Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Body Language

Most people have heard about body language experts. People read what is in other people’s minds and what are their intentions just by their facial expressions or gestures.

There is a actually a series called “Lie to me”: http://www.fox.com/lietome/about/.¬† It was inspired by a real-life psychologist who is able to read clues in people’s faces, body language and voice to determine if they are guilty or not of a crime. I think it may be a good substitute for mind reading and telepathy! And since I don’t believe in psychics (they are charlatans just like your priest and pastor), body language experts are at least using tangible facts.

I am one of these people fascinated by body language. When it comes to couples, I am a amateur expert ūüôā Show me a picture of a couple and I will tell you if they have serious issues, if they are in love or not and which one in the couple is more in love than the other.¬† Ah, and if the relationship will last or not. Well, maybe not only one picture, but several. No stop, maybe not just pictures, but watching them interact with each other…

I remember how I predicted that James Cameron, who won “Best Movie” for “Titanic”, was going to leave his then wife. When his name was announced, she looked at him adoringly while he did not once glance at her direction. I thought to myself: this man is not in love with this woman. I was half right: in fact, he was already cheating on her with his subsequent wife, Suzy Amis.¬†

Take a look at your pictures. Pictures of you alone, pictures of you with your love interests. If you try to analyze body language, you may come up with some really interesting clues about yourself and your relationships.

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March 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Technology affecting language

Languages are living entities. They change and adapt according to the times. Words that are not being used regularly fade away and eventually disappear. Sometimes entire languages disappear due to population migration, political and geographical factors and war, where some populations in the history of the world were entirely dizimated.

When people migrated to foreign lands or when one culture invaded another, new words were introduced and merged into the existing language.  Brazil is a great example of a country that was colonized by the Portuguese, which adapted native Brazilian and African words into their language. Therefore, just like American English and British English have their differences, so does the Portuguese spoken in Portugal and the Portuguese spoken in Brazil.

With industrialization and mechanization, technology created new equipment and machinery that had to acquire new names. The invention of the car, autobus, train, transistor radio, television and cinema were all new words in the last 150 years.  New words were also created to explain the advances in medicine.

But nothing compares to the speed that language has changed since the internet started playing a huge role in our lives in the last 25 years. Some already in use words like “downloading” , “thread”, “troll” ,”word processing”, “social media” took new meanings. Several new words have been introduced, from “internet”¬† and “email” to the most recent “googling”, “twittering” or “tweet”, “iPhone”, “blog”, “GPS”, “smartphone”…the list goes on and on.

The result of this fast change is that we can expect¬†an influx of new¬†words to surge in the next few years. It is exciting to predict what will be the next fad word. Maybe in the next couple of years we will be¬†saying “get your iPad” as frequently as the factory workers last century said “get your pad” . If someone from 1985 stepped on a time machine and was thrown in the year 2010, he or she would not understand 20% of what people are saying nowadays!

So yes, even though we did not get the future we all wanted a la Jetsons (flying cars to beat traffic jams and robot maids to clean our house), at least in the language level we are in the future.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Society, Technology | 8 Comments

Are penalties for small crimes too harsh?

No one likes the idea that our taxes are supporting adults that are in prison where they get free room and board, unless they present a real danger to society. However, the way the system works, there are countless cases of people who committed small offenses and have to be in jail. By going to jail or having felonies attached to their records, they are greatly set back in life and their problems just snowball. I heard two cases in Northern Virginia that made me think about how the courts could have handled them differently, specially when it comes to child support.

Case # 1: A 31 year old man (let’s call him T) who was kept away from his father while growing up by his mother finally reconciles with his Dad. He abused drugs in his youth but now is clean. Because of his drug activities in his past, he had to spend time in jail. With his record and lack of education, he has a limited choice of jobs. He lives with his old grandfather, who does not have anyone to take care of him and suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

T rented a TV and one day, and because he was short on cash, he decided to take the TV to a pawn shop so he could make some money. He works some odd jobs which he supports himself and his grandfather with. Since he was behind on the monthly rent for the TV, the store owner calls him and asks him to return it. He stupidly tells them the TV is in the pawn shop, and that he had planned to get it later.

He is slapped with 2 counts of felony. A public attorney will defend him, but he may be convicted, which will further hinder his chances of getting other jobs. What should have been a civil matter becomes a criminal matter. T might go to jail for being stupid.

Case # 2: A man who also had a past conviction of drug dealing in a small scale and therefore works odd jobs owes back money in child support to the mother of his daughter. The court mandates that he pay a monthly sum that is very high for someone who does not have a full time job. Since he falls behind in his payments, he is sentenced to go to jail for failure to pay child support.

Meanwhile, his child support debt grows while interest is added to it. He is allowed to work days and report back to prison after his employer asks the court to free him during the day. He pays the sum he owes until he is up to date with his child support. He is let go and continues to pay for the child support. However, the amount determined by the courts is too much for his small income and he falls behind again. He has no one else to ask for money. Again, he is sent back to prison where he clearly cannot work and pay any child support.

What gives? Why is the system pushing people to the brink and digging them deeper instead of helping them succeed? It seems social workers, along with the Justice System, needs to rethink the penalties for such cases. Maybe the punishment can be community service instead of jail. The cycle then repeats itself generation after generation: drugs, lack of education, latchkey kids, low pay, alchohol abuse…

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Grievances, Society | 1 Comment

What is love?

I am sure you have asked yourself that question before, whether you were in the throes of a romantic relationship, when the endorphins are running high, whether you were heartbroken after a break up or when you were alone and wishing you had someone in your life.

It is easier to define love in terms of our children and parents. We love them because they are family, because they share genes with us, because they raised us or we raised them.

But romantic love is hard to define. Ask around, and people will say: “It’s when you miss the person you are dating/married to”, “It’s when you think and care about them”, “It’s when you care for their well being”, “It’s when you feel physical desire for them”, “It’s when no one else in the world attracts you”, “It’s a shared past, goals and common interests”, etc. It can also be all these things together.

It seems to me though that the media, through romantic movies such as “The Notebook” and “New Moon” have advertised a feeling that is really fleeting, and that¬†sometimes makes¬†young people make some very bad decisions. If you believe that love conquers all (it doesn’t), and that there is only one person in the world for you, you are more vulnerable to obsessive and self destructive behaviors.¬†

The “Twilight” series teaches us that for true love you might even accept becoming a vampire. The Romeo and Juliet saga teaches us that to defend your love, you may even consider killing yourself. Some suicide stories we see are from young men or women who just couldn’t cope with a breakup. They idealize their mate, and are sold out in the concept that they will never love anyone else in life that much.

As we get older, we know that is not true. The immense love you felt for that boy in High School didn’t last long. You have fallen in love several times after that, and after some disappointments, you can even become cynical about it.

Even more prone to the idea that love is the most powerful thing in the world are young women. My generation specially grew up reading romance novels. Even at the age of 12 I used to devour book after book with torrid love stories. They were impossible, they were complicated, but at the end, love would conquer all. It is easy to see how many teenage girls can buy into this belief that the more difficult the love affair is, the more intense and real that love is. Therefore they lust over the bad boys, the guys that treat them with indifference, men who are not availbable or married to someone else, men who have nothing in common with them.

Just like a young man who watches too much porn and starts objectifying women (and thinking that all women like the moves he sees in¬†those “movies”), a young girl who watches or reads too many sugary love stories might think that love means sacrifice and suffering, when in reality love should be simple, uncomplicated and feel good.

So what is romantic love? Neuroscience shows that it is more of a chemical reaction in our brains that anything. They say it lasts about 2 years and is closely intertwined with lust, that is, with sexual attraction for another human being. After that period, you need to have other elements to hold you together. That is when shared interests, common goals, similar worldview and a real friendship kick in. And that is why so many relationships and marriages unravel after the initial lust wanes.

What does that teach us about romantic love? That we need to be friends first with our partners. That we need to know them well before making major commitments and that we need to understand what works for us in a relationship. Those red flags that bother you now will not disappear and will become giant pink elephants in the room. If more people made decisions about love based on that, we would probably see a lot less divorce, international parental child abduction and the general cynicism about marriage we see in the most recent generations.

 

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Relationships, Society | 2 Comments