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The Professor, the Bikini Model and the Suitcase Full of Trouble
March 8, 2013 6:00 AM   Subscribe

A world-renowned physicist meets a gorgeous model online. They plan their perfect life together. But first, she asks, would he be so kind as to deliver a special package to her?
posted by Optamystic (196 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Amazing gall that the scammers didn't just use a picture of the internet's favourite cypher Denise Milani, but actually claimed to be her. Astonishing that Frampton gobbled the bait. Astonishing that anyone would, really.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 6:12 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was just about to post this! He's very naive (but it's not clear how naive he is in many ways), yet also quite an asshole. Hell of a combo.

Interspersed with the calculations and hypotheses were his Oxford grades, which, he said, showed that he, like Newton, was in the top 1 percentile for intelligence. Frampton insists that he was merely joking and that his sense of humor was misinterpreted as self-regard. Yet in many of my conversations with him, he seemed to cling to the idea of his own exceptionalism. During our first meeting, when I asked him what attracted him to Milani, he said, “Not to offend present company,” referring to me and the representative from the penitentiary service, “but, to start with, she’s in the top 1 percentile of how women look.” And in an e-mail to Milani — or, rather, the fake Milani — Frampton wrote, “As these days tick by, and I think about it a lot, the more I realize that we are the perfect couple in all respects.”
posted by ignignokt at 6:17 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


MrM's housemate gets a magazine called Closer - similar to US Weekly, I think, in that it's mostly celebrity stories with a few real-life tales thrown in too. Usually these are about very large women who make money on the internet (and 'astonishingly' don't worry about their health) or have subtle elements of benefit bashing, but every six months or so there's a story about someone who went to Thailand on holiday and was offered money to take care of a package. They get caught, they end up in jail, and their story is featured alongside a sad picture of their mum, who is writing to the Home Office to get them released or transferred.

It happens more often than you think, and I'm never sure whether it's because there are people who have never heard of the dangers, or whether people are more naive/trusting than I would be if someone suggested I do the same thing. Having known professors who are very intelligent people but utterly lacking in common sense or, in one case, knowledge of how to react appropriately when lonely and faced with a pretty girl, it's not as surprising as it should be.
posted by mippy at 6:18 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


While in Bolivia, Frampton corresponded with an old friend, John Dixon, a physicist and lawyer who lives in Ontario. When Frampton explained what he was up to, Dixon became alarmed. His warnings to Frampton were unequivocal, Dixon told me not long ago, still clearly upset: “I said: ‘Well, inside that suitcase sewn into the lining will be cocaine. You’re in big trouble.’ Paul said, ‘I’ll be careful, I’ll make sure there isn’t cocaine in there and if there is, I’ll ask them to remove it.’ I thought they were probably going to kidnap him and torture him to get his money. I didn’t know he didn’t have money. I said, ‘Well, you’re going to be killed, Paul, so whom should I contact when you disappear?’ And he said, ‘You can contact my brother and my former wife.’ ” Frampton later told me that he shrugged off Dixon’s warnings about drugs as melodramatic, adding that he rarely pays attention to the opinions of others.

He was warned. It was spelled out for him. I read this whole thing as "Smartest Man is clueless about life."

This is one of the reasons I live in the city and send my kids to the local public school. If you don't hang around with deadbeats and thieves and bullies and scam artists as a kid you'll never become street smart. Academically it's not the best, but I figure anything they will ever need to know about physics they can read in a book when they're older. And not in jail.
posted by three blind mice at 6:20 AM on March 8, 2013 [52 favorites]


Beware models bearing gifts.
posted by dfriedman at 6:20 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Having known professors who are very intelligent people but utterly lacking in common sense or, in one case, knowledge of how to react appropriately when lonely and faced with a pretty girl, it's not as surprising as it should be.

This case happens to not be that simple, as revealed in the trial part of the story.
posted by ignignokt at 6:23 AM on March 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Oh yeah, the guy I knew who went on to be a maths professor walked through one of the most dangerous areas of the city - an area where the local chemist kept everything they sold behind bulletproof glass - at 3am with £50 fresh out of the cashpoint. Unsurprisingly, he got mugged. I had to try very very hard not to respond to this with 'But why are you a fucking idiot?'.
posted by mippy at 6:24 AM on March 8, 2013


It's so odd how many people in this world don't seem to realize there is nothing that fills in this blank:

"______________________________________ and that's how I knew it was totally safe for me to transport that unfamiliar package/piece of luggage on my flight."

Nothing fits there. Not one thing. All people who tell you they thought they had found something that fits there are telling the story from prison.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:24 AM on March 8, 2013 [50 favorites]


Wow, those text messages really changed my perception of what happened. I think the court in Argentina was probably right to convict him.
posted by Area Man at 6:24 AM on March 8, 2013 [31 favorites]


This case happens to not be that simple, as revealed in the trial part of the story.

Yes. Nobody knows about the actual intentions, but this case looks awfully like it would be a conviction in almost any jurisdiction on the facts as presented.
posted by jaduncan at 6:25 AM on March 8, 2013


Yeah, everyone needs to read to the end. He seems like "oh hehe I am a naive professor", but then this:
At 11:19 a.m., Frampton sent Milani an e-mail: “This stuff is worth nothing in Bolivia, but $Ms in Europe. You meet me at the airport and we do not go near the hotel the ‘agent’ suggested. Stay at another hotel.” At 11:47 a.m., there was another text message: “Monday arrival changed. You must not tell the coca-goons.” At 12:16 p.m., he wrote: “WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME? AT THIS LAST MOMENT. WE DID NOT DECIDE HOW TO MEET TOMORROW IN BRUSSELS AND KEEP COCA & LIVES. AT SIRU WE MAY LOSE BOTH!!”
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:25 AM on March 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


News at 11
posted by infini at 6:25 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't con an honest John.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:31 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could have been worse. If he'd been duped by Elsevier instead of drug traffickers, he could have ended up with an arms smuggling charge.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:33 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Now I need to re-read Kipling's "On The City Wall" just to see how much of it overlaps.
posted by griphus at 6:33 AM on March 8, 2013


One story about his search for a new wife certainly bolstered this view. Shortly after his divorce, Frampton, then 64, expressed concern about finding a wife between the ages of 18 and 35, which Frampton understood to be the period when women are most fertile. One particularly promising candidate was a young Chinese woman.

It's relatively rare that misogynist entitlement actually lands a dude in jail. As someone who is basically anti-prison, I am trying really hard to minimize my glee.

A lot of fellows would have thought "hm, I am in my sixties and a young woman who is so attractive could date, say, a young handsome rich dude, but she's picking me....perhaps this is a scam!" Or a lot of science-y type fellows would be up on the research that suggests that women don't actually trade their looks for money except in fairly isolated Very Large Amounts of Wealth situations, but in fact most really good-looking women marry good looking dudes.

But no! Our boy here is too special for that.
posted by Frowner at 6:34 AM on March 8, 2013 [41 favorites]


Smart people are stupid.
posted by whuppy at 6:35 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have never liked the smart / stupid dichotomy.

People who live mostly inside their head; with infrequent forays outside their bubbled corner of the world where they are Very Important, run into problems when they leave it?

There. Better.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 6:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


I am particularly fond of the way he brushed off the excruciatingly-correct warnings from his "friend".

The man isn't naive, he's completely delusional.
posted by aramaic at 6:38 AM on March 8, 2013


When I was in grad school, my advisor was about to embark on a trip to Germany for a conference. A week or so before he left, he got a phone call from a guy offering to pay for the trip if he'd be willing to act as courier, you know, just a small package to take with him. He declined, but we wondered if the other party had gotten a list of conference participants and called all of them, and how many other professors had consented. Very strange--it sounds like this does, in fact, happen somewhat frequently.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:38 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


adding that he rarely pays attention to the opinions of others

Arrogance can make you (act) really, really dumb.
posted by rtha at 6:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nobody's that dumb.

A professor who can't find any lonely women on his own campus? No climbers in his own field of study? He knew the score.

There must be a word for the kind of suicide I'm thinking, where you do risky things to kill off your existing life in hopes of having a great new life, and really any new life will do -- even a life in prison.
posted by surplus at 6:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


It's less "smart people are stupid" than "arrogant people aren't as smart as they think they are," in this case. And ya, the evidence against him is pretty damning.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


That was amazing. I started off ready to send it to my friend whom I did a math degree with (which he kept on for a phd) as a joke about "hey, if your wife ever leaves you don't be this guy, because you totally have a bit of the naive innocence too"...and then was like woah. Nope.

Not tons of sympathy, what with the misogyny, the egotistical garbage, and the warnings from friends. And the texts. OTOH, I doubt a prison in Argentina is good news for a dude like him, so I still feel a bit bad.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:40 AM on March 8, 2013


It might help avoid this sort of thing if airports would put up some sort of warning against accepting bags from strangers.
posted by TedW at 6:40 AM on March 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Something about the description of the guy in the article makes me wonder if he didn't just work up a drug smuggling deal just to inject a little excitement into his life.
posted by fight or flight at 6:40 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


A lot of fellows would have thought "hm, I am in my sixties and a young woman who is so attractive could date, say, a young handsome rich dude, but she's picking me....perhaps this is a scam!"

Rather than smart vs stupid, this may fall into the "you can't con an honest person" territory.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:42 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


hobo gitano de queretaro and snickerdoodle are more accurate, but less catchy. How about "smart people arrogantly think they're smart about everything so they don't recognize their own stupidity"? Naah, the original is pithier.

Wait! I got it! "Being smart makes you stupid."
posted by whuppy at 6:43 AM on March 8, 2013


"My_wife_bought_me_new_luggage_and_she_always_packs_for_me_ and that's how I knew it was totally safe for me to transport that unfamiliar package/piece of luggage on my flight."
posted by DU at 6:45 AM on March 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Frowner: It's relatively rare that misogynist entitlement actually lands a dude in jail. As someone who is basically anti-prison, I am trying really hard to minimize my glee.

I know, right!

(Luckily I have a frisky dog called schadenfreude. So basically I'm yelling "down, Schadenfreude, down.")
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:46 AM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh and a friend of a friend was recently scammed into "marrying" a woman from Bangladesh, who then left him for her real husband once she'd been smuggled into the US (or something--I was too busy wondering that people this dumb actually existed to get the details). His reaction? Another wife, this time from the Phillipines.

One born every minute.
posted by DU at 6:46 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


OTOH, I doubt a prison in Argentina is good news for a dude like him, so I still feel a bit bad.

Well, part of his delusional arrogance may be what saves his ass. Sounds like our local police and judiciary haven't found a thing about the real identities of the drug scammers. If they had, the professor would easily suffer an accident and be done with, probably during one of the usual riots that periodically take place in our shitty prisons.

Still, I hope his friends manage to get through to him enough funds so he can pay the block bigcats to leave him alone. Might make for a very nasty 2 years inside there, otherwise.
posted by Iosephus at 6:47 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or maybe he's just a divorced guy with money problems who thought he could make some money as a drug mule. The Czech girlfriend was just a cover story he and his drug pals made up in case he was caught. He thought he could get away with it because he has an inflated sense of entitlement as demonstrated by his continual name dropping and claims that he has a 55% chance of winning a Nobel.
posted by humanfont at 6:48 AM on March 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


If you want to quibble about wording, DU, I guess I could have added "from someone I don't know that well." But the point was fairly clear, I thought. But I would say that luggage bought for you by your wife, new though it might be, does not count as truly unfamiliar.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:49 AM on March 8, 2013


It's hard for me to extrapolate accurately from a needfully biased article, but all of the evidence presented is telling me that he intentionally and knowingly went to go pick up 2 kilos of Bolivian bam-bam under the sloppy guise and false-feint defense of being duped to do it by a model..

The motivation to do it was the fact he realized that his exceptionalism and intelligence wasn't nearly enough for him to land the sex, lust, beauty and procreation that he wanted to buy like an object, so he cheaped out even more and went to go earn some money so he could actually try to buy it somewhere else.

I doubt the conversations with the "model" were real. I bet he was operating under the assumption that if he and accomplices faked the romantic chat enough it would be enough of a smoke screen that he could just play clueless and get off the hook.

This would support why he blew off the warnings so easily and tried to deflect and distract from them, because they were unwanted holes in his smoke screen and chaff and digital paper trail.

Greasy shit, man.
posted by loquacious at 6:50 AM on March 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Wait, so THIS is the guy that Denise Milani chose over me? Unbelievable.
posted by orme at 6:51 AM on March 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


Shortly after his divorce, Frampton, then 64, expressed concern about finding a wife between the ages of 18 and 35, which Frampton understood to be the period when women are most fertile.

I couldn't resist clicking through to the Mate1 website, where I noticed that those are also the default ages for their search function. Interesting conincidence. (No, I didn't sign up.)
posted by TedW at 6:58 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Smart people are stupid.

This guy eats up any sympathy I can muster for him faster than I can muster it.

So you call your lawyer friend who warns you of death or prison and your response is "I'm gonna risk it." A shady man hands you an empty suitcase and your response is "I'm gonna risk it." You're corresponding with a woman on the internet that you've never spoken on the phone with and you decide to fly around the world? What woman (real) pays for some old fart's ticket?

I really want to have sympathy for this guy. I'm one of those people that think drugs should be legal, so don't think he did anything immoral by muling some coke, but what a fucking idiot.

Now this guy is in prison anyone know if Denise Milani is seeing anyone?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:05 AM on March 8, 2013


Three weeks before his trial, Frampton hired private lawyers. When I asked how he was able to afford them, he first said he’d rather not tell me, then claimed that friends in Argentina were footing the bill.

Follow the money. I expect he is a bit clueless and delusional, but somewhere I'll bet the "calculated the odds" that he could pull off a drug run.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:06 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


They would have had such intelligent, naive, and large-breasted children.
posted by Area Man at 7:06 AM on March 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


Steven Soderbergh needs to turn this into a movie a la The Informant!
posted by Think_Long at 7:09 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember reading a story a while ago about a vry smart, accomplished person who fell for one of those Nigerian email scams--and even after the FBI had outright told him he was the victim of a scam he still refused to fully believe it. There just seems to be some point people can reach in these things where they're so invested in the narrative they've constructed that no external facts can disrupt it. It strikes me as very similar to conspiracy theory thinking, actually.
posted by yoink at 7:12 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was in the check in line behind a large family in Fiji who had just found out that they were going to be charged, presumably, a large amount of money because they have about half a dozen suitcases each filled to the bursting. They asked me to take one of the suitcases for them and got very upset when I refused.

I've always felt vaguely guilty about not doing but some things, like transporting strangers luggage, I think are best just not even contemplated.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 7:14 AM on March 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


This guy is a manipulative scumbag with 99.99995% certainty.

Fuck you buddy you got caught trying to mule coke. Next human interest story.
posted by smackwich at 7:14 AM on March 8, 2013


Perhaps Mensa will break him out Mission Impossible style.
posted by srboisvert at 7:17 AM on March 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


I doubt a prison in Argentina is good news for a dude like him, so I still feel a bit bad.

Dude. Argentina is the Canada of South America. It's fine. I'd be willing to bet that its prisons are rather significantly better than the USA's. (They're certainly less populated.)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:17 AM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


He's also under house arrest at a colleague's home, not in the regular prison anymore.
posted by eviemath at 7:19 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


His university and my alma mater, UNC, has one of the best student newspapers in the country, and they've been reporting on this for a while. Here's a link to all their coverage.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:21 AM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


The provost thing is kind of bizarre. Last year Frampton gave an interview by phone to the UNC student newspaper, in which he attacked the University for doing nothing to get him out of jail (what are they supposed to do? send the A-team to break him out?) and then went on to speculate that this is because the provost, also a scientist, is jealous of his success as a physicist. The guy's reality adaptation seems a bit poor.
posted by thelonius at 7:21 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If he'd been smart he could have sent his least promising grad student to pick up the bag. Hey Joe would you mind going to this conference in La Paz and doing a poster session on this research our team's been working on. By the way I was down there earlier this year and I forgot one of my bags at the hotel. They've been holding it for me. Could you bring it back?
posted by humanfont at 7:23 AM on March 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Perhaps Mensa will break him out Mission Impossible style.

There is a very dry Woody Allen or Mel Brooks comedy in here full of pathos and ridiculousness with plot points like "the heated, protracted argument about the New York Times crossword puzzle just outside the jail walls were someone gets their feelings hurt" and "Why should I bring the guns? I'm the brains of this operation!" and "What do you mean we're under arrest? You can't arrest us, we're members of Mensa! The President might need us!"
posted by loquacious at 7:23 AM on March 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Ah, thanks showbiz_liz. This is the article I was thinking of:

Frampton said part of the administration’s poor response is borne out of a “very deep, unconscious” academic jealousy on behalf of Carney, a colleague of Frampton’s and fellow physicist.

“Scientists like to do research to make groundbreaking discoveries, and I’ve probably made five and he has made zero,” Frampton said.

posted by thelonius at 7:24 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The man isn't naive, he's completely delusional.

No, I think what humanfont said. Ever since Hans Reiser, and his bullshit "I'm aspie!" defence, I'm totally cynical about any defence that starts "I'm really smart so I'm super weird and that explains why I'm a textbook case for an episode of Law & Order".
posted by fatbird at 7:25 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's like Walter Mitty wandered into the movie Traffic.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:28 AM on March 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


According to Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency...

OH COME ON
posted by Mayor West at 7:29 AM on March 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


That Daily Tarheel reporting really makes Frampton ... come alive.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:30 AM on March 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Or maybe Walter White is a better analogue--underneath the bumbling exterior is a raging sense of entitlement and amour-propre.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:31 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


manipulative scumbag

Really? Who did he manipulate into what?
posted by yoink at 7:31 AM on March 8, 2013


>This is one of the reasons I live in the city and send my kids to the local public school.

I suppose it's cheaper than a top rate private school, but the outcome might be on a par.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:34 AM on March 8, 2013


Isn't this why you always ask for a photo with a shoe on their head, or holding a sign that says something dumb?
posted by borkencode at 7:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Who did he manipulate into what?

If you believe the theory that even _he_ knew that he wasn't talking to Denise Milani, and instead faked up the online conversations so that he'd have a "reasonable" cover if he got caught, then he is at least trying to be quite manipulative indeed. And, in fact, he is succeeding with everyone on this thread who feels sorry that he got duped.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


As fatbird evokes -- my feelings went from "poor naive delusional bastard" to "somewhat more innocuous Hans Reiser" when we reached the text messages that were revealed in the trial. (And these are the texts that he thought would exonerate him?)
posted by McCoy Pauley at 7:40 AM on March 8, 2013


>>According to Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency...

>OH COME ON


Well, in fairness, that's his porn name.
posted by mosk at 7:40 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a human interest story yet to be written, about his grad students.

If he acts like this in public, imagine how he treats his advisees in the privacy of his office hours.
posted by ardgedee at 7:43 AM on March 8, 2013 [26 favorites]


I think he knowingly transported the cocaine and did so at the urging of someone he believed was Denise Milani. He was a naive dope, but in a way that doesn't make him innocent of the crime. I don't buy the theory that he created an elaborate backstory in case he was ever caught. He seems too arrogant to plan for such a contingency.
posted by Area Man at 7:49 AM on March 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


As in Reiser's case, I wonder if this doesn't come down to a lifetime of doing dumb things that everyone else says "for a genius you're so dumb!", leading to the belief that the "idiot genius" stereotype made a plausible cover for crime.
posted by fatbird at 7:57 AM on March 8, 2013


This story makes me sad. Sure, it's easy to draw a straight line between the professor's character flaws and his downfall. And it's easy to mock him for being deluded enough to think that a supermodel would fall in love with a professor in late middle age. But I feel sorry for anyone who is lonely, whether he or she is arrogant or not.

What I want to know, though, is this: who was the person who was able to impersonate Denise Milani well enough to fool Frampton (who, admittedly, might have been easy to fool)?
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 7:58 AM on March 8, 2013


This article is a great piece of writing, the first few paragraphs pull everyone in and make you identify with the guy because hey, we're all kind of smart and misunderstood sometimes, but closer to the end of the article you realize the guy is a bigger jerk and much weirder than he seemed. I was hooked until the end.
posted by mathowie at 7:58 AM on March 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


It seems more likely to me that he believes himself a between-the-raindrops-skater than a naive man-child. He knew what he was doing and thought that his supreme intellect was what would keep him from being caught, unlike the stupider people who usually smuggle drugs.
posted by dobbs at 8:02 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I suppose it's cheaper than a top rate private school, but the outcome might be on a par.

No. The thieves and scam-artists that go to private schools mostly get away with it and rarely go to jail. They are the ones paying the models to set up the stooges. I don't want my kids to hang around criminal masterminds, I just don't want them to be stooges.
posted by three blind mice at 8:02 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thieves and scam-artists that go to private schools mostly get away with it and rarely go to jail.

Nevertheless, they do show your kids just how squalid people can be, was my only point. A jokey point, but a point.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:16 AM on March 8, 2013


I think the provost kidnapped Denise just as it was all going to plan.
posted by Segundus at 8:19 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I probably should have been clearer: I think he's a delusional sociopath who absolutely thought he could get away with it, and still cannot believe that "lesser" people refuse to fall for his story.

Like the provost; I think he's angry at the provost for failing to come rushing to his poor old self because the provost was supposed to fall for his story. When the provost didn't ... well ... anger. In my happily-limited experience, manipulative sociopaths get angry fast when you poke a hole in their lies.
posted by aramaic at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


The cocaine was planted by the provost's coca goons: what was really in the suitcase was the Higgs Boson.
posted by Segundus at 8:22 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't know Frampton, but I know several people who do. The general consensus around the physics circuit seems to be that he's exactly the kind of guy who could get taken in by a fake model and then be arrogant enough to think he can get away with drug smuggling when things started to get hinky. I feel bad for his grad students more than anyone in this messy affair, even though he's been churning out papers since he went to prison. I just hope that people don't come away from this story thinking that physicists are all egotistical man children or utter space-cadets, because this story has been so far outside the norm for the physics world that it's made for juicy gossip at every turn.
posted by Diagonalize at 8:23 AM on March 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


But once she springs him, they'll have 24 hours to save the world and completely exonerate him, ending up with the presentation of a Nobel prize.
posted by Segundus at 8:23 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


From one of the student newspaper links provided by showbiz_liz, you can click through to Frampton's entry on ratemyprofessor.com.

Frampton is rated very poorly (1.6 overall out of 5).

He has been rated 8 times, but they all long predate the drug story; the first rating is from 2006. All the anonymous University of North Caroline students who bothered to rate him agree he is/was a "terrible" teacher.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:26 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a human interest story yet to be written, about his grad students.

If he acts like this in public, imagine how he treats his advisees in the privacy of his office hours.


His ratemyprofessors score is pretty abysmal, especially in 'helpfulness' and 'clarity'. (He also lacks the little chili pepper indicating that his students find him sexy.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:26 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Heard the last TV series Frampton watched was 'Breaking Bad'
posted by Riton at 8:27 AM on March 8, 2013


Sorry for barging in front of you showbiz_liz:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:30 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've tried the "I'm so smart that I'm stupid" defence. Doesn't work with my wife either when I forget the milk.
posted by arcticseal at 8:48 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was half pulling for him, until I read the trial testimony. He knew exactly what he was doing but thought himself so far above the "normals" he couldn't imagine getting caught. Moreover, I suspect he's learned nothing from this and would do it again in a heartbeat.
posted by tommasz at 8:50 AM on March 8, 2013


Argentina is the Canada of South America

Sorry, I should have been more clear. Prison in Argentina is bad because:
a) He's in prison. That's gonna pull my sympathy-meter, almost no matter where you are (I think Scandinavia might get a pass, Canada definitely doesn't)

b) He's really far away from home, and therefore support networks which he clearly needs. This would be the same if he were Argentinian in prison in NC.

Didn't mean to actually slag Argentinian prisons beyond just being prisons.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:54 AM on March 8, 2013


Not at all surprised that he's a theorist.

There is a bizarre strain of thinking that is prevalent among theorists (and some members of the general population as well) that goes like this: Einstein was eccentric and Einstein was a genius. Therefore, if I act eccentrically, I will be like Einstein...
posted by artichoke_enthusiast at 8:55 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


All right, just burn the stuck up motherfucker already, with his stripe suit and his penguin tie. No matter how I look at it, I cannot feel sorry for this guy, who assumes getting away with it comes natural for another Oxford asshole. Hey, you're never too old to learn gramps! At least you are in the top percentile of the unlucky mail order bride victims.
posted by ouke at 8:56 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


even though he's been churning out papers since he went to prison.

Interesting. How is that possible? Wouldn't he need at least library/computer access? Is he doing it in collaboration with people on the outside via the mail? Or are these things that were already in the pipeline?
posted by Jahaza at 8:59 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This shit always happened whenever I got involved with super models online. Finally learned to stay away from 'em. MeFi keeps me out of heaps of trouble in a myriad of ways.
posted by Danf at 9:00 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Eagerly awaiting the Locked Up Abroad episode on this one.
posted by smrtsch at 9:01 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lemurrhea & Jahaza, according to the dailytarheel article, his sentence is for house arrest for the full period, so (assuming that's correct) it's relatively "easy time," allowing him to go on with his work pretty comfortably... which I suppose the Argentinians are granting for the sake of international /academic relations?

I definitely don't hang with the idea that he concocted the whole thing (ie, he *knew* she wasn't for real) in order to move the drugs and have an alibi of just being naive, or else he wouldn't have implicated himself so completely with the last bunch of emails. It sounds like he believed that she was "real," and also knowingly agreed to carrying the drugs.
posted by taz at 9:05 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


See also: the New Yorker's account of a psychotherapist who fell for a 419 scam and ultimately was imprisoned for fraud.
posted by quiet coyote at 9:06 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd never heard of Denise Milani so looked her up. Apparently she has a job ploughing sand, which must be a tough field to get on in if you live in Bolivia. The beaches where I am have mechanical ploughs but life is tougher in developing countries I guess.
posted by biffa at 9:06 AM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Moreover, I suspect he's learned nothing from this and would do it again in a heartbeat.

On the contrary, he's learned enough to avoid all the mistakes he made last time, as he tries it again. He'll still fail but it'll be because he made a bunch of new mistakes. The scientific method at work!
posted by scalefree at 9:10 AM on March 8, 2013


biffa: I'd never heard of Denise Milani so looked her up...


I admit I did this too.
She has a gorgeous smile (seriously), but someone needs to give her tennis lessons.
She won't win many games holding the racquet like that!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:12 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Another victim of the war on drugs. Legalize it already.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:16 AM on March 8, 2013


Is it just me or does this headline feel really incongruous on the front page of the NY Times?
posted by Dragonness at 9:18 AM on March 8, 2013


I think maybe that might possibly have been the point a little bit, Dragonness.
posted by dersins at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2013


>I think maybe that might possibly have been the point a little bit, Dragonness.

I plead the 'so smart I'm stupid' defence.
posted by Dragonness at 9:26 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah... very good point here: as pointed out in the comments on the NYT piece, "the old professor should be thanking his anti-matter that he did not get arrested at JFK."
posted by taz at 9:27 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: I plead the 'so smart I'm stupid' defence.
posted by Strass at 9:27 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, the more I think about this article, the more I'm amazed at the NYT. Their writing and editorial staff are amazing.

Think about it, imagine you got this gig to write a story about this situation, and sure it's interesting all around, but the more you dig into it, the more obvious it becomes that the guy is a unlikeable jerk who is convinced he's smarter than everyone else and should get away with this crime (and then sort of does, because house arrest isn't all that bad if you get to stay with some of your supporters the whole time). The writer of this piece likely knew the entire story before they started to write it out, and how on earth do you make a compelling story out of a jerk getting caught red handed?

But then they did, and it was amazing. I was instantly drawn in, identified with the guy and every sentence reminded me of being a misunderstood smart kid with an odd sense of humor and oh how they laughed at me in elementary school but I'd get my due someday, just like our hero, this professor.

Eventually the writer brings us to reality in the last couple paragraphs and it turns out the professor is more of a crazy narcissistic jerk I wouldn't want to spend more than 30 seconds of my life interacting with, but man, what a genius piece of writing to hide that bombshell for so long.
posted by mathowie at 9:29 AM on March 8, 2013 [42 favorites]


>what a genius piece of writing to hide that bombshell for so long.

CBS has a real-life crime show called '48 Hours' where they do that sort of thing all the time: saving the big twists until you're fully drawn into the story and sympathetic of the bad guy.
posted by Dragonness at 9:42 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of fellows would have thought "hm, I am in my sixties and a young woman who is so attractive could date, say, a young handsome rich dude, but she's picking me....perhaps this is a scam!" Or a lot of science-y type fellows would be up on the research that suggests that women don't actually trade their looks for money except in fairly isolated Very Large Amounts of Wealth situations, but in fact most really good-looking women marry good looking dudes.

As a woman who was once between the ages of 18 and 29--and passably attractive in conventional ways, but no bikini model--the fact that he really did believe that a homely, 45-65 year old, not-rich, not-charismatic guy with social issues could be catnip to a smoking hot lady young enough to be his daughter is the least shocking aspect of this story.

Vanity, thy name is (horny) man. (And maybe shows with pairings like this just feed the delusion.)
posted by availablelight at 9:47 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


He was warned. It was spelled out for him. I read this whole thing as "Smartest Man is clueless about life."

This!
posted by ericb at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2013


And maybe shows with pairings like this just feed the delusion.

Yeah, but there's also real life like this or this.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:59 AM on March 8, 2013


The most telling thing of all is that this guy cooperated with the NYT on this story, presumably in the belief that he'd come out of it looking something other than ridiculous and awful.
posted by enn at 10:02 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I concur with mathowie: what other people are reading as "biased writing", I'm reading as writing that actually, like, does the thing it's supposed to do. And that's create the most compelling story possible.

When you're writing something, you're playing a game with your audience. Reject this game or not, you're nonetheless creating a piece which readers are going to react to in some way or other. And you have control over how they will react, what facts they see, how a piece unfolds over time. The best writers are the ones who know how to use this to their advantage, and make a story's unfolding part of what ensnares you.

I wish I could be snobby and sniff my nose and say, "She's just telling a story", but there's an absolute dearth of talented storytellers out there today, particularly in journalism. The best ones are almost all out writing fiction of some sort or other, usually today in movies and television. Journalists with actual craft is, like, practically unknown, and this story was a delight to read. Now I'm curious to know what else Ms. Swann has written, and if her work's all this good.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:05 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


And if you get to the end of this with any conclusion other than "Frampton knew what he was up to, and is arrogant enough to assume he can get away with it", then I think you're simply reading this wrong. Those texts were utterly damning.

Yes, running drugs is clueless, but it's a different kind of cluelessness, I feel, than some commenters here are saddling Frampton with. The man was completely complicit in his actions. This is not a story about him as much as it's a story about the kind of myths about a brilliant man wronged that are self-perpetuated and completely untrue. If anything, I read it as an indictment of selfishness and narcissism, on multiple levels at once.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:08 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but there's also real life like this or this.

Physical and age differences aside, both those men are alpha peers, in terms of income, social standing, etc.. Not the same as a frumpy, narcissistic UNC Chapel Hill professor who thinks he's scored an international bikini model 30 years his junior. (Or the vast majority of 40+ average Joes who don't get that men who "score" partners 20-30 years their junior are usually bringing something to the table in exchange for someone who could find a more attractive, age-appropriate partner, and become hurt/confused/enraged when they get shot down. "But what about Donald Trump! I'm better looking and nicer!" This guy thought his high IQ was of sufficient exchange value .)
posted by availablelight at 10:09 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe it really was Denise Milani writing to him - of course she won't admit it now - but I totally understand world-famous bikini models wanting to throw themselves at me because of my throbbing and swollen IQ.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:16 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


And the classic example, which back in the day must have given hope to all sorts of men who were decidedly not Arthur Miller...just older and nebbishy guys who suddenly found it plausible that a woman like Marilyn Monroe might be up for grabs for them as well.
posted by availablelight at 10:20 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


but I totally understand world-famous bikini models wanting to throw themselves at me because of my throbbing and swollen IQ.

Just remember to call your doctor if your IQ is throbbing and swollen for more than four hours.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:21 AM on March 8, 2013


It might help avoid this sort of thing if airports would put up some sort of warning against accepting bags from strangers.

You mean aside from the part where the bag check-in person ASKS YOU FACE TO FACE if you're carrying someone else's bag?
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:22 AM on March 8, 2013


Man, just his expressed opinion that

dude in top 0.01 intellectually
+ chick in top 0.01 aesthetically
= ideal match

is unbelievably regressive and damning.
posted by unnatural logarithm at 10:31 AM on March 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


The true indignity of this story is when he got stuck at Pearson airport for a day. If nothing else, that should have made him rethink the relationship. I question his intelligence.

The comments in this thread made me morbidly curious, so I searched for myself in RateMyProfessors.com after seeing Frampton's abysmal rating. Apparently I do, in fact, have a chili pepper, and now I'm a little weirded out. (Thankfully all of my other ratings are vastly better than his, except easiness.) With that and being in the coveted 18-35 range, should I be seeking out older male models?
posted by ilana at 10:33 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


It might help avoid this sort of thing if airports would put up some sort of warning against accepting bags from strangers.

You mean aside from the part where the bag check-in person ASKS YOU FACE TO FACE if you're carrying someone else's bag?


Yeah, like maybe signs everywhere and recorded announcements on the PA system.
posted by TedW at 10:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


His supporters have a website (as mentioned in the Daily Tar Heel articles): Help Paul Frampton.
posted by ericb at 10:40 AM on March 8, 2013


While this guy may very well be a misogynist, I don't think it's misogynistic to want to become a biological father, to be attracted to young women, or to be deluded and/or desperate enough to think/hope that a young woman who is acting like she's attracted to you actually is attracted to you.

But in any case: Wow, that last paragraph:
One of Frampton’s last e-mails to Denise Milani was written on a pirated cellphone a month into his stay inside Devoto prison: “I only think of cuddling all day and having sex all night with Denise Milani. How can you prove that you are Denise Milani?”
posted by Flunkie at 10:42 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


A world-renowned physicist meets a gorgeous model online. They plan their perfect life together. But first, she asks, would he be so kind as to deliver a special package to her?
posted by Optamystic (114 comments total).

All these comments and no on has said EPONASTERICAL!?!
posted by chavenet at 10:57 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


so I searched for myself in RateMyProfessors.com

A friend who teaches critical film theory at a prominent university got a review there that started "this course was taught by the dumbest smart person I've ever known."
posted by fatbird at 11:03 AM on March 8, 2013


It's relatively rare that misogynist entitlement actually lands a dude in jail.


Well, dude's certainly arrogant...in a kind of pathetic way...so he probably has some sense of entitlement...but I don't see any evidence here that it's of a specifically misogynist variety. In fact I don't see any evidence of misogyny here at all. He's not a misogynist for pining away for an attractive woman in his life. He may be arrogant to think that he could get one...but that's different.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 11:04 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought the article was enjoyable and effective, but to call it genius is kind of depressing. She just did it like you're supposed to do it. Kudos to her for writing an awesome article, but if virtually everyone else hadn't forgotten the concept of craftsmanship it wouldn't stand out so much.

I know a little about Lonely Guy syndrome, and there's no way this dude went down to South America if he didn't think there was a woman waiting there for him.

I have selfishly offered my unsolicited opinions on these matters, but it is only because I am viciously smart and therefore act a little weird sometimes.
posted by TheRedArmy at 11:48 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


“Research institutions throughout the country are in jeopardy if a tenured professor of 30 years has his salary suddenly revoked without any due process,” Frampton said. “This means that the jobs of tens of thousands of tenured professors are at risk.”

He certainly has a remarkable understanding of the point of tenure.

posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:49 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised no one's mentioned that he was arrested getting on the plane to go home to Raleigh, not Brussels. Which puts me pretty firmly in the infatuated and clueless camp despite the pretty damning texts he sent that day. Further, he seemed to think those texts would exonerate him. Even after Manti T'eo, and having seen every episode of Catfish, I never tire of these stories. Maybe I just find it reassuring that I least I know I'll never be that dumb.
posted by love is a murderer at 11:55 AM on March 8, 2013


I just could not stop laughing at this story. I know I'm an asshole and going to hell for not feeling sorry for him, but....JEEBUS CHRIST MAN, LOOK AT YOUR LIFE. LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES. Not to mention "look at what you genuinely believe." Oy fucking vey. That must be a very deep hole he's been shoving his head down there. "Naive" doesn't even begin to describe. It's almost inhuman how he missed every clue anvil pitched at his head.

And yeah, doing a little schaudefreude humming around here too.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:57 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I doubt the conversations with the "model" were real. I bet he was operating under the assumption that if he and accomplices faked the romantic chat enough it would be enough of a smoke screen that he could just play clueless and get off the hook.

This makes no sense to me at all. How do you reconcile this completely mercenary theory with the fact that he tried to mail order bride some poor Chinese woman before he me his "model"? And really --- it's not entirely clear from the article, but it's certainly implied that there were months of chat logs and hundreds if emails between them. Hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of chit chat. And all that merely for a cover? Further, if that was a cover and he was actually openly in contact with a drug gang, why did the prosecutors find no evidence of that? And if he wasn't seduced by a fake model, and was in fact deliberately trying to become a drug mule, how in the hell would he have found and contacted a cartel and offered his services?

It seems clear from the texts that he knew he was smuggling drugs, I completely agree. But there's also hints in there of what he thought the story was --- he keeps referring to an "agent" and warning the model about them, insisting that they meet somewhere else because it's a trap. Reading between the lines, my guess is that the bullheaded fool was in love with this model, and was willing to smuggle drugs on her behalf, with the idea of getting her out if the clutches of her "agent" and setting them up for life. He thought he was Christian Slater in True Romance.
posted by Diablevert at 12:15 PM on March 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


This part did make me a little sad, though: "When asked what kind of sacrifices, he responded as if the answer were obvious, 'Well, I don’t have a family.'"

But I have a hard time feeling too sorry for this guy. I really got the impression that he just thinks he is better than everyone else, and he's therefore entitled to break whatever rules he wishes to break: he's not used to people saying no to him, he's better than the rules, and those rules just don't apply to him anyhow because he's special....

People like that... well, you don't want to get too close.
posted by k8lin at 12:16 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if joking, Milani ever said to him, "Do you feel like I do?"

Because I would not have been able to resist at some point.

But then, I guess that's (part of the reason) why I'm not a super-model.

posted by mmrtnt at 12:49 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading between the lines, my guess is that the bullheaded fool was in love with this model, and was willing to smuggle drugs on her behalf, with the idea of getting her out if the clutches of her "agent" and setting them up for life. He thought he was Christian Slater in True Romance.

Yeah, that's my read, too. He figured he was the White Knight rescuing the Damsel in Distress.
posted by yoink at 12:52 PM on March 8, 2013


On post-view neither was the Milani

posted by mmrtnt at 12:56 PM on March 8, 2013


Were I writing the Lifetime Movie of the Week based on this incident, I'd have him bond with the family with whom he is now living, particularly the kid. The audience would see that he'd finally formed a relationship with another person.
posted by Area Man at 1:06 PM on March 8, 2013


> And if he wasn't seduced by a fake model, and was in fact deliberately trying to become a drug mule, how in the hell would he have found and contacted a cartel and offered his services?

Not to mention: if he wanted to create the false impression that he didn't know anything about the drugs, why would he send text messages to faux-Milani that explicitly refer to the drugs?

So he's calculating enough to create an elaborate cover story reminiscent of a heist movie, but dumb enough to undermine that story through messages that he knew would be seized if he got caught?
posted by savetheclocktower at 1:07 PM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Everyone is a product of his or her upbringing, except this guy. He deserves only scorn for the way he carries himself in spite of the bizarro and unhealthy way his parents raised him, as mentioned in the article.
posted by Ghost Mode at 1:16 PM on March 8, 2013


I am giggling with delight at the fact that this lonely, socially inept dude has been punished for his entitlement in thinking that someone would be interested in him, and that this punishment included being old and infirm in an Argentinian prison.

I am a creepy, creepy fuck with all the empathy of a fucking beetle.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:23 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


This, of course, alludes to you, was that an intentional run at eponysterical?
posted by jaduncan at 1:43 PM on March 8, 2013


In the early 1990s I was in the Hong Kong airport going to Nepal and fell to chatting with the New Zealander behind me in line. He too was in his early twenties and a nice enough guy. He was complaining that he would have to pay for his camera bag so I took it on as my luggage. Never thought twice about it.

We ended up hanging out including a pre-dawn walk though a Nepali army camp to find the observation tower so we could see the sunrise over Mt. Everest.
posted by shothotbot at 1:46 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


just generalized sarcasm, jaduncan. it is disturbing and saddening to me that people are laughing at this. i am as far from "old professor guy" as it gets and even i can't help thinking this situation is tragic.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:46 PM on March 8, 2013


ilana: "The comments in this thread made me morbidly curious, so I searched for myself in RateMyProfessors.com"

I looked up my mom. SHe has very high marks; no surprise - I'm good at math because she's good at teaching it.

She also has the chili pepper. She's 62. So uh, good for her? (Me, I'm weirded out.)
posted by notsnot at 1:48 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


shothotbot, you should not have done that.
posted by Ghost Mode at 1:51 PM on March 8, 2013


He wasn't punished for his entitlement, TOCATY. He's being punished for being a fucking drug mule. Whether he thought he was white knighting or carrying out a dastardly plot, he was knowingly hauling drugs. And as others pointed out, he's getting off a hell of a lot easier in Argentina than he would in the U.S. This is not tragic. It might be farce.
posted by fatbird at 1:51 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


i mean "how entitled and bigoted of this old possibly mildly autistic guy to think that anyone would want him" fucking what


i'm in my 20s and that strikes even me as gross ageism
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:52 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


o I searched for myself in RateMyProfessors.com"

I looked up my mom.


I looked up my dad on there. The general consensus is that he is simultaneously the most conceited and the most boring* professor alive. Explains a lot about me I guess.

*to be fair he teaches intro level macro econ, not the most popular of core classes.
posted by Think_Long at 1:52 PM on March 8, 2013


@fatbird

well, sure, if you want we can get into the whole issue of how we deal with drugs, and the war on drugs, and how morally just and beneficial that's been, but really, that's well-trod ground at this point

but yeah i'm sure schadenfreude at the expense of a drug mule, especially a slightly low-functioning one who was doing it for emotional reasons, is morally legit and kosher
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:55 PM on March 8, 2013


Ghost Mode: ya think?
posted by shothotbot at 2:01 PM on March 8, 2013


This is why peer review is so vitally important for science.
posted by Davenhill at 2:03 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


A bit of a derail, but in case anyone's interested I can tell you as someone who gets to look at my entire (not small) department's actual teaching evaluations and has compared them to their ratemyprofessor ratings that ratemyprofessor is often a surprisingly poor reflection of how students in general rate a given professor--even when quite high numbers of ratings are available. Of course, our actual evaluations don't have the chili peppers, so I can't give you any insider insight there.
posted by yoink at 2:04 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is not tragic. It might be farce.

I think it's both.
posted by yoink at 2:06 PM on March 8, 2013


Of course, our actual evaluations don't have the chili peppers, so I can't give you any insider insight there.

I've always thought instructor evaluations would be better if it just had one question:

Professor ____, choose one:

[ ] Marry
[ ] Fuck
[ ] Kill
posted by Think_Long at 2:08 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


i'm sure schadenfreude at the expense of a drug mule, especially a slightly low-functioning one who was doing it for emotional reasons, is morally legit and kosher

Then we agree.
posted by fatbird at 2:09 PM on March 8, 2013


A great piece that's great, in part, because it refuses to offer a simple "he's a dupe"/"he's an ice-cold evil drug smuggler who plotted it all" conclusion, as some are trying to do in this thread.

First he seems like a dupe. Then (the text messages) he seems obviously entirely complicit. Then again, if he's planning the whole thing in such a dastardly way, what kind of idiot would allow those text messages to be stored on a phone? And the stuff about the model seems like he was really duped about that part. But then… etcetera.

He's clearly some complex combination of both.
posted by oliverburkeman at 2:35 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of Frampton’s last e-mails to Denise Milani was written on a pirated cellphone a month into his stay inside Devoto prison: “I only think of cuddling all day and having sex all night with Denise Milani. How can you prove that you are Denise Milani?”

Not wishing to belittle the severity of the case, but that feels like a very theoretical physicist way of looking at the problem.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:15 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not wishing to belittle the severity of the case, but that feels like a very theoretical physicist way of looking at the problem.
running order squabble fest

Yeah, but you'd think it would be one of the first emails you'd write, not one of the last.
posted by Sangermaine at 3:19 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Relevant quote from a humorous article about Denise Milani('s breasts)

One should remember however, that fans of Denise Milani's breasts are a desperately lonely bunch of big-tit-fetishists with a deteriorating grip on reality.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:30 PM on March 8, 2013


Everyone is a product of his or her upbringing, except this guy. He deserves only scorn for the way he carries himself in spite of the bizarro and unhealthy way his parents raised him

Biologically, I'm not 100% sure there is such a thing as free will. Philosophically, I think the only course is to nevertheless act as if there is. All of which is by way of saying the man is 68 goddamn years old and has had a full half century since he passed the age if majority to learn how not to be an asshole, and he fucking failed to do so. If the price for that failure is four years, mostly under house arrest, and the rest of the world gawping in wonderment at the comeuppance his hubris has wrought, that don't seem like Greek tragedy to me.

For God's sake, his best friend told him he was going to go to jail and he blew him off! "Low-functioning"? He's a bloody physics professor, and may yet keep his tenure after all this. The big puffy gym matts are definitely being dragged out for his downfall. Christ on a cream cracker.
posted by Diablevert at 3:44 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


how not to be an asshole

being an old guy and expecting anyone might be interested in you is being an asshole? or are we talking about the drug mule thing, in which case is it only okay if it's like weed or something

also Temple Grandin is a professor and she's literally been diagnosed with autism
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:51 PM on March 8, 2013


Really, how very not surprising. Here is what some people are missing: this is not about intelligence. It is not about having a set of data and now building a hypothesis that explains it. It is about much more than that, because of one fundamental fact: the person who is building the hypothesis, is in this case highly, highly, HIGHLY motivated to be biased in a certain direction.

This is not someone who is cooly assessing pros and cons and probabilities. A highly intelligent person, who has no emotional stake in the outcome, is in a superior position to solve a problem or reach correct conclusions (like get an IQ score, or solve a physics problem, or a logical problem or whatever). But the ability to reason abstractly is completely separate from the ability to control your emotions and not have them impact your reasoning. Some intelligent people are really good at that, some are bad, some "dumb" people are good at that, some are bad. Separate things.

This guy was highly motivated to think it's a famous bikini model who is in love with him. Heck, scientists distort - unconsciously - their reasoning when they become emotionally invested in a pet hypothesis. This is so much more - we are talking about biological drive to procreate.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is exactly how religion works. People sometimes ask "how can a highly intelligent person - mathematician, physicist, accountant, joe blow - believe in such extraordinarily implausible things as conventional Christianity and its myths. Well, how indeed - they are extremely motivated to do so. They are not thinking cooly about odds, probability and plausibility.

Many highly intelligent people - even professors of psychology, which should, if anything prepare you for the mind-games - fall victims to the most primitive and laughable 409 scams. Why? Because it really is plausible that a deceased prince has $10,000,000 (TEN MILLION DOLLARS!!!) waiting for you, but can't spell worth spit, and everybody has heard of this scam including our professor of psychology victim? How much has that guy been reasoning cooly and assessing probabilities?

Same here. He wasn't cooly assessing the probabilities of "how plausible is it that a schlub like me is going to be contacted by a famous model?"

You ask, well, how could he not have paid attention to people who warned him? Because they weren't telling him new information - he knows this already, but he's discounted it by the powerful gravitational well of his emotions. You cannot reach him through reason, because reason is not how he reached his mad conclusions. You must address his emotions. Same with religious arguments - how many highly religious people were persuaded by pure reason and probability assessments from well-meaning folks? It's not about that.

He was a highly motivated believer - reason and intelligence are not the key factors here. So we can quit exclaiming "but a professor of physics!".
posted by VikingSword at 4:05 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


being an old guy and expecting anyone might be interested in you is being an asshole? or are we talking about the drug mule thing, in which case is it only okay if it's like weed or something

Bragging about how you have a 55% chance of winning a Nobel is being an asshole. Taking the occasion of someonelse's retirement party to a 40 minute discourse on how awesome you are is being an asshole. Carrying a kilo of cocaine into an airport, and, when hearing your name over the PA, blithely presuming the must be calling about an upgrade to first classis being an asshole. Presuming that the only reason your boss is trying to fire you is professional jealousy when you were caught red-handed trying to smuggle cocaine in a foreign country is being an asshole.

I've never met the man. Possibly I'm way off base. Nevertheless, having read 5,000-odd words about him he strikes me as someone who thought the rules didn't apply to him because he was much smarter than other people. Even when his own friend immediately sussed out what he was doing and tried to warn him, he plowed right on ahead because he was convinced he wouldn't be caught. This is arrogance defined.

You may try to argue that he was so socially inept all these little bagatelles went right over his head. But he's certainly sufficiently cognizent of social hierarchies among primates to be an utter snob about the provenance of his hunting jacket. (Just like the ones Prince Charles wears, you can tell by the pockets, you know.)

So no, I don't think he's an asshole cause he got catfished. Better men than him have and will fallen victim to that. I do think it was incredibly stupid of him to think he could get away with smuggling a K through an airport, and I'd think that regardless of whether it was coke or pot or junk or what.
posted by Diablevert at 4:28 PM on March 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


If you read to the end, it's really clear that he is TOTALLY FUCKING GUILTY. He basically confesses to knowing about the cocaine by text message. The story was artfully (and really quite beautifully) written to conceal that. I felt a bit duped at the end. Perhaps part of his campaign to get his job back at UNC Chapel Hill?
posted by 3491again at 5:06 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


>> Yeah, but there's also real life like this or this.

> Physical and age differences aside, both those men are alpha peers, in terms of income, social standing, etc.. Not the same as a frumpy, narcissistic UNC Chapel Hill professor who thinks he's scored an international bikini model 30 years his junior. ... This guy thought his high IQ was of sufficient exchange value.

The real life example of note is Physics Nobel Laureate (and fellow theorist) C.N. Yang, who in 2005 at the age of 82 married a 28 year old woman named Weng Fan. Here are some lovely photos of CN Yang and Weng Fan together at the recent celebration of Yang's 90th birthday.

I wouldn't be surprised if on some level Frampton thought "hey, if Yang can do it...." Of course, Yang actually has a Nobel, not just a dubiously-determined probability of getting one.
posted by Westringia F. at 5:06 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not a lot of sympathy here. If he went fishing for 'dates' in Eastern Europe on the internet, he probably did it for the reason people always do that; so he could get a much more attractive and younger woman than he could get on the basis of his appearance or personality, and whom would probably not like or be attracted to him in any way but would be forced to be subservient to him to escape the horrible circumstances she was in. Does that make him a terrible person? Yeah, it kinda does.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:45 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


that is a lot of conjecture

as someone with a number of socially awkward IRL friends who make bad decisions, however, i tend to react harshly to suggestions that they are monsters who should get fucked and deserve to suffer
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:00 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Feynman wouldn't have fallen for this. He grew up in a more worldly time.

Also, he actually got a Nobel.

Yeah, I know this Frampton character ended up a willing accomplice. Still, no excuse on the "professor of physics" front. A *real* physicist like Feynman (or Fuchs!) would see that the risks were out of line.
posted by graftole at 6:26 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


C'mon, y'all. A guy can be lonely and pathetic and a misogynist at the same time. This guy is obviously misogynist-- he values Internet Denise Milani for her Victoria's Secret model good looks, which of course complement his extreme intelligence. That's the way it's supposed to be, smart man, hot woman, since we value men for their intelligence and women for their breasts. Note he's not trawling the internet for lonely lady physicists (of his age), and that he's looking for an 18-year-old girl (really?) to bear his children, without using his exceptional intelligence to contemplate the risks of fathering a child at age 65. Let's not water down the word "misogyny" until it has no meaning. (I'd like to think that if I were a 65-year-old man looking to father children, I would emphatically NOT be looking at the 18-year-old end of the female spectrum, because I'd have a little dignity and hope to find a partner as mentally and emotionally mature as possible. Then again, this guy is emotionally 12, but that doesn't mean he deserves a barely legal playmate.)

I can't drum up any sympathy for him because I dated an old, faux-autistic so-smart-he's-dumb math professor during my prime jailbait years, and these guys are usually selfish, childish assholes. Observe how savvy and manipulative he became once he was in possession of the coke-- guys like this aren't just lonely dolts, they fundamentally believe that they deserve something special, whether it be getting away with smuggling drugs or a bikini model girlfriend, money or pussy, whatever. Once they have their hands on it they become quite conniving. Basically they get to give up responsibility for acting respectably because they can act like children and get away with it.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:41 PM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


i have dated older people when i was younger

i have no real opinion on that and i am not going to generalize from my own experiences. also i thought this fake model was 20?
Observe how savvy and manipulative he became once he was in possession of the coke--

not savvy enough to stay out of jail, apparently

my point is that my personal experiences have lead me to the understanding that when i am rejoicing in someone's suffering, it is usually because i am fucking up somehow w/r/t being decent myself
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:49 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


enn said:
The most telling thing of all is that this guy cooperated with the NYT on this story, presumably in the belief that he'd come out of it looking something other than ridiculous and awful.

He's operating with the knowledge of what happens to criminals who get publicity. Even mass murderers -- no matter how unattractive -- when they become famous there's at least one woman who sees him on TV and thinks to herself "He's kind of cute" and courts him even if he has a life sentence.
posted by surplus at 7:11 PM on March 8, 2013


I was in the check in line behind a large family in Fiji who had just found out that they were going to be charged, presumably, a large amount of money because they have about half a dozen suitcases each filled to the bursting. They asked me to take one of the suitcases for them and got very upset when I refused.

Yeah, for me it was a nun. Seriously. A tiny nun, habit and all, and three over-stuffed suitcases on the way to Cuba.
My friend, Father Paul, had just passed away, and so, yeah. Eyes wide open. All that flight I pictured some mustached commie in customs sliding on an elbow length glove.

Praise Jesus. She was just a nun.
posted by qinn at 7:47 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]



I looked up my dad on there. The general consensus is that he is simultaneously the most conceited and the most boring* professor alive. Explains a lot about me I guess.

*to be fair he teaches intro level macro econ, not the most popular of core classes.
posted by Think_Long at 1:52 PM on March 8 [+] [!]


Sis?
posted by bq at 8:15 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked the reference to the physics groupie!
posted by jeffen at 9:33 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just hope that people don't come away from this story thinking that physicists are all egotistical man children or utter space-cadets, because this story has been so far outside the norm for the physics world that it's made for juicy gossip at every turn.

It's not true of all physicists, but there is a frighteningly large number of egotistical man-children in the physics world. Frightening.
posted by medusa at 11:41 PM on March 8, 2013


I doubt a prison in Argentina is good news for a dude like him, so I still feel a bit bad.
Dude. Argentina is the Canada of South America. It's fine. I'd be willing to bet that its prisons are rather significantly better than the USA's. (They're certainly less populated.)


Umm, no. Or from wikipedia.
posted by palbo at 12:34 AM on March 9, 2013


Yeah, but you'd think it would be one of the first emails you'd write, not one of the last.

Well, if you're a theoretical physicist, you postulate the existence of a Denise Milani who exists in that relationship.

An experimental physicist would have rolled up his sleeves and started cuddling people, to see if their behaviors matched the expected behavior of Denise Milani.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:39 AM on March 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can't be the only one that imagined the quotes in the article in Sheldon Cooper's voice.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:51 AM on March 9, 2013


I imagined a movie starring Geoffrey Rush.
posted by gentian at 6:22 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


My experience was that I dated an older professor who sounds like a dead ringer for this one, not that I "dated someone older when I was younger." It's an educated generalization about academic egomaniacs who are lonely for younger women. Obviously it sucks that this guy is in jail and he's learning a hard lesson-- but this is the essence of "power corrupts," and the reason so much of government and finance is fucked up. Egotistical people think they deserve everything and can get away with anything. It's a relatively light jail sentence, and jail isn't the end of the world.

It's not like I want him to die. But this guy was knowingly smuggling drugs and trying to play dumb about it-- manipulative liar, who's got a dehumanizing view of women to boot. My brand of empathy is that I hope he gets a second chance to stop being such a blockhead.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:38 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Umm, no. Or from wikipedia.

Well, fuck.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go talk out of my ass in another thread.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:43 AM on March 9, 2013


Feynman wouldn't have fallen for this. He grew up in a more worldly time.

Let's admit it: Feynman would pulled it off and married the model.
posted by mygoditsbob at 6:54 AM on March 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Juust when I start feeling icky for my schadenfreude I remember that this is a teacher, in the year 2011, who presumably taught female science students (not just men), who genuinely believes that a paunchy, 64 year old man in the top 1% of IQ, and a lingerie model between 18-35 and "in the top 1 percentile of how women look" comprise "the perfect couple in all respects."

It's like, "Here's your 'A,' Rebecca. 98%. Very impressive. Ever thought of lingerie modeling? I mean, most of the other gal engineering students are Bow Wow Wow, if y' know what I mean. Sure, there's a couple others who are *decent* looking, but an ass like yours? Just a terrible thing to waste, Rebecca."
posted by applemeat at 9:09 AM on March 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I had missed that. Thanks to palbo for setting the facts straight.

Yes, the jail system here is fucking awful. Just today I was reading about how torture is a widespread and unofficially encouraged method in most facilities. It's been remarked by civilian authorities of the current federal government that prison guards and similar personnel actually receive instruction on torture methods during their studies. So, to repeat myself, shitty shitty prisons all around, glad this guy got house detention then. Wouldn't wish that experience even on a hardcore smuggler.
posted by Iosephus at 9:15 AM on March 9, 2013


It sure seems like a hell of a lot of work to recruit him as a mule- they must have invested a couple of man-months to get him doing this. Seems like draining his bank account and ruining his credit would be far more lucrative, and less likely to get your product confiscated. The scammers took a bath on this one- unless this wasn't the first time he pulled it.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:07 AM on March 9, 2013


One of the commenters on the linked article suggested that the smugglers might have deliberately set up a high profile, easily caught case to distract attention away from more well hidden shipments.

Alternately, the smugglers might have intended to use him over a long time. A respected professional who might reasonably be frequently sent to conferences all over the world would make an ideal mule who would attract almost no attention. Maybe the smugglers gave him better instructions but he was too arrogant to take better care, or they assumed he would know what he was doing, or something.

Although, given that he was openly discussing this stuff on his own cell phone, it seems clear he was an absolute idiot who was clearly going to get caught and probably soon. I'm not sure what they were thinking.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:29 AM on March 9, 2013


One of the most ironic details about this case is that if he'd taken five minutes to google the person he was supposedly dating, he would have found out that she's married.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:34 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


they must have invested a couple of man-months to get him doing this

During those months they almost certainly would have been running the same scam on numerous marks simultaneously. Even if you only needed one eventual delivery (and I'm sure they wanted more than one) you'd have to account for targets who realized it was too good to be true, targets that balked at traveling internationally, targets that insisted on phone time, etc. One guy with a giant text file to keep track of the details/history of each mark could potentially juggle dozens of cases at a time.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:23 AM on March 9, 2013


It's relatively rare that misogynist entitlement actually lands a dude in jail. As someone who is basically anti-prison, I am trying really hard to minimize my glee.

He's a narcissist, which means he's vulnerable to being conned, especially when it involves a fantasy of ideal love. Narcissists are often the victims of con games, especially the variety which indulges their fantasies and plays on their weaknesses. He has no misgivings about lying about his involvement in the crime, because admitting his part is far too revealing of his true character, which isn't motivated by money from smuggling but instead by unrealistic fantasies. The narcissistic injury he would sustain after admitting his wrongdoing would be more painful to him than going to prison while maintaining his facade. Of course he's being duped, but he's a perfect mark, because he can't imagine why a bikini model wouldn't be interested in him; but more than that, he can't fathom the idea that he might have been outwitted.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:57 AM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


One guy with a giant text file to keep track of the details/history of each mark could potentially juggle dozens of cases at a time.

Actually, given how profitable such operations can be, it wouldn't surprise me if the organisations involved invested in getting specialised software written for managing their various marks, keeping notes on their various weaknesses and the personae constructed to handle them, and prompting the handler with where they should be taking the mark. Call it MRM (Mark Relationship Management) software.

They could even have call centres full of staff handling hundreds of potential dupes, arranged in cascades: a generalist handles marks initially, and when the marks show themselves to be useful for some role (drug muling, money laundering, fencing stolen goods, whatever), they're handed off, case file and all, to a specialist.
posted by acb at 12:08 PM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


call centres full of staff handling hundreds of potential dupes
You can bet intelligence organizations are way ahead of you on this.

Let's not water down the word "misogyny" until it has no meaning


Well, for me, this waters it down quite a bit. If you label people "obviously misogynist" when they are more likely seduced, self-decieved and self-absorbed the word is significantly diluted. It seems to me that any older person, regardless of sex, has a degree of vulnerability to the charms and attention of young, attractive people. Not seeing the hate.

Perhaps you think an 'older you' is above the possibility of being seduced by some young person? I used to think in those circles, but I'm not so confident as I move closer and closer toward the box. You'll hear things you know are lies, but they still come off nostalgic sweet.

Maybe you will not face this kind of seduction and attention in your life or, if you face it, you will brush it off lightly in favor of "responsibility for acting respectably". But, looking around, it's clear to me many people don't navigate that path with easy grace. It seems simplistic to tie all that humanity up in a box of hatred.

they fundamentally believe that they deserve something special

...certainly separates him from the rest of us.
posted by relish at 2:18 PM on March 9, 2013


As has been pointed out before, the guy's behavior was misogynist not because of the age difference between him and the woman he thought he was dating, but because he thinks that men should be smart and women should be pretty, as evidenced by a number of his comments including but not limited to the one where he thought that a male in the top 1% of intelligence plus a female in the top 1% of looks would make a "perfect" couple.
posted by eviemath at 3:02 PM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


As has been pointed out before, the guy's behavior was misogynist not because of the age difference between him and the woman he thought he was dating
Well, by some people. But it's also been pointed out here by others that his behavior was misogynist in part because of the age difference.
the one where he thought that a male in the top 1% of intelligence plus a female in the top 1% of looks would make a "perfect" couple.
This has been mentioned several times in this thread, but I don't think any such thing was mentioned in the article. What was mentioned in the article was that he wrote to her that he thinks they're the perfect couple in all respects.

The idea that he did this because he thinks he's in the top percent mentally and she's in the top percent physically is, I think, an assumption, made by various people who read the article. It might be a good assumption, but it's an assumption.

I believe it was easy to assume such a thing, given that the article mentions that he thinks she's in the top percent physically very close to where it mentions that he told her that he thinks they're the perfect couple. But these were two separate incidents; the article merely puts them near each other on the page, and doesn't even otherwise link them, except in a vague way, as both being examples of him thinking himself exceptional.

I think a lot of assumptions about this guy have been treated as fact in this thread. Personally, I feel that many of them are likely to be true, but they're assumptions nonetheless.
posted by Flunkie at 6:49 PM on March 9, 2013


He's as guilty as heck, but I suspect that he really is delusional. Sir Isaac Newton was possibly the greatest genius the world has ever known. Describing him as being in "the top 1%" is a joke; even describing him as being in the top millionth of 1% would be inadequate. If the point of Frampton's inadequate description was to place himself in the same bracket as Newton then he's gone way past the point of narcissism.

Incidentally, something is missing from the story. He was earning more than $!00,000 per year. Why could he not afford his own plane tickets? Yes, I know, nutty professor and all that, but even surely even a nutty professor with resources of his own wouldn't sit around in airports and hotel rooms for days at a time while waiting for tickets to arrive; and he wouldn't need to get "a friend" (presumably from his normal life) to send him a ticket back home after fifteen days spent waiting for his girlfriend to arrive: he'd just buy it on a credit card or whatever, and pay for it later.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:59 PM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


This, of course, alludes to you: "my point is that my personal experiences have lead me to the understanding that when i am rejoicing in someone's suffering, it is usually because i am fucking up somehow w/r/t being decent myself"

Well let me be the first to thank you for being the moral beacon for us all. Truly, we would not be well castigated were you not here to chide us for our follies.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:43 PM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, for me, this waters it down quite a bit. If you label people "obviously misogynist" when they are more likely seduced, self-decieved and self-absorbed the word is significantly diluted. It seems to me that any older person, regardless of sex, has a degree of vulnerability to the charms and attention of young, attractive people. Not seeing the hate.

It's possible to be attracted to-- even date-- a younger person and do it in a respectable way. This guy is self-deceived, self-absorbed-- and additionally thinks the perfect partner is perfect primarily because of her looks. It sounds very much like the main thing women can offer him is aesthetic and sexual pleasure, which he openly admits. Childish, harmful view of women. "This man is lonely, all he wanted was to touch some breasts!" Gosh, well then let him smuggle all the coke he wants. Let him say whatever he wants about women, as long as he doesn't explicitly say they mainly offer the world their bodies.

The idea that men love women for their looks is so naturalized in culture that it has just become invisible. If a man says, "she was the perfect partner-- in the top percentile, looks-wise," is that really an acceptable comment to make about women? If we're going to call him self-deceived and self-absorbed, add shallow and an asshole, if not "misogynist."

We could start saying that religious bigots aren't misogynistic either, they're just "religious extremists," and merely incidentally believe some religious doctrine about women, but what's the difference?
posted by stoneandstar at 8:52 AM on March 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


they fundamentally believe that they deserve something special
...certainly separates him from the rest of us.


Hey, when's the last time you tried to smuggle drugs because you knew you'd get away with it, or messaged a bikini model on-line and assumed she was the real deal without any research, or committed fraud and conspiracy to the tune of billions of dollars? I know I can barely stop myself most days.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:56 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


the perfect partner is perfect primarily because of her looks
Frampton sounds a bit like Dr. Strangelove on women, but everyone has preferences and people tend to connect based on these preferences. Just as it would be silly to suggest a woman hates men because she tends to select men based on height, it's silly to suggest Frampton hates women because he prefers pretty women. I'm hard pressed to think of cultures or individuals that don't value intelligence or attractiveness. A person who dates primarily on looks is superficial, it does not mean they hate all women.

A misogynist is someone who hates women. Someone who tells you they love you in order to sleep with you and bails out of responsibility for the child. Then he does it to someone else. He posts naked pictures of you on the Internet and sends a link to your grandmother's congregation. Or maybe does something worse. His actions are actively mean-spirited or even criminal. The word means something significant; let's not just toss it about whenever a Y chromosome turns up in a post.

I know I can barely stop myself most days
I don't know about you, but for me, it's nice knowing we share some common interests.
posted by relish at 10:02 AM on March 10, 2013


If they primarily value women for their appearance, then yes, I think that's sexism, at the very least. In this case, she's the perfect man for him because she's one of the very most attractive women in the world (according to him)-- I think that betrays his value system. If you don't like the word misogyny in this context, then sexism works just as well. The fact that some men enjoy women as romantic partners doesn't mean that their views about those partners and how they choose a partner are free from scrutiny.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:36 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, relish. Please mansplain misogyny to those of us here comfortable deeming "misogynistic" an educated, Western man who places a woman's almost total currency upon her looks and youth, while a man's upon the much more subjective criteria of his intelligence and achievement; who objectifies women to the degree that we, reading this article--and, it appears, Paul Frampton, himself--know next to nothing about "Denise Milani" except that she was "hot," and ostensibly available for cuddling, sex, marriage, and bearing children--objectives that it would appear in Paul Frampton's mind so perfunctory to womanhood that a desirable woman is compelled to do them even with a man with whom she has never spoken to on the phone.

Ok, relish. Maybe Paul Frampton doesn't "hate" women. After all, I inherited a gorgeous, truly exquisite (and frankly quite valuable) 18th walnut table that I love showing off when people come over to my house and I don't hate it either.
posted by applemeat at 11:42 AM on March 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, this story itself is a great illustration of how outward appearances mask feelings and intentions. To all the world this guy was a pitiable schmuck, but when push came to shove he decided to try and become a savvy criminal, to try to smuggle drugs and then later act stupid about it. To outward appearances, this guy is an affable idiot who just happens to like beautiful women... but I have a feeling that like most men who value women largely for their sex appeal, and who have trouble relating to women in general, he has some idiotic, harmful ideas about women that affect his behavior in the world.

I don't pity those poor, silly, repressed homophobes when they gently express their ignorant personal views either, despite whatever combination of factors makes their views "understandable." (I say this as a woman who dates women.) The loveable old man who personally, just can't understand those gays, is still a homophobe.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:43 AM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


sexism

You may be technically right, but I think essentially wrong. That is, if Alice votes for Obama primarily because of his race and Bob votes for McCain primarily because of Obama's race, they both have made a decision primarily based on race. However, only Bob is racist; he made a decision born out of irrational hostility. If you call Alice a racist, you water down the meaning. You are doing the same thing, you use pejorative language, but with Frampton there is no hostility. If I start using 'sexist' the way you are using it, I can apply it to nearly everyone at one point or another, since being physically attractive to your partner is a major driver for many, if not all, people, especially early in a relationship.

almost total currency upon her looks and youth


Frampton was in touch with "Denise Milani" every day, sometimes multiple times per day. What do you think they talked about? It seems to me, a personal assumption, that if you are talking with a person every day there has to be substance and interplay. For all we know, "Denise Milani" understood the mathematics behind his work. Perhaps "Denise Milani" was an unemployed Russian physicist? I'd figure the odds of that are higher then her actually being a bikini model. In any case, if you talk with someone every day, it seems to me you are moving beyond the superficial.
posted by relish at 9:33 AM on March 11, 2013


Wait. There's nothing wrong with him prioritising her attractiveness and they were having a relationship based on the discussion of high-level theoretical physics?

Making him...obscurely disappointed that she just wants to talk about physics?

I am confused.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:57 AM on March 11, 2013


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