Friday, April 29, 2011

How Guys Really Think

There are a couple of things that I’ve wished I could explain to girls, but you can’t just walk up to someone and say them. I’ll make sure my daughters know them, but here they are for public consumption:

1. You are more attractive than you think.

There’s this common notion that guys have this internal image of a perfect figure, and that they measure girls’ attractiveness based on how closely they approximate that image. But a more accurate explanation of how guys measure attractiveness is that they have a range of ideal values in each of several categories, like hair color, height, intelligence, nose shape, etc. Each guy places a different weight on different categories, and the categories a guy cares most about will probably have the narrowest range of attractiveness. We’ll call that range the “ideal” range. There is also another range in each category, which we will call the “attractive” range. This is broader than the “ideal” range. If a girl falls inside the “attractive” range on most categories, a guy will think she’s attractive. If she falls inside the “ideal” range in a few of the categories that he values most, he’ll consider her very attractive and probably won’t even notice if she falls outside the range on a few areas. In fact, once a guy decides he likes a girl, his “attractive” and “ideal” ranges will generally realign to accommodate that girl’s actual features. She becomes his ideal without having to change a thing.

So the implication here is that girls don’t need to worry if they have a few features that they think fall outside of guys’ ideal range. Because first of all, different guys care more or less about different things. And second, any guy who notices a girl’s strengths is very likely to ignore whatever it is that girl has been worrying about – or he may even find it attractive.

There are a couple of corollaries to this principle:

1a. Guys notice you a lot more often than you think.

I’d say that for every guy who says something to you, there are ten more who noticed you in a positive way. For every guy who compliments you, there are probably a hundred more who thought the same thing but didn’t express it.

1b. Attention from weird guys probably means normal guys like you too.

I’ve known some girls who felt ignored by the guys they find attractive, but they got a lot of attention from guys that are, for whatever reason, not the type of guy the girls are looking for. Like, really awkward flirting. These girls wondered what was wrong with them that made the weirdos like them and the normal guys ignore them.

I maintain that if you’re getting attention from guys you consider weird, it probably means that all guys are noticing you, but the normal ones that know you are too shy to say anything about it. Of course, knowing this is not necessarily useful, since you still aren’t getting attention (yet). But at least you know that the problem is not with you; it’s with them.

2. What you wear sends a message, and the only way to choose the message is by choosing what you wear.

Specifically, every bit of exposed skin says one thing, very loudly: “Look at me.” That doesn’t cause a problem for your face and hands, but you might not want other areas to send that message. Too bad. If you expose it, that’s what it’s yelling. And every guy who sees you will hear it: chaste or not, available or not.

Of course, guys can decide what to do about the message. In the case of face, arms, etc, it’s not really a big deal, because there’s no threat of hormonal impropriety. But if you wear immodest clothing, a guy’s options are actually pretty limited. Let’s consider them in turn.

First of all, a guy can choose to foster inappropriate thoughts. Such guys will be attracted to girls who dress immodestly, but they won’t respect them. And it’s no wonder, since the girls in question are offering something that’s supposed to be sacred in a very cheap way. They might not mean to do that, but like I said, girls don’t get to choose what message they send to guys; the only get to choose what to wear. But for the sake of this discussion, let’s ignore this type of guy on the assumption that girls don’t want attention from them.

A guy who cares about having clean thoughts is going to have two options when he sees a girl who is showing more skin than she should:

1. He can avoid looking. This is no problem if he’s just passing a girl on the street or seeing someone in a TV ad. It’s a little more problematic if it’s someone he’s talking to socially. It’s a big problem if he’s on a date. Presumably, girls don’t want to make their dates look away from them for the whole evening.

2. He can lower his standard to accept what she’s wearing. Wait, what? No self-respecting guy would do that, would they? Well imagine that guy A is friends with girl B, and she clearly cares about morality and integrity and all that good stuff. So A asks her out, and she opens the door and her shirt’s a little low in front. What is he going to do? Tell her she’s unclean and run away? Probably not. He could ask her to change, but then she’d feel awful and that might just destroy the date. He’d probably just go with it. And then does he really want to avert his eyes the whole time? And is he going to avoid asking her out again?

That’s a lot of rhetorical questioning, but the point is that you don’t really want to put a guy in that situation to begin with. Because again, the kind of guy you want to find isn’t going to lower his standards.

Now, I realize that it’s hard to find modest clothing these days. But if it’s something you care about, there are a few things that guys everywhere would like you to do:

1. Don’t just stand still and look in the mirror when you evaluate a clothing choice. Bend over. Sit down. Fix your hair. If clothing only covers you when you’re standing still, and you plan to do something else in it besides stand still, then the clothing isn’t modest. And guys will most definitely notice what your clothing is doing even when you are not standing still.

2. If you feel like you have to adjust things constantly, just pick something else. I remember this one time where a girl in church was pulling up on the front of her camisole every couple of minutes. Did she really think it was in place until just before she did that? She was probably modest for a couple of seconds every two minutes. And the thing is, she was obviously conscious of modesty. She just didn’t realize what message she was sending to the guys around her. And what message was that? That’s right, it was “checkmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeout…….checkmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeout…….checkmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeout”. And that is just not attractive. Don’t do that to yourself. Or us. Thank you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some Dumb Jokes

Here are a few jokes. Yes, I made them up. Yes, they’re stupid.

1. What is the difference between a lawyer and an Discovery Channel explorer in the forest?

One badgers the witness, and the other witnesses the badger.


2. What is the difference between a pilot and a farmer?

One gooses the throttle, and the other throttles the goose.


3. What is the difference between a bitter Vegan at a barbecue and the pig being cooked?

One roasts on the spit, and the other spits on the roast.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why I Despise the Nintendo DS

To begin with, I should make it clear that I’m a huge Nintendo fan. Mega Man games aside, probably 90% of the games I really like are made by Nintendo, and all of them are licensed for Nintendo consoles. I once had Zelda games active on my NES, my Super Nintendo, my Nintendo 64, my Game Boy Color, and my Game Boy Advance all at the same time. Maybe the GameCube too. (Not all of them were visible of course because there was only one TV screen.) But I am not a fan of the Nintendo DS. Splitting the screen is fundamentally wrong because you limit the amount of contiguous space you can use for any given purpose – having to cross that huge gap between the screens is totally unreasonable. And as if to confirm this prejudice, Nintendo went ahead and produced approximately zero games for the system that I consider worth playing. (I say approximately zero because I did like New Super Mario Bros well enough, but it easily could have been made on the Game Boy Advance. More on that later.)

So, lest I appear to be making unfair generalizations, let me recount my experiences on the DS:

Metroid Prime Hunters

I beat the first three areas of this game and then gave up. Not because it was hard – after all, I had just opened up two new planets and hadn’t even gotten to any hard parts there yet. I quit because I was bored. This is a totally unprecedented thing for me – I don’t normally quit a game after playing for that long unless I don’t have access to it or it’s too hard. But this game just didn’t live up to the Metroid name. Here’s why:

  1. First of all, there are no Metroids in it.
  2. There are no suit upgrades, either, just lots of limited-use weapons that all act about the same.
  3. The boss battles are all variations on the same two themes.
  4. The control just drove me nuts. You move with the directional pad and aim by sliding the stylus across the touch screen. You also switch weapons and go in and out of Morph Ball mode using the touch screen. You also jump by tapping the touch screen. So if you’re not careful and tap in the wrong spot, you’ll end up doing the wrong thing and waste missiles or totally change your view by rolling into a ball. Another huge problem comes when you're trying to circle an enemy – say clockwise. You hold left on the directional pad while sliding the stylus to the right, so you’ll continue to face the enemy. But when you reach the end of the pad, you have to pick up the stylus, move it to the left, and start dragging again. In the time it takes to do that, you’ve stopped turning, so you’re either out of position, or you’ve been standing still and probably been shot at a few times. It’s really, really frustrating.

Super Princess Peach

This was kind of interesting; if you like Mario games, then a game where you play as Peach is sort of a novel twist. (Sort of. Mario 2 was really about Peach, and you also play as her in parts of Paper Mario.) Peach can activate elemental powers by triggering various emotions, like catching fire as she becomes angry. You activate and deactivate powers by touching one of four large areas on the touch pad. That’s all you use it for. They could have had you cycle through and active powers using the L and R buttons, or even X and Y I think. But instead you have to play the game with the stylus in your hand, or get fingerprints on the screen for no good reason.

New Super Mario Bros

I don’t really have complaints about this game. (Although I wouldn’t say it was memorable enough to replay.) But the only thing it uses the touch pad for is to contain an extra item that you can carry around and activate at any time. There is absolutely no reason why they couldn’t have gotten the same behavior using the other buttons. Out of spite (and to add a bit of challenge to the game), I never used the item box. Take that.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

This is another game that doesn’t deserve its title. To be fair, I haven’t exactly played this game. But I saw my brother-in-law playing it, and I was not impressed. I don't like the fact that you "explore" mainly on your boat that you control by charting a course and then jumping over obstacles and firing your cannon. Exploring by water was a downside of Wind Waker, but at least it was a novel way to load screens. More of it, with extra water theme stuff, is just not Zelda-y. And you keep returning to the same dungeon and going deeper as your time limit increases, which just feels tedious. I also don't like that you move to a spot by touching it on the screen, or attack by swiping the stylus. You shouldn't have to block the screen with your controller. I haven't seen Spirit Tracks, but it sounds like more of the same, but with... trains.

Anything else?

So that’s about it. Maybe Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is cool, but again we all know that you don’t need a touch screen to play a Golden Sun game. And I guess that Star Fox game might have been okay. But you’ll notice that I haven’t played it. In the end, though, I’m kind of grateful to Nintendo for making a bypassable system. I don’t have time to play all the good games that come out, so by making some lame ones they were actually saving me some trouble.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Jaded View of the Classics

In school they make you read a lot of classics, and somehow most of them are painful to get through. I remember wondering if maybe some of those books were only classics because teachers kept making their students read them, and some of those students became teachers who did the same just out of tradition. Ostensibly, art becomes classic when it resonates with a lot of people over a long time, and I guess I can accept that, but it’s the “resonate” part that I find a bit questionable. Specifically, I think a lot of people connect with a piece of art because it evokes a strong response, without necessarily passing judgment on the quality of the response.

Before go into that, I should clarify that I do see value in classic stuff, even if it’s hard to get through sometimes. Take The Lord of the Rings and Super Mario Bros., for example. For someone who’s familiar with more recent works that derived from those classics, the originals probably seem tedious. But if you know the originals, you can appreciate the more recent stuff more, because you understand where they came from. Also, when you consider the fact that the originals didn’t have a familiar base to stand on, their strengths become more impressive. The same goes for music, literature, painting, architecture, etc.

But it’s still fair to pass judgment on the classics. Here’s an analogy that’s not very flattering, but I think it makes the point pretty well. Consider dogs. They like to sniff things. All sorts of things. It seems like the more something stinks, the more excited a dog is to smell it. It’s not that they are looking for things that stink necessarily; rather, they explore their world through smell, and anything that has a strong smell is stimulating. So they go sniff it. And it just so happens that some of the strongest-smelling stuff in the world has a lot of germs on it, so people’s noses find it offensive.

Now think about some classical literature or artwork. I’d bet that the first few things that pop into your head will have a strong memory with them. Maybe it’s a fond memory, and maybe not. But when I look back at a lot of the art I’ve been exposed to that has achieved classical status, I’m pretty sure that it got that way because it was stimulating to someone. And not all of that stimulation was positive, or even morally acceptable. Sort of a “natural man” thing.

Let’s consider the visual arts in particular. I took an art history class in college. I barely passed – I think it was the lowest grade I ever got. It was definitely interesting. But there sure was a lot of inappropriate stuff thrown in there. Anyone who looks at very much classical art has to ask this question: Why in the world did they leave clothing off of so many people? The common explanation that I hear is that people back then looked at things differently; it was just an artistic expression, and people didn’t see it as pornographic. And evidently art lovers today do the same thing. But people back then had hormones too, so I have a hard time believing that claim. Actually I tend to think that the images and sculptures of unclad people were in fact intended to be pornographic, both by the artists and by the people who commissioned them. Remember that back then, they didn’t have photographs, and not many people knew how to draw realistically. So the morally depraved people who wanted inappropriate artwork could only get it by paying a professional painter or sculptor. And the only people rich enough to do that were royalty and religious leaders. So why would they put this artwork in churches and streets? Well, they wanted people to come and admire the artwork, and probably develop an attachment to the church or city associated with it. Most people wouldn’t distinguish between liking something for artistic reasons or for other reasons – they’d have an overall reaction to it.

So, does that mean that it’s immoral to look at Renaissance artwork? Not necessarily, but maybe. I think you have to define pornography based on its intent and its effect. (For example, an anatomy textbook could be pornography to someone who uses it that way.) Whether or not the artwork from back then was intended to turn people on, the more important question is what effect it has on people now who look at it. On the other hand, if you get used to seeing stuff like that to the point that it doesn’t have an effect on you, the state of being desensitized could itself be a problem.

If, hypothetically, people are reading this, then some of them are thinking something like “But most of that clothing-limited artwork has a religious theme, and it was created with a level of skill that could be considered inspired. It can’t be immoral if the content is uplifting, can it?” That brings up the familiar situation you see in movies and books today in which the whole thing is really good except for “that one part,” and the perpetual question: How immoral does one part have to be in order to make the whole thing immoral? Here’s a succinct answer to that [link], but it’s not really as simple as it seems, because if you really want to avoid inappropriate stuff, you’d kind of have to go live on the moon, and then you’d have to be careful of solar flares.

But back to the matter of inappropriate content wrapped in good art. I maintain that bad things wrapped in appealing packages are more dangerous than bad things labeled as such. A bottle of poison locked in a trunk in some cellar is not nearly as dangerous as a drop of poison dissolved in a drink. In the same way, most people aren’t going to go seek out trashy movies, but if you put a trashy scene in a funny, exciting movie, then people who wouldn’t seek it out will see that scene anyway. And the same goes with paintings and sculptures. The fact that a piece of pornography is created with skill simply makes it more dangerous, because it makes it more likely to be viewed. And the same goes for the literature they make us read in school.

So I’m not trying to pass judgment on people for liking classical artwork, but I do think the creators had less-than-honorable intentions in mind when they created it. And let’s face it – you’d be pretty uncomfortable if you saw your son’s bedroom decorated with the stuff.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


There are a couple of names in video games that are kind of controversial for me. Some of them are even used by voice actors in the games, but I’m still not necessarily convinced. (See my entry on the Shannara books for even more disregard to official sources when it comes to pronunciation.)


Aran: This one’s not so important to me, but I stress the second syllable in Samus’s last name even though the Federation computer in Prime 3 stresses the first.

Varia: This one gets me. You definitely want to stress the I here, but in Prime 3 they stress the first A. That doesn’t sound nearly as cool.

Ridley: I admit that using a short “i" here would be the obvious choice, but for whatever reason I read it with a long “i" when I first saw it, and it’s hard for me to convince myself to change. My way makes him sound more like a monster and less like a scheming leader (although he is arguably both.)


On this one, I’m pretty sure I’m right. I’ve heard this said with a long A, but the A should definitely be short. Think about how you say “gladiator” or “graduate."


It’s said with a short e. Period.


I’m pretty sure anyone who speaks Japanese could set this one straight, but I don’t think I know anyone who does – or at least no one who wants to talk about space shooter games. My initial reading was “eye-ka-RU-ga,” but I suspect it’s more like “i-KA-ru-ga.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ideals, Standards, and being “Bimoral”

Once when I was talking to my brother, he used the word Bimoral, and I found the idea kind of inspiring. I guess it’s a euphemistic term to refer to hypocrisy. It’s where you have two sets of values – one that you have most of the time, and it’s extremely strict. When people talk about honesty or charity, you feel good because you tell yourself that that’s the kind of person you are. But then, when you come up against a situation where acting on that set of values would have a negative influence on you, you switch to your backup moral code, which isn’t quite as strict. But then, once you’ve done what you felt would be in your best interest, you switch back to your strict moral code, because that’s who you “really” are. Of course, that’s complete bunk. Situations like that are exactly why having values is important – anyone can value what’s right when they’re not tempted to do what’s wrong. But that doesn’t stop us all from being bimoral once in a while.

A related concept is the difference between ideals and standards. This is illustrated when you hear someone say “<blank> is ideal, but it just doesn’t work for me.” There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as what you’re saying doesn’t work for you isn’t a moral necessity, like not stealing. But it is very different from saying “I will <blank>, no matter what.” The only reason I bring this up is that I think a lot of people value things, and they rest assured that they will act based on those values, but they have never considered circumstances under which they might feel pressure to do something else. (Again, I’m not necessarily talking about moral values here.) So it’s important to do that – not just think about what you value, but about what things are absolutely essential to you, to the extent you won’t compromise on them.

By the way, for reasons unrelated to anyone who will ever read this (just in case someone was worrying), the distinction between standards and ideals that drives me insane the most is “I’m not ready.” And I’m not talking about when something has to be done by a deadline, and you’re not ready to finish it yet. I’m talking about when you acknowledge that something is morally necessary now and try to excuse yourself by saying you’ll do it later. Imagine that someone shows up at your house and says “I know honesty and integrity are essential, but I’m not ready to live that way right now. So I’m going to rob you. Don’t worry; I haven’t lost my set of values. I’m just not ready to live them yet.” You would probably not be very impressed.

[By the way, I’m not directing the preceding comments at any particular person. Really. So don’t get offended if you think I am.]