Archive for February, 2012

Passion: A Real Pain

Posted on February 29, 2012. Filed under: language, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Passion.  Just what does that word mean?  I’ve heard it used all my life;  until recently, not a lot, but enough to get a feel for its meaning.  In my really early years, it was just a word that conveyed some sort of meaning that eluded me, such as the thread at the top of a New Testament page (Holy Bible, KJV) that read “The Passion of the Christ: in reference to The Crucifiction.  Imagine my confusion later when I realized the word was most often used in association with a heightened awareness of sexual attraction, lust, greed, et cetera.  Over time, my perception of the word’s meaning has elongated a bit to become “a very strong feeling about a person, thing, or activity.:  While that is a more relaxed perception than my earliest one, it still did not sit well with “passion of the Christ.”  What to do?  I KNOW!  Look it up in the dictionary…   finally.

Aha!  Mystery solved.  Passion, in year 1175, meant “suffering”  or “to suffer.”  Scribes/translators of the Bible used “Passion of the Christ” as a sub-title in organizing the Christian narrative.  But, how did we get from “suffering” to “intense interest in?”

In the case of The Christ, passion meant unspeakable emotional and physical agony.  This passion was a one-time, acute, fixed point in His earthly sojourn.  His commitment was to meet, then pass through that crescendo of suffering for the betterment of humankind.

This agony does not have to be physical.  As part of the crucifixion drama, the Christ also endured a night of great emotional suffering.  In similar fashion, a person engulfed by an intense and personal struggle (whether for unrequited love or social conscience) may well experience great agony and suffering.  This internal state would aptly, then, be a state of passion.  Crimes committed to sate an intense emotional state, often violently, fit into this “suffering” category and could be referred to as crimes of passion.  So, originally, passion referred to severe angst over an immanent decision, event, or situation that the person had to unwillingly either make or endure.

Next up:  I’m not sure, but hang in there and we’ll pin down this passion thing.

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Why Not Me?

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

segueTo make a smooth, almost imperceptible transition from one state, situation, or subject to another,  (se-gway; mid 18th century, Italian/’Latin)

So, what do you think:  Going from whining about the Great Learned to actually sliding into a brief discussion about a specific word, and using “segue” as the opener?  Smooth, huh?

The first time I heard this word, it was pronounced as a single syllable, “seg.”  That articulation seemed to fit the dictionary definition nicely.  So, I kept that template in my mind as the proper enunciation.

Then came that two-wheeled scooter, the Segway.  Since I was happy that segue was a single syllable word, I did not connect that scooter with my neat-sounding smoothie.  Shortly after that, segue became popular in celebrity speech (it was “in” so it must have sounded refined), and now, carefully – even painfully – pronounced se-gway. My, how that grated on my nerves; from a smooth, single-syllable sigh to a harsh two-syllable thought-stopper that sounded like a donkey’s bray or a pig snort.  The dictionary pronunciation takes away from the simple symmetry of the meaning.

The dictionary credits Italian and Latin as the root for the word.  The Great Learned used the spelling from Language A, and called it Language B even though the B people pronounced that spelling differently.  Italians can pronounce their language any way they wish, and Latin is a dead language (Ancient Rome) so no one really gives a hoot how they pronounced it.  Over here, we do not pronounce “league” as lee-gway, “Teague” as tee-gway, or “fatigue” as fa-tee-gway.

Give it a try.  Segue as though you are sighing.  Let other, more refined persons SE-gway like a braying jack-ass or snorting pig.

Why not me?  Why not you?  As previously noted, there is no manual for how we conduct LIFE.  It is truly done “on the fly.”  The Great Learned do not have a lock on its protocol.  We can do it on our own terms, or the terms of others.  That choice belongs to each of us.  Always has, always will.  As for this very incidental side issue, I will single-syllable segue into the next topic.  (ASIDE:  The spell-checker in this authoritarian PC took exception to all my hyphenated words and suggested I do them in accepted format.  It was a pleasure to click ignore suggestion repeatedly.)

Next up:  Passion — A real pain

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Why Do LIARS Get To Set The Rules?

Posted on February 25, 2012. Filed under: language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

LIARS – acronym, Learned Individual Ascribing Refinement to Self

The Great Learned basically have an edge on the rest of us — they’re smarter.  At least they think so, as do their colleagues.  Lets face it, there are a lot more of them hanging out in the university library than security guards, truck drivers, and ditch diggers — combined

That doesn’t mean they are more intelligent than the rest of us, simply that they have focused their interests and talents into the academic arena rather than the physical, hands-on fields.  If you need a load of product delivered across country pronto, do you want the near-sighted professor of star-gazing or the seasoned over-the-road trucker jacked up on Cajun coffee?  (Conversely,  if you want to know the trajectory of a potential killer asteroid, do you want the jacked-up driver or the Einsteinian star-gazer?)

The Great Learned and…   the rest of us…   though hanging out in different milieus, share a commonality:  we are all primal creatures.  We all got our turf, be it real estate or intellectual property, and, we defend it and enhance it in similar ways. 

In academia, rivals joust for position through arguments of logic, be it mathematics or philosophy.   The perceived best argument (ha, ha, I’m right and you are so wrong) takes the high ground.  Homage of various types is paid to the winner.  

Meanwhile, in the real world, if a ditch digger wants to write an expose on graft and corruption (dirt, as it were) in his chosen field, he enlists the aid of a Smart Dude (a Great Learned) to do the word-smithing. Smart Dude is his translator, taking @#*@!! and other quaint expressions and putting them into readable, non-offense formats.  Smart Dude gets the real credit for this opus.

Language and language construction is a staple of academia.  Researching vernacular, ever mindful of a word’s origins, these experts set down rules on construction, usage, and pronunciations.  I applaud this effort at standardization of language, but…

If language is standardized, how come there are so many exceptions to almost every rule?    What’s with this “i after e except after c, and there are exceptions”?  Why are some words pronounced one way, and a close derivative pronounced another?  Because the experts decided it was to be so.  A select group of the Great Learned conferred, researched, voted with their buds (make that colleagues; bud is in the other camp) and decreed “thus shall it be.”  The Smart Dudes, as bewildered as the rest of us, cover their disarray like lawyers with whereas‘s and wherefore‘s.  And, print up thousands of books to make their decisions the undisputed standard.

Next up:  Why not me?

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Posted on February 24, 2012. Filed under: language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A rose by any other name…     Shakespeare

That is misleading — the title, I mean.  This isn’t about liars at all…   or roses, either, for that matter.  Rather, it’s about the Great Learned, those educated elitists so much better than the common citizenry, the authoritarians who set the standards for the rest of us to follows.

So, what’s with LIARS? you are asking.  Acronym…   what else?  Learned Individual Ascribing Refinement to Self.  It’s sort of an intellectual turf-marking exercise.

I have heard it said that English is the most difficult language to learn (for a non-native, anyway).  If so, that might have something to do with the fact that our language, like our country, is a great melting pot of cultures.  Our early history is a relocation of various ethnicities from across Europe to the New World, people who transplanted their cultures and languages to America’s fertile soils.  Inevitably, cultures and languages (eventually, from all around the globe) blended into a unique offspring, the American experience.  Actually, though, that whole process just made a real mess out of the king’s English.

Understandably, the only persons who could preserve and pass on previous cultures in the written format were the educated ones.  In the far past, if you were a commoner (as almost every one was), you spent all day, every day of the week, breaking your back to provide basic subsistence for yourself and family.  You had no free time to learn an alphabet and writing.  The best you could do was pass down skills and a spoken history to your children,  It was the upper class, living off the wealth provided by the commoners, that had all the time to learn and refine themselves while preserving and decoding the written history of forgotten cultures.  Should you become proficient in a chosen field, you could become one of the Great Learned (pronounced “Smart Dude”), move further up in the ivory tower and just send down periodic pronouncements of your great findings and intellectual prowess for the lesser citizenry to ponder.

Many European languages have a common wellspring — Latin (Veni, vidi, vici, y’all).  While that means they employ a common alphabet, it doesn’t mean they use the same pronunciations.  The Great Learned,  in translating from one language to another, kept the same spellings from Language A to Language B, even though B pronounced things differently.  Why write “bordeaux” (bordux?) and guacamole (gwakamole?) in english when you want me to say bordough and wahcamole?  Maybe the translator (a Great Learned individual)  just wants to show off his language skills and refinement.  Today, what with universal education and the internet, it seems that everyone is a Great Learned individual.  Mispronounce “guacamole” and watch your beer buds snicker and condescendingly point out your “error.”  Yep, your buds are so much more refined than you.

Next up:  Why do LIARS get to set the rules?

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Words: We Live By Them

Posted on February 23, 2012. Filed under: language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It is spoken and written languages (at least those we humans can understand) that puts us in a group apart from other life forms on this planet.  They enable us to communicate every nuance of our lives — every mood, emotion, urge, musing, hurt, injustice…   you get the idea.  An abundance of social websites confirms this need to share the most trivial incidents in the human experience.  It is this apparent need that impels us to create better and faster devices to speed the process (e.g., those marvelous texting machines that allow drivers to text, tweet and LOL their way blithely to the very next convenient accident site up the road).  Wakes, funerals, and viewings are other social forums for connecting with each other — at least for the survivors.

All to often, the communicator fails to communicate as intended.  In a language filled with double-entendres, there is ample opportunity to “step into something” while strolling happily through the verdant fields of modern communication; ask any politician who has spoken to one audience unaware that another audience was listening (and, if not an audience, a blabber-mouth “journalist” who can’t wait to be the first one to spread the gaff.  They call that a “scoop” don’t they?  Sounds apt, like a tool you carry while following your pet yapper in the park.) Words misused (or, unfortunately highlighted by a contrasting situation) provide a vast amount of targets upon which hunters of mangled-verbage can place their sights.

Unfortunately (for my ego), there are times I look up a word to confirm my superior knowledge only to discover the writer/user was…  (gasp)…   correct (Here, insert much growling and gnashing of teeth.)  Grudgingly, I add this knowledge to my own, but not without hidden grievances.  After all, there had to be good reasons for me to get it wrong.  It’s not my fault!

Crosswords puzzles are a good source of vocabulary enrichment.  On the down side, they can be a source of double aggravation:  (1) you can learn that you have misunderstood and misused certain words all your life, and, (2) there is no way the word they want matches the clue they’ve given.  Both of those are sore points with me.

Words reflect the boundaries of our personal existences.  What others (including Miriam-Webster, et al) think a word means is of no consequence to what you heard.  If the speaker referred to someone as a “thespian” and you heard “lesbian,” your concept of the individual is set in your mind, and, it is that concept — not the dictionary definition — that will direct your thinking. 

Next up:  LIARS

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Shticky Matters

Posted on February 21, 2012. Filed under: language | Tags: , , |

Naked and clueless — we all started that way.  Next time you see that authoritarian figure telling you how it should be, pop that little picture into your mind.  It might be better for your mental stability to age-regress the individual as well, since not all authoritarians are physically attractive.

Pick Up Sticks.  There is a children’s game called “Pick Up Sticks.”  It consists of a packet of 8″ long toothpick-like sticks that you stand vertically in a bundle, then you release it.  The sticks fall into a heap in various orientations.  The object of the game is to pick as many of the sticks as you can without disturbing a neighboring stick.  The more sticks you collect, the higher your score.

That’s kind of a metaphor of my point here.  In this game of LIFE, possible choices are heaped in a pile and we go about picking up what works for us, holding on to them sort of like crutches that ease our progress toward…  well, you know what is ahead.  Let’s call these acquired choices “shticks.”  We all got ’em, choices of various kinds that let us meet LIFE on our own terms — or someone else’s  terms if we’ve bought in to their shticks.

And that’s what happens when you show up unexpectedly sans clothing and instruction manual (see previous post).  Teachers, supervisors, advertisers, soul-savers, pharmaceutical companies, cosmologists, cosmetologists, astrologers, astronomers, and even that high-chair baby selling stocks, all are eager to fill me in on what that elusive manual says.  They don’t even bother to provide a bibliography of their sources.  Each condemns me if I do not accept his/her/its way of seeing things.  Every single one of them entered LIFE’s  lobby the same way we all did:  naked and clueless, sans instruction manual.   Soooooo…

What makes their shticks so much better than mine?  I say, “Nothing!”  In fact I think my shtick is better.  Anyway, it works for me, and, since so many of you out there are slightly out of step with me, my shtick is to recalibrate the way you see things, starting with the most basic level — WORDS.

Next up:  Words.  We Live by Them

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My Bona Fides

Posted on February 17, 2012. Filed under: General Interest | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Who I am not.  A big name celbrity, lottery winner, high profile politician, college big wig, college drop-out (they say you have to actually enroll to qualify as a drop out), super athlete, bungee jumper, skateboarder, sky diver, CEO of some ginat corporation heading for a long stretch in stir.  And, contrary to certain unfounded rumors, not a Pole dancer.  I’m not even close to being Polish.

Who I am.  Hermit.  Possessor of several degrees of b.s.  MIGSUC.  Drop-out from Marital Arts Class (she, it seems, graduated cum laude from Martial Arts.  The placement of that damned “I” seemed to keep me on her fighting side.)  Aquarius (the zodiac sign, not the constellation).  Opinionated.  Often grumpy.  And hungry.  In other words, APYMOTS.

Sorry about that.  I have a thing about acronyms.  You may find it annoying, but, it’s not my fault.  I blame the medical and scientific communities for it.  Those medics keep coming up with new monikers for conditions that used to have descriptive names.  Remember rheumatoid arthritis?  Impotence?  Now it’s RA and ED (a sun god and a talking horse?).  Those astronomers, cosmologists and mathematicians seem to have contests to create an acronym of the day.  So why can’t I dabble in it?

Okay.  Here they are.  MIGSUC:  Member In Good Standing of the Uncertainty Club (my cynicism makes me ambivalent about most evertyhing.  APYMOTS:  Any Person You Meet On The Streets.

So, what do I, an admitted APYMOTS, have to offer?  Mostly, just a big dose of irritation.  And, that’s not my fault, either.  I was born naked, clueless, and totally helpless.  I was rushed out of my nice, warm cocoon into a cold room where entities with only eyes on their faces grabbed me, slapped me around, and wrapped me like a mummy.  (It’s not like I remember any of that; I’ve just seen how others are treated in their first minute of life.  It’s a real attitude setter.)  But, here’s the kicker.  I didn’t get an instruction manual upon my arrival.  I don’t know if there is a packing slip that makes me accountable for the unseen document, but, I swear… I never saw that thing.  Thus the source of my irritability:  with not even a quick-start sheet to get me rolling, I am at the mercy of everybody who says, “I’ve got your answers.  Do it my way, or pay the price.”  My irritation turned to chaffing when I realized that all these gurus were born naked and clueless just as I was.  The’ve just picked up a shtick and leaned on it to make things work for them.  And, turn a buck or two at my expense.

Next up:  Shtick this.

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Who Needs a Stinking Resume?

Posted on February 15, 2012. Filed under: Constitution | Tags: , , , , , |

At the onset of this little venture, I imagined I should have a post or two outlining my experience in this sort of thing, and, why you should take the time to consider my offerings.  However, my cynical nature took over, and, I thought, “This will just be about my opinions and views on things.  I got plenty of experience in expressing all that.  Any readers coming this way will have to hear what I got to say before they can decide for themselves whether they resonate with it or are repulsed.”  I don’t need a resume to sound off, and, you sure don’t one to decide like or dislike.  What’s nice is having the freedom to express, and, the  freedom to consider, viewpoints.

Yet, another diversion.  I did want to go on about me a little more, but, that last line brings us earlier than expected to the primary goal of these writings:  WORDS.  More specifically, the misuse and misapplication of words, according to me.  The current subject, freedom of speech, brings up one such expression,

…The Fourth Estate.  Wikipedia has a detailed and informative entry on the origins and applications of the term, but, as I get the gist, it refers to power and influence brokers operating outside the parameters of an established government.  While many of these organizations are labeled “fourth estate” by third parties, some like the allusion to power and privilege and take on the mantle like a cber’s handle.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Press.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution reads, in part:  “Congress shall make no law…   abridging the freedom of speech; or of the press;”  The Constitution — the supreme law of the land — goes to great lengths to delineate the parameters of power for the enumerated principals, to wit, Executive, Legislature, Judicial, and, even though an afterthought, The People of the United States, for whom the original 10 amendments were penned.

Excuse me!  For whom?  The People!  Not a piece of machinery called “the press” nor a select group of people who call themselves “The Press,” but, every person of the United States, with or without a press pass.  So, we (you and I) are the Fourth Estate of power, sharing and acting on popular ideas and initiatives.  We do not need Brian what’s-his-name (a national t.v. anchor person) feeling like he has to “examine the issues and explain them” to us; like Bryan, we stumbled our way to the bathroom this morning and took care of business just as efficiently as he did.  We can decide what the issues mean for ourselves.

Fourth Estate, my onager.  Journalists, reporters, and anchor persons all have niches in my cache of cynicism and resentment.  Michele Malkin sums up their on-screen pomposity nicely:  nothing but teleprompter readers.

Next up:  Getting back to me.

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Port Valentine Layover

Posted on February 14, 2012. Filed under: Special-Occasions | Tags: , , , , , , , |

One more day in port.  Sorry!  After-glow from Valentine’s Day causing a fog.  As long as we are here, might as well consider some of the other aspects of Valentine’s Day.  By the way, does anyone know what Saint Valentine did to get a day named after him and icon-ed by 3 gods of erotica?  Did it have anything to do with making women happy?  Do you think Valentine had any idea how hard he made it for the descendants of your Average Joe to carry on a decent Super Bowl/Pro Bowl party with Valentine’s Day looming ahead? ( Those questions are rhetorical;  no response required.)

Yesterday, I alluded to the brutish nature of the Average Joe.  Yes, AJ is capable of deep committment to only 1 chick, but, he is equally capable of attempting to maintain a harem of 2 or more other chicks.  This propensity may be mildly pronounced (carried on only in the mind) or extreme (requires a little black book to keep all the players straight).  Yes, I will concede that women are capable of such duplicity also.  So, If you feel the need, substitute Average Jane (AJ) where you se Average Joe (AJ)…??  …do that in your mind; I got too much going on in mine.

Ahhh, the secret valentine.  So, while pressing all the right buttons for the official valentine, AJ is thinking about someone else.  Might just be mind play.  Might be plans for later.  Such is the nature of humanity.

Open secret valelntine.  Maybe that other valelntine suspects AJ’s interest and even encourages it.  AJ might be a shy sort and doesn’t really have any valentine,  but everyone knows who is on his mind. Makes for a nice human-interest story, don’t you think?

Ultra secret valentine.  A situation where it is in NO ONE’s interest for the details to be known to anyone.  The holder of those feelings is committed to another, the work place forbids such entanglement, or — and, most distressingly, — the object of the affection doesn’t even know the dreamer exists.  Ouch!

Don’t ask, don’t tell, lest you walk forbidden territory.  And, therein lies a tale, and possibly, even explains the need for such as Dr. Ulysses Freud…   not for me!  I’m just…  generally…   suggesting that.

I think that fog is lifting, and, we will be on our way soon.  Nest up:  Who needs a stinking resume, anyway?

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Valentine’s Day

Posted on February 13, 2012. Filed under: Special-Occasions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Uh-oh!  Here comes a speed boat.  We’re not even out of the harbor, and it looks like the harbor police are hot after us.  No… Wait.  That’s a representative of the Port Valentine Authority.  They say we have to drop  anchor at February Cove, Wharf 14.  It’s mandatory.  (Where are those navigation charts?  It’s diversions like this that really throw us off schedule.  I’ve got a lot of stuff to kick around with you, but, that”ll have to wait till we clear this cove.)

Oh, yeah.  The Annual Memory Test.  Flowers, candy, and greeting cards – that’s the minimal hardware prescribed for your soft ware…  you know, that special spot in your heart that warms up when you think about her.  I am speaking to all you guys out there, because (let’s face it) Valentine’s Day is another one of those “let’s see just how much HE really cares about me” times.  Chances are, you will not forget her birthday, but anniversaries and Valentine’s Day sort of blend into the background like a hunter in a blind.  There is a protocol for this day; she knows it forwards and backwards, and she never forgets the date.  For all you brutish mentalities who think “warm and fuzzy” is best described as a tying touchdown late in the Super Bowl (Yeah!  Sad, but, it’s the majority of guys) you can find those protocols filed under caring, considerate, love, warm and fuzzy, romance, hugs, kisses…  you get the drift.

The archery competition.  If you have a preferred target for the arrows of the Valentine’s love squad (Eros, Amor, Cupid), you can soften her up with any number of tried and true tacts:  a lovely card, a nice restaurant, fresh flowers/corsage, and – most importantly of all – your undivided attention, because THEY DO NOTICE when you look about the room.  There are other choices (jewelry, champagne, etc.), but those are your call.  It depends on how far you want to go with this whole be-my-valentine thing.

Gals, too, express affection at this time, but, they are more selective and focused than your average guy.  They are often homing in on Mr. Right, and they want the entire love squad firing volley after volley into his heart.  Mr. Right will get that affection-laden card hand-delivered with a Mona Lisa smile and love-smitten eyes;  Mr Right will be expected to reciprocate with appropriate gestures of appreciation.  If Mr. Right is one of you guys with a Super Bowl brain, and, you have to look up the word reciprocate, well…   it’s going to be a very long year for you.  Any of you who show up a day late with discount candy and a sad pot plant, you and your next of kin have my condolences.  You will be missed.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

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