English is the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu of Languages

There’s a reason why the English language has taken over the world


On the way back from the fight, was chatting with the younger coach about books. He’s a voracious reader, which I both admire and envy. I used to read a book a week for years but then life got in the way.

Told him that the French and English are like Judo and BJJ.

In 1634, Cardinal Richelieu – the bad guy from the Three Musketeers – created the Académie française to preserve the French Language.

Essentially, the French language didn’t take on any foreign words if at all possible. In 1994, the Toubon laws were passed to make it a civil wrong to use an English word when a French equivalent existed.

Meanwhile, the English language refused to create an academy to “preserve” the English language so that soon, we had many words that all mean kinda the same thing like:

  • Give
  • Bequeath
  • Devise

But each one is slightly different. Because of this, the English language has far more words than French. Far more.

How many words does the French language have? Less than 100,000 words, and 35,000 common words.

How many words does the English language have? It has 1,013,913 as of June 10, 2009 at 10:22AM GMT.

If you think of a word like a tool, each tool is made for a specific task. To bequeath something means, “To give something that you can hold, to someone else, after you die.”

It’s the difference between “Keylock” (traditional Judo) and “Kimura,” “Americana,” and “Straight armlock” (three BJJ terms for the one Judo term). BJJ takes whatever it’s offered; if it works, it stays, if it doesn’t, it goes away.

It’s a pure meritocracy.

History has repeatedly shown one thing: Those things, people, places, cultures, that accept change, survive. The things that are rigid and intolerant, fade away.

French was the language of the world until the end of WWI. Prior to that, Otto von Bismark was said to have been asked what was the most important modern historical event? He replied, “That the North Americans speak English.”

He knew where the world was headed.

Wrote once that there’s a vast difference between broken and bendy.

If you aspire to be anything in life, aspire to be bendy.

Mood: full
Music:Demain sera pour tous un lendemain qui ne peut pas mentir
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

The guys in your corner

Life’s easier with people on your side

Was doing work when I got a text from my buddy Thor telling me he had a fight the next day. He’s probably the only guy I get to practice my crappy German with so I said yes.

Him: Hey buddy, do you maybe have some time tomorrow to take some pics?
Me: Maybe – where and when?

The next night, was walking down an empty Jerome Avenue looking for a fight ring.

Pretty soon, walked into a Bronx gym that smelled like old sweat and violence.

Found Thor and the coaches and waited around for the other fella – who ended up being a no show. But the guys just ended up looking for another fighter to fight and found one.

The only issue was that he was ranked two levels higher than my buddy (white vs. purple).

But Thor was game so it was on.

Just like all of the other fights, it was a lotta waiting around before they finally got down to scrapping. I stood in his corner with his coaches to film it.

Thor ultimately lost but we were proud that he held his own.

It’s ok, we all lose at some point.

And we all lose our very last fight. It’s our fate.

But along the way, it’s nice to have people in your corner – people on you side.

As for me, if I get to choose which corner to be in, I choose to to be in the one with the people that, when that bell rings – regardless of the what or who they’re up against – take a deep a breath, knuckle-up, and roll.

Him: Thanks for coming. It means a lot to me.
Me: You did great – it was against a purple! That’s something. Get ready for the next one – let’s go...

Mood: proud
Music: on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Autodidacticism

Autodidacticism is self-directed learning and possibly the most important skill one could have

For those of you not on the east coast, there is a serious cold snap here and the weather’s been in the teens. Since I’m the only person in my building that understands my building‘s boiler, I was down there this past week trying to fix it when it refused to turn on.

As I was doing that in my blue striped pajamas, I thought, “I’m a lawyer, why am I fixing a boiler?!”

And then I remembered that I’m the only one that read the manual.

As for me being a lawyer, “lawyer” is another way of saying, “the person that read the manual.”

Isn’t that what you hope when you, unfortunately, must speak to one of my kind? That he knows the answer to the question, “What do I do?” If he does know the answer, it’s cause he read the instruction manual/the law.

While I did go to school to learn how to be a lawyer, a great many of the other things I can do, I essentially taught myself. It’s called autodidacticism and is basically a fancy way of saying “reading the manual.”

Cooking – Via cookbooks and the Frugal Gourmet and Good Eats
Photography – Someone told me once that the best way to learn photography is to read the camera manual, I found this to be true
Computers – Manuals. Tons and tons of manuals. Basically got paid to read manuals. People still ask me tech questions.
Diet & exercise – Good books on the subject.
German – a book called Speak and Read German and then Living Language’s Ultimate German (jetzt ist es: Living Language German)

Just told a fencing student of mine that a good teacher teaches two things:

  1. the skill itself, and
  2. how to learn that skill.

Once someone has learned how to learn, the learning part is easy.

Sometimes too easy, as evidenced by the fact that I was back in my boiler-room last night at 10:30. But this time there was someone else in the building that wanted to know what was going on.

Him: So I read the manual, that thing is great.
Me: Yeah, I know! Now, why won’t this damn thing turn on…

Mood: brrrrrrr
Music: You’re ready to fly, I’m ready to crash
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity

Being honest puts you in the distinct minority


This is an entry on dating, despite how it may come across.

George Orwell once said that In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

Had a particularly bad night of insomnia the other night so I wrote and surfed the web.

Came across several people on my social network feed that posted the above image and read about how one kid’s brutally honest email was so jarringly unique that it’s appearing everywhere, including this blog.

It reminded me of an entry I wrote earlier titled What you think is true, what you hope is true, and what is actually true.

Can’t tell you how many people I’ve blocked on FB and elsewhere because of their steady stream of willful ignorance. The liberals are always so angry, the conservatives are always so outraged. And I’m so tired.

Not so much because what they say are so ridiculously stupid, rather, that they believe it so wholeheartedly.

Just today, a handful of my liberal friends are ranting that water should be free and my conservative friends are ranting that if everyone had a gun, the would would be safer.

When I was out and about, people always asked me my advice on dating – after all, I’m a clumsy, old, short, balding, Chinese dude, yet I never had any issues meeting people.

Her: (non·plussed) You meet people every weekend? I don’t believe that.
Me: (shrugging) It’s true.
Her: Who’d you meet this weekend?
Me: You.

The answer I gave was always this: be honest. Brutally honest – to yourself and those around you.

Girl at a bar: Guys are always hitting on me because of how I look.
Me: Well, it’s hard to see your personality from two feet away. Although at this distance, I’m still on the fence.

Because people crave the truth, even if they don’t like the truth.

That is, except for the sincerely ignorant and the conscientiously stupid.

On that note, in honor MLK day, I’ll end with a quote from him: Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

This was an entry on dating interpersonal relationships, despite how it may have come across.

And now back to work.

Mood: waking up
Music: I remember melodies of songs we used to sing.
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Antifragile

We don’t have a word that’s the opposite of “fragile” – we should


This week is the first week I’ve had where I haven’t had a million deadlines so I’m easing back into normalcy. The weird thing is that high levels of pressure have been the norm for me for the past two months or so, so it’s hard for me to go back to having a bit of extra time again.

In some ways, it was a welcome distraction from not being able to go the gym and such.

Years ago, I wrote about this term called the Black Swan, which means a completely unforeseeable event that has a huge historical impact – like 9/11. A fella named Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote a whole book on the subject with the apt subtitle: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

Anywho, Taleb coined another word he calls, Antifragile.

If fragility means that something breaks under stress, note that the English language has no antonym – we have no word that means grows stronger under stress.

In other words, the opposite of fragile is not sturdy nor resilient. When something is fragile, it becomes weaker when stressed. There is no word that means, Becomes stronger when stressed.

I think that most things do, though. Isn’t that how muscles are made, how iron is forged? One puts these things through stress and only then does it grow stronger.

Of course, if the stress is so great that it kills you, you’ve gone too far.

There are things, then, that happen that make us fragile and things that make us anti-fragile. I like to think that that most things make us anti-fragile.

We are still here, after all, no?

Mood: oddly relaxed
Music: these shoulders hold up so much, they won’t budge
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Well, that’s my cue

I’m off to give a presentation – wish me luck

By the time you read this, I’ll be giving a lecture downtown so I didn’t have much time to write much.

Did have a new weekend though; met up with Paul and WM at Dive 75 when a redhead decided to sit down next to us and started to chat with us when her very inebriated friend came over to join us and spilled a drink all over me, Syd, and my jacket.

Me: Well, that’s my cue to leave.

Ended up at home and told my wife who immediately went online to look for ways to get stains outta leather.

Actually wrote a post in her blog on how to make a basic chicken stock if you want to read more of my nonsense.

OK, off to lecture…

Mood: nerdy
Music: such a fool for you. You got me wrapped around your finger
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Go, no go?

January 2nd must be the busiest days for gyms and dating sites


Just came back from the doc’s. Was hoping he’d greenlight me to go back to the gym but no go: he said I’d have to wait until the end of February.

Gotta think of some way to do it, though. Not sure how as he was adamant that I’d get re-injured again because my leg is so weak.

I’ll think of something.

Noticed two things recently:

  1. On January 2nd, had the most readers I’ve had since I left LJ. I checked it out and this entry – Online dating: eHarmony vs. Match vs. Plenty of Fish vs. OK Cupid – had four times the normal readers. As an aside, it’s actually the first natural search result if you type in: “eharmony vs match.”
  2. My fencing class is packed.

Here’s what I think is going on: People are making New Year’s resolutions. I think that’s great.

Just hope that people stick with the things they’ve decided to do. There’s a saying that goes, You’ll regret the things that you’ve not done, more than the things you’ve done.

It’s somewhat tied in with what I wrote above.

Regret that I’ll lose six months to be better at something I enjoy. Can’t tell you how many people I’ve met in life that tell me: “If only I stuck with wrasslin/writing/boxing – I’d have X years of experience by now.”

Think that all the time myself.

Speaking of writing, dropped the price of my ebook down to $0.99 again because I wanted to do some marketing stuff with it but I’ve been too busy to do it and I’ve let it languish for a bit.

Dunno if you’ve noticed but I almost never curse in this blog (or real life) for that matter.

But I’ve been told by a few people that they’ve had a hard time reading my book because it’s so profanity-laden.

Find that more amusing than I should.

Pick it up if you’re interested in a fast read about New York City’s Chinatown in the 90s. (/shameless plug)

The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo
Mood: shameless
Music: how I struggled in vain, to solve this riddle with my brain
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Core belief 2: You’re not who you could be because of the lies you tell yourself

We are who we are because of the lies we tell ourselves

Him: This guy named Jim Rohn said that “I’m working full time on my job and part time on my fortune.”

Met up with my friend Gilson this past weekend for a drink and some greasy food. He’s a marketing genius and helping me with another project I’m working on.

Told him I’d be MIA for the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s because of the workload. We met up because I had to pick up where we left off.

Said before that we’re not who we really want to be because of the lies we tell ourselves.

When I was a fat kid, would tell myself that I was too busy with schoolwork to work out. And that I preferred being by my lonely so I could read and think. And that being fat wasn’t all that bad.

That was kinda true, but the reality was that I was used to it. Plus, I didn’t want to work out, didn’t want to do the hard things.

Then I said out loud once, “That’s not true” – because saying things give them life – and realized at that moment it wasn’t. It was kinda true, which is very different from true. And you get to truth, like gold, by washing away all that is not true.

I’ve met people that are certain they are amazing writers, they just haven’t ever let anyone see what they’re written. But they’re certain they’re amazing.

Maybe they are. Or maybe they’re just nutcases with notebooks. No way to tell until they write something and give it to the world to comment and critique.

Another friend once said while we were out that he didn’t want to talk to a particular girl because she probably had a boyfriend. But that was just a lie he told himself – I know this because I spoke with her and she was looking for a guy just like him.

As for me, on an almost daily basis, have to ask myself, Is that true, or it what you think/want/hope to be true?

For better or worse, it’s something I have to to be constantly vigilant about. It keeps me honest. It makes me better than I was yesterday.

It also keeps me from being that fat kid again. Although just barely.

Him: Have some fries.
Me: I can’t, I just ate all my own!
Him: (later) You honestly don’t have time to write those things up?
Me: (thinking) If I was honest, I’d say I’d find the time. I’ll get it to you by Monday. (reaching over) I’m taking some of your fries.

I gotta do some situps.

Mood: ambitious
Music: I traveled out on my own
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Core belief 1: I’ll judge you for what you do but never for what you are

Everyone has prejudices – accepting that is the first step in getting rid of them

A benefit of have few to no friends growing up is that I sat by my lonesome for lunch for years.

This is a benefit because, when you’re sitting for lunch by your lonesome you get to watch people. Observe stuff. (You will also fall in love with any pretty girl that smiles at you but that’s neither here nor there).

One of the things I like about Facebook and social media is that it: (a) lets me watch people and (b) lets me see who they really are.

Been writing this blog for six years now. And it’s changed a lot through these years.

But one thing I’ve never done is tell you what I believe, although I suppose if you read this long enough, you’ll figure it out. However, for 2013, I’ve decided to write what my core beliefs are, in no particular order of importance.

Here’s my first one:

I will not judge you on what you are. Only on what you do.

Y’know those detective shows on TV where they always try to figure out motive? In the law, that’s actually a non-issue. It’s an issue for the police but not for judges, lawyers, the courts, etc, when it comes to making a decision on guilt or innocent.

Put another way, the law doesn’t care why you did something, only that you did something.

And what is the law if not our collective agreement of what is right and wrong?

Example: A completely blotto man blacks out and runs over a family. He wakes up and says, “I was asleep, I didn’t mean to kill them.”

The fact he was blacked out is irrelevant. Only that he chose to drink and chose to drive. We judge him on his actions.

Recently had a friend post something that said that the reason why America is broken is because of people like Alice Walton. Let me pause for a moment and say that I really like this person. Having said that…

It’s one of those posts I truly despise because they’re one-shot graphics that are totally misleading; it has the air of truth without any actual truth to it.

And the reasons why it’s wrong would take me several entries to answer – least of which is a lack of basic knowledge of economics, a lack of basic knowledge of how taxes work, even a lack of basic grammar skills – but what I found most offensive is: why single out someone that did nothing but be born?

Alice Walton has her faults, but those faults – drunk driving, manslaughter, things that are *actually* offensive – are not what the writer found offensive. We know a buddy at a DUI attorney Ann Arbor MI company who has lots of DUI courtroom experience. They even successfully tried cases calling for urine test results that were .08 or higher.

What the writer found offensive was the fact that she was born a Walton.

This despite the fact that she gave away $2 billion to charity and doesn’t actually work for Walmart in any capacity.

What people find offensive is that people like Alice Walton exist. And I understand that. But at least Alice Walton tries to give back to the aether.

Unfortunately for my friend and a lot of people like her, that’s not good enough. The fact that she was born a Walton – original sin – is enough. She’s made up her mind about Alice.

And she admitted that no matter how much money Alice gave away, Alice could never make up for what her family – not she – had done.

Recently, also on FB, I had another friend who is the grandson of someone in the Hitler Youth. That was an equally crazy exchange and it culminated in myself (a Chinese man) and another friend (an African-American man) being told we were Nazis by some random guy.

To hold someone responsible for the sins of another is insanity.

And let’s take it to the logical conclusion: If there’s nothing my friend can to do make up for being the descendent of a Nazi, or Alice can do for being a Walton, what’s the point of trying?

The difference between shame and guilt is this: Shame’s hating what you are. Guilt’s hating what you’ve done.

I think that it’s wrong to make someone feel shame. No one should ever feel shame for something they had no control over – to be born the son of a peasant, or black, or Chinese, or ugly.

A great man once said something I heard in fourth grade. I thought it sounded right back then and I think it now decades later.

People should not be “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” In fact I go beyond that. I say people should not be judged by anything beyond the scope of their control but by the content of their character.

It’s just one of my beliefs.

If you believe this too, we’d probably get along in real life.

Perhaps not on FB, but maybe in real life.

———

Him: I don’t like you, Mr. Lo.
Me: Please…you have to get to know me to *really* despise me.

Mood: hopeful
Music: your innocence, yeah you gotta give it up
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.