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Friday, November 25, 2016

Poker Tells and Insults

When the subject of masculine games comes up, inevitably you’ll hear examples such as football, rugby, baseball, soccer, and even poker.  Whereas the 1st four are physical, the last one, poker, is more intellectual.  If you want to play physical games at a high level, you need to practice physical activities and develop the body.  If you want to play high-level poker, you better practice your intellect, and knowledge of probability and odds.  Poker also has another element: emotional intelligence, or simply EQ.

The game of poker should be well known to most men.  Apparently, it’s even considered a sport nowadays, since the World Series of Poker is televised on ESPN. Poker is not just a card game, but also a game of emotional mastery and self-awareness.  If you are not acutely aware of your body language, you will expose the degree of confidence you have in your cards.  This is a called a “poker tell”, an external clue into your thoughts.  Poker tell has been applied to many other situations in life.
There are many forms of poker tells, but I want to look at some verbal poker tells, clues into a man’s psyche.  You see, it’s not just visual body language, but the choice of spoken and written language that provides a poker tell into a guy’s frame of mind and his psyche.  In his post, I want to look at the use of insults as poker tells.

Insults have been hurled back and forth since the dawn of language.  Some insults are as clumsy as hurling a big rock at your opponent; it’s pretty easy to see it coming and just step aside.  Other insults can be more pointed, as in throwing a dart at a dartboard.  Throwing a dart has an implicit assumption that the dartboard will receive and hold the dart.  If the dart doesn’t stick, it doesn’t score.  Insults are similar.  Although an insult can be thrown at someone, it does no good if the other person doesn’t accept the insult.  That’s right, insults need to be accepted to be effective.  This gives rise to the child’s retort:

"I'm rubber, you're glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you."  

It’s hard to believe that children could be so insightful and understand that the insult says more about the person making the insult, than the intended victim.

In order to understand how an insult reflects on the originator, we need to first look at the nature of insults.  You would have to be pretty stupid to not want to look at this.  This previous sentence is, itself, an example of an insult, since I implied you would be stupid for not reading further.

The nature of an insult is to force a derogatory characteristic past a person's boundaries in order to commit an act of emotional violence upon them, specifically to shame them.  Stupidity is a generally a universal derogatory characteristic.  Being stupid is always a bad state of being.  Calling someone stupid is an attempt to shame them, and the person throwing the insult dart must consider the characteristic to be bad.  The flinger must really dislike, even hate the characteristic used to shame the other person.  It can't be any other way.

Imagine if you called a person smart, intelligent, or wealthy.  You couldn't insult someone by throwing a good characteristic at them.  Also, an insult would fail if the insulting characteristic were neutral, like American, Brazilian, magenta, aquatic, or healthy.  The exception would be if the insulting characteristic had a hidden or localized meaning.  For example, calling someone an American might be an insult in the Middle East.

If you think about it, how you use insults is a poker tell into your prejudices, and into your psyche.   You tend to reveal your prejudices, disgust or even hatred by how you insult other people.  "Fat, lazy, slob" is a poker tell that the insulter finds these characteristics disgusting.  Calling somebody a "retard" exposes your contempt for people with mental incapacities.  

So ask yourself, “what do I use as insults?”  If you wanted to pierce somebody with a verbal dart, what would you say to them, or about them, to inflict emotional distress?  That indicates both to you and to other person what you hate.  Now ask yourself, “Am I OK with that?”  Do you really hate that characteristic?  Do you really find that ethnic group so despicable? 


You might feel your opinion behind your insult is justified.  You might instead be surprised at what you dislike or even hate.  Understanding and dealing with your hidden prejudices is an important step in developing your emotional intelligence and being a better social human being.  You can start by analyzing your own poker tells.
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Friday, September 30, 2016

Gentleman, or Obsessive?

I have written before about love song lyrics.  It’s not a pretty picture.  Love songs are extremely bad representations of love and romance.  No guy should ever copy the behavior portrayed in the songs. The roles of men reflected in the lyrics paint a picture of guys who fail at anything remotely masculine.  At best, the men who sing them tend to act like whiny children in the songs.  

Is that harsh enough?

The latest bad romance song on the radio is "Treat You Better" by Shawn Mendes.  This is a whiny, albeit popular, song in which the singer complains to a girl how he's so much better than the guy she is dating.  When this disturbing song comes on the radio I can’t switch stations fast enough!  Disturbing?  WTF?  Really? Well, let’s take a look at the lyrics (courtesy of Soundhound on my iPhone.)

I won’t lie to you
I know he’s just not right for you...

Of course the singer “knows” he’s not right for the girl. Any guy who can’t get a girl who has an existing boyfriend “knows” the other guy is “wrong.”  That’s how the mind of a spurned guy works.  The other guy is no good.  The spurned guy thinks he’s shining a light on the other guy’s inadequacies like a politician ghosting his opponent, but like all negative campaigning, it falls short of the goal.  I hope the projection makes the singer feel better, but the other guy still got the girl and the singer didn’t.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Missing Cheat Code

Recently I’ve introduced an e-Book for download, called The Cheat Codes for Dating, Relationships and Sex 3.0, The Guy’s Version.  You can download it and sign up for my mailing list.  The Cheat Codes are a collection of previously hidden knowledge that nobody bothered to teach young guys.  I simply don’t want you to go through a long, drawn out, and painful learning process like I did.  That’s why I’m sharing this knowledge.

The cheat codes have 14 pearls of wisdom every guy should know.  In some cases, guys will catch on pretty quickly.  Maybe they don’t need all the cheat codes.  That’s fine.  On the other hand, I’ve had a 36 year old guy tell me some of the knowledge was completely new to him, even at 36.  Let me know if they work for you.

Despite there being 14 cheat codes, there are a few things I left out.  One of them seemed less like a cheat code, and more like an introduction to all the cheat codes.  I was debating whether it should be cheat code 0, or maybe the missing cheat code.  Instead, I’ll share it here.
Cheat Code 0 - RomCom NonCom

Everything you see in the media, on TV, and in the movies that addresses dating, sex and relationships is flat out WRONG.  Ignore everything you think you learned by watching TV and the movies.  Real life does not work like a romantic comedy.
This might very well be the most important lesson guys of all ages need to know.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Being Authentic - A No Nonsense Guide

When I was 12 years old, alien abductions were the rage.  It seemed that everybody was claiming to be abducted.  They were in all the newspapers and magazines.  Plenty of books were written about them.  I picked up a paperback book chronicling one man’s supposed abduction.  His was a more friendly abduction apparently.  He recounted what the aliens had taught him.  One of the lessons was how to make a free energy machine.  And you could demonstrate it with a couple carbon zinc batteries.  He even provided instructions.
Another Abduction

I was enthralled.  I sneaked into the basement with a couple batteries, a knife and a hack saw to follow these detailed instructions.  If my mom had known I was trying to cut open batteries she would have had a fit.  I carefully followed the instructions, cut out the carbon rod and removed the zinc foil.  Then I went to the next step, and made an interesting discovery.  These detailed instructions made no sense.  I could read the words.  I could verify the grammar.  I could NOT perform the steps.  They became nonsense.  Needless to say I was pretty disillusioned.  No free energy device that day.


That was my first experience with nonsense instructions.  Later in life, I started to notice that nonsense instructions are surprisingly common.  Often they come as short phrases or imperatives:  "Be a man" and its variations, "grow a pair" or "man up".   To be successful, you must "have relentless focus".  "Pay attention in class" and "study hard" might be more familiar to students.  Entrepreneurs are advised to "raise the bar", and even to "fail fast."  Of course, there's the ever popular "Just do it!"  The phrases go on and on.  Sometimes they get a little more elaborate.  I bought a self-help book that was based entirely on the principle of simply “letting go” of everything that hindered you.  Nowhere in the book did it define what it meant to “let go.”  (I’m still holding onto my anger about that.)


Nonsense instructions are so common we need a buzzword for them, maybe "null-directives”; instructions or advice that seem logical and precise but in fact are insufficient or nonsense.


There is one particular null-directive that keeps recurring. It comes up when teenagers want to make friends or go on dates.  It comes up when people want to make a good impression.  It comes up when people go on job interviews or want to give speeches.  If you ever wanted to improve your social skills, you’ve probably heard this:  “Just be yourself”, or “Be authentic.”  


Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Year of Better Decisions

Happy New Year 2016
This year I didn't make the typical New Year's Resolution. No S.M.A.R.T. goals. No deadlines. No stretch goals to challenge myself. None of the conventional goal setting practices. None of the typical goal setting techniques have ever worked very well for me. Instead I came up with a unique approach. Well, but maybe just in synthesis, but not quite unique in concept. I actually borrowed from two books; Taming Your Outer Child by Susan Anderson, and The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and John David Mann.
The first book hypothesizes that there are three parts to your psyche: the rational adult, an inner child that just wants happiness, and an outer child that acts out behaviors to get happiness, but is confused by what is and is not appropriate. The trick is to get the rational adult to recognize when the outer child is acting up ("I want that cupcake!") and train the outer child to deal with the world in manner more appropriate to the goals of the inner child.
The second book claims that our everyday small actions and habits have a compounding effect over time. Bad small habits (like cupcakes) compound into big problems (like body fat.) Good small habits (like maybe fruit instead of cupcakes) compound into great results (like less fat.)
Tying these two concepts together, I came up with "The Year of Better Decisions", a process I synthesized for myself. The adult part of my psyche will make the effort to recognize the bad habits of the outer child and instead direct activity toward a better alternative. No long term willpower is needed, because 1) it's about rational decisions, and 2) it only happens in the moment, not in the future. So far it seems to be working (but it's only been 2 weeks). For example, sitting here at my desk, I have I a can of seltzer water I'm drinking. When I'm done I could just leave it here to accumulate as I often do, or I could take with me when I'm done to put it in the recycling. Which is the adult, rational decision? The decisions are often just that easy, and the benefits do tend to accumulate, even over two weeks. I haven't made a commitment to always taking my cans to the recycling bin forever, just for the moment.
A resolution to exercise every day for the year can be daunting. A rational decision to choose exercise over watching TV tonight is a different matter. A resolution to get up every day on time is difficult. A decision to get out of bed today instead of hitting snooze is just a single decision in the moment. The trick is to keep making that decision every time it comes up. It's a completely different viewpoint from the typical resolution, and much more manageable.
Maybe this idea will help you, and maybe it's just me. Happy New Year!
Image 2016 courtesy of krishna arts and FreeDigitalPhotos.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Fallacy of the Alpha Male

Masculinity is having a renaissance. After several decades under the thumb of radical feminism and media denigration, men are finally digging in their heels and trying to be men again. It's a good sign, a turning point for men, but the effort is not without its perils.

There have been no leaders of men for several decades, and few media role models. John Wayne passed away years ago and his masculine characters left with him. Clint Eastwood's masculine, but woefully incomplete, nameless man of the spaghetti westerns has long been forgotten. There are no definitive guides to manhood anymore. Instead we have dozens of upstarts trying their best (and sometimes their worst) to establish themselves as leaders of the next generation of men. So far, the world of new masculinity has avoided a Lord of Flies scenario, in which chaos ensues due to the lack of solid leadership and role models. (The notable exception being the Red Pill movement and various reddit forums, which are nothing but isolated pockets of male chaos and insanity, only suitable for those wishing to study internet chaos. In all other cases, these groups are to avoided by aspiring men at all costs.) Without solid examples and leadership, masculinity still has a long road to establish itself once again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

On Being a Man - Step 1

I have been fascinated by the concepts of masculinity and manhood, probably because I've felt lacking in those traits.  I've struggled with being a man for a long time, because nobody ever taught me how to be one.  That's unsurprising, since American society has stopped valuing manhood and masculinity, and in some cases actually denigrate men for being men.  Yet, I aspire to achieve the role of an integrated man before I die.  That's OK, because with a little ingenuity I can find enough information to learn what I need to do.  I believe I've found the first step, and I'll share these steps with the blogosphere as I learn them.  Hell, maybe  I'll even write a book about it someday if I can make what I've learned work for me.  With that introduction, I present what I consider the first step in being a man: