The evolution of a word

Today I wrote a comment on a blog that was just the word “Gorgeous!”.

And I realized as a typed it that it has the word ‘gorge’ in it.  How odd.  They seems such distinct meanings.  So I looked it up.

According to Eymonline:

gorgeous (adj.)
c. 1500, “splendid, showy, sumptuously adorned” (of clothing), from Middle French gorgias “elegant, fashionable,” of unknown origin; perhaps a special use of gorgias “necklace” (and thus “fond of or resembling jewelry”), from Old French gorge “throat,” also “something adorning the throat” (see gorge (n.)). A connection to the Greek proper name Gorgias (supposedly in reference to a notorious sophist) also has been proposed.

Gorge is from the word throat in old french.  Which I can also feel the relationship to our present use of the word related to canyon in English, even if it is quite remote.

Which is the thing – so often one can FEEL the roots of a word.  It’s tenuous relationship to the old word is so thready and knotted but it somehow got transmitted in meaning enough that I hear the etymology and can say  – OK.  Yeah.  I can get that.

Words evolve.  Sometimes very quickly and bizarrely.  Imagine how oddly someone from the 15th century would feel about how we use the word “cool” today.  We still hold onto the meaning they understand but it’s far more common use has no real relationship they can understand to the word.

cool (adj.)
Applied since 1728 to large sums of money to give emphasis to amount. Meaning “calmly audacious” is from 1825. Slang use for “fashionable” is 1933, originally African-American vernacular; modern use as a general term of approval is from late 1940s, probably from bop talk and originally in reference to a style of jazz; said to have been popularized in jazz circles by tenor saxophonist Lester Young.

All the slang meanings have intertwined in my mind.  Each of them bringing a nuance to the various ways I use the word cool.  In fact I can think of another meaning that is not mentioned here.  It is often used as an agreement word.  I can also feel how the slang meanings are still related to its traditional meaning of chilly.  But those complexity of meanings are very hard to express,  except by saying the word.  All of its complexity is so neatly wrapped in one small word.

And now it’s being morphed again into kewl!

Language pedants often criticize people for their “wrong” use of words.  But this is just the nature of language.  It gets used and it evolves in it’s use until over time it’s a whole new meaning.   This is why humans, who all evolved from one group are now using thousands of different languages.  Because language evolves, just like humans, but much faster.   A thousand years ago people spoke English.  But we probably wouldn’t understand much of it.

 

 

 

 

 

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You vote for the Problem if you don’t vote.

I’m a bit concerned about this Flouncy Mood I’ve been seeing lately among liberals online.  They are angry at Democrats in Congress for not doing more to stop Trump.  I guess shutting down the government isn’t too far.

I’ve seen quite a few of people express that if Democrat Politicians don’t try harder, they aren’t going to vote for them.   While their views certainly represent a serious lack of understanding on how our government actually runs, it’s also a foolish idealism.

Let’s GET REAL.  LIfe and Politics do not  happen in ideals.  I’m 52 and I’ve never voted for my ideal.

You vote for practical gritty reality.  

You vote for the best option.

Right now, Democrats, whatever their weakness, are the best option.

This is not a game.  Human lives are at stake.  Prancing about refusing to vote for anything but perfection will not save lives.  Voting for the best option, even when not ideal, is what saves lives.

womens-march-sign-1We don’t have time for Moods.  We need to fight with the weapons we are handed.

You vote for the problem if you don’t vote.

Oprah Winfrey is NOT qualified to be President of the United States

I love her, but NO.

Being more qualified than Trump does NOT equal Qualified. 

Donald Trump is a bar so low a mouse could step across it.  He is not the bar we should measure candidates on.

Can we stop pretending that our government is Reality TV?

It’s not.

Can we stop confusing celebrity with experience and fitness for the job???

We need to fix the system that would allow us to vote stupidly for people because we see them on TV and therefore think this makes them qualified.

It was a nice speech.  BUT BEING PRESIDENT OF THE US is not an equivalent to being a great entertainer or even a great business person.

IT IS A DIFFERENT THING.

We deserve the apocalypse we get if we vote in another celebrity.  I have no patience for anyone who would vote for Oprah Winfrey.

There are great qualified candidates out in the world.  They just didn’t have a TV show or win a golden globe.

You want to drag in a qualified liberal candidate?  Convince Elizabeth Warren to run.  That is what qualified looks like.

Or – how about Kamala Harris – she is probably going to run.  GET YOUR LIBERAL ASS OUT OF YOUR MOUTH AND TALK HER UP.

Or if you prefer men – Tim Kaine.  You loved him as VP candidate, bet you can love him as POTUS.

OR if you like your men old and wildly liberal but mildly delusional – Sanders.

ALL of these candidates are WAY more qualified for the office than Winfrey.

We need to fix this system and put a set of REAL minimum qualifications into the job of POTUS.  Right now you just have to be 35 years old and have lived in the country for the previous 14 years and be a natural born citizen.  That’s it.  Only qualifications necessary.

Having a law background, or some previous government experience is utterly unrequired.  Being able to pass some basic ethical requirements also unnecessary.  We put appointees through a more rigorous reviews than we do the people we put up for elected officials.

We deserve the mess we get.

Optimism is Irrational

I think of optimism as a denial of reality.  Both in it’s modern pop psych sense and in it’s original philosophical sense.

The original philosophy was that We are living in the best possible world.  Clearly evidence abounds that this not true.  But since it was a religious viewpoint it didn’t have to be factual, it only had to explain why the world sucked and to make people think that the world sucking was the best possible thing.   The odd part is that it is so easy to subvert into making your current choice be OK.  So one could do horrible thing or not help in horrible situations and just say – this is the best possible choice because this is the best possible world.

Today though, optimists are really just positive thinkers and so don’t say that this is the best possible world, but they use a variation of it.  They look at the happy side of life in all situations.  But in order to do that, one has to ignore the bad things.  Or one has to manipulate one’s view of a situation to change a negative thing into a positive thing.  So an optimist drops a glass of red wine and says “one less glass to wash!” “I need to drink less, this was fortunate.”  How pleasant and positive.  But it ignores the red wine stain on the white carpet.  The dangerous broken glass that needs to cleaned up.  And if you need to drink less – that is a problem that requires an active solution, not an accidental chance.

When I worked in Corporate America, this positivity thing was toxic.  They would implement a change and if anyone expressed a concern or pointed out a problem, they were labeled negative.  Don’t Be A Complainer!  Be Positive about Change!  As though that would fix things.  But it quite naturally did not. Instead it taught people to avoid pointing out issues. As a result changes were often littered with problematic outcomes that everyone worked around without complaining to anyone who could fix it.  More work but better for your career.   Looking at problems and addressing them fixes it.  Pretending they don’t exist does not.

That corporate positivity is an offshoot of the pop-psychobabble that pretends that if people think positively everything will turn up roses.  Affirmations of positive things!  Project your best future!  Imagine  your best life and it will appear!   It’s not quite the same thing as positivity, but it takes that same delusional manipulation of reality as its platform and just magnifies it 10 fold by including magical thinking.

I think we need to look at life complexly.  I recognize and don’t think that we should ignore the positive aspects of life.  And I think being able to see the silver lining is good. But it is a silver lining in a storm.  It’s not the entirety of the situation.

Optimism and Pessimism are equally pointless projections.  There is value in Reality.  In looking at the entire situation and acknowledging all of it.  In the long run it means positive change.  Because there is no point in changing if this is the best of all possible worlds or if all I do is focus on the positive and ignore the negative.

It’s important to see that same situation can be viewed from different perspectives, as with half empty / half full glass.  Because we need to be aware that all we are doing is changing our own viewpoint, not the situation.  The amount of water in the glass remains fixed.   But being able to see it both ways makes you aware of the flaw of perspective.  If you focus only on how full it is, you may not recognize that you will need more water.  If you focus on how empty it is you may panic and start hoarding water.  If you realize that there are two perspectives you can set that aside and look for larger context.  How much water do I have and how much do I need and what actions do I need to take?

Reality is Complicated.  Simplification doesn’t help you.  Positivity / Optimism is simplification.

The Difference between Hope and Optimism

Sometimes – Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse.  Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen:  may it happen for you.

I’m not a fan of optimism.  It strikes me as irrational.

But this poem, fully recognizes every goddamn thing usually does go wrong and reminds us that sometimes the world steps forward into the light and things go right. We survie a new day better than the previous one.  Sometimes.

What I find most encouraging is that those sometimes moments seem to have more power than I give them credit for.  Because the arc of history suggests things are improving for humankind.   Slowly creeping toward a place that in the exhausting daily battle of today’s world affairs it seems impossible to achieve.

Fewer children die, more diseases get eradicated or controlled,  there is less war.  It feels impossible to believe but it is true. And it was achieved by just a few people.  A small percentage of us took initiative.  A few people were the sometimes and things got better.   The power of those moments of sometimes is great.

It’s important to remember when the world feels like it is sliding irrevocably into a pit of despair.  There is a crack of light in the distance.  The darkness, while deep and present, is not complete.

WAKE UP!

I would like to celebrate that Moore wasn’t elected.

But all I can do is see the demographics.  2/3rds of white women voted for a man who preys on teenage girls.  

TWO THIRDS. 

Jones, and the nation, was saved by black voters.  By a smart, well run, get out and vote movement among black citizens.  People who recognized a racist sexual predator was NOT  a good choice for congress.

I don’t know how to make white women pay attention.  To stop and think about the things that they have just accepted as part of the nature of life WHICH DO NOT HAVE TO BE.

I don’t know what will make anyone stop and think about the broader context.  To look beyond defending their identity and into facts in context.

And the lack of thinking is what has led to the state of this country.

 

Customer Service Skills for Health Professionals

It’s a thing that should exist.

People think customer service office work is low end mindless work.

But if you do it well, if you want to be good, it requires skills.  Interpersonal communication skills that require effort and intention.

And I think those skills should be REQUIRED learning for healthcare professionals.  Particularly doctors and nurse practitioners.

A huge amount of diagnosis is getting the relevant information from the patient. That requires guided discussions and active listening.  That requires making sure that both people are sharing understanding of what is being discussed.

Another huge part of healthcare is communicating clearly about diagnosis and plans for fixing problems.  Again, that requires that both parties fully understand what is being discussed.

And finally respect must be communicated.  Fully 80% of what is communicated in a person to person conversation is inferred by body language, tone and assumptions about shared meaning.  Respect is part of that 80% but it is also a pivot in how a person accepts the information they are being given.

There is a reason that some people look at a news story and see truth and others see fake news.  We filter information through our feelings.  The feeling we have about an interaction quite literally changes the understanding we have about the information.

Customer Service, when it is done well, is not so much about happy customers.  It’s about clear transmission of information.  It’s about solving a problem with communication.  Because a person doesn’t feel their problem is solved unless that customer service person made them feel confident that it was solved, regardless of whether or not it was solved.

Studies have shown that people sue doctors that they don’t like, not doctors who screw up.  In other words, if a doctor is likable but makes a bad diagnosis they are far less likely to be sued.  Because people trust the communication more than they trust the ACTUAL SOLUTION.

Insurance companies try to leverage this point to reduce malpractice by teaching doctors to be likeable.  But I think a much more salient point is my original one.  The one that is buried in why people don’t sue doctors they like.  Because HOW people understand what is said is deeply embedded in the feeling of respect and understanding they get from a doctor.

Shared understanding is sitting on a platform of respect.

Medical Schools need to require, at MINIMUM, the level of customer service skills that get taught to the best customer service centers.  And frankly they ought to be taught at the level of a counselor.  If they were, I would bet that the outcomes would be markedly improved.

Capitalism is the Heart of Christmas

It’s not God.  It’s not Jesus. It’s Money.

And that’s not a horrific thing.  It’s an annoying thing if, like me, you dislike crowds and don’t particularly participate in Christmas.

But this is the season that feeds the Western Economy.  Indeed, because of globalisation, it feeds the world economy.  It’s the engine of spending that employs most of us in one way or another.

I find this idea that there is a war on Christmas amusing.  The strongest power in the world is firmly entrenched in the idea of Christmas.  The power of money.  Christmas isn’t going anywhere.

Even today, most Christians have melded the holiness of the day with decorating, buying, cooking and commenting on people who say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

But, sadly for those who still think it’s about religion, Money is all about leveraging for more money.  And so it’s inclusive.  It wants there to a gift giving Hanukkah and it wants Kwanza to be about gifts as well.

Mark my word – it wants Mawlid to be about gift giving too.   Someone, somewhere is working on a way to change a festival for Mohammed’s Birthday into a retail bonanza.  Christmas used to be a festival holiday too.  Now it’s a season of shopping.

AND I bet if they pull it off, the division between Muslims who celebrate Mawlid and those who don’t will disappear.  Because big business always trumps religion.  ESPECIALLY if it can somehow leverage religion into it’s drumbeat.

100 years from now imagine the incredible booming economy that would exist if we could add in a gift exchange for 2 billion Muslims!   Imagine if you gave it a nice unique set of colors and symbols that they would display each year, creating entire industries out of decorating for the holiday.   Almost everyone benefits when the economy is booming.

 

 

I have no room left in my brain for empathy over mass shootings.

I can no longer process it.

My empathy doesn’t matter, of course.  Indeed, the dead people don’t matter.

All that matters is that people get to keep guns.

It doesn’t matter if people die because of guns.

What matters is that people have a free right to own a gun.

That’s all that matters.

I just read that 20+ people died and I thought Yup, seems normal.  Unsurprising.

Tomorrow more will die.

Yesterday a bunch of people died.

Next week, last month, next year, 2 years ago.

None of it matters.

That was crystal clear at Sandy Hook.  The US defined itself that time.

There is no moral good in the owning of guns, but people cling to it like it’s the fire that light’s their souls.

Kids mean nothing compared to the ability to own a gun.

Hobbies and Fear

That’s all that holds up their position.  But they keep winning.

It’s obvious that nothing will stop them.  They will cling to their belief and their fear and their bizarre need for a gun and insist that had nothing at all to do with the ongoing national crisis of humans needlessly dying.

There is no fixing a bias like that.  It’s too deep.

People will die tomorrow and the News Media will make money on it.  And the Gun Manufacturers will make more money with every mass shooting.

It’s the insanity of these Fucking United States.  May the hell fires of the Universe obliterate us.  We certainly have earned it.

Creepy Behavior

Friendly Man walks into the room and asks a woman he finds attractive if she she was up all night with her boyfriend.

Friendly Man walks up to a woman at work and tells her she looks hot today.

Friendly Man walks up to a woman he knows casually and give her shoulders a rub.

Friendly Man walks up to a woman and asks her if she’s ever been to the Porn Shop downtown?  They have a sale on today!

I could probably fill a post with these generic examples, or the women reading this could fill up the comments with the hundreds of examples of behavior that is frankly part of a normal life for  woman but is CREEPY BEHAVIOR.

Women are expected to think that all these things are compliments to us.  And many of us have internalized that expectation.

And because it’s supposed to be a compliment, a woman who raises any issue on the subject will be perceived as a bitch.  Unfriendly, rude, hysterical, feminista, hard to work with, angry,… the list goes on.

But believe me, we KNOW that we will be considered the bad guy in any effort we make to keep men from giving us unwanted attention.  And the vast majority of us say nothing during those uncomfortable moments.  Some have become so inured to the culture they manage to feel complimented.  But most of us feel the creepiness wafting off the guy like a stink.  But we will still give an awkward laugh, a stilted comment or an abrupt change of subject.

If you are a straight man, and you want to avoid being a creep, run your interactions with female acquaintances or casual friends through the following filter – Would I say this to a man?

If you wouldn’t say it or do it to a man, don’t do it to a woman you aren’t romantically involved with.

It’s really that simple.

If you are fine with women thinking your a creep, calling you a creep when you leave the room and just generally agreeing behind your back that you have a creepy stink, then ignore the advise.  But one day you will run into someone who will call  you a creep to your face.  And believe me, they will only be echoing the words that have been said behind your back dozens of times.

If you want to approach a woman for a possible romantic encounter, treat it just like you would treat approaching a friend to do a thing neither one of you have done before.  Not your best friend, just a guy you know but don’t socialize with.  That level of distance and and friendly deference to their situation and interest in the thing.

Don’t use movies as your playbook.  We do not want to be “pursued” when we say no.  There is a reason we call that stalking, it’s because it feels predatory to us.  You only hurt any future chance you might have had with that kind of action.

Creepy behavior is so normalized that we pretend it doesn’t exist.  But it does.  And it’s harassment.  But no one wants to say that.  Women certainly don’t because we will NOT be looked on favorably for saying it.  And men don’t want to because there is a indefinable sense of entitlement to treat women as beings designed for their pleasure.