A rational way of wishing someone luck

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Danno81
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A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Danno81 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:15 pm UTC

I hate myself. I can never rationally state nice things. I know "good luck" is said generally without thinking about what it really means. I grimace a little whenever I say it, I don't like saying it. It's, ultimately, irrational.

I want to be able to say something that is fully rational and well founded but also doesn't make me seem like a dick.

Luck strikes me as magical interpretation for complex causality. I don't want to say it. All the same I don't want to say "I wish you..." or "I hope...". Even so this conversation can't happen:

My darling wife: "I'm off for my job interview now honey"
Me: "OK, remember not to mess up and if they don't offer you the job it'll likely be because; you said something they didn't like, they think you're not good enough, they don't like the look of you or you said something they thought was stupid. If you get the job none of those things probably happened. Good bye"

Where any normal person would say "Good luck sweetie, I hope you do well".

How can I say something nice along the lines of "good luck" that also reflects the rationally observed universe?! Can being completely rational also mean being warm and kind, or is that restricted to statements of fantasy?

(As this is the internet and people have a tendency to pick one single point from a post and attack it while ignoring the overall point just to dampen down the fires of their own perceived inferiority in life; yes I can be just as irrational as very other human being and no this is not the end of the world. This was not the point of my question) ;)

Love you all.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Danno81 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:19 pm UTC

This was supposed to be in language! Agghh! Will try and move it from serious business.

Edit: @LE4dGOLEM, thank you for moving my post for me to the correct forum :)
Last edited by Danno81 on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:35 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby JBJ » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:22 pm UTC

Try to benefit from the random events that favor your objectives and mitigate the ones that don't.
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Danno81 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:32 pm UTC

JBJ. Nice one, I like it. I also like "Try to" at the beginning and "mitigate" towards the end. You could use "You will" and "you wont from" instead, but that sounds like it's denying the person has any influence in shaping how a moment interacts with them and how they let it set their direction. "Try to" is great here I think.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:32 pm UTC

Well, my snide answer is to rationally acknowledge that rational individuals can rationally accept culturally-selected memes as a way of communicating heartfelt desire for another person's benefit without needing to imply an irrationally literal interpretation of those memes. Saying "I hope things go well" doesn't necessarily imply you believe your interest in that person's well-being somehow effects change.

But that's mean. :P

You can always say something like, "I'm sure you will do your best."

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Danno81 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:26 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:Well, my snide answer is to rationally acknowledge that rational individuals can rationally accept culturally-selected memes as a way of communicating heartfelt desire for another person's benefit without needing to imply an irrationally literal interpretation of those memes. Saying "I hope things go well" doesn't necessarily imply you believe your interest in that person's well-being somehow effects change.

But that's mean. :P

You can always say something like, "I'm sure you will do your best."


By saying "But that's mean" doesn't mean you didn't say or mean it :(

Besides acknowledging the origin in magical thinking to a common phrase and wishing to avoid it, and also pondering if there is another way less grounded in old philosophies, was the point of my post. Your snide reply was a bit hand wavy. I'd say; why shouldn't it be analysed and looked at literally? Why would that be irrational in itself?

Don't take things at face value, look deep at them and wonder if things can change. Imagine if simply looking at the things we just accept and don't think about caused people to realise simple things no longer make sense and make them better. I don't think this forum post will change the way society thinks, but it's not a bad approach to things.

I hope this post didn't sound arsey. That wasn't my intention.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:14 pm UTC

Danno81 wrote:By saying "But that's mean" doesn't mean you didn't say or mean it :(

Besides acknowledging the origin in magical thinking to a common phrase and wishing to avoid it, and also pondering if there is another way less grounded in old philosophies, was the point of my post. Your snide reply was a bit hand wavy. I'd say; why shouldn't it be analysed and looked at literally? Why would that be irrational in itself?

Don't take things at face value, look deep at them and wonder if things can change. Imagine if simply looking at the things we just accept and don't think about caused people to realise simple things no longer make sense and make them better. I don't think this forum post will change the way society thinks, but it's not a bad approach to things.

I was calling attention to the snideness of my snide reply because it obviously is handwavy. Hope it wasn't arsey of me to employ it in the first place.

But, more seriously, I think there's a balance to be struck. Analysis is great, but we can go overboard in our application of that analysis. Even saying something like "he made his fortune in oil futures" is technically problematic because "fortune" is associated with "fortunate" which derives from concepts of luck, chance, and the goddess of fate. Even the word "health" comes from the Old Norse helge, meaning "holy/sacred". I think there's more good in simply recognizing and acknowledging the superstitious base of much of our language than in trying to eschew such terms entirely.

Maybe I'm overly-sensitive to this sort of thing. I was raised in a very hyper-fundamentalist environment where the same approach was taken from the opposite side. You can't say "Happy Holidays" (despite "holiday" literally meaning "holy day") lest Christ be taken out of Christmas. You can't say someone is sick because it shows a lack of faith. You can't say "gay" because it is supposedly an attempt to minimize the horrors of sodomy. Obviously, our motivations in trying to avoid superstitous language are quite opposite, but the pattern of alarmism over nuances is the same.

The meanings of the words we use are important, but using words in order to change their meaning is important too.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Adam H » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:51 pm UTC

Danno81 wrote:Luck strikes me as magical interpretation for complex causality. I don't want to say it. All the same I don't want to say "I wish you..." or "I hope...".
I really don't understand how these restrictions are "rational", but I'll suggest a few alternates that I use:
"I love you!"
"I'll be thinking of you!"
"You're amazing!"

Encouraging people is EASY.

Or you can give helpful advice like: "Perform just like you practiced" or "just picture everyone naked". I don't especially like JBJ's suggestion* because I don't think it's helpful situational advice, it just sounds vague and a bit condescending/preachy. It's a good quote to post on your bathroom mirror, but it's not something that you need to repeat to yourself right before going into a stressful situation.

*"Try to benefit from the random events that favor your objectives and mitigate the ones that don't."
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:57 pm UTC

It's also a loose paraphrase of the Serenity Prayer. = )

Yeah, seriously, I really don't think most people believe in luck as a thing. "Good luck" is just wishing good outcomes. "Wish you well" works, though.

If you're looking for something that describes only literal reality unselectively and subtly reminds the listener that the outcome is dependent on many factors outside his or her control - eg., "you'll probably be fine" for "you'll be fine" - then yes, that concept of rationality is incompatible with being a feeling human being. Sorry.
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Adam H » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:29 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Yeah, seriously, I really don't think most people believe in luck as a thing. "Good luck" is just wishing good outcomes. "Wish you well" works, though.
Can we define luck? Cause I would have said something like "the impact of unpredictable (from a particular perspective) events". Which is a thing whether you believe it or not.

("unpredictable from a particular perspective" is fun to say)
-Adam

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:48 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:Yeah, seriously, I really don't think most people believe in luck as a thing. "Good luck" is just wishing good outcomes. "Wish you well" works, though.
Can we define luck? Cause I would have said something like "the impact of unpredictable (from a particular perspective) events". Which is a thing whether you believe it or not.

("unpredictable from a particular perspective" is fun to say)

I think the OP's perception is that "wishes" and "hopes" both reflect an irrational belief that one's state of mind can alter the course of otherwise random events.

Of course, I don't have this view. If I say "I hope your job interview goes well," I'm not invoking magic. I'm expressing my personal affection for that individual, exemplified in my desire that things go well for her.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Роберт » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:11 pm UTC

Saying "I hope it goes well" or similar is not saying "by sending magical brainwaves toward you, I'm hoping to force the midichloreans to do my bidding and increase the probability of you getting the job". It is reassuring the other person that you care about them, and you realize there can be different outcomes, and you would like the outcome to be one they really like. This thought of someone who is "on your side", as it were, can be comforting and help them be less stressed. Less stress means more likelihood of success in most cases.

Recognizing your social ineptitude and refusing to change it (or going along with social expectations and getting bothered by it) is not "being rational". It's more like being OCD. Get over it. Language is not always a literal technical description. Refusing to accept that is irrational.

The most rational way of wishing someone luck is saying something like "good luck!".
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Adam H » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:43 pm UTC

Well, I hardly ever say 'good luck', but that's because I think there are better things to say than to remind people that they could have bad luck.

What I'm really curious about is why Danno doesn't like "I hope..." or "I want...". Do you never tell anyone what you want?
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Danno81 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:59 pm UTC

Another topic whose basic premise is mostly ignored in place of critique of the OP.

Another OP successfully put in their place for ever bothering to ask something they though would be interesting to discuss.

Thank you for your replies, I appreciate the time. However the internet has won again and I shall no longer play.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Adam H » Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:17 pm UTC

What? No! You can't just leave! I want to understand you!

My answer to the topic is to use some variation of "I hope you do well". If that's not what you want, then tell me why!
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby mathmannix » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:06 pm UTC

The problem here seems to be that the word "luck" is overloaded with implicit meanings. Wikipedia has several different meanings and interpretations of luck, but I understand how the concept is disliked by those who wish to remain rational. (NOTE: I was going to use the word "anathema" in that sentence, but then wiktionary told me it comes from a word meaning "cursed", so it seemed less than apropriate!)

If you want something meaningful to say to your wife, I approve of the above-stated "I hope everything goes well", or something similar. Hope may not be logical, either, though, in which case there might not be anything you can say. "May unforseen circumstances benefit you" is also a sort of blessing which seems more logical, but really isn't.

On the other hand, if you find one of these alternatives acceptable, the problem may be that they are not succinct enough, and I doubt anything is as succinct as "Good Luck!" - except maybe a command like "Do well!" or the more colloquial "Go get 'em!"

So, in summary, it might not be logical to say anything that implies wishes or hopes or dreams or goals. Instead you could just say something like "I know you are prepared for this. Afterwards, we can go out to eat/ I will have cooked you your favorite dinner." Nothing contingent upon success or failure, just an affirmation.
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Роберт » Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:13 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote: (NOTE: I was going to use the word "anathema" in that sentence, but then wiktionary told me it comes from a word meaning "cursed", so it seemed less than appropriate!)

That's precisely my point about language and culture. Refusing to accept some basic cultural phrases because you're aware of the etymology and disapprove is irrational. Nobody is going to hear "anathema" in that context and think "cursed, he believes curses have a real effect". That's not how language works.

Note: this is different from avoiding words that have significant cultural baggage, like the n word etc.

Danno81 wrote:Another topic whose basic premise is mostly ignored in place of critique of the OP.

Another OP successfully put in their place for ever bothering to ask something they though would be interesting to discuss.

Thank you for your replies, I appreciate the time. However the internet has won again and I shall no longer play.

Another thread where a bunch of people take their time to consider and answer a question asked by the OP, only for the OP to throw a temper tantrum and whine because they didn't like the answer.

Good day to you, sir!
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby davidstarlingm » Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:13 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:
mathmannix wrote: (NOTE: I was going to use the word "anathema" in that sentence, but then wiktionary told me it comes from a word meaning "cursed", so it seemed less than appropriate!)

That's precisely my point about language and culture. Refusing to accept some basic cultural phrases because you're aware of the etymology and disapprove is irrational. Nobody is going to hear "anathema" in that context and think "cursed, he believes curses have a real effect". That's not how language works.

Well, people like me hear "anathema" and immediately think Galatians 1:8, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema."

But, to prove your point, I automatically look at context and interpret accordingly.

I think we can do a great deal more to control our use of language by utilizing context than by avoiding certain words.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Danno81 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:13 pm UTC

It wasn't a temper tantrum Mr P. Not even slightly.

I read and appreciate every reply, and enjoyed reading most of it and thank you all for your efforts.

But Po6, each of your posts have ended pretty unpleasantly. There's a nasty streak to your posts, and possibly to you, and you lay it bare. Like the angry guy at a bar that makes people better off leaving for somewhere else that's what I've done.

There was no tantrum. Just a withdrawal with an explanation.

Indeed, good day to you too.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:37 pm UTC

Project much? You don't see how accusing people of "mostly ignor[ing]" the premise of your post in favor of criticizing you (and claiming that this happens a lot), or claiming that people are just trying to put you in your place (and claiming that this happens a lot) might come across as "unpleasant," "nasty," or "angry"?

Anyway I think it's pretty clear that people were addressing the premise of your question. Your premise was that there's something irrational about the phrase "Good luck!", and you were seeking a rational replacement. But the answer is that there's nothing irrational about "Good luck!" after all, so, as Роберт said, the way to convey "Good luck!" without saying anything irrational is to say "Good luck!"
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby The Internet » Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:01 pm UTC

Danno81 wrote:Thank you for your replies, I appreciate the time. However the internet has won again and I shall no longer play.
Ha ha! Yet again, victory is mine!

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Weeks » Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:13 am UTC

Danno81 wrote:Like the angry guy at a bar that makes people better off leaving for somewhere else that's what I've done.
So you're angry that we didn't give you the answer that you wanted to hear? Is that not irrational?
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby WanderingLinguist » Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:10 pm UTC

In Korea, people say 화이팅 (hwaiting). It's Konglish, from English "fighting". The feeling is somewhere between "good luck" and "do your best" but without anything superstitious. That's what I use these days, because I live in Korea.

Japanese has a different word, "ganbatte" (がんばって, if I remember my Japanese spelling correctly) but with similar connotations.

Can't think of anything in English though.

I'm not sure "I wish.." or "I hope.." are as superstitious as you seem to think they are. "I hope it goes well" simply indicates my desire that things turn out well (and shows my support).

I don't know... "Break a leg"? (as if thats not superstitious :P)

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby dudiobugtron » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:44 am UTC

I disagree with the OP, and the sentiment involved.

There certainly are events which are outside our control; sometimes they can occur in our favour, and other times they occur against us. For example, let's say we are trying to win a raffle. We have a ticket, and the ticket-selection system is being used to select a winner. Obviously, the ticket-selection system is not purely random, but it is likely entirely outside of our control. It would be facetious and even annoying to expect someone to 'think positively' or use the power of their mind to influence the raffle drawing, or to say, 'If you won, it's because you bought the right ticket'. However, it is not at all irrational to wish them 'good luck'. That just means 'I hope things turn out in your favour'. If a random event occured in your favour, then you were lucky, and if it didn't, you were unlucky. This is the way 'luck' should be used.

It's perfectly rational and reasonable to hope that someone has good luck, using the above definition. In the job interveiw, for example, there will certainly be many factors outside your wife's control. For example, who is conducting the interview, how their morning has gone, the quantity and quality of other applicants, which questions they decided to ask in the interview, the ambient atmosphere and temperature in the interview room, etc etc...
Wishing your wife 'good luck' in these respects is fine. If, for example, the interviewer happened to like something your wife also liked, and they had a good old discussion about it, and your wife got the job partially as a result of that, then it's fine to call that 'luck' (obviously, your wife chose to have the right interests, and picked up on the cues to talk about them, but it's clear that you shouldn't choose your interests based on what interests potential interviewers may have, since it could be anything! That's where the luck comes in).

You don't need some mystical belief in supernatural mindpower to understand that events can occur that are outside our control. In fact, you need to not have that belief to understand it. Wishing someone luck is the rational thing to do. Instructing them to do everything right, and claiming that they have complete control over the outcome, is actually the irrational approach.


---------------------------
davidstarlingm wrote:I think the OP's perception is that "wishes" and "hopes" both reflect an irrational belief that one's state of mind can alter the course of otherwise random events.

It's not irrational to believe that your state of mind can alter the course of otherwise seemingly random events, though. It is literally impossible for you to be able to accurately model the state of the Universe with enough accuracy that you could take into account your different possible states of mind, and how they influenced the probability distributions of particular events. But that doesn't mean they don't influence them, just that we can't predict how.
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Sizik » Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:01 pm UTC

How about "I am altering my neural state such that a beneficial outcome for you correlates with happiness in myself."
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Yes. And if wishes were horses, wishing wells would fill up very quickly with drowned horses.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:17 pm UTC

Or: I acknowledge your petty human emotional needs, which I pretend not to be susceptible to myself, and note that this is a circumstance in which humans would wish others luck.
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Weeks » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:46 pm UTC

We acknowledge the chance of your success in the task at hand to be greater than zero. We require further data to assess the probability of success with precision.
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby blowfishhootie » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:10 am UTC

Danno81 wrote:I hate myself. I can never rationally state nice things. I know "good luck" is said generally without thinking about what it really means. I grimace a little whenever I say it, I don't like saying it. It's, ultimately, irrational.

I want to be able to say something that is fully rational and well founded but also doesn't make me seem like a dick.

Luck strikes me as magical interpretation for complex causality. I don't want to say it. All the same I don't want to say "I wish you..." or "I hope...". Even so this conversation can't happen:

My darling wife: "I'm off for my job interview now honey"
Me: "OK, remember not to mess up and if they don't offer you the job it'll likely be because; you said something they didn't like, they think you're not good enough, they don't like the look of you or you said something they thought was stupid. If you get the job none of those things probably happened. Good bye"

Where any normal person would say "Good luck sweetie, I hope you do well".

How can I say something nice along the lines of "good luck" that also reflects the rationally observed universe?! Can being completely rational also mean being warm and kind, or is that restricted to statements of fantasy?

(As this is the internet and people have a tendency to pick one single point from a post and attack it while ignoring the overall point just to dampen down the fires of their own perceived inferiority in life; yes I can be just as irrational as very other human being and no this is not the end of the world. This was not the point of my question) ;)

Love you all.


So, I can't really answer your question. But I recently had an experience that made me think of this same thing. I have studied Chinese for the past four years as part of my graduate studies. I was speaking (in English) with one of my Chinese (as in, Chinese person) teachers about an upcoming job interview she had, and I asked how you might say something similar to "good luck" in Chinese. Totally predictably, her response was, "mmm, in Chinese culture, we don't believe something like this can be attributed to luck." I said, "yes of course, but when Americans say good luck, they don't usually mean it literally." And so the conversation went, with her confused and me frustrated at her insistence in interpreting the phrase so literally. I didn't literally want a translation of "good luck," I just wasn't sure at that time what the best way to wish someone well before a big opportunity like a job interview.

The only thing I'll offer in the way of a solution to your problem is, it's rather silly to choose this one phrase in English to interpret so super literally that you refuse to use it. It's an idiomatic phrase that has a meaning totally separate of what the two words might mean independent of each other in different contexts. I promise you use similarly idiomatic phrases everyday that don't actually make sense if you insist on taking the component words at some stringent literal meaning based on other contexts in which you might use them. Luck by itself might mean "magical interpretation for complex causality," but that is not what "good luck" means. Just to randomly choose one example from your post, when you say, "dampen down the fires of their own perceived inferiority in life," is there literally a fire and is it getting wet? Of course not, that didn't stop you from using the phrase.

Does luck literally "strike" you? No, it doesn't. If you want to be "warm and kind," are you talking about the temperature of your body or surroundings? No, you are not.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby blowfishhootie » Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:31 pm UTC

Diiyad wrote:If you want to be warm and kind and you say "warm and kind" in a sexy tone (there are people who do this)... I just assume you want kind sex where the dick comes inside and makes you warm.
It is those people that leave a bad taste in your mouth, so that you avoid using those words.


I don't want to know about the taste they leave in your mouth, OK?

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:00 pm UTC

The Internet wrote:
Danno81 wrote:Thank you for your replies, I appreciate the time. However the internet has won again and I shall no longer play.
Ha ha! Yet again, victory is mine!


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... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby blowfishhootie » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:47 pm UTC

Diiyad wrote:
blowfishhootie wrote:
Diiyad wrote:If you want to be warm and kind and you say "warm and kind" in a sexy tone (there are people who do this)... I just assume you want kind sex where the dick comes inside and makes you warm.
It is those people that leave a bad taste in your mouth, so that you avoid using those words.


I don't want to know about the taste they leave in your mouth, OK?


You see? You just proved my point. If you told me that by "bad taste" I meant the aftermath of a blowjob I would say you are correct. It also meant an unpleasant memory. I admittedly put two meanings. Most people would get offended, deny it, etc. e.g. "That's not what I meant!!!"


Damn, and here I thought I was being clever funny witty ... I don't know what I thought I was achieving.

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Copper Bezel
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:16 pm UTC

Huh. This thread has improved since I last stopped in.
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[ˈɖ͡ʐæk.sɪ̈n]
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby [ˈɖ͡ʐæk.sɪ̈n] » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:37 am UTC

Honestly, it just seems kind of cynical to, instead of simply wishing someone "good luck," explicitly spell out every possible way things could go wrong out of their control, without even as much expressing hope (desire, etc) that they will overcome this adversity. If you must not mention luck, variations of "I hope things go well!" seem your best choice.

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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby Weeks » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:00 am UTC

[ˈɖ͡ʐæk.sɪ̈n] wrote:Honestly, it just seems kind of cynical to, instead of simply wishing someone "good luck," explicitly spell out every possible way things could go wrong out of their control, without even as much expressing hope (desire, etc) that they will overcome this adversity. If you must not mention luck, variations of "I hope things go well!" seem your best choice.
Hope is irrational. You humans We are doomed.
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Re: A rational way of wishing someone luck

Postby lorb » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:25 am UTC

If you don't like the concept of luck you could wish "Good Success" instead of "Good Luck".
Please be gracious in judging my english. (I am not a native speaker/writer.)
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