This week I match up celebs, shrink-wrap the Pres­i­dent and thank God for M-m-m-my Sharona

Sunday Herald - - PROFILE - By Barry Didcock Loopy tunes

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.

Throne me!

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.

Psy­cho chillers

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

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