Whaddya Want From Me?

So I see a couple tweets in my notifications queue:

What the hell is he talking about? I don’t know. He’s a notoriously shitty communicator, especially when limited to 140 characters. So why not click over and see if there’s more context:


Oops. I forgot. The monkey is just flinging his poopie at random walls again.

You wanna talk, Admiral Assmunch? The spam queue is waiting. Until then, just put the poop down…



Just Another Poll



I saw one of those PSAs for mental health awareness today. Being undead, mental health isn’t much of a concern personally. But this was one of those Glenn Close ads where all the family members wear t-shirts that say “I’m With The Schizo” or “My Dead Brother Was An Incestuous Pedophile Until I Killed Him, And I Wish All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt,” and things like that. I especially liked the mother-daughter pair with the matching “Helicopter Parent/Zero Self-Esteem” rainbow shirts.

Anyway, it got me thinking about mental illness in general. I started bouncing around the web, learning interesting things. Did you know, for instance, that Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy has been highlighted as a murder defense in no less than seventeen separate episodes of various Law & Order series? (I totally made that up, but doesn’t it sound reasonable?) What you don’t see much of, however, is actual Münchausen Syndrome, a mental illness which requires far more bravery and commitment.

Both Münchausen Syndrome and Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy are types of what is knows as Factitious Disorders. I found a good explanation at the Cleveland Clinic. What follows are some choice excerpts, but you should go read the whole thing.

Münchausen Syndrome, also called Factitious Disorder Imposed on Self,

is a mental illness, in which a person repeatedly acts as if he or she has a physical, emotional or cognitive disorder when, in truth, he or she has caused the symptoms. People with factitious disorders act this way because of an inner need to be seen as ill or injured, not to achieve a concrete benefit, such as financial gain. They are even willing to undergo painful or risky tests and operations in order to get the sympathy and special attention given to people who are truly ill.

Some sufferers of this disorder will secretly injure or poison themselves to cause symptoms, even going as far as to inject themselves with feces or mix blood into a urine sample. Most of the symptoms they use are self-reported and difficult to contraindicate – chest pains, joint pain, stomach problems, etc.

What are the symptoms of Factitious Disorder Imposed on Self?

People with this syndrome deliberately produce or exaggerate symptoms in several ways. They might lie about or fake symptoms, hurt themselves to bring on symptoms, or alter diagnostic tests (such as contaminating a urine sample).

Possible warning signs of Münchausen syndrome include the following:

  1. Dramatic but inconsistent medical history
  2. Unclear symptoms that are not controllable and that become more severe or change once treatment has begun
  3. Predictable relapses following improvement in the condition
  4. Extensive knowledge of hospitals and/or medical terminology, as well as the textbook descriptions of illnesses
  5. Presence of multiple surgical scars
  6. Appearance of new or additional symptoms following negative test results
  7. Presence of symptoms only when the patient is alone or not being observed (e.g. seizures or passing out)
  8. Willingness or eagerness to have medical tests, operations, or other procedures
  9. History of seeking treatment at numerous hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices, possibly even in different cities
  10. Reluctance by the patient to allow health care professionals to meet with or talk to family, friends, or prior health care providers
  11. Problems with identity and self-esteem
  12. More comfortable being in the hospital than you might think
  13. Medical knowledge may be quite extensive from many hospitalizations or prior work

The disorder may take many forms: patients fake illnesses such as cancer, cardiac disease, skin disorders, infections, bleeding disorders, metabolic disorders, chronic diarrhea, and many more.

There is no generally accepted cause of Factitious Syndrome Imposed by Self, but various theories suggest that child abuse/neglect, frequent illnesses or personality disorders may be contributing factors. It is considered rare. In hospital populations, up to 1% of patients may be suffering Münchausen Syndrome; I did not find any statistics on how many patients might be victims of Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy. But most researchers agree that these statistics are not accurate because of dishonesty in representation; also, people with the disorder tend to seek treatment for their physical ailments at many different health care facilities, making statistical analysis more difficult.

How is Factitious Syndrome Imposed on Self diagnosed?

Diagnosing is very difficult because of the dishonesty that is involved. Doctors must rule out any possible physical and mental illnesses, and often use a variety of diagnostic tests and procedures before considering this diagnosis. If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she might refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist….[who] use a thorough medical history and physical, laboratory imagery, and psychological assessment tools to evaluate. The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on the exclusion of actual physical or other psychiatric disorders, and his or her observation of the patient’s attitude and behavior. However, personality concerns are prominent and can make it that much more confusing to sort out organic from factitious etiologies.

Questions to be answered include:

  1. Do the patient’s reported symptoms make sense in the context of all test results and assessments?
  2. Do we have collateral information from other sources that confirm the patient’s information? (If the patient does not allow this, this is a helpful clue.)
  3. Is the patient willing to take the risk for more procedures and tests than you would expect?
  4. Are treatments working in a predictable way?
  5. If they claim severe mental symptoms are because of the death of a loved one, the doctor needs to confirm the facts of the loss.

The doctor then determines if the patient’s symptoms compare to the criteria as outlined in the (DSM-5), which is the standard reference book for recognized mental illnesses in the United States: Falsification of psychological or physical symptoms or signs. They are intentionally trying to deceive and may harm or injure themselves purposely but deny having done so.

While persons with FDIS will seek treatment for the various disorders they invent, they often refuse to admit to and seek treatment for the syndrome itself. As a result, treatment is difficult and the potential for recovery is poor. There are a number of suggested lifestyle modifications that can provide a path toward recovery. Caretakers on careful watch to prevent self-harm can help educate patients about the consequences that can occur. Also, if the patient’s medical care can be channeled through only one physician, or two working together, the opportunities for hoodwinking multiple doctors can be reduced.

The primary treatment for Factitious Disorder Imposed on Self is psychotherapy (a type of counseling). Treatment likely will focus on changing the thinking and behavior of the individual (cognitive-behavioral therapy). Family therapy also might be helpful in teaching family members not to reward or reinforce the behavior of the person with the disorder, but often the person is estranged from his or her family. Group therapy may reduce feelings of isolation or that no one cares for them.

There are no medicines to treat factitious disorders themselves. Medicine might be used, however, to treat any related disorder—such as depression, anxiety, or a personality disorder. The use of medicines must be carefully monitored in people with factitious disorders due to the risk that the drugs might never be picked up from the pharmacy or might be used in a harmful way.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for people with Factitious Disorder Imposed on Self?

Some people will suffer only a single episode of symptoms. In most cases, however, the disorder is a recurring condition that can be very difficult to treat. Many will deny they are faking symptoms and will not seek or follow treatment. Even with treatment, it is more realistic to work toward managing the disorder rather than to try curing it. Avoiding unnecessary, inappropriate admissions to the hospital, testing, or treatment is important.

Can Factitious Disorder Imposed on Self be prevented?

There is no known way to prevent this disorder. However, it might be helpful to begin treatment in people as soon as they begin to have symptoms.

So – takeaways:

  1. Don’t put blood in your pee.
  2. Don’t shoot up poop.
  3. Don’t wrap rubber bands around your legs so you get gangrene or something.
  4. If you do this, or anything else that seems like fakery, you’re not just a sick bastard, you’re a sick bastard who needs an evaluation, pronto.

"Imply" vs. "Infer"

For those of us fascinated with the written word, Twitter and its 140 character limit presents serious challenges. Users often need to use multiple messages to be clear in conversation or debate. Sometimes they don’t manage it very well. For example:

There’s nothing clear about it. With this single message, what is being said?

From an author’s viewpoint, what is being implied?

@The stupid(ity of these people). It BURRRNNNNNSSSS (them)! Yes(, you fools). (Of course you would think) I created the algorithm at WordPress AND ReverbNation (because you are idiots). SARC It was ALL ME! /SARC #dopes

This could be the intent of the author sending this tweet.

But it may not be the message received by the reader.

The difference between what an author wishes to say and what the audience understands is the difference between implication and inference. What might a reader infer from the same message?

The beautiful thing about that answer is that it is bounded by nothing at all.

Except the reader’s imagination.

The stupid(ity leaking out of my brain). It BURRRNNNNNSSSS (ME)! Yes(, indeed). (In my spare time, and for no pay, which is quite important to me, because I’m dirt poor and everyone knows it,) I created the algorithm at WordPress AND ReverbNation. (Because I’m a GENIUS!!) It was ALL ME! You #dopes

What is the truth? Probably somewhere in between. But it’s so easy to vomit up a 140 character message that really doesn’t mean what you think means.

Interpretation can be SO subjective.


This Is Sooooo Very Difficult To Understand

Let’s begin with this little nugget…


Of course the harrassing cyberthug’s focus is quite narrow.  He wants to know “who sent the email?” And in his typical fashion, as soon as he gets the answer he likes (from the free lawyer chat room, the Christmas Eve Court Clerk, the African-tinged photo editor from NASA, the WordPress Happiness Engineer, the voices in his head, whatever), he determines that his confirmed opinion is truth from God, carved in stone from the mountaintop.  His focus narrows to a pinhole, and like an eclipse box, everything he sees through that pinhole is upside-down and backwards.

Plus, he fails to see anything else.  That apparent belief in his own infallibility, a belief betrayed by years of evidence and failure, so narrows his focus that he misses (or purposely ignores, that is distinctly possible) the suggestion immediately below the answer he’s fallen so in love with.

You can learn more about this here:

At that link, we find the following explanation of the pingback:

A pingback is a type of comment that’s created when you link to another blog post where pingbacks are enabled. The best way to think about pingbacks is as remote comments:

  • Person A posts something on his blog.
  • Person B posts on her own blog, linking to Person A’s post. This automatically sends a pingback to Person A when both have pingback enabled blogs.
  • Person A’s blog receives the pingback, then automatically goes to Person B’s post to confirm that the pingback did, in fact, originate there.

Check out the WordPress.org Introduction to Blogging article for a more detailed explanation.

Here’s an interesting angle to consider – what if I take that explanation and replace the names?  Would that make clearer the explanation which Monsieur Mayonnaise clearly did not bother to read?

A pingback is a type of comment that’s created when you link to another blog post where pingbacks are enabled. The best way to think about pingbacks is as remote comments:

  • John posts something on his blog.
  • Park, who is subject to a peace order requiring him not to contact John, posts on his own blog, linking to John’s post. This, Park’s affirmative action of posting a link to John’s blog, automatically sends a pingback to John when both John and Park have pingback enabled blogs, even if there is no way for Park to know whether John’s blog is pingback enabled or not.
  • John’s blog receives the pingback, like a mailbox receiving a letter from the postal service, then automatically goes to Park’s post to confirm that the pingback did, in fact, originate there.

Check out the WordPress.org Introduction to Blogging article for a more detailed explanation.


So if Señor Neckroll doesn’t link to Person A’s blog, an affirmative action taken by him, then Person A never gets a pingback.

Eh – what do I know?  I’m just an undead zombie. Your WordPress ways are strange and confusing.  Maybe if there was a way to find a “more detailed explanation…”


Oh, wait!

Check out the WordPress.org Introduction to Blogging article for a more detailed explanation.

I wonder if there is some clearly worded for a Luddite information at that link for someone who’s only been blogging with WordPress for several years?  Let’s find out.

The pingback is generally displayed on Person A’s blog as simply a link to Person B’s post. It is commonly believed that pingbacks do not send any content, as trackbacks do. This is not correct. If you get a pingback, you will see an excerpt from that blog in the Edit Comments section of your dashboard. The issue is that very few themes display these excerpts from pingbacks. The default WordPress themes, for example, do not display pingback excerpts.

In fact, there is only one significant difference between pingbacks and trackbacks: Pingbacks and trackbacks use drastically different communication technologies (XML-RPC and HTTP POST, respectively). But that difference is important because trackbacks have become the target of so much spam. The automatic verification process introduces a level of authenticity, making it harder to fake a pingback.

Some feel that trackbacks are superior because readers of Person A’s blog can at least see some of what Person B has to say, and then decide if they want to read more (and therefore click over to Person B’s blog). Others feel that pingbacks are superior because they create a verifiable connection (could a zombie call this a contact?) between posts.

There are even some technical specifications linked in that article, too.  Definitely not for Luddites.

5. Example

Here is a more detailed look at what could happen between Park and John during the example described in the introduction.

  1. Park posts to his blog. The post he’s made includes a link to a post on John’s blog. The permalink to Park’s new post is http://park.example.org/#p123, and the URL of the link to John’s blog is http://john.example.net/#foo.
  2. Park’s blogging system parses all the external links out of Park’s post, and finds http://john.example.net/#foo.
  3. It then requests the first 5 kilobytes of the page referred to by the link.
  4. It looks for an X-Pingback header, but fails to find one.
  5. It scans this page fragment for thepingback link tag, which it finds:
    <link rel="pingback" href="http://john.example.net/xmlrpcserver">

    If this tag had not been contained in the page, then John’s blog would not support pingback, so Park’s software would have given up here (moving on to the next link found in step 2).

  6. Next, since the link was there, it executes the the following XML-RPC call to http://john.example.net/xmlrpcserver:
    pingback.ping('http://park.example.org/#p123', 'http://john.example.net/#foo')
  7. Park’s blogging system repeats step 3 to 6 for each external link that was found in the post.

There ends the work undertaken by Park’s system, none of which would have taken place without the first affirmative step: Park posts to his blog, including a link to a post on John’s blog. The rest of the work is performed by John’s blog.

  1. John’s blog receives a ping from Alice’s blog (the ping sent in step 6 above), naming http://alice.example.org/#p123 (the site linking to Bob) and http://john.example.net/#foo (the page Park linked to).
  2. John’s blog confirms that http://john.example.net/#foo is in fact a post on this blog.
  3. It then requests the content of http://park.example.org/#p123 and checks the Content-Type of the entity returned to make sure it is text of some sort.
  4. It verifies that this content does indeed contain a link to http://john.example.net/#foo (to prevent spamming of pingbacks).
  5. John’s blog also retrieves other data required from the content of Park’s new post, such as the page title, an extract of the page content surrounding the link to John’s post, any attributes indicating which language the page is in, and so forth.
  6. Finally, John’s post records the pingback in its database, and regenerates the static pages referring to John’s post so that they mention the pingback.

So even when you get down to the technical details, what do we learn, if we’re interested?

It all boils down to this: Idiots gonna be idiots.  If the Baron of Bloviation took 30 goddamn seconds to think about what he was doing, he wouldn’t be facing a show cause hearing and a possible contempt citation because he can’t follow a simple order from the court.

In other words, just your average day.


Rule 5 – Pin Ups

There are many terrific pin up artists out there. I like pin ups. Mostly I like the classics. Risqué but not explicit. I’m going to make an effort to showcase them on a regular, if limited basis.

Here is a fine example of the work of Gil Elvgren:

And as a bonus, the iconic photograph of Rita Hayworth from Gilda. If I may say so…ZOWIE!