlfriend, a woman of asian descent two years his junior, had lived with him for the previous few years. There is no evidence that their relationship was on the rocks. She was, however, on a short trip outside USA when all of this all went down. Everything we know about this guy’s personal life, so far, seems to be very ‘vanilla’ and otherwise average.

To summarize: Stephen Paddock lived an unremarkable if reasonably successful life for 64 years before suddenly becoming the most prolific solo mass shooter in american history. He did not display any of the usual warning signs, associations or circumstances typically associated with mass shooters. Something just does not compute..

What do you think? Comments?