The Pyshco … ahem … Psychopath Test

Sunday 13 October 2013, 8.10am HKT


(Updated same day with extra photo; corrected for typos)

SOME parts of this post will disturb, so grow up.

psychopath test logo

(adapted from The People Group)

Read the rest of this entry »

Rurdy-Turdy Thursday: One Word Answer

Thursday 23 August 2012, 4.54am HKT


THIS is a new posting category: Rurdy-Turdy Thursday comes out irregularly but always on a Thursday (obviously).

It’s crap.

It’s fun.

It’s stuff you’d rather bin but never got round to it.

It’s stuff all nosey parkers like to read.

* * *

ONE WORD ANSWER

Rubric (that’s old-fashioned for ‘Instructions’)

Answer all with one-word answers. Time limit: Preferably within our lifetime, if not yours. Don’t spoil the fun for others: copy and paste into your own “About” page or something, type in your answers, and tag a bunch of people (including me). Answering them is harder than you think, so up to three words are allowable.

My answers:

Where is your mobile/cell phone …………………. Right
Your hair colour ………………………………….. Deciduous
Your mother ……………………………………… Oldtype
Your father ………………………………………. Newoldtype
Your favourite thing ……………………………… Paper

Your dream last night ……………………………. Awake
Your favourite drink ……………………………… Coffee
Your dream/goal …………………………………. Partying
The room you’re in ………………………………. Stacked
Your fear ………………………………………… Choicelessness

Where do you want to be in 6 years ……………. Abroad
Muffins …………………………………………… Crap
One of your wishlist items ……………………….. Etc
Where you grew up ……………………………… Timely
What are you wearing …………………………… Pinstripe

Your TV ………………………………………….. Movies
Your pets ………………………………………… Gone
Your computer …………………………………… IBM
Your life ………………………………………….. Emergency
Your mood ……………………………………….. Easy

Missing someone ………………………………… Supposedly
Your car …………………………………………. Flogged
Favourite store …………………………………. Laurence Corner
Your summer ……………………………………. Lolligagging
Your favourite colour …………………………… The Red, White and Boring

Last time you laughed ………………………….. Today
Last time you cried ……………………………… Unrecallable
Three people who email me …………………….. Bill the Bills Biller
Three of my favourite foods ……………………. Italian, French, Levantine
Three places I’d rather be right now ……………. Somewhere, Everywhere, Anywhere

Three people I think will do this …………………. Anybody
Your favourite one word ……………………….. Fabulous

And my own cheeky additions:

Your favourite vice ……………………………… Listening
Your favourite good habit ………………………. Observing
Your least favourite virtue ……………………… Gregariousness (big word, huh?)

Favourite English first name ……………………. Ashley
Favourite non-English first name ………………. Fabio (Italian)
Favourite surname …………………………….. Fortescue (for-tis-skew) (English)
Name that stuck after first hearing ……………. B. Speight (spayt)

What’s in your wallet …………………………… Receipts
Top or bottom ………………………………….. Spherical

Your favourite ink colour …………………………………….. Green
Ink colour that makes your handwriting look fabulous ………. Black
Ink colour you’d rather drink …………………………………. Blue
Ballpoint pen nib size …………………………………………. 1 mm (broad)
Highlighter colour …………………………………………….. Blue

Are you the jealous type ……………………….. You?
Favourite meal ………………………………….. Breakfast
Favourite piece of cutlery ………………………. Spoon

What you do for kicks …………………………… Sleep
Favourite aspect of your favourite people ……… Slack

Flight or invisibility ………………………………. Teleportation
Snow White or Goldilocks ……………………….. TRONwhores

Bollocks for you …………………………………. Gentrification (big word again, no?)
Your bollocks that they can’t stand …………….. Everydayness (polysyllabic, no?)

Are you metric ………………………………….. Yes
Are you imperial ………………………………… Yes
Choices come in ………………………………… Fours
You count numbers in ………………………….. German
You think the rest in ……………………………. Any

What animal are you …………………………… Alive
Favourite all-time author (surname only:
multi-barrelled acceptable) …………………….. Mikes
What’s your nickname for yourself ……………. Spanky Pants

Meaning of Life ……………………………….. 42 – xyz(23) to the power of olive oil

(inspiration from this Facebook note)

_____

ABOUT | TOP POSTS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | MIRROR | SISTER BLOG

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Image via Cynthia L. (B12262)

Updated 29 Sept 2012 (formatting fixes)

What’s it been? Venting (4/5)

Tuesday 6 March 2012, 12.15pm HKT


FROM PART 3

This is another tl;dr instalment. Woe betide you if you forego reading it, for it contains a number of broadsides that may actually affect YOUR blogging activities.

* * *

VENTING

This is the right time to speak up.

Normally I don’t like to hit back, not especially at blogs anyway, since, as a renegade blogger myself, I know full well how brain-damaged the whole exercise can be.

But man has his limits, as Detective ‘Dirty Harry’ Calahan once put it.

____________________

A little about my personality

You need to know something about me first so you know overall why I’m venting here:—

Be surprised to learn that I’m actually a Type A personality.

You’d never thought so just by the way I mostly carry on, but many people actually think I’m a milquetoast (a timid, unassertive person for those unused to americanisms) because of the way I let things pass 99% of the time.

That is, until they get up my nose long enough. Then they find to their terror that I have a high-velocity explosive temper with a physical speed and agility to match.

  • That sociologist on Job No. B08045 received my ‘hairdryer treatment’ at 50% capacity and, boy, was scared fartless.
  • That pushy sonofabitch salesperson who tried to sell me barely existent 100gsm-weight coated woodfree paper for US$1,500 a reel (double the market spot price) got a faceful of my 75% temper and almost felt he was being garrotted with No. 3 Piano Wire.

But 99% of the time, I just let it be. Pushing back isn’t automatic even for Type A personalities, you know. Type A’s aren’t psychopaths. Many Type A’s are really patient, easygoing people — so that Type A/Type B theory can go straight into the dustbin.

My life is one long emergency and I don’t have the time or energy to go ballistic at the slightest provocation. I leave that to the great masses of uncontrollable animals elsewhere.

‘They are what they are’

Intellectual discussions don’t normally scare me — not even those well outside my education or training. Trust me, I’m no intellectual. I’m an educated man but I can’t speak intelligently about the habits of others engaged in intellectual discourse. But then again, if you’re like me,** just about nothing should scare you.

** A chopper biker, legally trained, mum telling you to wear long hair after she died, 37 months on crutches, two months in a neck brace, and 114 years of printing legal documents for government-approved financial scams IPOs.

Personally, I’m not terribly fond of intellectuals or academics, especially the more egregious types. They are what they are, as the Italian phrase puts it rather well. I take their facelessness at face value, enjoy their foggy and oracular discussions for what they’re worth, have a larff, and move on.

Not to bottle things up

People who know me even for five minutes will know I’m not the type who holds a grudge against anyone — for sure not over the Internet — mainly because I operate on two principles:

  1. outlive them so I take pleasure in seeing them squeal and die before I do
  2. die early myself so I don’t have to breathe the same air as they do

However, I tend not to bottle things up. Yet I’m not exactly disposed to implement advice like ‘Don’t hold back’ either.

Truth is, I’m 88% easier-going than 95% of Type A personalities, 77% of lawyers, or 51% of bikers (of the motorcycle variety).

____________________

A little about 1.67%

Like I mentioned in Part 3 already, I’ve been following some 300 blogs and mailing lists of all types (via email, naturally) for (much, much) more than a year — and only 1.67% of them manages to upset me. But it’s out-and-out 99% upset.

They’re only blogs, right?! What the hell?!?

You’d be surprised just how talented some bloggers are at disruptive behaviour. You’ve got to hand it to them to actually get others to lose their rag over the Internet.

Out of my 300+ follows:

  • around 50 on language, grammar and/or linguistics
  • maybe 25 on various countries or other languages
  • maybe 25 on China
  • a dozen or so on Hong Kong
  • the rest are on cool stuff that pleases me (food, drink, bikes, chicks, cats, graphic arts, travel, music, gigs, news, porn, etc).

Certain issues need to be addressed regarding 1.67% of those blogs.

Tense humour and ‘the pits’

My biggest source of dismay and consternation (in a word, distemper, in the English literary sense, not the biomedical one) have been:

  • linguistics sites or blogs
  • China-watching or related sites or blogs

At the meeting point between those two, the worst has been

  • China-related linguistics blogs or sites from inside China written by foreigners who think they are ‘Chinese’

While I admire their confidence and knowledgeability in their own spheres, I do not admire their tense humour and the inanity of their commentary.

(I can handle racism, I can handle lack of humour, but I just can’t handle tense humour.)

It IS truly amazing that the Great Firewall of China hasn’t managed to stop those blogs from invading out onto us. Not one bit, given that that firewall has the ability to practically block sunlight.

‘They are the pits’ is my John McEnroe’esque assessment.

____________________

A little about linguanophiles

If you care to pay any attention at all, linguistics, translation studies and pedagogy (education) are highly rigid and rigidised fields.

Of the lot, linguistics is the most rigid and rigidised.

The most hotly contested (and heated) debates in academia today are in linguistics, which fact should help you infer the type of people who populate that field.

Read the sidebar for the key reasons for intellectual rigidity and rigidisation.

____________________

A little about comportment

The most galling thing on many of those lingo blogs is the way the bloggers and their regular dogpile of commenters actually go to extremes and deliberately exclude newcomers or those who simply hold different (though often non-dissenting) viewpoints.

I’m reminded of someone’s insight that, if The Establishment feel so fearful and threatened by a 76-year-old retired gynaecologist like Ron Paul (the American politician), there must be something seriously wrong about your turf.

Offensive antics

One of their more offensive antics is the blogger and his (usually it’s a ‘his’) favourite commenters collude behind the scenes, so to speak, to plot a comment dialogue done in such a way that’s deliberately littered with arcane technicalities that newcomers or uitlanders cannot possibly join in.

If you’ve ever been to boarding school and have constantly been abused there (not sexually, I’m embarrassed to say) or have been handed purposely designed ‘aggro’ as I have been, it becomes extremely easy how to figure out who’s colluding with who. Over time, it becomes second nature and you could do it ‘by remote,’ so to speak.

‘Uncooperative’

This pattern of bad behaviour is not one-off. It’s frequently seen in just about every academically related blog and Facebook thread that I’ve ever visited or got sucked into. The same takes place with some regularity on sites and Facebook groups that discuss sociology, translation studies and pedagogy (education).

Indeed, I myself have been solicited by some lingo bloggers or Facebookers to do just that against some unsuspecting victim. “Give ’em a break,” I say to these characters, “We’re still young enough to do that.” And then they brand me ‘uncooperative.’

Shaken to the core

I’ve been following a variety of linguistics, language, translation, sociology and pedagogy sites for well nigh on 10 years on a regular basis — in addition to having handled their authors for print publications for roughly the same amount of time. The same repertoire of antics are repeated time and time again. I’ve learnt to time it when antics start kicking in.

It’s disgusting. It’s offensive. It’s highly prejudiced. And these people aren’t even aware that they’re doing this themselves.

I lose my rag, and I really do have it in me to tell them to f@#k off, go to hell, and don’t come back.

Any inherent faith inside you in the goodness of people easily becomes shaken to the core because of seeing or knowing that.

____________________

A little about grace, if not face

The English aristocracy are famous for their grace — the ability to make a person feel really welcomed.

Clearly, the people who run blogs about linguistics, language, sociology, pedagogy and translation studies did not know how to learn that.

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Such swell intellectualism, and yet ignorant of these simple rules:—

The Golden Rule
Treat others as you yourself like to be treated.

The Silver Rule
Don’t treat others in ways that you wouldn’t like to be treated.

Not unless you’re a sado-masochist, in which case you WOULD enjoy begging to receive pain whilst also enjoying being refused it.

Try mine:—

The Naked Listener’s Malleable Copper Alloy Rule
Go easy on those who think, speak, eat and shat differently than you do because they don’t necessarily have your loaf, gob, eating irons or your porcelain shatware.

____________________

A little about face-off

Sometimes there’s just no way out.

The Naked Listener offers some timely advice:—

The Wax-On/Wax-Off Maxim
“That is the way I do things. If you don’t like it, then find me a driver who WILL comply with the way I do things.”

The English Displeasure and Reprisal-in-Kind Rule
“If my presence here is not up to your standards or expectations, I would appreciate it if you be so kind as to step away from your cheese and crackers for a minute and tell me directly what your requirements or particular preferences are for my presence to be acceptable.”

And remember this:

“If you tolerate this, your children will be next.” (English proverb)

____________________

Your question now must be, why continue with them?

That question is perhaps easier to answer if you care for broadly aimed broadsides in the next part.

____________________

UP NEXT IN PART 5: BROADSIDES

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Keep Calm/Screw Calm via Sarah C. | “I have nothing to say” via Cascade Web Development | Good Habits/Bad Habits Signpost via Marketing Leadership Council | “Once we hit capacity…” via Eddie Codel/Flickr.

Aside: A little about linguanophiles (4/4)

Monday 5 March 2012, 11.30pm HKT


FROM PART 3

(Updated 06 Mar 2012 for typos and formatting failure)

If you’re a linguist (as per linguistics), translation specialist or a pedagogue (educationist or even a teacher), you are not going like this part. It is cynical, but it is also highly accurate for what it’s worth. As the Italians say, it is what it is.

__________

4. Isolation

If there had to be a fourth reason for the noticeable rigidity and rigidisation of certain academic disciplines, then I reckon this might be it:—

A great need for certainty often comes from not getting out much.

This, I’ve noticed even casually, is more often the case with people who spend some significant portion of their lives in some combination of physical, intellectual or even mental isolation from the people and happenings around them.

Maybe it’s because we don’t consider others to be up to scratch because of education, training, social class, loose coinage in their pockets or something.

But more maybe it’s because different views kind of sets up the need to deal with real-life ambiguity — and most of us find it a chore to learn to shoehorn different views into our neat and tidy, educationally conditioned, mental grids.

Whatever the reason, it’s still isolation all the same.

It’s just like that demotivator poster above — you have everything a townie has, but you’re still just driving around on a small, secluded island. No man is an island, but some people come pretty close.

If you’ve lived long enough, you’ll notice aloof or supercilious people often tend to have great need for certainty in their own needs and wants — likewise, equally great expectations of surety from you in fulfilling those needs and wants of theirs.

I’m reminded of what the Speculative Grammarian once told me in a Facebook thread that linguists often don’t update themselves in their fields or even look at the work of other linguists. That puts it rather well, as Denholm Elliot’s character said in the movie ‘A Bridge Too Far.’

__________

Quo vadis?

Linguists (and translation specialists too) vehemently deny any of this.

  • They say they don’t dig orthodoxy.
  • They say they value new contributions to existing theories and practices.
  • They say the inherent contextuality of their subject matter leaves no room for a great need for certainty — and, incidentally, then they say a need for certainty is a good thing because it makes their disciplines ‘more robust.’
  • They say we’re mistaken and they’re not isolated from real life (which is not what we’re saying anyway) — we’re misjudging them because their “experience of a great many languages” could only come from constant contact with the world at large (as one Sino-blogger once retorted to me in a thread).

The last point above was particularly insulting and insolent. It’s as if the rest of us hoi-polloi don’t measure up merely because we’re unknowledgeable in the morphemes, lexical content or functional grammar or f@#king fricatives of a dozen different languages that they know.

I mean, I’m not having it in for lingos, tarnsies and other assorted academics in liberal arts. The liberal arts have their value and uses. But don’t ‘handle’ others with your field of study as though it were a intellectual shield. That’s just makes you a mean bean jumping bean. Truth is, the average liberal-arts graduate earn only 15% more than a secondary school leaver would.

Your chambermaid down the hall is illiterate but could muster some pleasant phrases in Spanish, Swahili and Turkish, get along just darn fine with her Brazilian, Polish and Ceylonese colleagues, and connect with them without needing to ‘correct’ their semantics or semiological functionality. And she makes more money than you do just from tips.

Argue only with their own kind

Indeed, you can get into raging arguments and lifelong feuds with these people just about everything in this Aside — which somewhat proves my point already. Just about every other linguist my classmates and I ever met turned out to be an argumentative character. The more articulate ones have the added flavour of being sardonically insolent. At least the tarnsies (translators) and educrats argue only with their own kind, and that helps to maintain general harmony.

We all want certainty one way or another. We need to feel certain at some point in our life — to feel like we know what’s going to take place and what’s going to happen. Certainty is comfort; it is one of the six basic human needs for a reason.

But even a casual look at these particular people tell us many of their actions are done under the auspices of their need for certainty. It’s a bit like smoking — it becomes a habit after a while. It isn’t the cigarette itself or the actual smoking that makes the smoker feel certain or comfortable. it is the manner they ‘drag the fag’ that makes them feel relaxed.

Assisted suicide

But after having fully two years of linguistics instruction at university (not by choice, I might add), it surprises me so few of us (the lingos, tarnsies, educrats and non-lingos on lingo courses) actually notice these tendencies. Maybe there is some sort of political/poetic (poelitetical?) message somewhere amidst all of the pretension.

“Ironically, people seem to have an easier time totally reversing their beliefs — going from being certain that X is true to being certain that not-X is true — than accepting ambiguity.” — Claude Fischer (ibid.)

Remember, just as the emperor committed assisted suicide as the mob spilled into the palace in the movie ‘Quo Vadis,’ your greatest handiwork could also be your own undoing if you don’t do what the proverbial mob on the march is expecting for their need for certainty.

It’s not just the soy sauce the mob’s expecting to spill for certain

__________

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Updated 06 March 2012.

Images: Isolation via eBaumsworld | Supermarket spillage via CTV.

Aside: A little about linguanophiles (3/4)

Monday 5 March 2012, 9.00pm HKT


FROM PART 2

(Updated 06 March for typos and formatting failure)

The need for certainty is in every one of us. It enables us to regulate our lives and activities, giving ourselves some measure of control in an otherwise chaotic world. But the need for certainty can sometimes cause us to discount and disregard some of the essential nuances and changeable quality built into life.

__________

3. Need for certainty

The need for orthodoxy (‘orthodoxy attachment’) comes chiefly from a great need for and insistence on certainty.

This is probably the biggest factor fuelling paradigm maintenance.

You don’t honestly need to be a rocket scientist to see this suggests some underlying inferiority complex at play here. Everyone else with a modicum of common sense and a little learning can relate to you that language and learning are at heart changeable and changing things because of their inherent contextual ambiguity in use.

“Those of us who teach undergraduates often encounter a woeful complaint when we’ve presented them with conflicting factual claims, explanations, or theories: ‘But which one is true?’

“In part, this cry may reflect students’ urge to know what answer to give on the exam. But I think that it more reflects a general need for certainty. The teacher may want them to compare and contrast assertions, to appreciate that the science on many topics is still in flux, to understand that there may no ‘right answer’ on many topics, but accepting that level of ambiguity is a hard task for many students – and people in general.” — Claude Fischer, ‘Tolerating Ambiguity,’ Made in America (blog), 18 Oct 2011 | Link

(Boldfacings are my emphasis.)

It’s like asking what’s the actual colour of the chameleon — the only possible answer is the permanent colour of a chameleon is the one when it died. Who knows what colour when it was living?

Linguists and translators (‘tarnsies’) say they have to live with ambiguity and flexibility every day. The physicists say theirs is an exacting science, but they’re also visibly content living with a lot of uncertainty (thanks to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle). The lawyers know for certain to a moral certitude that even court judgments can be set aside.

Wherez ur god nao?

Truth is, it’s the lingos and tarnsies who can’t live with ambiguity, which is why their fields are so filled to the brim with rules. They’re all prescriptivists who claim they’re not. (I’m actually a prescriptivist, so it takes one to know one, I suppose.)

Each lingo or tarnsie is vying against one another in trying to come up with ‘the next killer text’ for their discipline — that’s why there are more books published in linguistics than all the physics, biology and chemistry books combined.

To phy-bi-chem people, a standing tome is schleppage. But to the lingos and tarnsies, the book is prestige, something certain to go to if you’re looking for certainty.

That’s why mailing lists like the Linguist List bombards the inbox with roughly 200 messages every week, whereas the Molecular Biology Notebook list could only muster 50 or 60 a month.

I don’t think anyone will be stupid enough to think linguistics is harder than molecular biology (which I did do during my very first job in a London hospital).

__________

PART 4: ISOLATION

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Updated 06 March 2012.
Image via Made in America | Fistful of languages via Alexander Gross.

Aside: A little about linguanophiles (2/4)

Monday 5 March 2012, 6.00pm HKT


FROM PART 1

(Updated 06 March 2012 for typos and formatting failure)

We present you with the second key reason for the rigidness in some academic fields such as linguistics, translation studies and pedagogy.

__________

2. ‘To supplant rather than augment’

Adherence to orthodoxy (‘received wisdom’) primarily stems from a distinct tendency in those fields to treat a new theory coming board as to supplant rather than augment existing ones.

In contrast, the normal situation in other fields (such as mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics or law) is to do it the other way round (i.e. augment rather than supplant).

Here’s a quotation from someone (an academic AND a sociologist, no less) who understands the situation:—

“Much of our civic and social discussions are dominated by the voices of people who are absolutely certain. The speakers brook no thought that their claims are provisional, that future evidence or future reflection might overturn them. Those who accept more ambiguity are at a disadvantage. Once these uncertain folks grant that their opponents just could be — perhaps in certain cases, perhaps partially — right, they have lost the initiative to the certain-truth warriors.” — Claude Fischer, ‘Tolerating Ambiguity,’ Made in America (blog), 18 Oct 2011 | Link

(Boldfacings are my emphasis.)

In other words, the mindset of these folks is about replace vs. add to, which I reckon is no sunshiny way to develop harmonious relationships — which is why there are so many ‘debates’ (read: arguing, bickering) in those fields.

In short, if you’re certain enough, you get to replace the pre-existing rather than add to it.

__________

PART 3: NEED FOR CERTAINTY

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Updated 06 March 2012.
Image via Central Florida News 13.

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