A Devastating Architect

August 29, 2008

It’s my firm opinion that all of the psychological tests are crap, and people take them only as a kind of scientifically justified horoscopes – that is to read how great and talented they are. Anytime one feels down one can take a test and there’s a good chance one will be flattered.

That’s what I did last night, and boy, am I flattered! I appear to rank with Einstein!

Anyway, they also said something about my manner of communication. If I ever piss you off blame it on the test:

Architects are rare – maybe one percent of the population – and show the greatest precision in thought and speech of all the types. They tend to see distinctions and inconsistencies instantaneously, and can detect contradictions no matter when or where they were made. It is difficult for an Architect to listen to nonsense, even in a casual conversation, without pointing out the speaker’s error. And in any serious discussion or debate Architects are devastating, their skill in framing arguments giving them an enormous advantage. Architects regard all discussions as a search for understanding, and believe their function is to eliminate inconsistencies, which can make communication with them an uncomfortable experience for many.

Ruthless pragmatists about ideas, and insatiably curious, Architects are driven to find the most efficient means to their ends, and they will learn in any manner and degree they can. They will listen to amateurs if their ideas are useful, and will ignore the experts if theirs are not. Authority derived from office, credential, or celebrity does not impress them. Architects are interested only in what make sense, and thus only statements that are consistent and coherent carry any weight with them.

Is that why half of my jokes never come through? Hmm…

Feel devastated? Go ahead, humour yourself!


Two Russian Jokes

August 29, 2008

There are two Russian jokes (although likely they’re both Polish in origin) I was reminded of while reading Scatt’s Those Missiles over at Polandian. Both come from the 1980s and refer to propaganda.

This is the first (and likely the only) joke in my life I actually managed to memorize, and I still remember it, even though I was maybe 14 when I first heard it. It’s from the repertoire of the Bez Jacka (Without Jacek) cabaret. Commercials, as we all know, refer to product promotion – something virtually unknown in Poland back then, with this one exception:

A brisk stream winds down the deep tundra or taiga scenery. A deer nibs on grass on a nearby meadow. Birds sing a cheerful tune. The sky is blue and clear.

There, at the brook’s bank a woman crouched, and with sweeping movements of her hands washes her cloths, pressing the fabric against a stone.

Suddenly, a Cossack emerges from behind a tree, and tiptoes towards her. When he takes his hold of her from behind, she screams: “Help! They f*ck me!”

Off voice: “They f*ck you, and they’ll keep f*cking you, as long as you don’t buy an automatic washing-machine.”

That more or less explains Russian methods of persuasion and enticement as seen through Polish eyes. It might be not certain whether we need those missiles, but it’s certain that we wouldn’t need them at all if we weren’t f*cked by them so often. In the end one needs to buy the automatic washer anyway, the only difference now is that we can choose our supplier.

The second joke refers to Public Relations that is how information is being presented:

– Is it true that Victor Semyonych won a car in a lottery in Leningrad?

– Yes, it is. – Yes, it is. But it wasn’t Victor Semyonych it was Fyodor Kovalenko, and it wasn’t in Leningrad it was in Moscow, and it wasn’t in a lottery it was in the Red Square, and it wasn’t a car it was a bicycle, and he didn’t win it but they stole it from him.

One might think that Russia bitches now over the missile defence system because they’re unhappy. While I don’t know whether they’re happy or not, I know that in Russian tradition it’s always good to bitch when one has a good pretext, even if it’s not necessarily a real reason.

Of course the anti-missiles in Poland are not a threat to Russia in the least, but there are other benefits coming from bitching that should be considered:

  • it’s always good to make some rumour – people notice you

  • it’s good to present yourself as a victim, especially when your usual image is more of an oppressor

  • it’s even better to do it in order to turn everyone’s attention from Russian troops in Georgia – at least not all of the news lately were about the victims of Russia, some were also about Russia the victim

  • it is a great opportunity to let the Russian people, whose democracy looks somewhat too closely to autocracy, know that their lives are endangered and only Putin can save them – after all there are millions of them and it’s easier to keep them quiet that way

  • it’ll come off handy when Russia puts a new embargo on Polish products

  • it’ll be a good point in Russia’s negotiations with the EU

  • whatever Russia does now they’ll say that we started it

  • there’s always a chance that someone will believe them

  • there’s always a chance that someone will be scared by their threat

Does that mean that Russia is going to attack Poland? No. But when they do you bet that they’ll use the missiles as a pretext. However, the missiles will never be a true reason. As Poles say: every pretext is good.

Yet, as long as they make the rumour there’s nothing to worry about. Whenever Russia attacks it’s done quietly and without any prior announcement, just like the Cossack in the first joke.

Everyone who has ever read fanfiction must be acquainted with the concept of Mary Sue. Why fan fiction and not fiction? Because professional authors don’t have this problem! It’s something that happens to 13 years old home writers of Harry Potter’s mysterious encounters with Draco Malfoy.

Or so I thought before I looked through the iTV press release for their new mini series. It seems that one doesn’t have to be 13 years old to be a freshman and find themselves – no, not Lost in Warszawa – Lost in Austen!

The authors’ original idea about coming with an original idea by marrying original ideas of others (Austen’s DNA in conjugal bliss with Life on Mars) is already discussed by John Sutherland in the Guardian. I, however, would like to focus on their prime achievement: their ORIGINAL CHARACTER Amanda Price is a superior human being.

Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price

Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price

Don’t read further if you don’t want to have the Lost in Austen tv series spoilt for you. What follows is a list, the list, I should say, of characteristics that make Mary Sues all over the world blush in their inferiority.

You Know That You Created Mary Sue When…

  • …Mr. Bennet likes your OC so much that he doesn’t miss his favourite daughter
  • …Jane becomes your OC’s best friend
  • …Lydia and Kitty think that your OC is a hoot
  • …Mr. Bingley falls in love with your OC at first sight, and forgets about Jane altogether as he goes with your OC for a snog during the Meryton Assembly
  • …the only characters that don’t like your OC are Mrs. Bennet and Caroline Bingley, plus some rejected lovers
  • …Mr. Collins falls hard for your OC and proposes at once
  • …Wickham can’t keep his hands away from your OC
  • …Darcy softens to your OC as she sings Downtime a capella
  • …the negative characters are truly evil to your OC
  • …Lady Catherine thinks that your OC is great, even though she doesn’t approve of her nephew’s relationship with her
  • …your OC uses all of the best Lizzy’s lines from the book, so that Darcy could get with her to the lake point below
  • …Darcy jumps into his freezing lake (model Pemberley BBC ’95) in order to declare his undying love for your OC

I guess that some minor notions, like that your OC is both a romantic and spunky character, miserable and tragic too boot, and has to tell everyone around what to do, even though they don’t understand her and do mistreat her so much, goes without saying. Did I mention that everyone thinks her just like Lizzy and very beautiful?

Don’t worry that the sweet and irresistible Amanda is going to steal all of the novel’s characters. As a Mary Sue without fault, I’m sure she has all of the goodness and naivety in the world, and so all of the attentions are unwanted and unasked for. It is simply unavoidable that, since she is so wonderful and so ORIGINAL, everybody must fall for her. Once she has her way, she might even refuse the marriage proposal of the handsome and courteous Darcy, and graciously leave the leftovers of what was once the great dashing hero of British literature over to one Elizabeth Bennet. What a pity that not so dashing or great any longer, since one can’t seriously respect a man who fell for Mary Sue, can one?

Guess what the producers of Lost in Austen say about their Amanda?

Everybody is going to love her!!!

It’s the simplest, the most unassuming definition of Mary Sue I ever heard!

I am happy, truly happy for the authors’ self-confidence and contentment. There was no waste of their education. They earn their money the best way they can.

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