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2017 Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Knowledge Pack

Category: Reviews

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited”

Overview

The Encyclopedia Britannica has long been much more than a venerable print reference work. Almost two decades ago, it pioneered a freemium website (some content free, other content behind a pay wall). This has now flourished into a comprehensive walled garden of knowledge. Additionally, the Britannica publishes books and DVDs about specific topics and issues (the venerable flagship print encyclopedia had been discontinued in 2012.) These are the best primers and introductions available to a host of fields and areas, from history to science. Add to these the Britannica newly-minted apps and you realize that the Britannica, more than ever, is now everywhere!

The DVD

My first pleasant surprise was the packing: the DVD is embedded in a solid book-like package that can safely occupy pride of place on a bookshelf. The lightning speed at which this mammoth software installed on an 11 year old laptop is another unexpected delight. Though the minimum stated requirements are Windows 7 or later, the software ran seamlessly on that old Vista machine.

The user is prompted to choose a Standard (DVD must be inserted to function), Custom, or Full installation (copied onto the hard disk in its entirety) of the 3 encyclopaedias (Britannica, Student, and Elementary). Many articles in the Britannica Ultimate 2017 edition have been revamped to incorporate up to the minute developments. From Europe’s refugee crisis to Donald Trump to ISIL (in the Book of the Year 2014 and 2015), the Britannica is updated with events and developments to mid 2016. This has not been the case in previous editions and it is a welcome development if the Britannica is to compete with online reference works such as Wikipedia. The DVD is a loss-leader, but a great promotional vehicle for the lucrative online edition, so hopefully it won’t go the way of the print edition, which was terminated in 2012. It is now produced and sold in India by the Britannica Southeast Asia (http://www.britannicaindia.com)

Compared to its predecessor, the 2017 Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Knowledge Pack (formerly “Student and Home Edition”) contains 15% more text and 15% fewer images and videos. It incorporates the entire content of the venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica print set (88,000 articles) plus another 60,000 articles in the Student and Elementary editions.

The 2017 DVD builds on the success of its completely revamped previous editions in 2006-10. The rate of innovation in the last eight versions had been impressive and welcome. It continues apace in this rendition with Britannica Biographies (Great Minds, 600+ Heroes and Villains, and World Leaders), Classical Music (500 audio files arranged by composer), and a great Workspace for Project Management (a kind of friendly digital den).

The Britannica 2017 comes bundled with an atlas (close to 2500 maps linked to specific articles and 287 World Data Profiles of individual countries and territories, their economies and other national statistics); the Merriam-Webster Collegiate and Student Dictionaries and Thesaurus, augmented by a Spanish-English… Read More...

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The Workaholic

Category: Poetry/Lyrics

From the first moment he saw her
He was hooked, sunk and smitten.
Passing the chic design dress shop on the corner
He saw stunningly beautiful large hazel eyes, she was
Tall and slim, had a certain wispy elegant beauty
In the way she moved about the window showcase.
She was wearing a silky smooth pale blue dress
Complimenting her figure and long legs.
A strand of blond hair kept falling onto her forehead
Covering her eyes, she kept pushing it aside.
Surrounded by fashionable mannequins
That she arranged in different poses around her.

She sorted out the various decorations
Hanging them one by one until the design was complete.
Stepping back, she examined her work and was satisfied.
Susan Edwards was an established visual designer
Of displays, store windows and sales floors.
Oblivious to anyone watching her
She continued to decorate the storefront window
In her signature style, but in holiday fashion
And she was gathering quite a crowd.
It was incredible how eye-catching her display was.
She knew it would be the talk of the neighborhood.
Day after day Brad walked past that corner to catch his bus.

He was so engrossed in business matters that
He hadn’t noticed this goddess before,
That was, at least until now.
Stepping out from his office building he meandered
Down the street until he paused, right in
Front of her showcase window.
He watched her for a few minutes,
Engaged by the grace and beauty and creativity,
As she carefully moved the mannequins about
Engrossed with her display, she didn’t hear him enter
When he spoke, Susan jumped, apparently startled
That anyone would interrupt her, invade her world.

“Hello, I love your exhibit. You have created a warm atmosphere.
Your neutral colors are stimulating and inspirational.
I love the way you accented the area with throws,
And with these cushions and flowers and paintings.
‘Why did he have to interrupt my concentration?’ she thought to herself.
She didn’t ask for his opinion or appreciate being interrupted.
“I’m sorry, but I am busy. Perhaps we can talk when I’m not so harried.”
He wanted her from the moment he had looked at her.
She was beautiful, intellectual and ever so classy,
One might even say that she was a bit sassy.
Not accepting a rebuke, he said “Have you noticed
Every holiday revolves around food? Stop what you are doing!”

Accept my dinner invitation in the name of the Holidays!”
“My name is Brad, Brad Williams.” He said immediately. “And yours?”
Speaking in a buttery smooth yet commanding voice,
His white teeth showed in a reckless boyish grin.
At age 49 he looked delicious with his… Read More...

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The Green

Category: Poetry/Lyrics

I ran and thrust myself deep
into the woods, only to be accosted immediately
by the river.

“Where were you?!”

It was true; lately, I’d been selfish.
Consumed by petty earthly matters
not pertaining to The Earth herself.

The Earth I was responsible for.

“Where were you?!”

While I’d been admonished by the river many times before,
I’d never heard her so shrill, nor seen her this raging.

“Last night every tree was felled
As chaos and terror were sowed,” she informed,
“So much murder reigned supreme
Because you weren’t here to protect us.”

I swiveled, frenzied, in false hope that it wasn’t that dreadful,
only to fall over one of thousands of dead trees.
It was true, and
it was all my fault.

I craned my neck to view the sky above.
Where once it was barely visible, only through tiny slivers
between branches intricately intertwined,
Now the I could see the clouds,
and they me.
Pendulous and exposed, they rained down drops of
bitterness and fury, pelting my skin.

The river wept so loud, I feared I would go deaf.
I plugged my ears with feathers
plucked from the myriad of birds
that now lifelessly carpeted the forest floor.

The betrayal of my soul’s true roots
unleashed a ravenous shame in me.
It rapidly began feasting on my spirit.

The river, God bless her, wouldn’t stop carrying on
until I stripped as bare as the land surrounding us.
I plunged myself into the depths of her pain.

Her waters calmed as she greedily lapped up
my man-made waters, foreign and filled with salt
that were streaming down my face in grief.

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A Cerebral Narcissist on His Sexuality

Category: Life

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited”

I am a cerebral narcissist. I brandish my brainpower, exhibit my intellectual achievements, bask in the attention given to my mind and its products. I hate my body and neglect it. It is a nuisance, a burden, a derided appendix, an inconvenience, a punishment. Needless to add that I rarely have sex (often decades apart). I masturbate regularly, very mechanically, as one would change water in an aquarium. I stay away from women because I perceive them to be ruthless predators who are out to consume me and mine.

When I am depressed, my libido is gone, so sexlessness is a moot point. When I am manic and grandiose, I am also sadistic. I then seek to frustrate, humiliate, and discomfort people (and women in particular) as a way of upholding my sense of omnipotence. By denying myself sex, my grandiose and glorified celibacy serves both to taunt and torment women around me, to defang and disempower them, and to buttress my conviction that I am superior and unique. Only supreme beings do not succumb to the irresistible allure of sex.

I have had quite a few major life crises. I got divorced, lost millions a few times, did time in one of the worst prisons in the world, fled countries as a political refugee, was threatened, harassed and stalked by powerful people and groups. I have been devalued, betrayed, denigrated and insulted.

Invariably, following every life crisis, the somatic narcissist in me took over. I became a lascivious lecher. When this happened, I had a few relationships - replete with abundant and addictive sex - going simultaneously. I participated in and initiated group sex and mass orgies. I exercised, lost weight and honed my body into an irresistible proposition. The aim was to “acquire” the next woman in line to serve as a source of secondary narcissistic supply. This accomplished, the outburst of unrestrained, primordial lust waned in a few months and I settled back into my cerebral ways. No sex, no women, no body.

These total reversals of character stun my mates. My girlfriends and spouses found it impossible to digest this eerie transformation from the gregarious, darkly handsome, well-built and sexually insatiable person that swept them off their feet - to the bodiless, flabby, bookwormish hermit with not an inkling of interest in either sex or other carnal pleasures.

I miss my somatic half. I wish I could find a balance, but I know it is a doomed quest. This sexual beast of mine will forever be trapped in the intellectual cage that is I, Sam Vaknin, the Brain.

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
And all my soul and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account;
And for… Read More...

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Narcissist’s Frustrating, Negativistic, and Passive-Aggressive Behaviors

Category: Life, Mind Change

By Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited”

Frustrating one’s nearest and dearest has the dual “advantage” of simultaneously satisfying the narcissist’s masochistic and sadistic urges. By withholding love, sex, intimacy, and the fulfillment of other people’s desires and needs, the narcissist torments them even as he obstructs his own gratification. This enhances and buttresses his fantastic sense of omnipotence.

Self-sabotage, self-defeat, self-denial, and self-destruction (the martyred victim stance) also serve to prevent the forming of attachment and intimacy and the potential for ultimate hurt and pain as they dissolve. But they also uphold the narcissist’s sense of superiority, uniqueness, and omnipotence. Only the strongest can overcome and vanquish desires, urges, needs, and emotions that easily overwhelm lesser mortals. The narcissist adheres to his idiosyncratic brand of ascetic religion in which he is both god and worshipper.

The narcissist’s inner monologue goes: “I reject everything that matters to other people, everything deemed valuable, worthwhile, meaningful, and desirable. I hold the weaklings who succumb to their emotions and drives in contempt: nothing they have or can possess or attain is of value to me. It is all meaningless.” The narcissist devalues the “commoners”, the average Joe, the pedestrian and routine, the “animalistic” (sex), and the socially conformist.

Thus, self-defeating, self-denying, and self-destructive behaviors and choices engender narcissistic supply because they support, demonstrate, and “prove” the superhuman nature of the narcissist, his utter titanic independence of society, of nature, and of others in interpersonal relationships. When narcissistic supply is in short supply, embarking on the path of self-negation is an efficacious shortcut to obtaining and securing. At the very least it draws astounded attention to the narcissist.

The Negativistic (Passive-Aggressive) Personality Disorder is not yet recognized by the DSM Committee. It makes its appearances in Appendix B of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, titled “Criteria Sets and Axes Provided for Further Study.”

Some people are perennial pessimists and have “negative energy” and negativistic attitudes (“good things don’t last”, “it doesn’t pay to be good”, “the future is behind me”). Not only do they disparage the efforts of others, but they make it a point to resist demands to perform in workplace and social settings and to frustrate people’s expectations and requests, however reasonable and minimal they may be. Such persons regard every requirement and assigned task as impositions, reject authority, resent authority figures (boss, teacher, parent-like spouse), feel shackled and enslaved by commitment, and oppose relationships that bind them in any manner.

Passive-aggressiveness wears a multitudes of guises: procrastination, malingering, perfectionism, forgetfulness, neglect, truancy, intentional inefficiency, stubbornness, and outright sabotage. This repeated and advertent misconduct has far reaching effects. Consider the Negativist in the workplace: he or she invests time and efforts in obstructing their own chores and in undermining relationships. But, these self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors wreak havoc throughout the workshop or the office.

People diagnosed with the Negativistic (Passive-Aggressive) Personality Disorder resemble narcissists in some important respects. Despite the… Read More...

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