This week I match up celebs, shrink-wrap the President and thank God for M-m-m-my Sharona
PASCAL Wallisch: remember the name. Why? Because this young man, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University, has come up with a very interesting theory which could see a prospective presidential candidate’s iTunes playlists being scrutinised as much as their sexual history or how many Moscow phone numbers they have in their contacts list. You see, Wallisch’s contention is that there is a connection between liking certain songs and being a psychopath. Possibly, anyway. Specifically, Wallisch has found that out of 260 popular songs dating back to the 1940s, 30 were predictive of psychopathy. Spoilsport that he is, he won’t tell us what they all are. That’s partly because even he admits the science is a little iffy. “I’m not 100 per cent sure of this,” he told the New York Daily News candidly, sounding a lot like Theresa May discussing Brexit with her husband – and partly because he doesn’t want the results skewed in any way.
But he has revealed two of the songs which were loved by those people who were also classified as psychopaths on the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale, a self-administered test which I strongly suggest you do not try at home. And the songs are? No Diggity, by 1990s American R&B act Blackstreet, and Lose Yourself, by rapper Eminem. No Diggity, as the more cultured Sunday Herald readers will know, is built around a sample from Bill Withers’s Grandma’s Hands, so perhaps it appeals to psychopaths on the grounds that those are the only bits of grandma they would want to keep. Meanwhile, the British author of a book about psychopaths, Oxford University academic Dr Kevin Dutton, has also been collecting data about musical tastes and has found that psychopaths prefer rap to jazz or classical, which may go some way to corroborating Wallisch’s work.
Finally, there’s good news for fans of mediocre late 1970s American rockers The Knack. Wallisch does reveal that liking their mediocre 1979 chart smash My Sharona makes you the least likely to be a psychopath. Likewise Titanium by the poor man’s Lady Gaga, Australian pop singer Sia. As you can probably tell, I’m no fan of either song. Always had a soft spot for Blackstreet, though.
AT first glance, you’d probably miss it, especially if you’re not given to perusing the Births, Deaths and Forthcoming Marriages section of a certain right-wing London tabloid (the bit known colloquially as Hatches, Matches and Dispatches).
But eagle-eyed Game Of Thrones fans didn’t miss it, and so we now know that actor Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow in the blockbuster series, is to marry his former co-star and on-screen lover Rose Leslie, who played low-born “wildling” Ygritte and gave regular voice to the show’s second most meme-friendly line: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
In real life, however, Leslie is far from low-born though her early life will certainly have prepared her well for the sets she encountered on the preposterous fantasy drama. Born Rose Eleanor ArbuthnotLeslie, she grew up in Lickleyhead Castle near Auchleven in Aberdeenshire, her family’s ancestral pile. Her father is Sebastian Arbuthnot-Leslie, Chieftain of the Clan Leslie, and her mother is Candida Leslie of Clan Fraser. Hopefully the nuptials will go better in real life than they tend to in Game Of Thrones – fans will know all about what happened to Jon Snow’s half-brother Robb Stark at the
notorious Red Wedding.
RETURNING to the subject of psychopaths and sociopaths – you can probably tell by now this is about Donald Trump – the Yanks have a thing called the Goldwater Rule. It’s named for another famous Barry, arch-conservative and 1964 Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, and it basically says that psychiatrists shouldn’t pronounce on the mental health of public figures they haven’t examined. So while it’s perfectly OK for Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed to say “I think he’s crazy” as he did recently in a private discussion about President Trump – a conversation caught on microphone, happily – it’s deemed bad form for someone who knows what they’re talking about to do it. Or it was. In a new book titled The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists And Mental Health Experts Assess A President, a battalion of shrinks, scholars and other over-educated types break with tradition and do just that.
Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus at Stanford University, sees Trump “as an unbridled, or extreme, present hedonist. As the words suggest, present hedonists live in the moment, without much thought of any consequences of their actions or of the future. An extreme present hedonist will say whatever it takes to pump up his ego and to assuage his inherent low selfesteem, without any thought for past reality or for the potentially devastating future outcomes”. Bang on the money, I’d say.
Wait, there’s more. “In Trump, we have a frightening Venn diagram consisting of three circles: the first is extreme present hedonism; the second, narcissism; and the third, bullying behaviour,” Zimbardo writes. “These three circles overlap in the middle to create an impulsive, immature, incompetent person who, when in the position of ultimate power, easily slides into the role of tyrant complete with family members sitting at his proverbial ‘ruling table’.” Finally, here’s a killer one-liner from Dr Lance Dodes of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society. “Trump’s sociopathic characteristics are undeniable,” he writes, “and create a profound danger for America”. And not just America, pal.
Here for the beards
LESS surprising than the fact that an alleged dark web drug kingpin called Gal Vallerius was arrested at Atlanta airport with half a million dollars in bitcoins stashed on his laptop is the news that the 38-year-old was on his way to a competitive beard-growing competition in Texas at the time.
I confess I did not realise that international beard-growing competitions were a thing you could do in your spare time, but there you go. I’m sure there’s lots I don’t know. Anyway, Vallerius is now languishing behind bars and may well stay there. Vallerius will hope his cellmate hasn’t papered their four shared walls with posters of Blackstreet and Eminem.
Back to the world of international competitive beard-growing competitions. The one Vallerius was on his way to, the 2017 World Beard And Moustache Championships, went on without him, of course, and the winners were duly acclaimed. Among them was one Pete Kerns, who took first place in the Alaskan Whaler Partial Beard category. There are loads of other divisions, for all sorts of hellish tonsorial confections, but that’s the one with the stupidest sounding name.
The announcement of the engagement between Kit Harington and Rose Leslie