Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Monday, February 18, 2019

I Smirk In Your General Direction

Hello, my name is Don, and I’m a smirker. I guess I smirk a lot.

Because it’s a personal trait I never really saw it a negative. But when I looked up the definition it said “smiling in an irritatingly smug, conceited or mockingly way. Other words used were: offensive, self-satisfied, insolent, scornful, contemptuous, affected, and “offensive smugness”.

I have to say that I disagree with all five dictionary sites I saw. I mean “smug”? I think being an author of two books, that I might know more than these hacks about what a smirk is.  And “conceited”? C’mon, would people love me as much as they do if that was true? Ha!

I will admit that my favorite TV character, Raymond Reddington (of the Blacklist, played by actor James Spader) smirks a lot. Interestingly enough, all those adjectives listed above apply to Reddington, they just somehow don’t apply to me at all.

I only smirk when I think someone is full of bullshirt. However, I tend to think everyone is full of bullshirt. Except me, of course. But that doesn’t make me conceited, it just makes me exceptional. Giving a smirk is much more polite, and safer, than saying “You are totally full of $h!+!”.  Especially when you are at the office.

And I don’t rely on just one smirk. Friends get a friendly smirk. If I don’t know you, you get a neutral smirk and if I don’t like you, you get a derisive smirk.  Okay, maybe that “scornful” definition could be true.

But there are people who believe I smirk an excessive amount. After I posted a photo from a trade journal on social media, complaining that they had caught me in “mid-smirk” (can you even believe I was smirking when they took the shot?), a friend responded with this: “I feel like mid-smirk is just a smoothing of your full range of expressions, which run from nascent smirk to over-the-top smirk.” And this comment is from a friend! When your friends are saying this type of thing, you certainly don’t want to know what your detractors are thinking.

I like to think I can control myself from smirking at inappropriate times. I do this by presenting a stoic, poker face. So if you ever catch me showing no emotion whatsoever, rest assured I am smirking fervently on the inside.

I once got into trouble years ago by smirking at work. The boss called me into his office to chastise me for a report I had done, that management didn’t agree with. He knew the report was true. I knew it was true, but we had to go through this ritual so I would write more agreeable reports in the future. But the best part of the conversation went like this:

Boss: And your numbers on Page 10 are all wrong. 

Me: How are they wrong?

Boss: See this 97.2? You did it wrong. You can’t calculate it that way. Your logic is way off. Here’s my calculator, I’ll show you.

Me: Okay

Boss: See you first take this number and you divide by this one and then you multiple by 10% and then and only then, can you subtract this number over here. So what’s the real value?

Me: Uh, 97.2 (I hand the calculator back to him so he can see)

Boss: Well, uh, er, ah – How’d you do that?

(The real answer is “math” but I couldn’t say it, so I just smirked broadly)

Boss: Stop smirking!

Me: (Poker face)

But this post is not about me. It is about a recent, ugly, incident in which a teenager, confronted by a stranger banging a drum in his face, chose not to respond with words or physical confrontation, but to smirk. Because he smirked, he was savagely condemned on the Internet and even received death threats. Well let me remind you that this is America, where smirking is protected by the Constitution and by the republic for it which it stands. I may not agree with your smirk, but I’ll defend to the dea,… well, to the point it becomes somewhat uncomfortable, your right to smirk it.  This was an I am Smirkitus moment. And I am proud to smirk with the smirkers! And if you disagree with this, well, well, (You know what I’m doing right now).

And I Stand With The Cows (Just not behind them)

Also recently, it has been proposed we eliminate cows because the tremendous amount of methane gas they emit is damaging the planet. This concept is totally demeaning and embarrassing to cows everywhere. They can’t help it they fart, and fart a lot. They have four stomachs, they eat grass, and it gestates in there for days. It’s not as if they can hold it in. Cows have been farting ever since they were created and I believe they have the God-given right to blast out methane wherever and whenever they choose. Heck Yeh! I stand with the cows – just not behind them.

First they came for the cows, because of their horrendous gas, and I did not speak out – because I was not a cow.

Then they came for the pigs, because of their atrocious emissions, and I did not speak out – because I was not a pig.

Then they came for the canines, because of their awful puppy gas, and I did not speak out – because I was not a dog.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left, brrraaapp, to speak for me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Cure For Male Pattern Stupidity

Several weeks ago, my email program got upgraded with a new feature called “Smart Compose”. Smart Compose analyzes the email that was sent to me, then suggests words, or sometimes complete sentences, as I type my response. For example, If I am responding back to an email and type “G”, Smart Compose suggests: “Good to hear from you”. If I hit the advance key, it plugs it right in. 

At first, this greatly annoyed me (don’t tell me what to write!), but then I realized it is amazingly accurate and I began to utilize it more and more. This is accomplished by using something called artificial intelligence, which programs computers and devices to think like humans.

And then I had an epiphany. If artificial intelligence is smart enough to tell me what to write in emails, let’s use it for something spectacularly great. Let’s use it to help men communicate with their women.  

I believe artificial intelligence would be most valuable in situations where there is a void of any intelligence at all. And no greater scarcity of human intelligence exists than when a male attempts to communicate something of relational importance to a female. Nothing destroys relationships faster or causes more extreme interpersonal conflicts, as when the male of the species engages in verbal intercourse with his partner.

Now ladies, men are not as stupid as you think we are. We really aren’t. We are just incapable of putting the right words, in the right order, combined with the proper timing, tone, and facial expressions, to truly communicate what we intend, without really, really, fizzing you off.

Every second, a man somewhere makes what he considers to be a fully rational statement, which enrages his woman, who choose one (yells, screams, gets angry, cries, sobs, dramatizes, criticizes, sighs, eye rolls, tsks
Gee, what did I say?
and b!+ches). Okay, maybe she runs the table. Oh, and there will be no sex tonight, or tomorrow, or depending on how bad his statement was ….. Well you all know.

Now when men make these horrendously stupid statements it would help immensely if women would respond in a calm, patiently, lovingly way in an attempt to understand and interpret what their Neanderthal is really trying to say. But of course you can’t! Because you are a woman and you need to be able to hold this over us for days, weeks, and even years! 

And men are so dense that we have no idea what was wrong with our initial statement. So we try to calm this b!+ↄh storm by making still another statement. But just like the horrible free-throw shooter who clangs the first one off the rim, our second shot is just as bad, or even worse. Pity the poor guy who keeps talking, with each statement, digging the hole deeper. 

And unfortunately, at this point, “Sorry” doesn’t help. In almost every other situation in life it does, but not here. This pencil doesn’t have an eraser. You have written in ink, perhaps permanent ink. Saying sorry now is just like trying to put out a raging wildfire with a water pistol, and just the effort can even make things worse.

Some guys have realized they are poor communicators when talking to women and implement a strategy of saying as few words as possible. Not the “strong, silent type” as much as the “smart, silent type”. It’s always a red-flag when you hear a woman complain “My husband won’t discuss anything with me!” Well he knows he ain’t good at talking, and you ain’t good at listening. Some guys are so bad at communicating they would be better off just grunting and waving their arms wildly like a caveman.

And some single guys take this paucity of words to the extreme. It is the whole idea behind the “dick-pic” (texting, tweeting or emailing a photo of your Willie). It sends a clear message of romantic interest – without the need to use a single word. It cuts through all that messy conversation and gets right to the point!  It simply says: “I’ve got a wanker – and I’m thinking about you!”. You can’t get any more direct than that without reverting back to prehistoric days.

And there are a whole lot of guys sending these dick-pics. A poll found that 53% of millennial women have received one. And I have read of many women complaining about getting these friendly texts and tweets. The most famous culprit of course is Anthony Weiner, who tweeted his wiener all over cyberspace. 

I found an article that said women are repulsed by this practice if it is unsolicited, but greatly aroused if it is solicited. So a woman could be revolted or ecstatic by the exact same photo, depending on her mood. And to this statement, the women out there say “Duh! Why of course” and the men say “Duh?”, which just complicates the whole issue.

I am in no way endorsing dick-pics. I’m just explaining why guys might use them to eliminate all that difficult conversation. I also am not condemning them, because that would be hypocritical. I cannot say for certain that I wouldn’t have engaged in the activity if the technology had existed when I was 17. Heck, if I knew I could send one to Marie Osmond today and not get caught, I, um, let’s forget I even mentioned that.

Therefore, men are in dire need of help when communicating with women. So someone needs to develop something where the man can be in another room and speak into an Alexa type device that translates and transmits his statement into female-friendly language back to his wife. He hears her response back through the device and then the program keeps translating his statements until marital bliss is restored. He is only allowed to rejoin his wife after the conversation ends.

Now I know there are already humorous videos that display this same concept. (Please don’t send me the links) But those parodies pretend that such a device exists. What I’m saying is that by using artificial intelligence technology it is possible for the device to actually exist. And of course, the artificial intelligence would be developed by women who are experts in communication.

“We can reprogram him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first ultra-communicative man. We will make him better than he was before. Sensitive, caring, empathetic.” 

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to revolutionize male-female communication and thus improve those relationships. And with so much better communication going on, it has the potential to even reverse the declining birth rates – if you get my drift – and I know you do. So, get busy AI programmers! The first one to conquer this one gets a billion dollars!