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Barack Obama is a Narcissist and Other Urban Legends August 23, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Politics.
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Obama narcissus

Several friends and relatives forwarded me the email Obama is a Narcissist purportedly written by Sam Vaknin, “a world authority on narcissism.” It goes on to say, “He (Vaknin) understands the inner mind of a narcissist like no other person. When he talks about narcissism, everyone listens.” Whoa, let’s take a deep breath.

What the email fails to mention is that Sam Vaknin was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in 1984. And that title of Dr. before his name? Shmuel (Sam) Vaknin’s resume reports that he completed nine semesters at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. His doctorate is not in psychology, but philosophy, and was received from Pacific Western University, an unaccredited on-line diploma mill based in California. (Operators are standing by, if you too would like add Dr. to your name) Vaknin, an Israeli citizen, was incarcerated in Israel for white collar fraud and currently resides in Macedonia.

Although the Obama is a Narcissist email references some of Vaknin’s writing and includes a header suggesting he is the author, the article was actually published Sept. 8, 2008 by Ali Sina on the FaithFreedom.org (FFI) site as Understanding Obama: The Making of a Fuehrer. How do I know this? I credit Snopes.com. Since 1981, Snopes founders Barbara and David Mikkelson have made it their job to investigate information flying around out there on the internet and provide a much needed reality check.

FFI identifies itself as “a grassroots worldwide movement of ex-Muslims and all those who are concerned about the rise of the Islamic threat.” Its publisher, an Iranian who lives in Canada, uses the pseudonym “Ali Sina.”

If you’ve received the above email (there are numerous versions flying through cyberspace), you know it quickly goes off the deep end. Obama is likened to Jim Jones, the charismatic cult leader of the the People’s Temple who led over 900 of his followers to commit mass suicide. The email says they did so “cheerfully.” Sina’s ugly diatribe refers to Obama’s supporters as “worshippers” and wastes no time in comparing Obama to Stalin and Hitler. Sina has said on the website that he hopes Obama will be executed by electrocution – he subscribes to the conspiracy about Barack Obama’s birth. Wingnuts unite!

My outrage about the above circulating email is two-fold. First, it’s a lie and a blatant misrepresentation of the facts. I only worked briefly as a journalist, but the journalistic mantra is “a reliable source.”

Secondly, as someone who’s written quite a bit on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), I know those with NPD are pathological liars. So to my mind that negates Vaknin’s observations made from half-way around the world. Vaknin has provided incredible insights into his own narcissism for which I’m grateful. It’s important to note that those with NPD crave attention, but will settle for notoriety. The email circulating provides this to Vaknin in abundance.

I’m most disappointed with how quick people are to use and abuse the term “narcissist.” I realize many don’t know any better. That’s why I write what I do. For the record. narcissism runs on a continuum from healthy narcissism (Healthy Ego) to Destructive Narcissistic Patterns (Me is getting in the way of Us) to Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or as Vaknin refers to his NPD, Malignant Narcissism.

I can’t imagine how any politician or leader could rise to power without a healthy/hefty dose of narcissistic traits. Think alpha male. But this doesn’t mean they have NPD? One tell-tale sign of those with NPD is they’re unable to maintain a healthy emotional relationship with significant others. Someone better tell Michelle and the girls.

I highly recommend that when an email is forwarded to you, you run it by Snopes.com. I recently was forwarded Cancer Update from Johns Hopkins University. When it started talking about how ingesting dairy products creates mucus and how some forms of cancer thrive in mucus, it got me to wondering. I went to Snopes and sure enough they’d already done the research. John Hopkins issued a rebuttal stating that the circulating email is a total fabrication.

If you have trouble remembering the name Snopes, you can do like I do. It rhymes with Scopes, as in the Scopes Monkey Trial. There’s a cure for ignorance – it’s called education.

Photo Credit:  Google Images

C is for Chaos June 19, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Politics.
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grafitti

The writing is on the wall, but can you read it?

 

 

When I got up this morning (Ahhh, first day of summer vacation) my husband was reading the newspaper.  “It seems like it’s on the verge of exploding,” he said.  I thought he was talking about my school district. Turned out he was talking about Iran.  

What a colossal mess the state of California has made.  And who’s going to pick it up? Us. The people. And teachers, of course.  We’re good at picking up messes (primarily messy parenting).  

Friday, after teachers had packed up their classrooms for summer vacation, emails arrived from our union.  The RIFs (Reduction in Force notices) keep a comin’.  Bottom line: Thirty-four MORE elementary teachers in the district are to be RIF’d.  Also included in the cuts are a smattering of English, History, and PE teachers at the high school level.  

My district isn’t huge, so that’s a lotta people.  People who have children. People who have rent and mortgages to pay.  People who are still paying off their student loans so that they could become a teacher.  An updated seniority list is to be released next Wednesday, so everyone’s on edge.  It reminds me of the classic movie Lifeboat.  Supplies are running low and everyone’s looking to see who’s going to be thrown overboard next. (What’s that scent you’re wearing?  “Chum?”)  The sharks are circling.

For the record, my job is not in jeopardy, but those of many of my colleagues and friends are.  It’s not like the students are going anywhere.  If anything, we’re starting to see a slow exodus of students arriving from private school whose parents can no longer foot that bill. 

I always tell people that when it comes to school, I expect chaos, so I’m never disappointed.  That said, I’m disappointed.  In the state.   In the city. In my district.  I don’t have enough fingers to point.  

We’re not the only district in trouble.  The Los Angeles Times ran a story today about how teachers in that district have “accepted a new contract that includes no pay raise for last year, this year or next year, but will allow them to take formal contract grievances public.” According to the story, “more than 2,500 UTLA members could be laid off as of July 1.”  Ouch!

Freezing salaries opens yet another can of worms.  I start a master’s program (along with two other teachers, one who’s been RIF’d) next week. I’ve already paid $1400 for the first quarter’s tuition.  I don’t mind telling you that I’m getting my master’s for the salary bump. If salaries are frozen, where does that leave teachers like me?  

This is not a script with a happy ending  – Not for those teachers laid off, or for those left to manage herds of children come September. 

My son Taylor forwarded me the following email.  Food for thought.

In a small town in the United States, the place looks almost totally deserted. It is tough times, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.
Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town.
He enters the town’s only hotel, lays a 100 dollar bill on the reception counter as a deposit, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one.
The hotel proprietor takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the butcher.
The butcher takes the 100 dollar bill, and runs to pay his debt to the pig farmer.
The pig farmer runs to pay his debt to the supplier of his feed and fuel.
The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the town’s prostitute that in these hard times, gave her “services” on credit.
The hooker runs to the hotel, and pays off her debt with the 100 dollar bill to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there.
The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 dollar bill back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything.

At that moment, the tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, and takes back his 100 dollar bill, saying that he did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town.
No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the United States Government and the State of California are doing business today.

Obama Poster – Barack Obama as American Mythology February 25, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Art, Politics.
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On Election Day 2008, planetjan was featured as one of WordPress’ 100 “Growing Blogs.” This was in large part because of my “Obama Cholo” post featuring the artwork of artist David Cordova.  It was the first time I’d dipped my toe in the political waters. Numerous sites linked to my post and my stats went through the roof.  So both Obama and I had a good day.

Since then, my friend Nora Dunn (who makes cameos in some of my blog posts, as she’s a frequent visitor to our outpost of insanity) has introduced us to Scott Siedman’s art.  Nora owns several of Scott’s paintings and when I first saw them, I was bowled over by Scott’s bold style.

When we finally met Scott, he brought and we bought a copy of “The Man from Illinois” poster, which is a reproduction of his original painting.  There’s a strong stylistic nod to quintessential American artists Norman Rockwell and Thomas Hart Benton. When I asked Scott what book Obama is reading, he said he left that open to interpretation.  Scott noted though that Abraham Lincoln, also an attorney (and the original Man from Illinois), was often seen reading the English Book of Common Law. 

Not to sound like a late-night infommercial, (but wait, there’s more!), but at $32 to $34 a pop, the poster is a bargain (though I’m hoping to soon snatch up Citicorp at the 99 cent store nearest me).   For details and to view a larger image of the print, click on manfromillinois.com.  Thanks Nora and Sheila!

Yes We Did – Watch the Inauguration January 21, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Politics, Teaching.
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I woke up at 5 a.m. worried about one of my students, who’s often tardy.  I shouldn’t have bothered. When I arrived at school, he was already in line and eager to let me know he was the first one at school.  I breathed a sign of relief.  So far, so good.

I’d left a note on the classroom door.  Any student who arrived late had to be personally escorted to the restaurant where we were going to watch the inauguration or go to another teacher’s classroom.  The plan was to leave directly from the playground where we line up so as not to miss Obama’s swearing in.  The Start bell rang.  We had exactly 14 minutes to walk to the restaurant if we wanted to see Obama take the presidential oath. 

We speed-walked in a single file line.  Several of my students, giddy with excitement, said they felt like they were in “Make Way for Ducklings” (one of the stories we’ve read) and that I was Mrs. Mallard leading the parade.  We arrived just in time to see Joe Biden sworn in as Vice-President. They piled their backpacks in a corner and found seats.  We had the front room at the restaurant, and my students quickly settled in to watch Barack Obama sworn in and listen to his speech, while they were served orange juice and muffins.

Then out came the real food.  Hot trays with three kinds of eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and pancakes.  There were beans and meatballs and even baklava.  One of my students who’s African American brought her mother and her grandmother (who was still younger than me!).  They brought me the bracelet in the photo above.  I have a wonderful photo of them  – three generations – watching the inauguration.  In one photo, my student’s grandmother is wiping away tears.  It’s a beautiful image. 

As I looked out over my students, I saw the faces of the future. My students are Asian (Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese), Latino (Mexico and El Salvador), African American, Armenian, Bosnian, Pakistani, and my token white student (I have one every year), who’s excited that he’s learning some phrases in Bosnian.  In short, they are the faces of American – and our country’s future. If my class is any indicator, our country is in good hands.

Planetjan in Pakistan? November 28, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Blogging, Politics.
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100_0749

No sooner had I put up my post “Barack Obama as American Mythology” then I received a request for an interview from Ghazala Khan atThe Pakistani Spectator (TPS).  “We at TPS are carrying out a new series of interviews with the notable passionate bloggers, writers, and webmasters.  In that regard, we would like to interview you, if you don’t mind,” he wrote.  Who, me? 

I checked out the link to the Pakistani Spectator, which seemed to me to provide relatively mainstream political and entertainment news.  There were interviews with several other “notable” bloggers (one was in Bakersfield – a known hotbed of radical activity – and he admitted to drinking copious amounts of alcohol), so I figured no fatwah would be forthcoming.  And there was that ad in the sidebar announcing that you CAN lose a pound a day without dieting.  It was right next to an on-line poll about what to do with those Talibans.  Here are the poll options:  Dialogue with Them, Crush Them, Let America Deal with Them, Give Them a Free Hand, Jirgas(?) and Limited Operations, or finally, I am Confused. 

I agreed to the interview and Ghazala Khan emailed me the interview questions, which required me to do some hard thinking.  Not an easy thing to do when you’re overwhelmed with Parent/Teacher conferences and Thanksgiving looms.  But I emailed my responses and woke up the next morning to find that the “Interview with Blogger Jan Marshall” was right below a photo of Barack Obama.

Political news is available through TPS in Urdu, but not entertainment news. So, boo hoo – no Urdu for you. You can read the interview by going to the following link.  The Pakistani Spectator. Scroll down through the political news.  Us “Notable Bloggers” are relegated to Entertainment under Interviews in the middle column.   My interview has since been bumped by more recent interviews, but you can find it if you go to the top of the page and click on Interviews. The Interview archives are organized by the date published.  My interview was published Nov. 24th just days before the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. 

With all of the turmoil in that region in the world, I think all of us can benefit by knowing more about each other.

November Mao November 1, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Monthly Mao.
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Hope & Hip Hop October 29, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Art, Artists, Music, Politics.
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Our friend, Dina (The Salsa Queen!) forwarded this link on Youtube.  I must confess that my father warned me I should NEVER blog about politics or religion – but this is ART!  MC Yogi grew up in a group home for “at risk youth” and then discovered the transformative power of yoga.  Who would have thunk it?  His music appears on the White Swan label, home to another of my faves, Deva Premal.  Got art?  If you want to see an AWESOME video, click here:  MC Yogi: Obama ’08 Vote for Hope.

Obama Cholo October 26, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Art, Politics.
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My friend Angela had this poster on her front door, and it was love at first sight (a primera vista). She told me her hairstylist, David Cordova, had made it which led to an after school jaunt through the winding hills above Eagle Rock to meet him. He had an Obama event that night, and his supply was running dangerously low, but I bought four posters at $5 a pop ($10 at the event!) and was ecstatic.

David said he came up with the idea for the poster because many Latinos are still hesitant to vote for an African American (the brown vs. black issue that I’ve encountered in my own classroom over the years – though less so lately). But according to a front page story in the Los Angeles Times today, a growing number of Latino voters argue that anyone who has faced discrimination would be good for all minorities. Besides, for most voters, it’s no longer a white, black, or brown issue, or even a red or blue one. It all comes down to green – it’s the economy.

David said he took some of the color out of Obama’s skin, added the Mexican day laborer bandana, and the classic cholo shirt. Que milagro! Barack gone barrio. This way Latinos can see that Obama is not so very different from themselves.

I have to admit that in the poster, Obama looks surprisingly like the Mexican cook who works back in the kitchen at the local sushi bar. So in that sense, Obama Cholo (as David refers to him) IS every man – at least in Los Angeles.

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