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.

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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

Panem et Circenses

Or: How to sound smarter by saying shit in Latin

It doesn’t take a keen sense of irony to appreciate the humor in having McDonald’s, the blocker of arteries and fattener of asses par excellence, sponsor an event which is supposed to be about athletic achievement and top physical form. Shit, just this morning I’ve read three statuses on Facebook pointing this out. Nevertheless, being a smart-ass historian and lover of obscure references, I couldn’t help but be reminded, when seeing the Golden Arches and the Olympic logo side by side, about the ancient Roman notion of ‘bread and games’.

Bread and games (the formulation comes from the Roman poet Juvenal, in case you ever need to really impress someone)  was an idea developed by Roman politicians during the second century C.E. as a means of pacifying and satisfying the population, which effectively diverted public attention away from politics and civic participation . They figured out, quite cleverly, that as long as people are fed and distracted, ain’t no one gonna say shit. Now, the ancient Roman Empire was by no means as prosperous as we are today, but one thing’s for sure: those guys could throw a party. At a time where most people still thought fire was the shit, these ingenuous bastards were building stadiums that could seat 50,000 people. Yes, Habs fans, that’s about two and a half Bell Centers.

What kinds of shows were organized? Huge chariot races, gladiator fights, even naval battles were re-enacted by flooding the Coliseum floor with enough water to support actual warships. Pretty hardcore, wouldn’t you admit? Yes, the Romans loved them some war, so much so that they had to re-enact it in expensive stadiums when there was no one to fight. The idea behind it though, as mentioned, was quite simple: keep people distracted. Never you mind about the fact that the money was rapidly becoming nothing more than a shiny turd, that famines and corruption were the new black, and that the Imperial office was usually held by nimrods who were only there because the Praetorian Guard allowed them to be.

Here we go, the Olympically-minded amongst you are now undoubtedly saying, now he’s going to start ranting about how the Olympics are a cover up, a distraction while the global corporate elite fakes moon landings and New World Orders dead babies. Well, no, I’m not going to do that. Actually, like pretty much everybody, I enjoy watching the races, the jumping, and all of that (except for the table tennis; I’m sorry, but if I can re-enact an Olympic medal event at the arcade down the street, it-is-just-not-that-legitimate.)

So what’s my problem, then? Quite simply, that the Olympics are waaaay overhyped, and it would be a good thing if we both stopped making such a big fucking deal about which country has the best trampoline jumper, and stopped spending so much god damn money on the thing. With Greece on the verge of having to start giving blowjobs to Germany to cover the interest on its national debt, we are treated to an overblown opening ceremony that looked like the White House scene from Independence Day. How about that drought in West Africa that’s about to lead to a famine? We’ll deal with that eventually, right now we want to pay two hundred guys to ride out on bicycles with fairy wings attached to their backs (yes, this happened.) I’m not diminishing the accomplishments of the athletes, who train hard and set new frontiers for human physical achievement. I’m not trying to diminish that at all, but I’m also not about to make it greater than it really is.

If you are unaware that there’s an election happening in Quebec in a month, and are unable to name the parties which will be running in it, but are able to tell me how many medals Phelps won on his way to the stadium this morning, that’s a problem. If you don’t know that there’s a civil war raging in Syria which threatens to engulf the entire Middle East in a shitstorm of bombs and blood, but cried when that Canadian girl was disqualified because her horse had a cut, that’s a problem. And if you’re wondering how I know so much about the Games, it’s because the hotel bar I work at has them on all the damn time, and I try not to work too hard.

Distractions are everywhere, my friends. Yes, we need them, and yes, these things are fun for us, and yes, as humans, we like to affiliate and represent and cheer on and admire. But let’s not get carried away, let’s not lose track of what it is we’re watching, and let’s not be retarded with how we spend our money and efforts at a pretty important and eventful time in our history. Let’s not go down the same road as the Romans.

By the way, waddup Usain Bolt, still being the fastest man in the world after four years. That’s some hardcore shit.

It’s all about control

Today is a beautiful summer day. Sun is out, birds are chirping, butterflies are butterflying, all of that. What will I do on this most auspicious of days, you ask? What fun activity have I got planned? Balls-all. I plan on sitting in my backyard, snatching a few rays, smoking a few J’s, and catching up on my reading of Talleyrand (who?)

Wow, there goes a lazy guy, right? Is he depressed? Man, hasn’t he got shit to do? Doesn’t he want to be proactive?

Kiss my ass, imaginary voices. I have decided that this is what I am going to do, and friends, it’s all about control. You wanna feel happy with your day? Enjoy your time? Don’t be shy and assert yourself, and never be afraid to do what you want, regardless of how it may seem. Yes, the following two words are the key to making sure you don’t burn out amidst the pressures of juggling relationships, work, and all of that: assert yourself.

I have a friend who regularly forgets this. This guy, god bless him. It’s a rarity to hear him say ‘no’. Wanna go out? Wanna work a double? Wanna stick this bag of heroin in your asshole and waddle across international borders? Yes, Yes, and God Yes (ok, not that last one, but only because no one’s asked yet). He’s got his reasons, let there be no doubt about it. The guy likes to please, or maybe he has nothing better to do. But amidst all his reflections and justifications, the fuckin guy forgets to answer the question! ‘Do you wanna’! As a result, he finds himself doing a bunch of shit he doesn’t even want to do, then sits there afterwards wondering why he’s down, or tired, and blames others for making unreasonable appropriations of his time. Objectively (meaning, from my point of view), there is nothing unreasonable about what is requested. It’s on you, Benny (names have been changed to protect me from awkward conversations later), these are all decisions you are making. You were asking me for advice, well here it is: ask yourself what YOU want, then, firmly grab your testicles, open your mouth, and formulate the following words when applicable: Nah, I don’t feel like it.

Speak up, my friends. You won’t please everybody, and you should consider yourself lucky if you manage to please anybody. The least you can do is at least try and please yourself (masturbation joke totally intended), at least once a day. To paraphrase the great 21st century philosopher Ne-Yo, one must strive at all times to be ‘commander-in-chief of [his] pimpship, flying high’.

By the way, this is my first blog post, and fear not, it won’t always be this Dr. Phil-esque self-help do-it-yourself-home-improvement kind of writing. Comments are appreciated!Image