I survived the 2012 apocalypse

First things first: Yes, I know it’s safe and easy to write dismissively about something the day after it’s debunked, but I would rather not take my chances when it comes to divine wrath. When you assume, you make an ass out of “u” and “me”.

Breaking news: the world has not ended on December 21st, and shows no signs of being about to do so. So it turns out that the religion of that empire that collapsed 10 centuries ago is not, in fact, a valid source for predicting the end of everything. On the plus side, we might’ve figured out what that head in the middle of the calendar is laughing at.

mayan-calendar

Hard to believe, but it seems we’ve misinterpreted this

The ‘2012 phenomenon’, though, has implications that are more sociological than eschatological. Simply put, the fact that most of us (myself included, I’m not trying to hate on nobody) looked up at the sky for incoming planets says a lot about the spread of knowledge in our day and age. This is not the first time that doomsday predictions have been made, and I think most of us remember Y2K and all that. Then, too, people were scared of the sky falling on their heads, but at least the reasons provided were, on some level, rational. Most non-tech people (which was pretty much everyone back at that time) believed that problems could occur with the zeros and the ones and the clocks resetting  whatnot, with the ensuing nuclearized robot uprising a logical conclusion to that train of thought.

12 years later, though, it seems as though we don’t really have an excuse. Your local conspiracy theorist might’ve provided you with his or her interpretation of what was to happen on this day, but a simple Google search results in about a thousand different scenarios for the Earth’s comeuppance. A mysterious planet hauling ass straight through the Solar System, a big old volcano waking up right under our feet, E.T. coming back to Earth with his crew…. The diversity of scenarios is enough to produce B-movies for the next fifteen years, and the main thread linking them all together is “that shit with the Mayans”. And we bought it. Some of us bought it at face-value, some of us convinced ourselves of it over time, and others still bought it because everyone else seemed to be buying it.

Now, I have a friend, let’s call him D. He’s what you would call a skeptical person, and requires a certain quality of evidence before buying into an idea or proposition. University-educated, academically minded, he’s the kind of guy that will constantly ask for “your sources, bro”, and actually check them. I have another friend, whose fake name I will think of later. He’s not quite as rigorous in his source-checking and evidence-scanning, and proposes ideas which, although making sense on some level, are not really verifiable, vaguely defined, and often metaphysical in nature. Roland tends towards the spiritual and the esoteric, basically.

Yes, the conflict of mentalities is quite entertaining, and their debates often turn into a titanic struggle of ignorance versus truth and progress versus stagnation (in their minds). Obviously, the Mayan Question was a recurring topic of discussion, and both of them would, within minutes of beginning discussion, fall back onto entrenched positions like it was the Somme River around 1916. One side firing straight data, the other carpet-bombing with un-falsifiable assertions. So, while entertaining to me, the “debate” was effectively going nowhere.

It seems, then, that, from the standpoint of a neutral observer, it can be said that both parties are in fact dumbasses. Two different viewpoints, but the same quality to both: an extremism that keeps new information from entering their hermetically closed perception. Roland didn’t bother to read up on what was actually up with the Mayans, or even interpret critically what he had been told about them. And D., well, God bless him, but this guy will not even admit the possible existence of something if it’s not presented to him in a scientific format.

News for you, D.: Science is dope as hell, but it’s a flashlight trying to illuminate the Universe. In other words, it’s entirely possible (though perhaps not probable) that an invisible space giant is floating over your house right at this moment, just waiting to take a shit on your roof. And Roland: go read a book.

It’s considered proper form, when writing, to have a point. So here it is: in the words of Weezy, “Informate before you speculate”. And most importantly: avoid the extremes.

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Strange dreams

In the spirit of this December 21, 2012, let me tell you about a strange and vivid dream I had last night. I was having a picnic with my (ex)girlfriend, between two buildings. To our left was a fence, to our right a clearing that seemed to give on some park. During the course of our picnic, two huge, scary-looking dogs (I remember identifying them as lynxes, though they seemed more likely to be from some other world). They were walking past, looking at us, and I lost my nerve. I ran to hop the fence to get away from these monsters.

My girl stayed sitting, informing me that all I had to do was ignore them, that by running I excited them. She was right; one of them came at me rapidly, the other one coming in a few seconds afterwards. It was too late to go back and try and remain calm: I one-timed over the fence, turning in mid-air to face the oncoming hounds. In my Matrix-like backwards jump, I was close enough to one of them to see death in his jaws and claws, but he ultimately missed me, by a few inches. When I got back up, I realized I had two gashes, marks that ran the length of my forearms. I felt no pain, no fear. And when I woke up, I was left with the strangest of impressions.

Coincidence? Symbolism? Jack shit?

The boundaries of language

Qu’on soit francophone ou anglophone québecois, on se doit d’écouter “Québecois de Souche”, des Cowboys Fringants (Oui, le titre du vidéo en tant que tel est plein de fautes, et je m’en excuse de la part de l’épais qui a posté ça tout croche.)

Now, don’t be scared of the title, or of the band’s name, no one’s going to have their existence threatened. Make sure to listen to the words, and if the Cowboys’ folksy neo-rock riddims make it too hard for you to follow along, lyrics are here

D’un point de vue lexical, entendons-nous que tous les termes employés sont parfaitement acceptés, et comprises dans le registre de la langue franglaise. In other words, le monde y parlent généralement plus ou moins de même.

Il faut y réfléchir, quoi. C’est comme si à force de quelques siècles de communication, le français a genre évolué, acquérant des nouveaux termes afin de faciliter la communication et la cohabitation. Sans pour autant exploser ou disparaître.

The versa’s vice is that, if you’re an English speaker, you’d have to be pretty dim not to be able to communicate on some level in French. About a quarter of the words are straight English, and a further fifth simply French pronunciation of English words. Just a little something to ponder, alors qu’ on voit de la haine comme lors des dernières élections, et qu’on se met à parler dans certains cercles médiatiques comme si on est dans des camps rangés. Jusqu’où vont les différences?

This article was quite difficult to write, you know. Word’s spellcheck was going crazy, and changing from accents to non-accents a constantly-reappearing challenge. Nevertheless, I learned something, about the boundaries of language as a talking point and factor in the public discourse vis-à-vis the issues that concern and unite and divide and incite us.

(That last paragraph is from a dialect of English known as Classical B.S.)

MANDATORY FRENCH TRANSLATION OF CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH[1]

Cet article fut assez difficile à écrire, vous savez. La fonction grammaticale du logiciel Word péta les plombs, et devoir aller d’accents a pas-d ’-accents fut un défi qui apparut constamment. Néanmoins, j’ai appris quelque chose, sur les limites de la langue en tant que point de discussion et facteur dans le discours public vis-à-vis les issues qui nous concernent et nous divise et nous incitent.

(Le paragraphe ci-dessus provient d’un dialecte français nommé le Nymportequoix)


[1] Pour plus d’informations concernant la susceptibilité du contenu électronique de désignation ‘blog’ aux lois et modalités de la Charte de La Langue Française tels que déterminés par la dernière soumission de l’Assemblée, veuillez vous addresser aux offices du Bureau de la Commission sur la Protection du Cyber-Français dans l’Espace Virtuel Québecois (La BCPC-Fdl’EVQ), organisme spécialisé de la Régie Ministérielle du Gouvernement du Québec. On a des bureaux un peu partout.

Le Roi-Esclave

This is a little story I wrote a while back, about the dangers of excessive pride (or something like that). I was inspired by the extremely dope Amin Maalouf’s style of placing a story in a pseudo-historical/mythological context, Enjoy!

For more information on Amin Maalouf, simply Google ‘Amin Maalouf’.

Lookin for a lion

A little context: this is something I wrote about a year and a half ago, during a weekend I spent in Lyon. During my time there, I had a girl on my mind. She was not with me, she was in Paris. Nevertheless, being a symbol-minded guy (hah), I set in motion a little scheme which I thought would “make her fall for me”, involving a lion statue. Aah, to be young(er) again.

Je ne nierai pas que j’avais ça en tête alors que j’explorais la magnifique et historique ville de Lyon. Je ne dirais pas que c’était un objectif, je n’avais aucune attentes vis-à-vis cette idée, mais c’était comme si elle guidait mes pas, doucement, à travers une ville où je n’avais aucun point de repère, rien à faire, nulle part où aller, quoi. Je marchais librement, choisissant ma destination au fur et à mesure, selon les signes, selon ce que mon cœur et mon intuition me disaient, et toujours dans l’espoir de trouver un lion de pierre à photographier.

C’est peut-être symbolique que je l’aie finalement trouvé, mon lion, au sommet de la colline, en face de la Cathédrale. Les circonstances qui m’y ont mené furent entièrement fortuites, ma promenade m’a emmené par-là, et je décidai, après un délicieux kefta bien ré énergisant, de gravir l’imposant mont qui surplombe la Saône, et la ville elle-même. De loin, la cathédrale était impressionnante, et comme toutes les maisons du Dieu des catholiques, un peu intimidante.

Parlant de Dieu, j’ai visité quelques-unes des vieilles églises en ville, et le sentiment de paix que j’ai trouvé en elles était envoutant au point d’être inquiétant. Le contraste entre les églises et la ville qui les abrite est frappant, et crée une sensation d’étourdissement lorsqu’on passe d’un monde à l’autre, et ce, des deux bords. À l’intérieur, c’est le silence pesant et solennel, la sensation de vide. La noirceur presque totale, refoulée seulement par la lumière filtrée des vitraux, ainsi que l’odeur particulière de l’encens, rend l’homme petit devant Dieu. C’est un peu sinistre comme atmosphère, mais je me trouvai rapidement envahi par un sentiment de paix et de calme complet.  Mais ce, seulement à l’intérieur.

J’avais franchement le sentiment de passer au monde des pêcheurs, au monde des gens stressés, qui cherchent toujours plus, toujours à combler, toujours à parler. Je regardais les gens passer, observant leurs manies, essayant de faire resurgir en moi cette paix totale de l’âme, mais peine perdue, j’étais de retour au vrai monde des humains. Et une fois cette réalisation faite, je continuai sans plus tarder mon chemin.

***

À la recherche d’un lion

Je dois réfléchir symboliquement pour le trouver

Sa trace file à travers la ville, de large en long, de pont en pont

Où se cache un lion à Lyon?

Je me trompe souvent, je suis des signes puérils

Je marche allègrement, je découvre une ville

Mais j’espère toujours réussir dans mon plan

Elle me comprendra maintenant

Des routes et des portes

Des cafés et des clopes

N’importe quel chemin que je prends, sentiment unique

Ce chemin sera la route scénique

La république me pique

Je visite le pouvoir politique

Louis XIV et la Place du Maréchal

Mais mon lion se dissimule dans le foliage automnal

Et finalement je vois Dieu, chez lui, surveillant la ville

Retranché sur sa montagne, il tente ma curiosité

Milles marches à pic, des chemins sinueux à travers le jardin

Pour simplement arriver à la porte

Je me repose un peu, je me rafraichis,

Je sors mon appareil, j’admire le panorama

La batterie meurt quelques instants avant que je l’aperçoive

Incognito mais imposant, surveillant la glorieuse entrée du temple

School’s out

Nathaniel D.  Hale once theorized that, “Ring or no ring, a ho gon’ be a ho [sic]”[1], a well-constructed thesis with which I concur. Though his theory has been criticized by academics on the basis that it does not address the nature of being a ho, thus failing to establish a causal link, it has nevertheless become a yardstick for predicting the future behavior of certain kinds of people.

Hale in 2001, accepting his Nobel Prize for his work with "bomb-ass weed"

Hale in 2001, accepting his Nobel Prize for his work with “bomb-ass weed”

My recent experience has also led me to a similar conclusion, and since the nature of wisdom and experience is such that it only grows once it is shared, I think it’s only right that I write down my conclusions, in the hope that I can help out my fellow man. You see, I was played recently. Broadsided, by a girl from whom I can admit had me completely fooled.

My old man once dropped this pearl of wisdom: “Son, don’t shit where you eat.” I reflected profoundly on this, and did not see the meaning until much later. I also, I think, did the opposite. Decisions were made, fun was had, and in the end, it was as easy go as it was come.

But this isn’t a historical account of the relationship, a play-by-play. It’s more about the lessons learned after the dust settles. What I got from this is the importance of two things: awareness, and authenticity. I have learned that these are the foundations of a relationship, but that inevitably, they start from you. To use a little imagery, think of awareness as your shield, and authenticity as your sword. Or for the men of nonmilitary means, awareness is your home, and authenticity is your vehicle.

It goes without saying that selfishness abounds in our society, that we’re looking out for our own interests first. After all, we arrive here as individuals, and we die as such. We’re all we’ll ever truly know and be in this life. Knowing what you want in your life, and going after it, is the basis of authenticity, which in turn is the foundation of a healthy relationship. What it isn’t, though, is immediately obvious.  We have our little voices, our dreams, our instincts, call it whatever, that tell you what it is you want, but we also have a mind that can interpret, relativize, and make compromises on what it is that you want. It can make you think you know what you want, can make you think you want something that might not be right for you. That’s called compromising, and it’s the foundation of an unhealthy relationship, one which doesn’t develop right, or leads to surprises.

Before you get all Dr. Phil on my ass and start exhorting the virtues of compromise, let me specify: you should never compromise on your choice of mate. In other words: Do. Not. Settle. It’s not my place to moralize and say “don’t lie”, but a suggestion, for your benefit: don’t lie to yourself. This is what is meant when I talk about authenticity. In my most recent case study, I failed to be fully authentic. I lied to myself, and then I was lied to. I compared authenticity to the sword before: keep in mind that the bitch’s double-edged. And that by compromising on your authenticity, by acting in a way that you might know deep inside of you is incorrect, you begin playing a role, you become who you’re perceived to be rather than who you are. And if you happen to be in that situation with a person who’s unscrupulous about lying, or sloppy with their ethics, watch how fast you get the shaft. You’re setting yourself up, and setting up your mate as well. Remember this simple quip: relationships are like a fart, in that if you have to force it, it’s probably shit.

How does one know, then, if he’s “forcing it”? This is where awareness comes in. My recent experience was revealing to me in many ways in terms of awareness, and I’ll summarize it like this: the devil is in the details. So watch, esti. Pay attention to your thoughts. Be aware, of behaviors, of actions, and especially of the motherfuckin details. You can’t repress what you know is right without causing yourself stress. Paranoia and anxiety are not necessary, and to me they’re actually the opposite of awareness, they’re the illusion of awareness. And gents, keep this in mind: girls can be wily as hell. And some of them are pretty good at playing dumb.

It’s all good, though. That’s the nature of the game in our fast-paced twenty-first century world. Nobody really gives a shit about anybody, at least not at our age, except insofar as they bring something to our lives. Until, maybe It’s paradoxical, but this is how it is, it seems: you shouldn’t take personal relationships personally.In the end everything balances out, and whatever you reap, best believe that’s what you’re gonna sow.

And now, as per post-breakup protocol, a word from our sponsors.

 


[1] Dogg, Nate. “Your Wife”. Music and Me (Westside of the LBC: 2001). Accessed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&v=GyJDi8RHAE8

The 50-40-10 Rule

-So what would you say is the key, then?

-Key?

I feigned ignorance, but I knew where he was heading. I wanted to share, to reveal my observation, maybe enlighten these young chaps a little. Sure, it was an ego thing. But if my information is solid, if I believe in what I’m selling, so to speak, then is it not win-win?

-Yeah, man. Like the general principle, that you would identify as key to understanding and getting women.

Surprisingly eloquent. I could see their eyes, and at that moment I felt a brief but satisfying flash of camaraderie. Because every man shares a common experience, can identify with the question of women. We’re all on that boat together.

So I explained it to them, my unified theory of women, so to speak. The 50-40-10 Rule.

The 50-40-10 Rule states that the probability of it working out with a girl depends on three things:

Circumstances   (50%)

Confidence (40%)

Skill (10%)

“Circumstances” refers pretty much to everything concerning the environment and the state of mind of both her and you. Where are you meeting her? What time is it? What are you both doing?

This is obvious, and those are indeed the most basic circumstances. How did her day go, though? Did she work? Did she just hang out with her friends? Is she coming off a hangover?

Of course you don’t need to know these things. How could you? Consequently, you have very little control over them. They greatly influence the outcome, however, and simple timing can make the difference in so many situations. Life happens, as they say. Sometimes you’re entering at a disadvantage and you don’t even realize it.

Imagine this: One night your boys are going out, to some club or another. You decline to go, for whatever reason. Had you gone, though, you might’ve spotted some girl, and, finding her hot and thinking you have a shot, you go meet her.

She, however, was not having a very good weekend. Maybe her boyfriend broke up with her recently and she’s still getting over it. Maybe her friends convinced her to come out, even though she feels like shit and is still thinking about some guy whom she loved and who just broke her heart. Maybe she had started smiling again because her friends were making her laugh, and they were all having a laugh talking shit about men. You would’ve seen her at that moment, gotten a good vibe, gone in. This is what we call an uphill battle.

If someone were to meet that same girl two and a half weeks later, when she’s on the rebound and is down for virtually anyone, he would’ve walked into a much simpler and more conducive situation. And when you coincidentally go back to the club from the beginning, a few weeks later, and happen to meet her that night, you might find she’s stabilized, more positive, and more charming. That was a basic example of the importance of circumstances, with condensed timescales. There are a million more possibilities. Everything, from the weather to what her friend fuckin ate for dinner that night, can be a factor in determining the outcome, in letting you steal away a victory, or in costing you a last-minute defeat.

Ask not for whom the  Taco Bell tolls, it tolls for thee

Ask not for whom the Taco Bell tolls, it tolls for thee

You are going through your own things, engaged in your own projects, relationships. You have, up until the moment you meet the girl, lived an entire life without knowing this person. You come in from your own angles, off your own ups and downs. You’ve been having your own night. What if she’s the third girl you’re chatting up that night, and you’re a little shook? Or you have a drunk friend who’s passing out, effectively requiring your attention to some extent or another? It is what it is.

Fortunately, concerning your side of the equation, you have a little more control. Because another 40% (or 80% of the remaining 50%, because stats make everything seem more scientific) is determined by confidence. Basically, the importance of circumstances mean that you can`t take shit too personally. This is what is meant by the expression “numbers game”.

“Confidence” refers to a collection of small elements, each of which reflect a certain, strong state of mind. It’s more than the sum of its parts, though: it’s a general attitude. It doesn’t come out of your mouth, or what you’re wearing, or even how you’re carrying yourself, though all these things play a part. Basically, you exude confidence. You sweat that shit, and people pick up on it. It plays a huge part in all your interactions, with everybody, and influences not only how you’re treated, but how you perceive that treatment. It can single-handedly win the day for you, and many times it does.

Often, though, confidence seems almost like a fluid state of mind, coming and going. All kinds of things play a part in determining your confidence. Your own circumstances, basically. Your mind, in all its complexity, plays a part here. Sometimes you feel as though you’ve lost it, you’re no longer holding up, you’re without foundations. I guess that’s normal, we all go through it. And if you feel like this, honestly, it’s absolutely okay to fake it. You can fake it, and people generally do, to varying degrees of success. It doesn’t do you much good to try to be ‘genuine’ and act without confidence.

Also known as the Van Houten approach

Also known as the Van Houten approach

Faking confidence is a tricky thing, and it should only be used as a temporary measure. I think real confidence does come and go at times, but really finds its roots in feeling that you’re in control of your life, your decisions. Do your own thing, and confidence (along with much knowledge about yourself) will come to you. The innate kind, the one where you don’t have to think about your moves because a certain optimism factors into your perceptions. Sometimes you’ll get fucked over, too, and you might feel unconfident for a while as you recover or grow or whatever. Shit happens, to everyone, and then it goes away.

Obviously, girls like confident men. It’s been said to death, because there’s truth to it, and without resorting to illegal means, no way around it.

With favorable conditions, things are decided by your confidence. Everyone’s heard that statistic about how most of communication is non-verbal, well, that’s what factors in here. If you’re nervous, she’ll know, just as you’ll know if she’s nervous. This is why we see guys go in with ridiculous-sounding lines and get out with a girl on his arm. Confidence is the delivery, even in the lead-in to the delivery. It’s not necessarily about sounding cool or detached or uncommitted or shit like that. I think, on many levels, girls are much smarter than guys, and know relatively quickly if a guy’s interested in them. She knows what he’s going for, but if he’s playful (or mysterious, or cute, or direct, or et cetera depending on the girl) she’ll let him play. And once you’re in, you’re in.

Finally, confidence is not an all-or-nothing thing. There are levels. Avoiding extremes is pretty key I think, and constant awareness is necessary. Arrogance is not only annoying, but is generally unproductive in the long run, if displayed excessively. Humility is good as long as it does not become self-derisive. Overall, though, you’re better off leaning on the side of arrogance rather than humility, in spite of what girls will tell you.

Whatever the confidence level, it is important to know a few principles about interactions. An understanding of some of the ways to keep a girl’s attention is not only important, but it’s what will make flirting and chatting up girls fun in the first place.

“Skills” (10%)

Other guys, more successful than me, have written about this already, so I’m not about to go in any detail here. It’s enough to say that skills will not only allow you to control a given situation better, but will make flirting with girls fun and more exciting. After all, isn’t something more fun when you know what you’re doing?

Basically, there are certain principles one should try to abide by in conversation, that might make the person you’re conversing with feel better, and feel better about you. These vary, I think, according to the personality type, and what works for some may not work for others. This is quite normal: after all, you don’t play a linebacker at wide receiver, and you don’t make a ho a housewife.

No, you most certainly do not.

No, you most certainly do not.

We all have to create our own approaches, it seems, based on our own personalities. A few generalities I’ve noticed though:

-In a first impression, it’s better to talk less.

-Listening is key; the appearance of listening is vital

-As Shakespeare said: Brevity is the soul of wit. In other words, better to cut yourself a little short, time-wise, than overstay your welcome. This is especially important in first-impression situations. Learn when to fuckin dip.

-When you do talk, avoid platitudes. Better her thinking you’re a weirdo than a bore, and saying unexpected things can keep a person on their toes. It’s also more fun for you, trust.

Unpredictability, yo.

Unpredictability, yo.

If I had to choose an image to depict the 50-40-10 rule, it would be that of a ship at sea. The 50% represents the sea, the 40% symbolizes your ship, and the 10% is you, the captain of that ship. The fun of it comes from knowing how to steer a goddamn ship instead of flapping around like a momo. You’re free to build your ship as you see fit, just try to not ever forget that you’re ultimately at the mercy of the sea.

Aside