As a professor of Critical Thinking at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, CA, my entire academic life I have been constantly receiving similar feedback on my observations and opinions, something along the line of, “I have not really thought of it that way before.” Jimmy’s intention is to develop critical thinking skills, look at things a different way and to question everything. I speak and write of all aspects of life, from Buddhism to twerking, from the spiritual to the profane, from meditation to pornography. It all makes for great conversation and analysis.

So sit back, read and/or listen, and question me as we learn in the tensions of life.

Insert Title Here: Feeling Somewhat EnTITLEd Today

So what’s in a name, or more specifically, a title? I’ve been thinking about this subject recently since a former student of mine, Holliann (who recently graduated from University), wanted to get together for a chat concerning some of her strange and unusual experiences while away at school.

“Thanks Professor. I will see you then,” is how she concluded our social media conversation.

“Please, call me Jimmy,” I told her.

“I don’t think I can,” she said, “but I’ll try.”

“Just do it,” I told her.

Such formal titles make me somewhat uptight and uncomfortable. I understand why certain people would rather stick to formal convention, yet it still does not set right with me.

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This exchange really got me to thinking. What are the criteria for determining whether we call someone by their first/last name or their title/position?

I teach for crying out loud…I am not part of  some kind of regal Monarchy.

If someone asks me what I do for a living I will say Professor. When someone, anyone—students and non-students alike—ask me what I would prefer to be called, I usually instruct them to call me Jimmy. Yet I have found over the years that students, both past and present, are very reluctant to call me anything but Professor.

As a result, now I simply instruct students to refer to me in the moniker they feel most comfortable calling me, provided it is not disrespectful.

So I feel like “Comedian” Seinfeld when I ask, “What is the deal with this whole title thing?”

Please understand…I realize most companies have a myriad of job titles from CEO’s to Janitors, yet we do not call the Janitor, “Janitor Fred,” rather they are Fred -who happens to be the Janitor.  Or we refer to Frank Jones, CEO of such and such a company, rather than CEO Jones.

I wanted to find out more so I went where most of my students go for research, Wikipedia. The site did not provide much help though did offer me the following definition: A title is a prefix or suffix added to someone’s name in certain contexts. It may signify either veneration, an official position or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted before a last name.

Yes, I knew that. Thanks Wikipedia. You reminded why you are a crappy source and my students cannot cite you.

I get the whole old school idea of respect, professionalism and appropriateness, yet where do we draw the line and why? I do not refer to Baseball Player Kershaw (ironically we do call his coach, “Coach”), Plumber Stan, Musician Slash, Model Klum, Artist Nick, Accountant Jones, Neuroscientist Williams or Announcer Scully.  Then when it comes to 5 specific fields—namely religion, politics, education, military and medical—we engage in a mad orgy of title-driven monikers.

Why?

If one contends that those 5 areas are more deserving of respect than some others, how unnecessarily disrespectful is that to those other professions?  Are there commonalities in these 5 areas that might designate them for fancy titles? Or is just random cultural bullshit that we have just adopted because, as one of my students recently observed, most people are just “sheeple” and usually do not ask such questions.

I do. In particular when I give a shit about something.

It does seem that within each of the title-driven fields the one common theme is that the various “titled” people directly exert a certain amount of power and control over others. Yet, so do directors, producers, and most business owners and they do not warrant a title when others refer to them.

Then I think about nobility. Are religious, medical, education, military and politics more noble professions, hence a fancy title? Hmmmmm…I wonder what my musician and artist friends would have to say about that?

When I was telling Holli about this blog I was writing, she suggested that maybe we place more trust in the people in those 5 areas, hence the titles. Yet we still must place trust in our engineers so our bridges and buildings will not fail us. In fact, we must place the most trust in our babysitters and childcare workers and they are not referred to as Babysitter Mary.

Therefore it is not about power, importance, nobility or trust…why the titles?

It would seem to me to be an issue of basic identity. When we refer to someone by their title, it is important we see them as first and foremost by their profession.  Is it that when we speak to Pastors, Senators, Professors, Generals and Doctors it is imperative that we see them through this lens exclusively?  Why? What if I would prefer to be known as Jimmy first, Father second, Partner third and then, maybe, just maybe, Professor would land around fourth. Blogger? Maybe 20th.

A title really is a show of power and authority.  As a low power distance person in general -meaning I do not gravitate toward separating myself great distances from those over whom I have power- I have no great need to be thought of in terms of title first, person second. In terms of authority, separating yourself from others by slapping on fancy titles is hardly an effective means of gaining respect. I would rather be respected for the quality of what I do over the quality of the title that has been bestowed upon me.

For those who do not respect my style of teaching or leadership, throwing an ornate title to my profession is not going to change that anyway.

I am not dismissing titles as worthless or in some way negative, rather I am questioning the inconsistent use of them and whether or not they are entirely necessary.

So call me Jimmy. You can do it Holliann! But, hey, if you can’t, I get it.  Just try.

 

Prostitutes, Whores Or Escorts? Thoughts On The World’s Oldest Profession And My Encounter With a Real Life Lady Of The Night

whoreAs a Communication Studies professor, I believe I have heard nearly every subject matter on the planet there is designed to inform and/or persuade others. If I were to identify just a handful of the, “If-I-Hear-This-Speech-One-More-Time-I-Am- Going-To-Kill-Myself-And-Innocent-Bystanders-In-The-Process” type speeches, the list would go something like this:

  1. Give Blood
  2. Learn CPR
  3. Legalize Marijuana
  4. Practice Safe Sex
  5. Legalize Prostitution

Of course I kid with the killing myself part…and there are good reasons these subject matters are on the most common list–as they are really poignant and important. I suppose I just love original topics…yet I realize students in the class have not heard these topics delivered over 10,000 times, as I have, so they are certainly allowed to deliver such topics. In spite of the fact I personally abhor the redundancy, I realize these topics NEED to be addressed, particularly giving blood and CPR –as CPR saved my father’s life nearly 3 years ago.

Therefore I find it strange that I feel compelled to write a blog on one of these topics that so bore me…so why now?

I was at the gym on the treadmill (shocking!) watching an MSNBC show on the horrors of Prostitution.  Of course it was an overly dramatized, one-sided view that painted all women as victims and all men as scumbags, but what else is new?  Our eyeballs are drawn to drama…whether it is true or not. My point of view is this: When will the “World’s Oldest Profession” be honored and acknowledged as such? When do we finally accept it as part of the human condition and let it work better for everyone…solicitor and solitcee alike?

Why are so many human beings such self-serving, goddam hypocrites when it comes to issues of a sexual nature? If one more anti-gay Senator gets caught fondling his young male intern, the only standard we will have left to serve in government is double, as in double-standard.

From Maxine Doogan of the Erotic Services Union: “There…needs to be a shift in attitudes to agree that sexual expression, for the mature, can take the form of negotiating and paying for sexual services; that this activity is a privately protected right and is subject to the equal protection laws, for starters. If someone poses as a prostitute and rips off a customer, that should result in a prosecution for theft. Which is not the state we’re in right now.” These laws hurt everyone involved–from the abused prostitute to the one ripped off by the abusive prostitute.

Do I believe that human trafficking and abuse among prostitutes exists? Yes. Of course I do. Just as I believe exploitation and abuse exists in EVERY industry, be it religion, politics, the workforce, etc. This is why Samuel Gompers, so many years ago, created a union as human beings carry a natural propensity to exploit others. When and where do they exert this propensity of abuse? Whenever they can in whatever circumstances they can.

Yet there is no easier context for exploitation and abuse than the unregulated sex industry. Why? Because it is illegal.

If one were to use the exploited and abused argument to argue against prostitution–which is severely more pronounced in the sex industry than most others–I would contend that this argument provides an even stronger reason to legalize prostitution and allow them to form unions and benefit from law enforcement when needed.  Why? Because regardless of one’s personal moral stance on prostitution, it is going to happen anyway, with or without government protection.

Well, one could safely argue that an anti-legalization stance on prostitution is a stance AGAINST the protection and safety of women.

Consider the analogy of abortion, (please do not misunderstand, I hate abortion more than I hate divorce…but this is a different blog for a different day) regardless of one’s stance on this issue, they are going to happen anyway. We can either make it safe for women or not.

I often then get the question, “Well what if one of your daughters wanted to be a prostitute?” Like any job one of my children wanted to pursue, I would definitely want to make sure they have thought it completely through and are certain it is the right path for them. It would be no different for prostitution. I would want to be assured that she has thought it through completely and it is the correct path for her.

But we cannot just legalize immoral activity just because people are going to do it anyway. People rob banks, should we legalize that?”

Thanks omniscient arguer –though even you cannot argue successfully with Jimmy. Prostitution is a mutually consenting act between adults that benefits both parties–activities like robbing banks hurts other people.

But, hey, don’t take my word for it and why should you? I am not a prostitute.  So I went to interview a real, live “escort” of about 3 years, who works in the Southern California area. She happens to be an acquaintance of mine and gladly gave me permission to use her experiences in this blog…as long I did not mention her name.

So, prostitute, what about all those shows like MSNBC who show the dark side of prostitution?

“In every industry there is going to be an exploitation of labor. I am sure it happens in prostitution but it is a small percentage. It has never happened to me. I love my job,” she explained.

And what kind of ratings would a television show get if they interviewed people who are really happy and have no complaints and the fear of the universe was not coerced upon them? Pretty lousy.

So, Lady Of The Night, have you ever had a bad experience?

“Yes, once. About a year ago when a guy started to creep me out a bit. But it was not a problem. I just ran out the door.”

Not a bad batting average for an escort whose encounters are deep into the hundreds.

She explained that the key to successful escorting is finding the right madam (read: pimp) who screens all “Johns” and knows how to make the correct matches.

Of course, since all of this now has to be done in secret, it makes this process much more difficult and far riskier.

“I know this is something I can only do for a small window in my life,” explained the mid twenty-something escort, “I will probably be out of it in a couple of years. But it is good for me right now.”

Wow. She has never been hit, nor pressured, nor hurt, nor trafficked…in fact she is one of the happiest people I know who happens to make really good money. She is not scared, alone, uneducated, nor exploited. Quite the contrary, this self-empowered woman has a Bachelor’s Degree from one of the most prestigious Universities in the world.

Some might contend this particular escort is the exception. Perhaps…but would not the abused and exploited sex workers benefit from being able to climb out from under their rock and report abuse to authorities?

And what’s the downside to prostitution again?

Oh, yes. It’s illegal.

These are my thoughts on college students’ fifth favorite topic to speak about. The best part is that now if you ever want to speak on this matter, you have a really reliable source.

 

 

People Are Suffering Around The World And I Do Not Really Care…Neither Do Most Of You

It was a lazy summer Wednesday afternoon so I decided to do something I do not often these days -catch a movie at the local theater.  Today when I now go to the movies, I want to see something “easy” and relatively mindless -meaning no complicated plot lines and low-context stories that require my complete attention and demand I stay awake. I prefer movies with simple story lines and very interesting characters -think Big Lebowski meets The Truman Show meets The Poseidon Adventure meets anything Steve Buscemi. My real life has enough drama and complicated story lines -no need to go to the movies for more of that. On this particular day I decided to take in “San Andreas” and appreciate the eye candy of watching my state shake to shit…in 3D.

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As I watched the movie something occurred to me that I often get in a lot of trouble for saying, hence the title of this blog. As I watched Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fight and struggle to save his family from death, I noticed he did something that most of would do if in that same situation -he watched people dying left and right, people he could have helped, in order to save, specifically, his wife and daughter. In other words, he would rather watch 100′s of people die in order to save 2, because those 2 are his own family.  Theoretically, if someone informed you that 10 strangers are going to die unless you agree to lose 1 very much loved one, most of us would probably choose to kill off 10 strangers in order to save our 1 beloved.

Why are we humans wired this way? Why would we, generally, and again, theoretically, work feverishly to protect our beloved selected few at the possible expense of losing many? Thank the universe most of us are never handed that choice and I am relatively certain how most of us would respond.

We could make the genetic slash DNA argument that we are all hardwired to protect our small tribe -be it children, parents, siblings- first and foremost.  Thus it is pure instinct and, bottom line, we are animals acting upon what our reptilian brains dictate.

Several years ago a student, Lou, introduced me to a concept he referred to as the “monkeysphere” -which I later found out to be more formally termed, “Dunbar’s Number.” If I were to risk huge oversimplification of this fascinating theory it would go something like this: All primates are only capable of caring and having social relationships with only a certain number of other primates depending on the size of their brain. Thus, from the size of an animal’s neocortex, the frontal lobe in particular, you could theoretically predict the group size for that animal.

If we were to buy into Robin Dunbar’s theory, the human being is capable of having approximately 150 casual friendships, 50 close friendships, 15 intimate relationships -for example, you could turn to these people in times of sorrow- and, finally, 5 ultra intimate relationships, meaning good friends and/or family members. These numbers are only averages and there is huge range among people, depending on personality type, etc.. In addition, social media is definitely playing a role in reshaping these numbers somewhat -though I think you get the idea here -as human beings we are only capable of only so much REAL empathy and social reciprocity towards others.

So I will take this understanding and stray from it just a bit yet still abide by its logic -our brains are simply not capable of truly caring for everyone on the planet experiencing suffering of some variety. I believe if we could do so we literally would go crazy. Yes, literally. Reality can be such a bitch that we must shut off part of our brain in order to not experience it in totality. So if I see a report of a tsunami in Japan, should I, or better yet even, CAN I, truly care?

Some recent brain science suggests that our brain functions quite differently when dealing with 3 distinctly different groups of people. First off, our brain handles interaction with real people with high personal relevance to us quite differently from, second, real people who have no personal relevance to us (think famous people) and, third, fictional characters -my hunch is this is part of our necessary survival process. So, let’s say one is watching a fictitious movie of a young child choking, a news report of a famous person’s young child choking, or one experiences their own young child choking (even if it were on film) our brain reactions would be highly different. Imagine if we witnessed hundreds of people dying in the aforementioned tsunami and we felt the same sense of care and empathy as if each of these people were in our ultra-intimate circle? Again, if we did, we would absolutely go out of our minds.

Now, here is what I am NOT suggesting. I am not suggesting that people cannot react to global tragedies and act with benevolence…of course they can and many do. Whether it is a tsunami in Japan, a hurricane in New Orleans, or an earthquake in Nepal we have seen people (think “Doctors Without Borders”) act lovingly and altruistically on such occasions. However, I would argue that these tragedies are simply the Disaster Du Jour, induced by a selective media that only plays the most viewable disasters for ratings, the ones that strike the most fear into our psyche, while making it feel hip to get on the bandwagon of support and fulfill our social need to belong.

Sound cynical?

Consider that if we felt real empathy for those suffering we would not have to wait for a Disaster Du Jour, that plays like great theater, in order to practice such empathy -there are plenty of more boring tragedies to go around that do get much media hype.

  • More than two-thirds (70%) of all people living with HIV, 24.7 million, live in sub-Saharan Africa—including 91% of the world’s HIV-positive children. In 2013, an estimated 1.5 million people in the region became newly infected.
  • Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year.
  • In 2014 alone, 5 million people were treated around the world for malnutrition and illness including:
    • 2,718,401 people in Nigeria
    • 104,117 people in Democratic Republic of Congo
    • 93,043 people in South Sudan

Shall I go on? Cause this is only the beginning.

Of course most of us fall for the proverbial hook, line and sinker for tragedies that news directors would like us to support (when I used to pastor I would plead with people not to let news directors dictate their prayer lists…that went over really well…now I write blogs…but I digress). I would argue that if we practiced REAL caring, TRUE empathy, and REAL concern we would not have to wait to do something until we watch Disaster Du Jour on TV and gasp in horror. Do we really care OR do we feel a sense of wanting in on the collective story in some way, shape or form, and, in a strange way, feel a bit better about ourselves in return? In the same way it so much more difficult to truly love one person than it is to “love” thousands, it is far easier to “care” about a tragedy in Nepal than to truly be a good and loving companion to your closest loved ones.

But Jimmy, just because I cannot truly love and be concerned for these people to the degree I would a close loved one, this does not mean I cannot care and empathize to a lesser degree and do what I can to help.”

Thank you omniscient arguer.

Perhaps we could have a semantics argument over the words care and empathize, yet I do contend we have been conditioned to view nearly all image-based news as a mild form of entertainment, even in spite of the fact it could provide us a twinge of what feels like concern and empathy.

I am often criticized when I say when we watch these natural disasters unfold we are being entertained…not in a humorous, “ha ha” kind of way, rather in a a theater of the macabre sense. We are watching others misfortune unfold half way around the globe and the tugs at our heartstrings are generated by those suffering who are well outside our monkeysphere slash Dunbar’s Number. Certainly none of us WANT others to suffer, yet we strangely do not mind being entertained by others misfortune, rationalized and condoned in the name of what feels like empathy. We gasp and shriek that this is horrible…yet we watch and watch and watch. Contemporary media has created a generation of eavesdroppers in the name of news.

If we want to practice true humanitarianism, perhaps we should not send a check to some organization in god-knows-where, China (Buttfuck, Egypt?). What if true humanitarianism was defined as being loving, kind, giving and compassionate to all those within your Dunbar number, to the people we can truly make a difference in their lives? Perhaps the world would be be a much more caring and empathic place.

I have heard the term, “Think locally, Act globally.” I would argue we must act locally first and foremost.

But perhaps I overthink.

Maybe I just should have watched JurassicWorld instead. I heard it’s pretty good.

 

It’s Over…Good. Crafton Hills College Now And Into The Future

Each year our school hosts by far my favorite event of the year—graduation.  Every third or fourth Friday in May we celebrate the day with a breakfast in the morning and a wonderfully, positive, high-charged ceremony in the evening.

Not so much this year. Just wasn’t really feeling it.

Normally we faculty members have to scheme ways to beat the heat and the blinding, terrible glare of the late afternoon sun—so much so that the faculty purchased matching yellow and green sunglasses to sport during the outdoor celebration.

Did not need them this year.

Rather, the entire day was cold, rainy and downright gloomy; in retrospect it was actually the perfect weather conditions for a rather down and downright gloomy school year.

It was just one of those kind of years.

For me personally, the academic year began with teaching for a semester in London. Yes, the experience was overall very much worthwhile, highlighted by the fact my daughter and her man Nathan reside there and I could spend copious amounts of time with them, yet it was quite taxing as well and I am quite confident when I say I will never do it again.  The students were entirely disinterested in studying (as I would be); the program was not particularly well-run, and my experience ended with a trip to the emergency room (you can read more about that here).

Needless to say, when I arrived back in California in early December and drove my convertible home from LAX on a bright, cheery, eighty degree Saturday, even the traffic on the 405 was a welcome sight…ANYTHING but the cloudy, dark and rainy London days, crowded tube rides and masses of humanity—everywhere at all times. Some people just love that stuff…just not my cup of British tea.

It was when I arrived back to teaching in the Spring was that the parade of gloom hit the campus. The semester essentially began with a report by the state accreditation commission placing our campus—and the entire district—on “warning.” Having written a large portion of the accreditation report the year prior, I, particularly, was pretty bummed out. The infractions that placed our campus on warning were relatively minor and, for the most part, very easy fixes.  The general consensus remains that we were placed on warning due to some very problematic issues with the District Office…all issues that have, essentially, nothing to do with our campus. But, hey, it takes a village, right?

What was particularly demoralizing about this was that previously there was a sense of positive, growing optimism on campus. The school was, and is, growing in terms of both students and buildings. We were one of the few colleges in the state selected to offer Bachelor’s degree’s in certain fields. Prior to this “warning,” overall feelings of camaraderie and community were at all time highs.

As a result of this status, the school held a number of additional meetings (meetings I personally was a part of) to determine if we should give our current District Chancellor a vote of no confidence. A number of negative, contentious and overall yucky meetings later, we did.

Then the real tragedies struck. A very popular and well-liked student on campus, Adam, who had just been accepted into UC Berkeley, died in a tragic car accident. Just a couple of days later, a beautiful and intelligent young student, Amanda, was found dead.

The entire campus has been grieving these losses for weeks.

So, the campus community sat in the cold and rain on this Friday evening in May fairly exasperated. Tired. Happy it’s over and certainly ready to move on.

Yet something hit me as I sat in the gloom and the cold rain hit my face. Something that just snuck up on me as if out of nowhere. I just looked around and there it was.

I really love these people.

These people -staff. faculty, students- are my family. I really care about them. Perhaps by collectively mourning together and dealing with negative circumstances, we reached a new level of care and concern for each other that, perhaps, we could not experience in any other way.

I realized Crafton Hills College is not just a job, a paycheck and a place to do what I love. It is home to my family, my friends and the people on this planet I care deeply about.

I am quite certain that we, together, will rise like the Phoenix out of the ashes and become bigger, stronger and tighter than ever.

We carried on with our traditional end of the year faculty and staff party after the graduation. Our President, Dr. Cheryl Marshall, was particularly festive and far more gregarious than usual. It was little wonder why. It was very easy to see the pain and burden she has been carrying these past few months…you can read it on her face as easy as a pop up children’s book.

It was just one of those kinds of years.

Her festive and gregarious spirit screamed one thing: It is over—and it is time to move on.

Yet, now we move on stronger in spirit and community. We cry together, we mourn together, we party together, we dance together and we work together.

And it’s over. It’s goddam fucking over.

Good.

Now it is time to rest and get ready to rise out of these dirty ashes.

Together.

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4 GREAT, Foolproof Reasons To Use Profanity In Your Everyday Life. Hell Yeah.

Let’s get to it. I recently heard through the gossip grapevine that one student of mine did not like me. Why? I apparently used too much profanity for his liking in one of my classes.

Well la tee freaking dah.

Of course this is not the first time one has not appreciated my colorful and free-range use of the English language, nor will it be the last. Yet, there are reasons behind my profanity madness. My use of profanity is neither flippant nor without deep critical thought and consideration -it is quite calculated. So, today, I share with you these reasons and perhaps you will be enlightened to the reasoning behind my profane ways. Thus, I bring to you:

Four reasons why I, and why YOU, should use profanity.

A wise person once told me that when delivering a potentially controversial message, it is important to begin with what you are definitely NOT saying before you address what you ARE saying. Soooo…

First and foremost, I am in no way suggesting the use of profanity is good for everyone, all the time. Like everything in life, there is a time and place. Context is everything.

Secondly, I am vehemently opposed to hateful, vengeful, mean-spirited words and speech intended for ill will. However, such speech knows no specific words, only motivation and intent. One could be mean spirited with or without profanity -there are plenty of “non-profane” words that are obscene in intent. Isn’t it interesting how our culture delineates between words that are profane and words that are not while the “profane” words may be kindly and gently spirited in intention, while the non-profane words are acceptable-yet full of ill will and contempt? Ah, such tension. And hypocrisy. Now let’s get reasonable and get started.

1. When prohibiting yourself from using profanity, you are limiting your word choices to most accurately communicate with others. Communication is a difficult enough process -why make it more difficult by not allowing ourselves to use the full arsenal of vocabulary choices available to us? Good communication is all about knowing your audience and/or the person to whom you are communicating. In many contexts, profanity is going to be the best language choice available. In other cases, one might argue that profanity might be the worst possible choice –talking to a classroom of preschoolers, let’s say. However, even if the person/group you are communicating with does not use profanity, what better way for them to get to know you than by using words that you feel most comfortable using? I have found that using profanity in normally formal environments brings about a tone of realness and genuineness to the occasion while making others feel more comfortable and able to share their true thoughts and feelings on issues. You might say it serves to breakdown the bullshit formality that exists so often in life.

Again, am I suggesting to always use profanity? Of course not. I am saying that sometimes the intense  beauty of a finely placed profanity is an unparalleled and wonderful experience and should be considered a communication option.

2. Profanity has a positive, relieving effect on your psyche when used in the proper context to let off steam and/or decrease your feeling of pain. In June 2009, researchers at Keele University in England sought to determine why the automatic response for so many people in pain is to blurt out profanity. You know, like after stubbing your toe, a good “FUCK ME!” is usually in order. In snippets taken from this article, researchers found 68 college-aged students and asked each to submerge one hand in icy water for as long as they could possibly stand it. They were trying to test if students could keep their hands submerged longer if they used curse words or non-curse words.

During the first trial, the students were permitted to swear out loud as often as they needed to see if it could lengthen the period of time that the hand could stay submerged. During the second trial, the students submerged their other hand in the icy water and this time, they were permitted to say whatever they wanted, as long as it did not contain swearing. It was determined that, on average, swearing students could hold their hands in the water over 40 seconds longer than when they did not swear. Why were the swearing students able to keep their hands in icy water longer? These researchers have found that the amygdala, a gland that makes the heart speed up and the resistance to pain stronger, as the key. It is basically responsible for the “fight or flight” reaction. The theory is that using actual cuss words somehow activates deep primitive negative emotions, which somehow triggers the amygdala to choose the “fight” response. The fight response then raises your heart rate and decreases pain sensations, just like swearing after feeling pain.

So, even though cursing is often thought of as reflective of inappropriateness, it may be that profane language has the power to decrease pain that general speech does not. Keele University psychologist, Dr. Richard Stevens, summarized his findings and offered this sound advice after the study was over: “I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear.”

And you all thought it was just me. Fuck you. ☺

quote-Mark-Twain-under-certain-circumstances-profanity-provides-a-relief-100676_2

3. Like Marlita Hill contends in this brilliant speech concerning the word, “nigger,” (if you have never watched this 11 minute speech, treat yourselves to this gem) words only become profane when we deem them profane and allow them to be such. Using “profane” words only serves to demystify their meaning and decrease their social power and control.

I recently had a student write me an email describing her anxiety concerning an upcoming speech assignment. In her words, she was “sh#$ing bricks” and “scared off her a$$.”

Hmmmmm.

She then went on to say that she does not like profanity and cannot even write the profane words out. Poor f#@king girl.

Ugh.

I would suggest this “camouflaging” of “profane” words only serves to heighten their social taboo and perpetuate their power and intrigue. Seriously, are you all aware that some strands of Judaism are forbidden to write out the word, God? They must camouflage the word to G*d, for example, with this or some such other replacement symbol. I understand the reasoning behind this idea –it is all about giving God the highest amount of reverence and respect while not cheapening the nature of an eternal, infinite and all powerful G@d by simply being able to write out his (yes, his) name.

Using such logic, do you realize that all of you “profanity camouflagers” are elevating profanity to a deity-type status? You are providing profanity both reverence and respect. Your camouflage is providing the exact opposite effect of your intentions while continuing to perpetuate the perceived power of certain words. It is not necessary to use any variation of profanity, written out phonetically incorrect or not…just use a non-profane equivalent. And while you’re at it, stop with the substitute freakins, goshes, darns, cruds and fudges. Stop the madness –cuss for G%d’s sake. These words also serve to make you look like a pretentious d^%k…whoops.

If you want to deflate and cheapen the power of profane words, use them, in excess.

And, lastly…

4. Because we can! This is America, correct? The land of free speech, correct? Why would we metaphorically shit all over our founding fathers by not using what they fought so hard for us to attain? Fuck yeah Thomas Jefferson and hell to the yes George Washington! I, for one, will not give in to this very un-American madness of not using profanity.

So, for the sake of good communication, our health and wellness, our society and our American right to free speech, cuss away my friends. Again, I am not suggesting to use it all places, all the time, without good reason -it simply must be an option in our vocabulary arsenal.

As for all of you “holier-than-thou” douche-bags who want to restrict and ban others use of their G*d-given right and very American right to use profanity -grow a pair and well, just grow up. If you don’t want to use it, don’t. Just don’t tell me and others what we should or should say in terms of our own self-expression.

Now ask me how I really f*cking feel.

Relationship Survey: Please Take A Minute And Provide Us With Your Response!

A student of mine is currently doing some original research in regards to relationship type measured with satisfaction. This is a very quick one minute survey. We would really appreciate it if you could contribute this blippet of time for the sake of academic research. Anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to take it. Thank you in advance for your assistance! All responses are 100% anonymous…guaranteed.

www.relationship-satisfaction-survey.com

The Practical and Political Implications of Death: The Podcast with Kevin Collins

Jimmy sits down with a funeral director who deals with death on a daily basis. With over 55 million deaths each year (2 people die every 1 second) listen in as Jimmy and Kevin discuss the psychology, cultural practices and politics of one of the biggest businesses on the planet. They discuss grieving, death/humor, religion and the political ramifications of all things death. A pretty eye opening podcast on a subject most rarely think about…until faced with it.

Language’s Little Lies: The Evolving Nature Of Words And Phrases That Make No Cents

After a heavy week, I needed to write something to lighten the mood. Thus….

I am not a big fan of language. I believe it to be skewed, imperfect and wrought with potential dangers. Unfortunately it is all we got to connect with each other in our global village. So, in that spirit, this blog intends to clear up some frequent misuses, or at least inconsistencies, in the English language.

Having traveled to many non-English speaking countries while having some friends whose English is a second, or perhaps even a third, language, I possess a heightened sensitivity to English phrasing and colloquialisms.  We have so many inconsistencies in our English vernacular it must be very difficult for anyone who was not born and bred into the language to gain a “firm grasp” (though I’m not grasping anything) on its use. In fact, it must be “hard as shit” to learn…never mind the fact that I could think of a thousand different substances that possess far greater hardness and density to express this level of difficulty…even for the most constipated among us.

I think you know where I am headed. I understand slang (i.e. sick, dope, bling, pimp) yet what I am talking about are words or phrases firmly embedded in our everyday, somewhat informal, lexicon…at least for some of us.

So what do you say we “get this party started” (ironically it’s a blog, not a party) with a bang?

Speaking of bangs, we all rightly say that we “shoot” or “fire” a gun though why do we also “shoot an email,” or, now, “shoot a text?” I suppose it is no different from when we “shot a picture” as both phrases make absolutely no sense. If we literally either “shoot a picture” or “shoot an email” we would end up only with a nasty mess of celluloid bits and/or small chunks of microchips and metal.

Consider Rene’s favorite phrases (and she knows how I feel about them), “pop the trunk” or “pop the hood.” We do not pop these things -we open or even “release” these things. We pop a balloon, pop a bubble and even pop our corn. Hoods and trunks? These mechanisms are highly resistant to popping…and, in fact, I would argue are quite unpoppable.

What about those phrases we use as a sign we do not care for something?  Consider the phrase, “I don’t give a shit/crap.” If we really want someone to know we care little for something, would we not want to give them our crap as a sign of its largetotal lack of value? Conversely, if someone does not care for something of mine, why would I claim, “You do not give a crap?” If someone is not giving me their crap that is a good thing…like monkeys with their enemies, we would throw our crap at bad ideas. I suppose one could argue that you care so little for something you would not even give that them your least valuable possession -your crap- I would contend that giving them your crap is a far worse fate than not giving a crap.

Closely related to this-and the more accurate phrase- would be, “I don’t give a fuck” -and this makes perfect sense. Why do we use shit/crap and fuck as if they are synonymous? Last time I checked crap was quite unpleasant while “to fuck” is, well, awesome. If I tell someone “I do not give a fuck,” it means I am not going to part with something quite valuable in my life. If I tell someone they do not give a fuck, they are not willing to offer up something valuable for my idea.

I hereby resolve that it is high time we all stopped giving a fuck and started giving a crap when we hear a bad idea.

And speaking of crap, none of us ever “take a crap,” we all, “leave a crap.” For that matter, unless you are remodeling your bathroom and are in the Home Depot looking for prefab shower installations, no one ever “takes a shower” either. We experience, perhaps even enjoy, a shower or bath, yet we never “take” one.

I really do not mean to harp on bodily functions, though the next time you are “going to vomit,” could send me vomit’s address and perhaps I could join you? Perhaps they live next door to their close cousins pee and poop. Often times when our body is preparing to do something we mistake this for a location we are going to…no, the bodily functions come to us and we await their arrival, we do not go to it. You are never “going to pee or poop” as the pee and poop pleasantly comes to you.

There are just some phrases in our language that reflect something we do not do anymore yet we would never know it based on our language use. The next time someone tells you they are writing a book, ask them what kind of pen they are using. The fact is, they are not “writing” a book; they may be typing one, creating one or even constructing one. The last author to write and/or “pen” a book was probably Charles Dickens.

Our language needs to keep up with our expanding technologies.

Technology is quickly changing the way we use language. Five years ago if someone told me they wanted to “Facetime” me I either would have been disgusted or delighted, pending the hotness of the requester -and don’t get me started on someone who wants to “Skype” me.

In regards to evolving technologies, back when I was raising kids, if you told me you bought some nice ear buds, I would have thought you purchased dogs that can play football.

Some phrases I understand in practice, yet if you really think about them in the theoretical sense, they are “hard to swallow.”

For example, would we ever want someone to really, “lend us a hand?”  If we desire someone’s help I am quite certain we would prefer they use two hands. If anything it should read, could you please “lend me both hands?” Speaking of needing assistance, why do we need to “pick up the slack?” Would it not be better if we were to tighten the slack?  At the very least “slack” should only be picked up for the purpose of discarding it.

And please do not get me started on the “I am hungry” thing. You may feel hungry or desire food, but rest assured, you are not hungry or famished or starving or full, you are (insert first name here).

It is now time to start “winding down” this blog. Of course this blog has no levers or cranks, but I think you get the idea.

And speaking of down.

A friend informed me the other day, anyone who gives a good “blow job,” should be fired. Last time I checked, there is absolutely no blowing involved in a BJ “worth its salt.”

But you knew that.

And probably don’t give a shit…or was it fuck? Whatever.