Archive for June, 2010

#48 – English: A Dying language murdered by e-mails and texts.

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

In writing about communication and sex, it would be very remiss to ignore the impact on language of those damned Blackberries. One of the few useful skills that used to be taught to young people in typing class is that while humans are endowed with opposable thumbs, they were never meant to be used for typing. At most, the thumb was engaged only for the purpose of leaving a space. On a proper size Qwerty keyboard, you can use either thumb to move your cursor along to the next word.

But Blackberries have changed the proper order of things. Would you believe they actually have competitions to see which kid can type faster with their thumbs? They are causing serious cases of carpal thumb syndrome!

The reality is that they are not really using their thumbs but their thumb nails. People with a decent manicure can greatly improve their Blackberry skills. What it does not do is improve their use of the English language. Blackberries are doing the English language irreparable harm.

Can you imagine the idiot who sends a Blackberry message to a nubile young lady inviting her for a romantic evening of dining, dancing, sweet nothings, great sex and then has the effrontery of adding a smirking happy face? She should respond by saying, “Sorry, I have to go to the funeral for the last idiot who used a happy face in an e-mail.”

This rant is not about spelling. That battle was lost cause many years ago. Some nerd added spell check to word processing programs and the language has never recovered. Nobody today knows the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’ and little do they care.

And then along came twitter with a limit of 140 characters and instead of challenging the skill of our youth at using the language, it allowed them to abbreviate. The first time I came across somebody using ‘2’ to represent ‘to, too and two,’ I bloody near had a stroke. Even worse some idiots resolved spelling big words by taking out all the vowels in the word, as well as the consonants they forgot. Messaging has become a contest in deciphering gobbledygook.

What is most frightening about this Blackberry craze is that people are spending hundreds of dollars a month to feel important. Executives sit in meetings staring down at their laps. They are neither praying nor playing with themselves. They are running their worlds with their thumbs. They dare not be out of touch.

It is important to me (probably no one else) that I point out that I have always been an early user of new technologies. I am not a dinosaur. I just think the Blackberry craze has gone too damn far! It is doing no good for our language.

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Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

In Babel, getting better wines in restaurants is a special job,

If you won’t drink the swill they serve, you’re called a snob.


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Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

PM Harper is on a spending spree, that we all agree,

The G8 – G20 doesn’t mean as much to you and me,


#46 – Public speaking and sex: The art of persuasion.

Monday, June 7th, 2010

When you are in your teens, it is good to have a friend with whom you can discuss your growing curiosity about sex. Most of the time, it helps demystify the subject. Occasionally, it leads to confusion.

I had such a friend. He often added to the confusion. There was the time, for example, when he convinced me to take a public speaking course that was offered as an after-hours class. It was because we had purloined some books from behind an older brother’s bookshelf that promised to explain the deepest mysteries of something called ‘coitus.’ We were convinced that it was a deeply serious work and we compared notes as we went through the books a chapter at a time.

“We gotta find out more about this public area that women have,” my friend explained. His solution was that it since it might have a relationship to public speaking, we could learn more by attending that class.

Since it was now my turn to read that chapter, it was not until the first public speaking class that I had a chance to suggest to him that he might be confusing the word ‘public’ with ‘pubic.’

But by then, it was too late. The class had started. Instead of being out playing work-up baseball with the gang, we were stuck with an elderly English teacher trying to tell us how to speak in public.

To our surprise and delight, we found the public speaking class dealt mainly with the art of persuasion. For two randy young guys, this was going to be more useful than the teacher realized. We figured it was going to help us get laid.

The first lesson was to learn about your audience. That made sense. We found out that the better you know your audience, the easier it is to get them to go along with your objectives. That is why you start by identifying with them. Knowing about them makes it easier to make them comfortable with you.

We were taught that once a comfort level has been established, you can address the subject of your speech. The teacher made the vital point that a direct approach was not always the best route to your objective. Here we were shown that by laying the groundwork properly, you can get people to think your objective is their idea. This was a revelation.

The teacher showed us how to build our case through the speech and to use emotion to help our audience to feel the need. She showed us how to layer our case to encompass different attitudes and personal needs. She also taught us not to bore our audience with needless verbiage. We learned to end on a high note, with an audience that is sure you have more to give. We learned the secret of the standing ovation.

But did this effort pay off with the girls? It is hard to say. My friend got himself a girlfriend right after taking the public speaking class and said it was not a gentlemanly thing to discuss sex with me anymore. Convinced he was not getting any, I went back to playing work-up baseball. The gang had decided to let girls play with us.

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Sunday, June 6th, 2010

The Liberals need to bring Chrétien back, the guys at the Star say,

It’s ideas like that that make you ask what’re they smoking today?


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Saturday, June 5th, 2010

The Americans are in one hell of a fix,

They’ve found oil and water don’t mix.


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Friday, June 4th, 2010

PM Harper is opposed to taxing of offshore bank transactions,

If he cared about the world economy, he’d explain his actions.


#45 – A good letter is like a good pick-up line.

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

The question is whether texting has destroyed the art of letter writing or the art had already died. That is regrettable because the theory is that the person who can write an effective letter is going to get far more good sex.

And it hardly matters if you are a boy or a girl. The truth be known, guys only think they pick up girls. It is the female of the species that does the choosing. If a lady wants to feel loved, can a gentleman demure? Now that we have that clear, we can talk about writing letters. Or are you really going to ask what good letter writing has to do with influencing persons of sexual interest?

You will be glad you asked. Think about how you start a letter. Traditionally, a polite salutation is used. The key is that it is something polite. While we have been doing away with the old fashioned ‘Dear Jane Smith,’ today we use something breezier and less formal. It can be as dull as ‘Good morning’ or as smiling as ‘To the happiest person.’ What a salutation is not is intrusive, rude or some kind of hackneyed pick-up line. It is about the person whom you are addressing whether it is in a letter, at the office, in a bar or after church.

But then, like a pick-up line, the first sentence of a letter is the key to success. It is that first impression. You live or die with it. Get it wrong and you are most unlikely to ever get your shoes under that bed. Yet that sentence is surprisingly easy. What the first line is not about is you. The first line of a letter must never have an ‘I’ or ‘me’ in it. If you can follow that one rule alone, you are half way there to being a great letter writer and getting laid frequently.

The rest of the letter is easy. It must follow through with the first sentence. It provides reinforcement, necessary detail, an action plan and a time frame for things to happen. Now does that not remind you of a discussion you had with that certain person recently?

What a letter or a proposition should not be is long. In a letter, you should question it, if for any reason it is longer than a page. If the details are that lengthy, they should be a separate document that you append to the letter. In talking to that person of the interesting sex, you should have completed your pitch in just one drink. The second drink never helps make things happen.

You can think of a letter as just a formal type of sales effort. Just remember that it is not the chatty letter you send to Aunt Suzy. Aunt Suzy needs somebody to leave her money to, so it makes sense to send her the occasional, homey, cheerful and expurgated tale of what you have been doing lately.

Business letters can give much faster gratification. They can make things happen. Bear in mind, they can never be 100 per cent successful. Nor will you always be 100 per cent successful with your preferences for sexual conquests. The only guarantee is that if you do not try, you will never be successful. At either.

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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

I’m sick and tired of the restaurants in Babel,

They can never put a good wine on the table,

It means here in Babel, fine dining is a fable.



Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

The judge declared Brian Mulroney was sleazy.

Karlheinz Schreiber found Mulroney was easy.