Odds

I used to be able to pass.  Long ago, before I became a writer and stood out on the ledge of eccentricity doing my own things.

Pass, you say?  Pass as what?  If you’re looking at me and wondering if I’m part of a racial minority – well, both the kids tend to be identified as Latin on sight, which is odd, because I’m not (identified as such.  According to Los Federales I AM Latin), but that’s not even racial, it’s cultural.  Not that a few choice idiots won’t hold it against the boys, the same way I’ve had a few people tell me to go back to Mexico.  (Fortunately my habit of spending most of the day inside and the fact my hair went white at twenty eight and I can dye it any color I want make me rather blandly Mediterranean.  Not that my original color of mahogany-brown was particularly ethnic.  Actually it just looked dyed.)  But that’s neither here nor there.  My husband who was born in New England and, if he spends enough time in the sun, looks merely “white” has been told to go back to Russia.  (This still puzzles me.  I mean, do they think the name was originally Hoytinski?)  And I’m sure if I were a blond, blue-eyed woman named Mary Jones some idiot would discriminate against me because he hates blonds.  Which in a way is part of our discussion, and in a way it totally is not.

No, racial discrimination is more or less verboten in the States these days and though voluntary segregation (more on this later, as again, it’s germane and not) is probably worse than never, people just don’t seem to care about race or different subrace as much as they once did.  In fact, racism has become such a taboo for most normal human beings in the US (the asses you shall always have with you) that an accusation of racism has now become a weapon under which to hide repulsive habits, bizarre beliefs and oddly destructive attitudes.  “You don’t like my habit of burning babies alive because you hate my Carthagenian ancestry, you racist” would totally work in modern day America.  (More on this later, too, as it just gave me an idea for a modest proposal.)  I don’t vouch for other countries, though I will say that those where I’m privileged to mingle with common people and listen to their conversations are about twenty and sometimes fifty years behind us in removing that racist thing from their culture.  Yes, even the ones who point fingers and tell us how racist the US is (what you expected different?)  I suspect Canada and Oz and other anglophonic-colonist cultures are about where we are.  For the others there is a reason they’re not as integrated that goes to the heart of the argument.

So, first, what do I mean by passing?  How can I not pass?

I can’t quite explain it, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.  It’s just that I belong to a minority, and I have the stigmata.  Many people belief we’re a minority by choice and think we should just get over it.  No, it’s not a sexual orientation minority (would that it were that easy to explain.) though we have an unusually high number of people with same-sex attraction in our number.  Also, an unusual number of people with attraction to squids.  And people who, to put it bluntly, might decide to marry their pillow in a small ceremony, attended only by their closest friends.

It’s not an IQ thing, though we often also score exceptionally well on that – which oddly does not translate to success in life, mostly (I think) because we tend to think sideways and backwards to normal human thought patterns.  (Yes, I do know a number of Phds who work nights at convenience stores.  Why do you ask?)

We’re not all of us science fiction fans, though that’s the way to bet.  Some of us have managed to become just as geeky as the most pointy-eared Trekker by fixating on other things: mystery, regency romance featuring one-legged dwarves (you think!) or molecular cell bio.  (I still remember when the World Fantasy Convention took place in the same hotel as a convention of neuro-researchers.  They crashed all our parties.  We fit.  We were family.

You can identify us even in kindergarten.  More importantly, so can the normals.  Recently I’ve started to suspect the unusually high number of Aspergers diagnosis, particularly among kindergartners is not EXACTLY accurate.  Again, we also have a high number of Aspergers spectrum people, but we’re not ALL Aspergers spectrum.

An editor I respect – as an editor – recently had his kid diagnosed as Aspergers and I didn’t try to argue with him, but the characteristics he was giving made me think “they’re medicalizing being one of us.”  Among others it was that the other kids just instinctively didn’t like him.  (Waves hand in the air.)  That the kid couldn’t ride a bike (I managed it at eighteen.  And then I forgot it.  To this day, btw, I can’t jump rope.  NO ONE IN MY PATERNAL LINE CAN.  My mom thinks we’re all insane.  She spent hours trying to teach me.  Hours. [It was a great part of socialization for a girl in Portugal in my generation.  So was the elastic game, in which two girls held the elastic, and another jumped in the middle, touching it or not, in increasingly elaborate patterns.  If I worked VERY hard, I could do the simplest beginning patterns.]) That his handwriting is atrocious.  That his coloring between the lines is bad for his age and, oh, yeah, that he tends to give mini-lectures.

Yes, I know a lot of that fits the Aspergers spectrum.  But it’s also “us.”  So medicalizing that, while that, is the same as medicalizing homosexuality.

Of course, “we” are a harder minority to defend, because we’re not easy to define.  We know each other, mind, and tend to gravitate to each other like a buttered surface gravitates towards expensive, white silk carpet.

The closest we come to assembling in a group, though, is science fiction conventions and/or some mystery conventions.  “Does not play well with others” is a good beginning identification point, but that’s not even true if you look at us in a group of our peers.  Our families are often unusually warm and connected, in fact, partly because we’re all odd people clinging together.

Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be – as such – a function of the environment.  I pity those of us who are adopted and raised by normal people, though now I think about it, an unusual number of us are adopted.  The thing is we tend to breed true, and given how we navigate social relationships (like a transatlantic going through the kiddie pool. Why do you ask?) perhaps that’s not all that surprising, either.

At some point – possibly soon – some researcher will isolate a gene we all share, which makes our brains work funny and accounts for our social presentation (which works fine with others of us, I hasten to add) and the way some of our abilities (like coloring between the lines or rope-jumping) lag WAY behind normal.  Some day.  I’m not sure if that will be better or worse.  Maybe people will decide to make us protected (which is bad and good) or maybe someone will come up with a way to “cure” us. (Shudders, because despite everything, she likes being herself.)

Until then, people will accuse us of thinking too much, tell us we are weird because we want to be weird, or accuse us not trying hard enough on the simple stuff.  (Like skipping rope.)  And though we will never be able to put a name to it, we’ll continue to identify each other on sight, and, if we find enough of us, gather in vast groups and have more fun than all the normals combined.

And we’ll continue to wish we were normal.  Or rather, because we really like who we are, dirt and grit and all, we’ll continue wishing normals were us, and that we were, therefore accepted.

In a way my gay friends have it easy – if you throw things at me, I’ll never talk to you again, boys and girls.  Besides, it’s true – in that they can at least name the way in which they’re odd.  And they can tell themselves the reason they’re not accepted is religious/cultural prejudice, not an instinctive and inexplicable recoil that goes all the way before kindergarten, before you could guess there was anything “wrong” with us.  Of course, a vast number of my gay friends are “of us” too.

Anyone of us who has kids and who has seen the kid enter a class, and find out the other kids hate him in a way toddlers can’t begin to explain, and find himself excluded out of all the games and ridiculed for the oddest things, wishes the normals were more like us.  Or that they accepted us.  Or at least that we knew why they don’t.

We might be pink monkeys amid brown monkeys, but we’re a race of monkeys that is not supposed to see in color, and we can’t figure out why we’re rejected.

I was relatively fortunate too, because I could pass.  Sort of.  Half the time, my way of “passing” was to paint myself hot pink and convince the brown monkeys I should be their ruler.  No, seriously.  I couldn’t jump rope, or do the stupid elastic thing, so I simply convinced my classmates those games were boring and for babies.  Instead, I invented RPGs based on my particular obsessions, and played out full throttle: the Musketeers, Robin Hood, Cowboys and Indians and, after I discovered mystery, police and criminals.

And then when I was sixteen, I discovered dressing up, which I approached rather in the way I approach everything else.  Hence the elaborate lace silk stockings and the short skirts.  Once I hit puberty, if I dressed up, people would leave me alone because “us” don’t dress like that, period.

Nowadays I’ve gone back to not fitting too well.  Part of it is the job.  My husband works in the tech field, and yet half the people think I’m weird because I write science fiction.  They somehow also think this makes me “racy” and “risque” and I’m at a loss to explain THAT one.  No, really.

And part of it is that I have the internet.  You see, it is the terrible curse of humanity to be social animals.  Yes, as Laura put in the comments, it is a good thing too.  But here’s the problem – social is fun and of course, rubbing together is what makes us humans (and what makes humans.  What?  Oh, come on, it’s just the tiniest of dirty jokes.  Just once?  Remember I’m one of those dangerous SF writers.  RACY.)  But the downside of being social is that it also makes us tribal.  We want to belong to a group.  We want the group to belong to us.  We want to all be “alike” inside the group, though all being sufficiently different also works for us.

Most of “us” as far as I can tell, grew up being the only pink monkey in miles around.  I suspect like other accidental, non-directly-hereditary minorities (sexual or professional or…) we used to either gravitate to large cities where we could find more of us, or live out in the middle of nowhere, and pretend normal people didn’t exist.

Now?  Most of us are in touch with a vast network of us.  And no, not all of us are late night convenience store clerks or fertilizer factory fork lift operators.  Only about half of us.  The other half are usually at the top of their fields.  (Possibly driven by not-fitting-in.)  And sometimes the ones in dead end jobs are working on time-travel in their basement.  Most of them won’t succeed, of course, but if anyone can succeed, it’s one of us.

You see, even though our condition has its problems – not fitting in is HARD particularly in childhood – it has advantages, too.  We can think at right angles to other people.  We don’t think in the box.  We can’t find the box.

A lot of us are – like other minorities – enamored of totalitarian regimes.  At the back of our heads is the idea that a sufficiently powerful government can make THEM accept US.  Unfortunately totalitarian regimes try to create uniform societies, and we’re more likely to find ourselves up against the wall.  I think as far as a society that accepts us, the anglosphere and particularly the colonial societies, which are already used to discounting body shape and color, and even a little bit of odd behavior, are as good as it gets.

And the internet is a mixed blessing, because it allows our Odds children to meet the Odds children of others like us and …  I’m not going to speculate.  I think the reason that we are disliked from kindergarten is an instinctive response to signs of mutation – signs we might eventually speciate.  In other words, we hit normal people’s uncanny valley.  And maybe their instincts are right.

However speculation on HOW we would speciate, what it would mean, and if a species that much at weird with itself could survive shall be saved for a (much) later point.

Meanwhile we’re back to us not fitting in and being unable to explain to people why.  Well, we can’t form a race.  I mean, we can, but the fact that our colors range from “so pale, it looks blue in certain lights” to “my ancestors have spent the last hundred generations working on our tan” it wouldn’t fly.  We can’t call ourselves a sexual orientation, though brainophile or geekosexual have their own appeal.

Not being able to name ourselves and group together, metaphorically, for defense, is hurting us, because they SURELY can tell who WE are.

So, I suggest we form a religion.  Or, given the nature of our people, several religions, under one umbrella faith.  It has to be – of course, since a number of us are religious – one of those umbrella faiths that allows us to believe the ‘real’ religion on the side.  I.e. our faith allows us to have other faiths, has no opinion on the existence of G-d or your fate after death.

We could call ourselves Odds.  It would have denominations.  Probably impressive and made up on the spot, so that each family – heck, each of us – could come up with a specific denomination.  “I’m an Odkin Trekker, of the first Firefly diaspora.  You?  Oh.  I see, the Buffy heresy.  My parents followed that cult for a while.”

Think about it.  If we call ourselves a religion, we can even accuse people of being racist when they pick on us.  No, it’s not right, and of course, that will bother us, but it’s common usage, and it will make us seem even MORE normal.  “What do you mean I can’t have the week off to drive to Dragon con?  It’s part of my religion.  Are you some kind of racist?”

Soon enough we’ll have them on the run, and those nasty normal kiddies who refuse to play with our sons and daughters in kindergarten will have to take sensitivity training.  AND THEN they will be made to feel abnormal.

I say it’s worth a try.  Do it for the children.

545 responses to “Odds

  1. ppaulshoward

    Sarah, we’re not “odd”. It’s the rest of the world that’s strange. [Wink]

    By the way, IIRC I am one of the Aspergers spectrum people.

    For me, it became a disablity because it made it hard to keep or get a job.

  2. “fertilizer factory fork lift operators”

    I could see myself doing that. Know of any openings?

    Once again you hit the nail…sideways with a hatchet. Good shot.

    I can totaly relate to this post.

  3. Brilliant. It’s funny how closely our minds work, too. I was in a conversation last night where we were discussing “us” and the good things about being part of that group. The depth of knowledge, the ability to have a sparkling conversation at the drop of a hat about most any given subject. But then… if you were to gather a hundred of us, to accomplish some great thing (star travel? parallel dimension hopping?) it would be worse than herding cats. We all are so differently minded, could we even come together in a group of “Odds” and make something great happen? I’m just happy I managed to find a group where I’m not the odd one out. It’s a weirdly good feeling to walk into the Diner and know I’m not the smartest one in the room, by a long shot. Lastly… you’ve given me an idea about my middle daughter, you know, the odd child? Well, ok, all my kids are odd. She’s the worst, though. Both of us have been really struggling with it and this might just help me help her. Although… any “Odds” out there was to start a school? LOL

    • I always had “start a school” at the back of my head as “what to do if it all goes to hell” — I’m actually a very good teacher. I know that’s shocking, but it’s true. The problem is, we don’t all live close together. I have thought of having an online school. If I had the time, I’d organize one.

    • North Carolina has the School of Science and Math. Placement opportunities were jiggered by county in relationship to the locally available programs for the gifted. Guilford County was, and may still be, one of the hardest where it is hardest to place in NCS&M.

      We knew a young man who had double skipped and had run out of math courses to take in Guilford County. He almost blew his first year at NCS&M because he finally had people he could talk to who understood him. Some of them were girls. And some of those girls follow his thinking, but could challenge him.

    • This suggests a name for the religion: The First Church Of Feline Alignment, colloquially called The Cat Herders.

    • I’ve always been odd – so I figured it was easier, since I was disabled, to homeschool the three odd kids the good Lord sent me.
      It was a lot of fun – otherwise I could see all my time going to trying to work with the school system, and a tiny bit trickling down to my kids.
      The world has an annoying habit of wanting the odd ones not to rock the world – just because.
      The first two are out of college – still odd. The last, my girl, is figuring out how to do a rather odd major. I’m behind her all the way.

  4. “Firefly diaspora”… lol!

  5. Never tell me the odds.

  6. The Sufis tell a story of a Sufi who died, and upon appearing at the Gates, the Recording Angel asked him to say what deeds in his life he’d done to justify his admission to Paradise. The Sufi said, “Glad to. But first, can you justify to me why I should believe this is really Paradise, and not just the last fantasies of my decaying brain?”

    Before the Angel could answer, a mighty laugh and a booming voice echoed from inside the walls. “Let him in! He’s one of us!”

  7. Wow I thought you hit me with a mallet. It reminded me of the time I moved to a small school and my first year in the elementary school there. Up to this time we had lived in large cities and I found other “Odds.” In this small school I was the most intelligent child there. It opened me up for some real bullying. It finally got so bad that I would spend my lunch hour in the classroom, reading a book.

    I was ten when I realized that in the classroom there were fifteen girls afraid to go outside. The group doing the bullying had six girls. I organized the girls … we talked about how we would play, where we would play, and what we would do to the girls if they bothered us. Because we kept together (and there was one incident which we won) we redirected the girls away from us. Unfortunately they went after the boys. However we felt the boys were already team-oriented and were better able to care for themselves.

    So I have always been an “Odds,” but I always end up as the “glorious leader.” LOL

    In the Navy, after two years I ended up being the person who trained newbies in the art of troubleshooting. My trainees were getting all the awards (I only got one, but I was proud of them). Plus at my second command I was an E-5 in charge of maintenance and troubleshooting of an entire site – and thirty people. I don’t want to be the person in charge. I just find that I rise to the occasion.

    In my family I am the only “Odd” one of nine children. My brothers have shown high intelligence, but not much common sense. Actually to be fair, two of my brothers are “Odd.” One owns a chain of auto-body shops and the other one was a President of a bank.

    • It’s interesting that you rose to the top like that. I found that my being different only tended to get me smacked down in my job, despite my doing a number of things that prevented missions from being complete failures. I DID think outside the box, was always by way of saying, “You could make the system more efficient if you did it this way,” or alternatively, “You’ve re-invented the wheel here and you added corners to it. We did it better over here…” Which was, of course, never what the managers wanted to hear for some reason. I got very used to being kicked in the teeth.

      • @Stephanie –
        I have been kicked in the teeth too. Funny it usually happened when I was dealing with the Navy or contracting for the military.

      • Getting my teeth kicked in for being right has been the norm for me, too, especially in the Navy. Of course, being a technically-oriented female always seemed to paint a huge target on me, all by itself. Now I just figure that if a woman is interviewing me for a job, I won’t get it. Period. And if it’s a man interviewing me, there’s about a 70% chance of not getting it. My last job attempt, the temp agent asked what was the greatest strength I would bring to the offering company, and I said “I’m a tech geek.” Then she asked what the biggest problem I’d have was, and I said, “I’m a tech geek.” Which I gave her points for instantly knowing meant “socially inept.” She nodded, gave me a wry smile, and made a note. Had both a male and female HR interviewing me. Female looked like she’d eaten a moldy lemon and scribbled all over my application; male thought I was overqualified and wished me luck. *sigh*

        • I’ve never understood that mentality. At least in my gut, I haven’t. Intellectually, I know it is far from uncommon.

          I’ve worked with and for men and women in a huge variety of jobs, and I usually work better with women unless they’re one of the hypersensitive, perpetually offended variety. My boss right now is a woman, and she’s one of the better bosses I’ve had (of course, this is largely because her style is to tell us, “here’s something that needs to be done,” and then let us handle it how we want to for the most part).

          • Wayne, I think you missed the point that dracona357 is a female geek. Females in power treat female subordinates differently than they treat male subordinates. Or so I’ve been told.

            • Oh, I know quite well about friction between women working together, especially in superior/subordinate positions, but she stated that men were only marginally less likely to be hostile than women. If not for that, I wouldn’t have replied.

              • As Sarah put it, “pink monkey.” Weirdo. Freak. Unnatural. Or as some males (and some females) have told me to my face, “Everybody knows women aren’t competent in technical fields. The only reason you have this job is because of Affirmative Action, so don’t act like you KNOW anything.” (This notwithstanding that the junior black male petty officer who said the above scored 10% *lower* than I did on the ASVAB, and called me “racist” for bringing it up.)

                The main difference I’ve seen between male and female supervisors is that the females are more vicious about enforcing conformity with “normal” behavior patterns — i.e. lead the pack when it comes to tearing apart pink monkeys. Don’t ask me why. I understand “normal” women even less than men do. It’s like they enjoy being stupid, illogical, ignorant, incompetent, weak, cowardly, shallow, perfidious, feather-brained, perpetual-children doormats.

                • Females enforce conformity because it’s evolutionarily build into the species. It keeps too many odds from reproducing, which is bad for the pack, and it keeps the (hominid) band together. Males, otoh, tend to compete, rather than conform. This seems to be built in.

                  • Derives from our Hunter/Gatherer roots. Females engage in group supervision of each other’s offspring, therefore they must be checked for weird/dangerous ideas, such as moving the cookfire indoors or leaving loaded guns lying about readily accessible. Hunters (males) have greater tolerance because they work less closely together and even those who prove inept at humting can benefit the group by drawing the attention of predator species and holding that attention long enough for the rest of the hunters to kill the dining predator or quietly slip away.

                    • dracona357

                      Checking for carelessness, negligence, and unthinking is one thing. Enforcing stupidity, unthinking, weakness, incompetence, and ignorance is another.

                    • D, it helps if you think of it this way — the females who fit in better with the group and had the most friends and allies (Aka the popular ones) had their kids looked after best by their “friends” — OTOH the people like me might not have their kids looked after AT ALL. The end result after a few generations is that women are selected for “fitting in.” From that to being afraid to differ and enforcing conformity is a step.

                    • The key is that enforcing conformity is short-term efficient. I made a decision (living rooms should be blue, should not have televisions) and now only verify which others have made similar decisions. Analysing in depth the decisions made by others requires serious effort and time and may well prove not significantly better than the snap decision based on living room similarity. For some things rule of thumb beats careful measurement.

                      I don’t say it yields optimum or even good results, nor do I endorse the method. But I recognise its existence and contemplate the underlying principle.

                      For example, I have noticed that people who consistently use the letter “s” where most Americans (and American Standard English) would utilise the letter “z” are pretentious prats who are not worth engaging in discussion. Am I sometimes wrong? Probably. But think of the time I save.

                    • Then there are those of us who write steampunk or otherwise British characters and get stuck in the transition of versions of English, lol… ;-)

                • Like I said, I understand it happens. I’ve seen it myself. I’ve also watched it happen in reverse, where the woman who was lower on the totem pole went after the woman who was training her, over something stupid. I just can’t understand it in my gut; When it comes to getting work done, I just can’t see caring what someone looks like or whether they are Pointers or Setters when they go pee. On the other hand, I’m also not one who tries to “compensate” as they say, when they talk about some guy’s big truck or car, so maybe that’s it.

                  I don’t know many tech-geek females, though. I suppose most of them leave hickville (As many of you probably know, Mark Twain once said that everything comes to Cincinnati 20 years later than everywhere else, and I live across the river in Kentucky, which has to wait until it filters over from Cincy) when they get old enough to get tech jobs.

            • I was blessed to have one techie female superior. It was a huge relief after all the prior ladies wanted to be mothers, not bosses.

              I think a lot of the problem is the sort of personality that gets promoted in the Navy– the martyr moms and the micromanage guys, nobody wants to work with so they have free time for volunteer work, and those personalities are very good at their collateral duties. The micromanaging guys are more likely to directly order someone to do the wrong thing, rather than nag them into it, so they sometimes get bounced right back down.

          • I was an electronics tech female for ten years. I would work for a man before I would work for a woman. Men are just easier to work for in my opinion. I have been a boss too. I would rather be a worker-bee.

            What I am saying is that I really understand what dracona357 is saying because I have had some of the same problems when working as an electronics repair person. Most of my experiences has been a rep. i.e. going into another persons office. Women in that capacity are harder to help than men at least in my opinion.

            Thankfully I am my own boss now.

  8. When you mentioned being identified as Latin on sight, it made me think of a coworker, and good friend, of mine from a few years ago. (I’m still with the same company but no longer in the same location, so now the only time I see him in person is at conferences and suchlike.) He and his wife were an interesting couple: one was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and one was born and raised in the American Midwest — but if people looked at them and guessed which was which, 90% would have guessed her as being the Puerto Rican. She looked like a classic Latin beauty (think Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character in The Mask of Zorro), while he looked like your classic pale-skinned Midwesterner. But in fact, he was the one from Puerto Rico (and all his siblings had much darker skin than he did), while she was the one from the Midwest. (I never did hear about her siblings, so I don’t know if she was unusual in looks in her family or if all her siblings looked similar).

    As for the main point of your post: remember the Geek code that people used to (some still do) put in the signature block of their Usenet posts and/or emails? That could be an interesting way of summarizing one’s affiliation.

    But if you’re really looking for tolerance, calling Oddness a religion is the wrong way to go about it. How much respect does, say, Christianity get in popular culture? Or Mormonism? Judaism? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Dreamtime beliefs of the aboriginal peoples of Australia, and all other non-Western religions, yes, those do get respect. But that’s because they’re non-Western, and therefore automatically untainted by the “evil” that pervades Western culture… but that’s getting too deep into politics. Suffice it to say that it you want your religion to be respected by the popular culture, it needs to be non-Western in origin and nature, and Oddness won’t fit the bill.

    No, instead of a religion, call it a disability. Something on the broader autism spectrum, which has large areas of overlap with Asperger’s and ADHD (both of which are represented in large numbers in the Odd population). Then you can use some of the overly-broad provisions (whoops, there I go into politics again) of the Americans with Disabilities Act to your advantage. (Note that I do not think the entire ADA is overly broad, not by a long shot — just that some of its provisions would have benefited greatly by being examined by hardcore gamers, who know even better than lawyers how to exploit a set of rules.) On that subject: have you read the first few chapters of Ringo’s Queen of Wands? The e-ARC is now available, which means so are the first few chapters — and the way in which his protagonist uses the ADA (and the (fictional) expanded provisions it acquired in his setting) to her advantage is hilarious.

    • Good point about religion — which is a choice, nicht wahr? Besides, the norms would burn us in our churches and some of the other religions (won’t say which ones because they tend to cut off heads and I still have uses for mine) tend to be more than a mite … non-ecumenical.

      Nor a disability, though the ADA should be exploited for our protection. I think the current term of art is “differentialy abled.”

      Which certainly seems appropriate. It seems, we Odds tend to lack the ability to stop thinking. Even at rest (especially at rest) our brain pumps seem to just keep sucking up and spewing out whatever is within reach. Another reason we are so often at odds with the norms — we tend to ask awkward questions about their received verities.

      • Martin L. Shoemaker

        OK, this is a serious question: are there people who CAN stop thinking? I’ve wondered this for a while. I asked an acquaintance once what he was thinking, and he said nothing. I joked about it, but he insisted he meant it: nothing at all. He wasn’t thinking.

        At the time, I assumed that meant either:

        1. He didn’t want to admit what he was thinking. Or…
        2. He was thinking of trivialities so minor as to not recall.

        But I’ve heard similar claims from other people since. And just last weekend I started thinking: maybe this is true? Maybe there are people who just sort of stop thinking about things around them AND stop thinking about things in their heads? Maybe they just, sorta, exist without thinking for a while?

        I really have trouble understanding or even believing this. But maybe I don’t understand the world that well after all…

        • Maybe they’re not-thinking anything conciously? They’re still, obviously, performing data processing, but they’re not doing anything with the new data or existing data. It’s just going to storage.

          I wish I understood that trick — closest I get to it is music up VERY loud, and singing along with it — so that all I’m “seeing” in my head are the visuals the music/song give me (which is similar to reading a book, or watching a very good movie).

          • YES. Or drawing. This is why I draw. I’m thinking, but not in words. It’s very restful.

          • I am not so sure about this. I think some people do not even ‘put it in storage.’ I think they really do let it flow in one ear and out the other.

            And they call us odd.

        • Kate Paulk

          It can be done. I had to learn how to do it to deal with depression, although I suspect that the non-Odd don’t have to learn it. It’s essentially shutting down the conscious processing routines – best done with some kind of external trigger, in my view – and zoning out. For me the best method is to listen to something. Listening to my own breathing works well for this kind of self-hypnosis.

          I do it to relax, when I’m hitting overload.

          • ppaulshoward

            Kate, “zoning out” is a good term for it. Like you, I’ve done it to fight depression. I’ve also done it when I want to “stop a train of thought” that’ll do me any good to continue. It’s also something I do when I’m trying to be patient.

        • I had to learn how to not-think so that I could go to sleep at night or else I would not get any sleep. However, there is something going on under my not-think. ;-)

          I don’t know how anyone can not-think without massive effort. Music without words helps me to relax.

          • Also when I have migraines I have to not-think or it makes the migraines worse. Now that is classic aversion therapy. BTW I found that if I lay off the cheese, my migraines are less aggressive.

            • It’s often allergy triggered. Mine appear to be triggered by pine-polen

            • I get migraines, and the book Heal Your Headaches saved me. The triggers are different for different people. I avoid cheese, caffeine and sulfates. Lots of things, including Dasani drinking water, have sulfates.

        • The first time I tried medication for my ADHD, I found that there were entire minutes when I wasn’t thinking about something. Yes, as much as 60 seconds at a time when the only thing my brain was focusing on was what I was doing right then and there, and my brain wasn’t solving computer-programming problems in the background.

          I found it intensely weird, and discontinued that medication right then and there. I wanted to still be myself, not have the medication change me into a completely different person!

          Oddly enough, the next time I tried medication to help me manage my ADHD, it was the exact same drug (generic Ritalin), just in a different dosage — and I was just fine on it. I’ve since learned coping tricks that don’t need drugs (listening to classical music while I work helps a lot with focus, for example), which saves a lot of money — so I’ve stopped using the medication.

          • Martin L. Shoemaker

            “Intensely weird” sounds right. People laugh at how I “watch” TV: reading a book or working on the computer the whole time. But just passively letting a story unfold at somebody else’s pace just gives my brain the willies. Most stories can’t hold my full attention. Watching movies in the theater is painful for me unless the story can really hold my full attention (which The Avengers did, by the way).

            The last time I really WATCHED a movie at home was an old biography of Van Gogh (possibly my favorite artist). I forget the title, I think it starred Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn. The director made a painstaking point to film in the exact locales where Van Gogh painted and to visually recreate the scenes he saw, and it was STUNNING. My mom gave me a very strange look when I turned off the computer, closed it, climbed out of my chair, and sat closer to the screen so I could see more details. That one held my attention!

            • Oh lord yes – I used to read, watch TV, converse and compute simultaneously — those fractional intervals between words allow you to switch between activities just like Mycroft. A prolonged delay in treating sleep apnea has cost me that ability and I find it infuriating, because I am unable to fully adjust to my diminished capacity.

              The movie you watched was Lust For Life. Try, also, getting a copy of American In Paris and watch the 20-minute ballet sequence in which Gene Kelly recreates many of Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings.

            • I read and watch TV too or listen to TV and play on the computer. lol

        • I don’t know, but I have managed it exactly once in my life. I was in bed, after surgery, on medication, and I was able to just switch it off. Usually the brain keeps going right from normal awake state into REM, with little to no seque, and I lucid-dream frequently and periodically go through times where I have dreams that I believe to be actual memories, which is confusing as #&!!.

        • Oh yes. Took me years, but I learned.

        • Yes, there are people who can stop thinking. They are usually driving in front of me.

          When the tipping boxes at my local Starbucks invited me to choose between Vampires and Zombies I readily plopped my dollar into the Vampire tipjar — because day has not come when I’ve found myself driving behind a vampire.

          • There was this guy when I lived in Manitou who used to put on his makeup in the car in front of me. EVERY BLESSED MORNING. Then one day I lost it and told him EXACTLY what I thought of this habit. Anyway, he apologized and stopped doing it. It never occurred to him driving slowly on a one-lane street (slowly and erratically) while applying makeup might cause anyone trouble. “not thinking” is about it.

        • I sometimes wind up with not thinking anything… coherent, or interesting. Although I usually just wander around going, “Brains, brains” like a pathetic puppy zombie, in that state, because I want to be thinking and can’t think of anything that interests me. :(

        • I don’t know, I’ve met some people that I wondered if they have ever STARTED thinking.

        • Yes. Some people can actually not think.

          I’ve had folks suggest it when I look tired, they suggest I get to bed earlier, and I tell them I just can’t stop thinking long enough to fall asleep.

          I’m just not sure if their “not thinking” is the same as the state of “not thinking” sort of zen that sometimes comes when you’re doing something that takes focus but not thought, like basic crochet or braiding.

          • @Foxfier
            A friend of mine taught me this exercise for not-thinking prior to going to bed. After I get comfortable, I envision all my thoughts on a chalkboard. I have an eraser in my hand and as each thought forms, I erase it off my board. Sometimes doing this exercise makes me fall asleep. It is really hard not to let the thoughts form. ;-)

            However, it does work for me especially when I need it. And I don’t think it is zen because your only focus is on the eraser and not allowing the thoughts to form.

          • No, no, no, no, no. Those things are the things I do to keep my hands busy WHILE I’m thinking…

            (Actually I don’t crochet or embroider. I can do the latter, but my poor grandmother, a talented lady with a crochet needle who did lace, tried and tried to teach me to crochet and I just didn’t get it. I can’t sew, either, in that I can’t make clothing – I can mend it, just not make it. For someone who maxxes out the “folding boxes” tests, it’s a mystery to me how I cannot understand the dang patterns.)

            • I can’t understand the jargon of crochet patterns, but I did finger-crochet (just tight chains) as a kid, and sort of grokked the way that the loops could go through one another to make a plane as well as just a line. So I taught myself crochet, with the dubious aid of a “teach yourself crochet” book.

              I still can’t crochet to a pattern, unless it’s one I make up myself, because I’m a monoglot, and them thar patterns ain’t English. >_> But I can make just about anything that’s a plane! Including doll-skirts, if I’m careful. I even made ad-lib mittens once!

              Needlecraft… I can mend, but only by-hand. Sewing machines and I are not friends. (Get me an app for that, and I may revisit the idea! ;) ) So even if I could read a pattern, I wouldn’t want to try, because… All that work! By hand! *sob* …Oh, and I can also crudely take in the waist-band of pants ’cause my kid is 10th percentile weight and any pants long enough for her will slip right down if I don’t tighten them. *sigh*

              • Beth you might look at Japanese charted crochet. It is a visual schematic picture of what you are supposed to do, not verbal.

                • That, I might be able to do! I’ll have to check one out. I could probably also follow a pattern if it were written out! Like, “Make a six inch long chain. Do a double-crochet row for three inches, then…”

                  I collect crochet patterns with the vague intent/hope of someday going through and painstakingly writing them out in Real English.

            • I can’t even get up to patterns– only person I know who’s spent years reading the instructions, carefully following them, and still unable to make a washcloth. It’s just on the edge of what I can do, dexterity-wise, so the focus is lovely– almost like reading a book, but physical.

      • Robin Munn

        Yes, religion is almost always a choice. Even if your parents taught you a particular religion, there will usually come a time of choice for you where you examine that religion’s tenets and decide whether to reject it or embrace it. As I did in college: I went through about six to nine months where I started questioning everything about Christianity, then ended up investigating Jesus’ resurrection* and deciding that I could believe in it based entirely on non-Biblical premises. (Basing my argument on the Bible would have been circular reasoning, which was out of the question.) And if Jesus was really raised from the dead (and I mean real death, not a coma or anything), which is something that Just Doesn’t Happen without literal divine intervention, then I could probably trust the rest of what the Bible said about Jesus. If the impossible claim (his resurrection) was true, then there’s no reason to doubt the plausible claims (his teachings).

        * The argument goes like this, if anyone’s interested. Assumptions: Jesus really did exist and was not a historical fantasy figure, he really did get himself executed, and his disciples later claimed that he rose from the dead (and maintained that claim even in the face of torture and execution themselves). Most people would probably agree on those facts. From there, you can conclude that Jesus’ tomb was empty (else the disciples’ claim that he rose from the dead would have been dead easy to prove wrong, and there were plenty of people around who were highly motivated to prove them wrong). So someone stole the body. The most likely scenario (if you’re assuming that nothing supernatural is happening here) is that the disciples stole it and lied about it later, but this scenario falters on the sharp, pointy rocks of human nature: the disciples maintained their claims even to the death (and most of them died by torture). People are often willing to die to save their friends, but how many people would be willing to die for something they know to be a lie? One or two here and there, maybe; not eleven. (Twelve disciples, minus Judas, who committed suicide when he realized his betrayal had led to Jesus’ death. I really don’t know what else he thought was going to happen…) So, given that the body had really vanished from the tomb and that the disciples hadn’t stolen it (and nobody else had any plausible reason to: a) steal it, and b) NOT reveal its location when the disciples started babbling about this resurrection stuff), I found myself staring the only remaining choice in the face. As Holmes put it, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely, must be the truth”, and I had eliminated all possible scenarios except the supernatural one. So I concluded that the resurrection was true, and rebuilt the rest of my Christian faith around that one cornerstone.

        P.S. Sorry for the tangent, it’s just that I love talking about this stuff. But yeah, I agree completely with RES: religion, for nearly everybody, is a choice. (Barring the unlucky ones whose family would behead them if they switched away from the religion they were born under… and even there, they have a choice as to what they believe secretly. They just don’t have much of a choice about what they claim to believe.)

        • Robin, the hard part on this one is the “really truly rose from the dead, not a coma or anything.” The thing being, it actually happens fairly often that someone appears to be dead, not just to old fashioned methods like the mirror over the nostrils, but even to sophisticated heart monitors and such … and then wakes up in the morgue or the mortuary.

          I’m not questioning your religion, I’m just pointing out that at some point you still have to have Kierkegaard’s leap to faith.

          • No doubt about Kierkegaard, because the deviousness of the human mind is beyond belief. ;-)

            Robin, you have the added information in Luke, where, after Jesus’ side is pierced what is described as flowing would indicate that his blood had begun to separate, and that therefore his heart had some time before stopped pumping.

          • Charlie,

            Robin, the hard part on this one is the “really truly rose from the dead, not a coma or anything.”

            Right, that one I didn’t cover for the sake of space. As CACS has mentioned, there’s the detail mentioned by Luke about how his blood looked like blood mixed with water (i.e., had separated). I would have no trouble accepting that that particular detail is accurate even if I didn’t want to take the Bible’s word for it about the resurrection, because it’s precisely the kind of detail an eyewitness would notice and remember years after the fact (“it was just so weird, man… it was like his blood had water mixed in with it!”), but it’s not the kind of detail anyone would tend to invent. But if I wanted to stick strictly to my “don’t use the Bible to prove the point because you can’t trust any details in it” methodology, I’d have to go with two points:

            1) The crucifixion was carried out by professional soldiers, who presumably had done plenty of crucifixions before (with a political prisoner this controversial, I doubt Pilate would have had the rookie squad on the job). These guys knew what they were doing.

            2) A man waking up from a 36-hour coma (Friday afternoon to Sunday morning is about 36 hours) would have been very weak. With no food or water in the tomb with him (Jewish burial rituals did not include burying people with food “for the afterlife”), he would then have had to move a very heavy stone sideways out of an uphill groove, with nothing but its smooth surface to push on. (For the specific tomb he was buried in, you’d have to trust Biblical sources, but non-Biblical sources are easy to find that give descriptions of the type of tomb he was buried in and how it would have been constructed.) Therefore, if Jesus was in a coma on the cross and was buried, he had help getting out of that tomb, and we’re back to the old “whodunit?” question. If it wasn’t the disciples, then whoever did it would have had lots of incentive — fame! fortune showered on him by Jesus’ enemies! — to come forward and tell his story. “Nah, he didn’t rise from the dead, he just fainted and those idiots buried him anyway! I know, ’cause I saw the state he was in after 36 hours with no food or water. Man, was he ever thirsty!” Oh, and the coma theory would also require Jesus, a well-respected Jewish rabbi, to flat-out lie to the men who knew him best and tell them, “Yeah, I died and came back to life; I totally didn’t just faint away on that cross” when he saw them later. And if it was the disciples who dug him out of the tomb, then in addition to the “Jesus had to lie to them” problem you’d have the problem that they would have seen how weak he was, which sort of flies in the face of the “Yeah, he’s God and he brought myself back to life with my his power” claim that they made later. Again the argument relies on human nature, so you could persuade yourself that it’s plausible — but I just don’t buy this one happening, not one bit.

            If you want to rely on minor details the Bible mentions (like how there were guards posted outside the tomb) which would have been well-known among the general population of the time and therefore would have been dangerous to lie about (because someone would have had the knowledge to call the Gospel authors on any such lies), there are a whole lot more arguments.

            Your point about Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith” is well-taken, though. For myself, I would put it not on the “he was in a coma” theory (since I wasn’t, and still am not, able bring myself to rationally believe that theory: my brain throws up way too many very-plausible objections to it). Rather, the place where I see the leap of faith is in this reasoning chain:

            1) Jesus said he was God*.
            2) Jesus said he would rise from the grave.
            3) Jesus did rise from the grave.
            Leap of faith goes here
            4) Since he did one impossible thing (rising from the dead), I should also take his claim to be God seriously, as well, and allow him to tell me how I should live my life.

            * I’m aware that many people claim that Jesus never claimed to be God, and that the parts of the Gospels where he seems to make that claim were either: a) invented by his disciples years later, or b) sayings that didn’t actually mean “I’m God”, but something else (e.g., when Jesus says “I and the Father [that is, God] are one”, the Mormons — as I understand it, and if any Mormon reads this and wants to correct me, please do — say that he meant “share the same purpose” rather than “are the same being/person/identity”). I’m also aware of many counterarguments (good counterarguments, I believe) to those claims, but a real drawn-out debate on Christian theology would be venturing rather far afield from the subject, and this comment is long enough already.

            I’m not questioning your religion …

            I wouldn’t be at all offended if you were. I mean, unless you also believe (as I do) that Jesus is God and that he rose from the dead, you should be questioning my religion, because you believe that my beliefs are wrong. (By which I mean “incorrect, not in accordance with reality” rather than “morally wrong or wicked”). But then, I approach religion much more intellecutally/rationally than many people do, who have a much more emotional response to it; so I appreciate your sensitivity, even though in my case it wasn’t needed. :-)

            You know, I should probably take this to email if anyone wants to talk further about it, because I don’t want to derail Sarah’s blog with a length back-and-forth. Feel free to contact me at Robin.Munn@gmail.com if anyone wants to discuss Christianity, Jesus’ resurrection, or anything similar — and be sure to mention Sarah Hoyt’s blog in your subject line so I can find your email amid the flood of email that address gets.

            • But then, I approach religion much more intellecutally/rationally than many people do, who have a much more emotional response to it; so I appreciate your sensitivity, even though in my case it wasn’t needed.

              … Which I just realized is another way in which I’m quite Odd. So this discussion isn’t quite as off-topic as I thought it was. I should still probably take it to email if anyone wants to pursue it further, though.

              • There’s a bible passage I used in a short story I’m going to submit soon, that’s another one of …. how could the storyteller have known that medical detail if the incident had not actually happened? I don’t remember the book or chapter. Jesus was healing people, and a man came to him who was blind from birth. Jesus spat on his hands and rubbed his hands into the man’s eyes. The man looked around, and was upset. He said, “Rabbi, are these men around me or trees?” And Jesus spat on his hands again and rubbed them into the man’s eyes, and the man was able to understand what he saw. Cortical blindness. It’s exactly what happens to some people who are cured of blindness after a lifetime of blindness and they cannot interpret what they see, the images mean nothing and they sometimes give up. It’s difficult to interpret how anyone could have told this story who did not see someone blind from birth suddenly regain his sight.

            • you should be questioning my religion, because you believe that my beliefs are wrong.

              No, there’s a third state: I don’t know either way. Oh, I don’t believe the way you do, but that’s not the same as thinking you’re wrong.

      • Another reason we are so often at odds with the norms — we tend to ask awkward questions about their received verities.”

        Or we have just never grown up, many times we’re like a child that just can’t stop asking; Why?

        • And we HATE the old “Because I said so, that’s why” answer. It’s not a real answer! I asked the question because I wanted an answer, the least you could do is give me a real answer! I mean, if God, the one who created the universe, said so, then yeah, he would have the right to say “Because I said so and for no other reason” — but you’re not God. Give me a proper answer!

          Of course, the poor soul we’re badgering with these questions probably doesn’t know the answer… Oh wait, I (already) forgot: in my hypothetical, he/she gave the oh-so-evil “Because I said so” answer. Right, then: replace “poor soul” with “dirty rotten stinker,” because anyone whose authority falls short of God Himself has no right to be saying “Because I said so” to a “why?” question.

          Okay, one other one: your commanding officer in the military, or the police, or whatever. They do have the right to say “You’ll follow your orders because I said so.” Still can’t prevent us from trying to figure out the “Why?” in our heads, though.

          • Larry Patterson

            Oh wait, I (already) forgot: in my hypothetical, he/she gave the oh-so-evil “Because I said so” answer. Right, then: replace “poor soul” with “dirty rotten stinker,” because anyone whose authority falls short of God Himself has no right to be saying “Because I said so” to a “why?” question…

            A dear friend was educated in Catholic school. When he asked questions, the priest would tell him “Just believe, my son.” This is, of course, unacceptable or should be. Yet priests et al. have gotten away with specious reasoning for centuries because people really like being able to coast through life with their brains turned off. Now that is odd!

            • A dear friend was educated in Catholic school. When he asked questions, the priest would tell him “Just believe, my son.” This is, of course, unacceptable or should be.

              It is unacceptable, unless the kid was derailing a class with his questions or otherwise being a twit. (I know I sometimes was– it’s a common trait in kids and odds.) Any priest in a teaching position should be able to at least hand him the CCC or point to a Catholic Encyclopedia or otherwise point him to where he might find answers to his questions. (Obviously, the internet is great for this.)

              If I remember correctly, EWTN was founded in part because of this very problem.

              Sadly, a lot of the folks who do religious education don’t even think about feeding the hunger for knowledge. (Heck, a lot don’t bother with the facts– one of the points where I realized I was at “home” with my geek group is when I corrected someone’s aunt’s misteaching, with documentation, and they accepted that instead of sticking with what they’d been told was the binding teaching.)

              • Robin Munn

                … when I corrected someone’s aunt’s misteaching, with documentation, and they accepted that instead of sticking with what they’d been told was the binding teaching.

                I assume, given the context, that that was on a point of Catholic doctrine. Now I’m curious: which point, and what was the aunt’s incorrect version?

                • Their aunt thought D&D was satanic, so when I excused myself from a game to hit Mass they got confused.
                  Jimmy Akin’s theology blog was a big help, especially when he did an article on the personhood of the undead.

          • I have said to The Daughter, ‘Because I said so.’

            Example: circumstances that are pressured, places where it would be inconvenient to say anything more at that moment, but where I am thinking something like: ‘We are getting out of this park quickly, something funny is happening. I don’t like the look of that person and I don’t want to stop to discuss it until we are well out of here and out of ear shot…’ Saying something like that to The Daughter, knowing that child, would simply have elicited a planting of the feet and a, ‘Why?’ or worse an unmodulated, ‘But what is wrong with the person?’ This falls under the principle of :When momma doe flicks the white of her tail, the fawn that stops to ask questions is likely renamed lunch.

            And then I have done so, in a cases where I am less proud to admit, because The Daughter, as a child, would keep at the ‘But why’ for hours on end. No, I am not kidding. But then the answer becomes, ‘Because I say so, and, I am going to the bathroom before I have an accident.’ In the back of my head I was usually thinking, ‘Why does she want a complete explanation of what amounts to why people are what they are and do what they do right now and what on earth did I do to deserve this…both the good and bad. I really was glad she was curious, but please let me get a breath in edgewise.’

            The final category is, ‘Because I said so, and until you have (insert: read the book, learned the math or science, read the stupid legislation, experienced a few more years, whatever) there is really no way to explain any further.’

            • TrueBlue and I think we’ve found a way to derail the dreaded “why?” attack: “If the best question you can come up with is a plain ‘why’, you don’t understand the situation enough. ‘Why’ what, specifically?”
              That means that someone who genuinely wants to know why will get the best information for their question, and those who are just saying ‘why’ because they like to make adults dance to their tune find the joke isn’t funny when they actually have to think.
              (grew out of observing kids obviously manipulating their parents, and my own “explain too much” tendencies)

              Now, if it’s “why do I have to do X” then “because I said so” is 100% fine in a parent. NOT a democracy. ^.^

              • Robin Munn

                Foxfier, that’s brilliant! I’m definitely stealing that one for when I have kids of my own. (Someday — gotta meet, court & marry the right woman first.)

              • I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a “but why” train out of my kid. In part, I hope, because the first times she ever asked “why” on anything, we would tend to explain it down to the last detail that we knew, which meant that if she didn’t want to know, she better not ask. (She did, one long car ride, demand, “Tell me more about genetics!” until I had to say, “I don’t know any more about it!”)

                Now her “but why!” moments are more in outrage at people being stupid or cruel or greedy.

                Of course, in some cases, the answer is “Later”! And for people (us, teachers, aides) who actually do explain later, that earns “do now, ask later” credits.

                It’s the people who never explain later and always resort to “because I said so” who start to get themselves ignored and resented.

              • TrueBlue and I think we’ve found a way to derail the dreaded “why?” attack: “If the best question you can come up with is a plain ‘why’, you don’t understand the situation enough. ‘Why’ what, specifically?”

                The Daughter was one of those children who found more questions for every answer given. She did really want to know, know more, and know in depth. Her “Why’ questions were generally very good, often challenging, and seemingly endless. Send her to look it up? Well, I did do that. But that might well result in more questions.

                When The Daughter was being given her an early screening the tester called me in. She told me that she had asked The Daughter where bread came from. The Daughter started with plowing fields and growing the wheat. She then proceeded to the baked product that could be found at the grocery, bakery or at home. The tester had never had this from a three year old. Well, we had covered it once a few months before when I made Scotch Baps from scratch.

                • I dream of a result like that! I can’t stand the monotone “why? Why? Why?” that sounds like a Little Nemo parody, but someone that actually wants me to try to explain something– heavens, yes! Please! I’d be a teacher if I could put up with the customer service aspects!

                  • I suspect not. I daresay co-worker and management issues would be your major frustration.

                    • Point. I tend to roll “the people that I work with and for would expect X non-job-related behavior” into customer service. A blind spot that didn’t help my stint in the Navy. (I always did what the rules said I should. Made me very unpopular with the “I deserve more” sort, especially since I kept documentation and came down like a rain of fire if someone did something stupid, like pencil-whip a test that could get people killed.)

                    • So:
                      “I’d be a teacher if I could just TEACH instead of all the other balderdash!”

                      Which may go into the whole notion I have to home school…..

                  • @ Foxfier Re: Navy and other buttheads interfering with doing a job — are you my doppelganger?

            • Robin Munn

              “Because I’m your Mom (or your Dad) and I said so, so do it NOW” does fall under the “commanding officer” exemption, I believe… :-D

              And yeah, “No time to explain, do it NOW and I’ll explain later” is a valid response, and I should have remembered to include that one in my earlier post. When I was young, my parents informed my sister and me that if Dad whistled in this specific way, it meant “drop EVERYTHING you’re doing and come RIGHT NOW, because it’s an emergency”. They never had to use it in deadly earnest, but they did use it from time to time when we’d been separated in a crowd. I don’t have kids of my own, but if/when I ever do, I plan to do something similar. I can’t whistle, so I might have to make it a codeword: “Kids, if I ever tell you to do something and then say “Jellybeans”, it means do it RIGHT NOW and don’t ask questions, because you might be in danger.” Then only use it in fire drills and/or emergency-prep scenarios. (Or, naturally, in a *real* emergency).

              The “because I said so” that I was objecting to had more to do with information questions than with orders… the “just believe, my son, and don’t ask questions” line that Larry Patterson mentioned his friend receiving from a priest is an excellent example of what I meant.

            • Robin Munn

              And speaking of “Because I said so, and I’m the mom”, have you seen The Mom Song? MAJOR coffee alert out on this one — ensure no beverages or food is/are in your mouth before watching.

    • “On that subject: have you read the first few chapters of Ringo’s Queen of Wands? The e-ARC is now available, which means so are the first few chapters — and the way in which his protagonist uses the ADA (and the (fictional) expanded provisions it acquired in his setting) to her advantage is hilarious.”

      Fictional????? If it were fictional there would not have been a court case last year over whether a person could take their companion tarantula on a plane (they lost, but if it had been a dog or a cat they would probably have won). One cannot even require paperwork if someone claims that something is a Service Animal (although one can require that it has a current rabies vaccination).

      • Is there an actual Ninth Circuit court decision about how, and I quote Ringo, ” ‘companion animals’, including yappy dogs that were ‘psychologically necessary’ to crazy ladies, [a]re covered by the statute”? Because that’s the part I thought was fictional.

        And I really hope it is fictional. If it’s real, I want a link to the court decision — because if it’s real, the world is even stupider than I thought, and I think I’m going to go scream into my pillow for a while. But first I’m going to read the decision, because you always verify your sources if you possibly can.

      • Actually, re-reading your comment, that court case might have been the one Ringo was using, with just a minor tweak to say that the person won the case instead of losing it.

        I do start to lose reading comprehension when it gets too late in the evening. Bedtime for me, see you all in the morning.

        • ppaulshoward

          Well, there’s a discussion on Baen’s Bar (Snerker’s Only conference) about that. Some people have been “nit-picking” that scene (and others scenes like it in book). However, one comment was that Barb may have been buffing. IE She was depending on people not wanting her to sue them, but there was no real case that would have supported her having Laz with her.

          • I just read it as another piece of worldbuilding, i.e. here’s another detail in which Barb’s world differs from ours. In our world, the ADA has been pushed quite far but has stopped just short of this line; in Barb’s world, it’s been pushed over that line.

            I mean, Ringo already has gods and demons intervening directly in the world (and while I do believe such creatures exist — see my earlier comments about religion — I don’t believe that they operate in the manner described in the Wands series; that’s SF worldbuilding), so why not a judicial history slightly different from our own?

            Funny how it’s easy for us readers to accept “large” details, but “small” details can trip us up. Hence why research is needed if you intend those small details to be true-to-life. As I said, in this case I felt Ringo was making up that court case, given his alternate history in books like The Last Centurion. But if people thought it was intended to be a real case, it’s easy to see how they’d get tripped up by “Hey, this detail is wrong!” :-)

      • Oops!! Just looked it up and the definition has changed. You were right about companion animals not being eligable. However, I suspect that due to the nature of the bond between them, Lazarus could qualify as a service animal as he could be regarded as individually trained and providing a service for Barb. I would be very surprised if the DOJ would not cut her papers declaring Lazarus as a service animal under the circumstances.

  9. Even the “normal” sister of my family is odd, in comparison to the neuronormals. She just has somewhat better camouflage, I think, and was able to find someone to marry who also happens to be “odd.” (Although both are quite a bit more mainstream than me or the little sister are. We’re _definitely_ odd.)

    And Dragon*Con is like going to a family reunion — where the family is from across the globe, you’ve never met that branch before, you might never meet them again — but by all that everyone holds holy, you’re FAMILY, and it’s OBVIOUS.

    Actually … RenFaire and all the conventions I’ve been to — that applies, but it’s emotionally overwhelming to be at D*C with that many people and realize that you’re not actually _completely_ alone in the world after all.

    I do think there’s a strong possibility of speciation at some point — not only do we self-select, but we tend to breed true, and want a lot of the same things. Most of the people who go on to colonize other planets will be “ours.” :)

    But in the end, I think O’Shaughnessy encapsulated that which is “us” best:

    “We are the music makers,
    And we are the dreamers of dreams,
    Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
    And sitting by desolate streams;—
    World-losers and world-forsakers,
    On whom the pale moon gleams:
    Yet we are the movers and shakers
    Of the world for ever, it seems.”

    Ne’er truer words spoken.

  10. Martin L. Shoemaker

    I suspect that even among the Odds, I’m odd. I fit all the definitions (boy, when you mentioned bike riding, that hit home!); but I never really noticed not fitting in. I don’t think I DID fit in, mind you; but I was raised in a family where Mom took some pride in outsider status and Dad was the man with a million friends. So each of us kids got a little of both; and it meant that “fitting in” was never a big concern for me. I had my sister who I always got along with, my big brothers I always looked up to, and enough friends to get by.

    In hindsight, I was clearly an oddball; but I just never noticed. In my self-image, I was a quiet little introvert who just wanted to be left alone with my book; yet at the same time, I know I was involved in all sorts of school activities, often in a leadership role: music, drama, debate, newspaper, the track team, and more. I was, perhaps, the Token Odd; but I also think that my small community was pretty accepting of Odd me. I’m sure we had our share of cliques and ostracizing; but I just never noticed it. Either I’m too oblivious to recognize where I’m not wanted, or I was welcomed in most groups.

    • I had no trouble riding a bike. Or climbing trees. But any type of school sport? Throwing, hitting, running, jumping — bleah. Never better than mediocre, and usually miserable. Then I got to college and found my sport: martial arts. Lettered in judo, competed in karate, earned a brown belt in Tomiki-ryu aikido. Put a gun, bow, pool cue, or sword in my hands and most guys need to guard against psychological testicle shrivel. Yeah, the pool cue doesn’t quite fit in there, but that was something my (alcoholic) Dad did bother to teach me (the lowly daughter), and foldy boxes were brain candy long before I took mechanical drafting and descriptive geometry in college. Darts, though . . . back to mediocre. Go figure.

      And I was often the leader in my group. Right up until some socially apt — and generally less competent — bitch or dick convinced them it’d be more fun to make me the laughingstock. Or punching bag.

      Tech-geek girlie-girl, I’d have been fine, I think. Tech-geek tomboy, however….

  11. pohjalainen

    When I didn’t learn to ride a bike the first time I tried I, according to the story my mother told later, I don’t remember the incident myself, threw it into a ditch and afterwards refused to touch it. Never learned to ride one.

    And I have never really even tried to fit. I have mostly gone by the ‘take it or leave it’ ideal. Most normals take the ‘leave it’ option. I accept that I might be happier if I did try, nevertheless I have always found myself unable to take that route. I’m not really all that social so a lot of the time I’m pretty contended with things the way they are, but unfortunately even us hermit types do need some interaction with other humans in order to stay sane.

    I am jealous of the younger generation, growing up now. Internet probably makes it easier for them to find others like them, and to find out that they are not the only weird one around. Every teen presumably feels misunderstood and weird at some point (and I got told that, a lot), but it was a bit worrisome when I realized I still didn’t get most of my peers even after I had become an adult. They seemed to find all kinds of trivial things most important, and were mostly not at all interested in anything actually interesting. :)

    By the way, that new avatar is one of the end results from the photo session I dragged one of my friends to (I have them, my bad luck is that only one currently lives in the same town and I’ve gotten worse when it comes to finding new ones as I age) on local castle ruins. I think I might keep it for a while, I think it sort of fits. Looks pretty much like the ‘Hermit’ card designs in Tarot packs, doesn’t it?

    • Another advantage of the internet is the lag build into written conversation. Anyone who’s met me both online and in person can tell you the difference, there. I’m much better at holding a coherent and reasonable discussion in writing. (Of course, that’s after Jim Baen kicked my ass up between my ears a few times for “hitting” on the Bar.)

  12. Oh, yes, I’m an Odd – we even have a lot of dyslexia, Aspergers and ADD in the family. One branch has a lot of alcoholism and a lot of professional artists. The other branch is all engineers and CPAs. All right brain stuff. What the heck my ancestors did, before the modern need for numbers and before books were generally available, frightens me. Probably spent their lives drunk.

    I could pass while a kid, but junior high and high school were hell, though I had a number of friends – they weren’t Odds, mostly, but there are a lot of non-Odds who love fantasy and Ren Fest (Star Trek is practically mainstream now). I’m reasonably successful as an adult – I was always good with adults as a kid. Just never got other kids, or at least other teens. ‘Course, that was back before computers, when geeks weren’t cool.

    There was an email article circulating back in the ‘90s, a fan brought her anthropologist (or something similar) sister to an SF convention. The sister had the most amazing observations about the common behaviors – that fans move their lips, but not their cheek muscles, implying early speech abilities before the muscles had developed. That fans talk over each other a lot, but everyone can hear each other. That fans use much longer sentences, and full sentences, in speech. A lot of it, she was worried that the fans would find un-flattering, but fans just nod and go, Yep, that’s who we are. (I’ve lost the email, over the years, wish I could find it again.)

    • There is dyslexia in our family as well. I have problems with 6 and 9 (and when I was learning to read b,p,g,q for obvious reasons). But, I can read upside downs and sideways. lol

      • Part of the problem is the school system thinks if your kid is twelve and has to use tricks to figure out b from d he has issues. The fact that he, at the same time, is doing his brother’s math homework at first year in college level FOR FUN doesn’t matter. He’s learning disabled and should be in the slow class. (Turns out actually his eyes didn’t work together. Better now.) I wonder how many kids get crammed in the slow class and well… I don’t know. Mine would have committed suicide, I think.

        • The classic sign of dyslexia is a bright kid who has trouble reading. But that’s only for people who know this – my sister was told she was just lazy by the school, when she was dyslexic. My parents knew that wasn’t the case, but there weren’t the resources there are now.

          The other problem is lumping all learning disabilities together, including the slower kids. This was done in the ’80s to get away from the stigma of “retardation,” but it’s hurt the true learning disabilities, where the kid is smart enough, but has input-output problems.

          • EXACTLY. My kid has sensory-issues which are sometimes associated with aspergers. He’s NOT Aspergers — we went to a psychologist and she said he’s ALMOST anti-aspergers i.e. he socially cues very well. BUT he can’t hear in a crowd. (Well he can with the aparatus, but…) and he has issues with groups of people and concentrating. So… he was failing sixth grade and getting a reputation for being “unruly” — i.e. he asked questions, turned the wrong way, etc. — until we had him tested. And then they wanted him in the “slow” classes, even though his estimated IQ is in the 180s

            • I was lucky. When my ADHD started causing behavioral problems in fourth grade (I was finishing my in-class assignments well before anyone else and was bored and looking for things to do to keep myself entertained), my parents, not knowing what was going on with their usually rambunctuous but well-behaved son, found a school that focused on learning disabilities for me to attend. I didn’t have learning disabilities per se, but the school had well-trained teachers and a high teacher-to-student ratio (my fourth grade class had just six kids in it, including me), and the teacher at that school, unlike my previous school, was quite able to teach me at the pace I wanted to learn at. By the end of that year, I was doing fifth-grade English and seventh-grade math. My parents saw the results and made sure that from then on, I’d always be given the opportunity to learn at my own pace, which meant that I was part homeschooled (for subjects like science or math where I learned faster than other kids) and part public-schooled (for subjects like history and French, where my learning rate was in the bright-but-not-ahead-of-his-grade category). Shockingly, they never had to pull me out of a school because the school administrators refused to go along with this arrangement — I somehow managed to end up in schools run by flexible administrators, which I would have thought was an oxymoron. Apparently not, or at least not all the time.

              • Yes. There are two schools in the US for kids like my younger son. (It’s for his disability AND high IQ.) Unfortunately they’re both across the country. We could have slaved enough to make the money to pay the fees, but they’re BOARDING schools, and we though our boy didn’t need THAT, not when he loves family time. SO… so, we brought him home to homeschool for a year, taught him coping tricks and EVENTUALLY sent him back to school, where (grin) he’s graduating with an award for academic excellence. Sometimes it has a happy ending.

                • You made the right decision! My sister attended Landmark in Vermont, back when they had a college prep program (she wasn’t diagnosed until her 20′s), and I’m not sure it was the best thing for her. A lot of dyslexics, by the time they reach the point of needing a special school, are pretty screwed up. And so are their teachers.

                  Of course, that could just be Vermont. *rolls eyes*

                • The Daughtorial Unit had no clew about interpersonal dynamics until we handed her Edward T. Hall’s The Hidden Dimension — not because we thought his theories particularly right, but to establish in her that there is a discernible analysable paradigm for non-verbal human interaction. Fourth grade went much more smoothly after that.

                  • You know, this is another “odd” thing. I was telling Robert today about how I avoided indoctrinating them, but I did hand them books to read. Like… The Dream That Failed at ten…

          • I did not know until about I was about 26 that I was dyslexic, which is when Mom told me. I’d always — near as I knew — been able to read forwards, backwards, upside down, and upside down-and-backwards.

            Apparently, I was diagnosed as dyslexic when I was about 9 — the same time as I was moved in with the GT kids in my new school district (I think the teachers got tired of me being so far ahead of everyone, and wanted to toss me in with the kids who might prove a challenge). However, they never bothered telling me, or giving me any kind of training… because I had already taught myself how to cope better than they could teach me.

            It WOULD have helped to know — because even now I’m flip-sided. I will go left when told to go right and vice versa (and feel like a complete moron every time, even if I know now that it’s part of dyspraxia). Organic chemistry, with all of its very mirror-specific reactions? Yeah … it would have been nice to know, so I could have gotten help for that.

            • pohjalainen

              Dyspraxia?

              I mix up left and right too. Have always assumed it’s because I’m left-handed. But I did have hell of hard time learning to read and write, in spite of presumably being relatively smart (according to IQ test, taken as an adult).

              • I mix up left and right too. My preparations to drive somewhere always include “leave an hour early, in case I somehow end up in Denver” (100 miles away.)

                • Sigh. Me driving, my dad in the passenger seat was the one who knew the way. We were a MENACE. He was so embarrassed that he didn’t know right from left that when he needed to tell me to go right or left he would make a small embarrassed gesture in his lap.

                  • My mom’s left-handed — and schools those days taught the “write with right hand” mnemonic. You can see the issues. I’m fairly directional-confused myself (despite being right-handed), probably from my mom’s “no, the other right” situation. I wave my hands around quite openly to remember which one is the write/right one, when giving directions!

                    …it’s getting east/west mixed up in MMORPGs that annoys me. *facepalm*

              • I’m left-handed, and there’s little doubt that it’s due to mild birth-trauma related damage. However, mine goes beyond that. Dyspraxia is also what most of you all are talking about problems with learning to bike ride. Eternal clumsiness. There are days when holding things is simply NOT happening. It takes me a good five, six minutes after waking up to be able to walk straight without holding on to something.

                It’s very often comorbid with dyslexia (and the numbers-specific variety also has its own term. :) )

                I didn’t have problems, apparently, learning to read left-to-right. What I had problems with (still do) are analog clocks. Sheer hell, that. Books were my safety, my sanity. I clung to them desperately.

                I do spell extremely well, though. But word-scrambles? THOSE ARE MURDER for me. The PopCap game “Bookworm” has reduced me to tears, while my most-normal sister was standing behind me, helping me. She’s 3.5 years younger, and having to help me — and while she’s doing that, she’s spelling the words she sees, and I’m trying to connect them backwards. I quit playing the game. I couldn’t do it.

              • I’m left handed, and never had a problem with rights and lefts, and very seldom with compass directions (turn North at the next intersection). On the other hand, my father who is right handed is terrible with rights and lefts, for years I constantly threatened to paint an L on his left hand.

                I surveyed for a few years with a guy who was dyslexic, very hard worker, very knowledgeable, but very poor with math and dyslexic. The two of us worked well together, very hard, and very fast, we could get more done in less time than any other crew. But we many times made the boss pull his hair out, because this was back before we used data collectors and were still taking physical notes. Greg was dyslexic, and I would just randomly insert fictitious numbers into the angles and distances in our notes without realizing it. We could outwork any other crew, but on a large job it was almost guaranteed that somewhere in our notes would be a mistake that the boss had to figure out. He told me several times that he much preferred trying to find a mistake made by a dyslexic, because all the numbers were there, they just weren’t in the right order, my notes on the other hand…

                • Oh, yeah. The “random crap” thing is rarely NUMBERS but usually Toni circles it and puts a question mark next to it. And nine times out of ten I go “the what? OCTOPUS? Why in heck did I write octopus here?” It’s like my fingers do a little automatic typing for two sentences. The odd thing is I NEVER see it when editing, and I ALWAYS edit.

                  • If your like me that’s why you HAVE to have someone else read it. I will catch mistakes (especially common ones that I always make, like changing tenses midparagraph) but if it is randomly out there my eyes seem to just float over it, my brain knows that I was writing about a Chevy Nova, so it reads Octopus as Nova.

            • I am dyslexic, which didn’t bother me much because it was my ONLY form of escape, so I learned to read around it. I do make atrocious spelling mistakes, which is a problem when dealing with the sort of people who think Writer=impeccable speller or “spelling blooper” = ignoramus. What did bother me, though, was the digit dyslexia. I would copy problems from the board and get all the wrong answers because… well… 459 954 and 549 or 594 are ALL the same “number” to me, when writing it down. I preferred to do equations in my head, because each step I wrote down was another chance for this, but teachers get downright uppitty if you don’t “show work.” And that — among other things — is the tragic history of how the kid who couldn’t leave a machine alone without tinkering, from age 3 or so on, ended up with a literature degree. The funny thing is once diagnosed, I KNEW how to counter it. Before that I thought I was a specialized kind of dumb (as in very.) I wish I’d been diagnosed before high school. I’d now be an engineer somewhere. Of course, then my readers (all 12 of you! [runs]) would be deprived of the novels, so maybe it’s for the best?

              • A friend of mine, lucky enough that a neighbor diagnosed her as dyslexic at 9 and gave her training, finds that, unless she concentrates, she will type every word backwards – perfectly, but backwards. I’ve seen her do it.

                Dyslexics are the most fun, though – very creative people. I’m amazed at how many friends I have who are dyslexic or ADD, but dealing with it (if they aren’t, they’re a bit too crazy for me.)

              • Having a dyslexic colleague cured me forever of thinking that “spelling blooper = ignoramus”. OTOH, there are certain mistakes that dyslexics rarely make, but people who don’t care about spelling do, that I still use as red flags. Their/there/they’re, or it’s/its, are classic red flags to me that make me think I’m dealing with someone who doesn’t care about grammar. The occasional mistake here and there doesn’t bug me too much, but if someone consistently uses the wrong word, I’ll be inclined to discount their argument altogther.

                IOW, rite two much like this and ill ignore what your saying. (Sorry about that.)

                Sarah, and/or other dyslexics reading this post — are those spelling mistakes that you’re prone to make? My guess would be no, but I’d like some confirmation since I’m by no means an expert on the subject.

                • No. BUT if I read a lot of young people’s writing — which I do at times, for things like contests — I acquire the their/there error by osmosis. It drives me BONKERS.

                • @Robin
                  I never made the write/rite/right, there/their/they’re mistakes until I was on chemo for nine years. It is very disconcerting when I look back and see these mistakes all through my drafts.

                • Robin, you have rendered me self-conscious … oh hell.

                • I’m personally in a “weird” place with spelling/grammar mistakes.

                  One of my friends is extremely intelligent and is a total hardass about misspelled words/poor grammar; etc. So she helped me improve mine a lot because she (well) was kind of an ass about it and I was shamed into improvement. I was never bad at that sort of thing, really, but she caught many of the words I had problems with and I knew that the only reason she was bothering to correct me was because she knew I was intelligent enough to not make the mistakes if they were pointed out to me. (I also know that her “Odd” nature meant that she wasn’t intentionally an ass most of the time.) I still have problems with certain words and I’m still constantly learning my weak areas and fixing them – but she certainly made me more conscious of errors in the first place and take more pride in being correct. So I became a bit of a “snob” about it.

                  On the other hand, some of the most creative, intelligent people I know have terrible, lazy habits or poor education or learning disabilities. (Many having several of the above.) So I also know that I can’t discount someone just because they type something like “laughes” or has a their/they’re/there mistake. As such, my snobbery is mitigated or else I’d look down on my best friends and my current boss. And, frankly, the three people I’m thinking about in particular are much smarter than me in their own particular ways/fields and looking down on them because they don’t focus their big brains on language the way I do would be moronic of me.

                  It is still a huge struggle for me to take someone seriously if their language skills are shoddy. But I try to give people the chance to show that behind that laziness/shoddiness they have a mind. Sometimes I wish I had the patience and less snobbishness so I could give some people more of a benefit of the doubt, though. You’d be surprised what “stupid” people can be remarkably insightful about or knowledgeable about if you just happen to stumble upon the right trigger for their own particular brilliance.

              • I would copy problems from the board and get all the wrong answers because… well… 459 954 and 549 or 594 are ALL the same “number” to me, when writing it down.

                IF you develop the habit of converting all numbers to binary, or to think of them as … um: 459 = 4(10 to the second) 5(10 to the first) 9(ten to the zero) … howcum WP doesn’t enable scientific notation???

              • In senior high I did an entire math test using 5-the-square-root-of-2 instead of 2-the-square-root-of-5 (or was it the other way around, doesn’t matter). Teacher was most kind. She said, once she realized what I had done, she checked my calculations, and found them correct, so she gave me partial credit for knowing the process.

              • All three of your guys prefer digital watches, is it dyslexia?

                • Robert can’t read analog. Or rather, he can, but it takes effort. The other two just prefer digital.

                  • It’s a struggle for me to read analog. I much prefer the look of analog, because of my favoring antiques/vintage things, but it takes me absurdly long to read it. It’s something that has personally mortified me all my life, when I’d be asked for the time/I myself ask for the time and the only timepiece available was analog. If someone would just point to an analog clock in the sense of, “it’s right there, read it yourself” I’d be too embarrassed to take the time to read it. I’d just go, “Oh, thanks.” and move on until I could either find a digital readout of the time or someone else to ask without alerting the first person. >_>; (I also tend to dislike analog clocks for their tendency to tick – which I become too aware of and drives me quickly crazy. It makes my antique/vintage enthusiasm and just a general love for old-fashioned timepieces self destructive and man I am rambling way too much about this.)

                    • I have anxiety disorder (currently well under control) and when I grew ill and it flared as a result a few years back (rather badly), one of the things that soothed and calmed me was a ticking clock. I learned to slow my breathing to the ticks of that clock, which in turn helped relax me.

                    • LOL. Here’s the thing — if I remember you’re way younger than I. My son’s problems with analog were my problems. I could read analog, but it took time, and remembering right from left. So… I left fourth grade (elementary school ends there in Portugal) STILL not knowing how to. Over the next three years or so I used every trick imaginable to get someone to read it for me. It was noticed. Family made fun of me. “Some day you’ll be able to tell time.” BUT it was my only option — no digital — and by 7th grade I realized I COULD read time. Just constant exposure. Even asking and having people tell me, and catching a glimpse of their watch was training. BUT Robert lives in a world of digital readouts: phone, computer, stove, microwave. It’s uncomfortable, and WHY BOTHER. so… you see…

                  • My Dad knew early on that his children would have problems reading an analog clock so he would drill us on it. It was a horrible time for me because I just couldn’t see it for a long long time. But after some familiarity I can look at a clock and the number pops in my head.

                    However, there was a time when I was on cytoxan for a year that I couldn’t read analog, digital, or books. I couldn’t decipher anything. It was scary. I wondered if it was worth living if I lost my favorite activities. Thankfully it lasted only two years. I almost didn’t survive it though.

                    • Martin L. Shoemaker

                      ONLY two years? You’re a strong person. I think I would go nuts after days, not years.

                    • Martin, THANK YOU. I was thinking the same as I read that and thinking “Maybe it’s only me.”

                    • Who says I’m not nuts. lol It took me years to get to writing again. Do you know how much brain power it takes to write fiction? I was ill in 2003, chemo cytoxan and then methotrexate until 2005, oral cytoxan for 6 months, imuran until 2012, and now on Cellcept. All of these affect the brain. i checked my IQ after being on chemo so long and I suspect it dropped 20 plus or minus points. (My brothers are in the 140 and over range).

                      I was getting published before I became ill in 2003 (literary journals mostly). Then after my illness and chemo, I started writing in 2007. Some of those articles are not up to my abilities before illness. By 2009 I was writing CW again. I thought in those first two years that I would NEVER write again. I almost quit then. If I had quit I would be dead.

                      So now that I look back at it 2 years vs. the rest of my life means only two years. ;-)

                    • Martin L. Shoemaker

                      My sister tells me often about chemo brain. Her experience was VERY mild compared to yours; but there were days her boss simply told her to leave work, because she had stopped processing. You have my sympathies. I’ll add your name to my tribute list at Relay for Life this year.

                    • I haven’t had chemo, thank God, though given that it’s essentially controlled poison it doesn’t surprise me much that it would do that. But I do find that after surgery, what with general anesthesia and pain meds, it can be up to six months or more before my brain is cranking enough to write decently again. Heck, I’ve been going through some oogyness with my teeth in the last month (hit my head about 1.5 years ago and am having an epidemic of dying teeth), and even the local anesthetic is sufficient to ensure I won’t write that day, and sometimes even the day after.

                      Heh, after I had major surgery about 2 years ago, I tried to text Travis Taylor about a book we were finishing up. (I’d done my part and it was in his hands to finish, polish and submit while I recovered.) Well, I DID text him. Problem was, I was on oxycodone at the time. I was puzzled when I didn’t get an answer. He called me the next day and asked, “What the #&!! were you talking about in that text? We [he and his wife both] couldn’t figure it out.”
                      I went, “Huh? Whaddaya mean? It was plain as day.”
                      “Go look at it.”
                      “Okay. Here it…uh. Oh. Geez. Um, it says…well, I don’t remember what I was trying to say on THAT sentence…but…”
                      Travis started howling with laughter. Swore up and down he’d find a way to keep that text message in perpetuity. Probably did. Which means he’s got blackmail material on me. LOL

                    • Thank you Martin – my disease is Wegener’s Granulomatosis (Vasculitis disease). Because there is no cure, I will be on some type of chemo the rest of my life. I do things to mitigate the chemo brain (also on prednisone too which causes a phenomena we call pred brain). Also in menopause. I have been hit on all sides. There is nothing scarier to know that the quality that you take pride in is gone or at least reduced.

                    • …You mean, not everyone counts by fives till they get to the number the big hand is pointing at? (I can now get 15, 30, and 45 pretty automatically, but anything else, I have to go to one of those and count-by-fives up.) O_o

                    • Beth – well, no, not everyone. You see, I memorized all the fives around the face of the clock, and whenever I read one I normally only go by the nearest number and it’s corresponding five value. I do have a hard time with clock faces that have no numbers, though.

                    • Cyn. I’ve had years of Prednisone and Imuran treatment myself for my Crohn’s and have the Osteopenia to prove it. The worst thing was when the Dr. would up my Prednisone dose and I got the Manic Hypers for a week or so. I would start mentally and physically bouncing so much I COULDN’T READ! and man that was horrid!

                      Saved my life during a few of the flare ups I’m sure so I guess I’ll have to forgive it for the short term lack of reading ability.

                      Since I’m usually a fairly laid back quiet guy it would make my friends and colleges laugh as I suddenly turned into a motor mouth who was constantly in motion. Well until the artificial energy ran out and i crashed hard due to the lack of blood sugar. Then a little while later the cycle would repeat. Kept them well entertained until i got used to the new dose in a few days.

                      At least Predisone and Imuran are cheap these days since they are generics. A months supply of either of them is less than one day of my Pentasa. That is out of patent but to annoying to make for a relatively small market at generic prices so only the name brand version is available. *sigh*

                      So what sort of symptoms do you blame on Pred Brain? I was on the stuff at different levels from Jr High through basically my mid 20′s so have trouble remembering life before it started messing with my head.

                    • Sorry Thomas that it took so long to answer. Pred head – brain fog. Sometimes when I am on high pred dosages my brain starts to misfire. I make connections that are silly to normal folk. I also have problems with paranoia when on high dosages. It can either make me hyper or down. It is like having manic-depressive syndrome.

                      With the chemo, the pred symptoms seem to get worse. Thankfully I am doing so well on this new med Cellcept that my doc is going to let me wean off the pred. I am on 5 mg right now.

                      So sorry that you had to be on these meds so long. it has been 9 1/2 years now for me.

              • I also had a problem with showing my work, I actually didn’t learn to do long division until after high school, and I went through Calculus in hig school! I used to drive my grade school teachers nuts, they would tell me to show my work, and I would reply, “I did.” They would claim I didn’t, all I wrote down was the answers, which was true because I did all the math in my head. I had the hardest time comprehending that most people did not divide 1234 by 4 in their head and come up with 308 1/2, and when I did comprehend that others didn’t do it that way, I still couldn’t understand why I should learn to do it the ‘stupid’ way, when it was so much faster to just do the answer.

                I also drive normal people nuts if I do my math out loud, because I tend to break numbers up and then add and subtract the results instead of doing it sequentially like a normal person. The above problem I might solve by saying, ” well 400 goes into 1200, 3 times, and 1 1/2 times less than 10×4 is 34, so the answer is 308 1/2.”

                • They used to teach people to do math that way. My mom’s no math genius, but she’s always doing it that way because that’s how she learned it. When I was a kid, we were taught “approximation” by similar methods; but at that point, why not go all the way?

                  • That explains why I drove my young math teacher insane, but not the old one!

                    I always use the “break it apart” thing– that’s all that “long form” division is, just organized differently. Mom always got us to use different techniques by telling us that the teachers weren’t interested in us solving these problems, they were interested in us showing them they knew the techniques– think like Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid. If you don’t show the long form, they can’t see that you’re doing each tiny bit correctly, instead of some method that gets the right answer but won’t work in a different situation.

                    • Bad pedagogy, I suspect. The old math teacher understood math and recognized the depth of understanding you were displaying.

                      The young math teacher was probably a victim of the “you don’t have to know the subject matter, you just have to know how to teach” idiocy that the Educrats preach.

            • Yes, my sister says saying the opposite word you intend, like “left” for “right,” is very typical of dyslexics. I do it, too – I’m not dyslexic, but I have a lot of the symptoms, so I’m over there on the continuum. (I almost flunked college physics because, for the right hand rule, I kept using my left hand (I’m ambi-dextrous)).

              • LOL. Giving directions, when in car with kids, “Of course I meant my other left.” Kid, “Yeah, of course you did” as they look for a u-turn.

                • I’ve wondered if there’s a disconnect between right brain and left brain going on – or maybe being so immersed in the right brain that the left brain just spits out anything it wants.

                  • pohjalainen

                    Do any of you have problems speaking? I lose words, common, everyday words. Like, once, there were several weeks when I couldn’t remember ‘tomato’. I would speak with a friend about some dish including tomatoes and end up with ‘those round red things you use a lot in Italian dishes’ or something like that because I couldn’t remember ‘tomato’.

                    Don’t have that problem when I write, just when I speak.

                    • Yes, and I even call it “losing words.”

                      It gets worse when I’m working up to a migraine — it’s become a signal of “uh oh, need to pay attention to/for the other signs.”

                    • Oh, GOD yes! I forget friends’ names, even, and often gone for days trying to remember words. Not weeks, but still.

                    • No problem at all. I don’t so much lose words, as I put a different one in. I’m never aware of the problem, but people listening to me are. As in “What do you mean you just cleaned the floor with the car?” because I said that instead of “vacuum” I also type this stuff, so you’ll have “Bob flew his doormat into the open space”.. My publisher attributes this to my being an ESL speaker. er… It’s not, is it?

                    • pohjalainen

                      Good to hear I’m not the only one.

                      And yes, I seem to have that problem more before migraines too. Well, sort of, when it comes to migraines I get most of the other symptoms for classical migraines, auras being the most noticeable, but have gotten the actual headache only about six or seven times during my life and even then it was rather mild. More of a nuisance than anything else, but it can be a bit embarrassing to explain why I have to quit doing something for about half an hour because I can’t see well during the episode. Migraine headache people understand, just seeing the aura not so well. :)

                    • Yes, I lose words too. It was really obvious when I was nine because I would stutter to find the word. My mother would yell “spit it out.” My hubby just laughs and gives me the word. However, I don’t lose the word as often when I am writing.

                    • Not so much anymore, but when I was fluent in my other languages, sometimes a foreign word would take the place of the English one. So I’d be going, “you know the chat is getting on my nerves again.” People usually thought I was joking…

                    • Charles Krauthammer’s tells a story about his father. As his father was nearing the end of his life he suffered from one of the dementias. Mr. Krauthammer would sit with him and was one of the few who could understand what he was saying. Why? Mr. Krauthammer observed that his father, who had been able to speak seven languages, was using elements of them all.

                    • When I was little, my parents used to think that I was slow or stuttered or had development issues because I would pause in the middle of sentences and take forever to tell them something. Eventually I got them to understand that my brain was outstripping my mouth several times over, and so I was constantly having to mentally replay what I was trying to say in order to say it. Occasionally I still have to, but I’m a lot better at it, lol.

                    • I have words fall out of my speaking brain all the time! “Thing! Thingie!” I can visualize it. I could probably type it if I weren’t focused on being blocked — but the WORD! GONE!

                      It is very frustrating. It also happens more when I’m short on sleep.

                    • I just spent 5 hours trying to remember the word, “Gazebo”, which I was trying to use replying to Martin about odd shaped construction.

                    • Gazebo?

                      Gesundheit.

                      I too am often frustrated trying to recall a particular word, one of the problems of having acquired a large vocabulary. And an aging memory.

                    • masgramondou

                      There are some words that I know perfectly well that I simply can’t recall. Right now there’s a type of flower (probably beginning with c, h, or ch) that I am aware I have forgotten. I know I’ve forgotten it because I run/walk the dog past it every day and look at and think to myself “WTF is that flower called? no it’s not a chrsanthemum, hydrangea, hyacinth (sp?), carnation…”.

                      There are some words which I have recalled because I know what the German/French/Japanese name is, thought that word and then translated …

                      This applies to both writing and speaking

                    • WayneB -

                      You have trouble remembering the word gazebo? Then either you haven’t played Dungeons and Dragons much, or you’re one of the very few D&D players who’s never heard The Gazebo Story. Because after reading that story, it’s hard to forget the word “gazebo”.

                      BTW, it’s not necessary to be familiar with D&D to appreciate the humor in that story, so you (all of you) should read it even if you’re not D&D players. Pretty much everyone here would enjoy that story.

                    • I assume it’s my migraines. I can lose the ability to read or speak or understand speech in a bad classical migraine.

                    • masgramondou: Orchid?

                      (Now I’m curious! Rhododendrons are common… Daffodil… Tulip… Crocus…)

                    • Sometimes it’s good to look for a non-pathological explanation. There’s a high correlation between this kind of momentary dysphasia and a large vocabulary, and decent research to suggest they’re connected: you’ve got more vocabulary to search for the right word.

                    • There was a high stress time 2002/3 this happened so often I thought I was losing my mind. Turns out, no… But for about two years, it was hell remembering something.

                    • Robin Munn – Sounds good, I will definitely go and read that story.

            • @Jessica – I also have the problem of turning right instead of left and it was a real problem when I was in boot camp. I just tried my best to follow the others. I didn’t do well with that either. ;-)

            • I will go left when told to go right and vice versa

              Wreaked hell gym class, particularly when the instructions came quickly. It has kept me out of group exercise sessions at the gym — I would hate to bowl someone over when I crashed into them.

              The Spouse used to give me directions with a paradigm of 1st base, 3rd base — me being the catcher. Works for us. I later had the realization that his name starts with R, R is the first letter of right, he sits on my right when I drive, therefore… You would think simple right and left would be easier, but no. Yes, my mind is ODD.

              • masgramondou

                I have more than once given an entire string of directions 100% wrong. I.e. every left should have been a right and vice versa.

                I inherited this from my mother and maternal grandmother (and possibly further down the tree who knows)

                This is odd because I’ve got pretty good balance, love maps and flat out do not get lost going to places I’ve been to before, retracing my steps etc.

                • pohjalainen

                  I read maps well, and don’t get really lost because I can always retrace my steps, even in a forest, (walking, doesn’t work quite that well when driving) but can’t follow verbal instructions worth sh*t. I need to have them written down, and best is if I can get some sort of pictures. Like that map.

                  • see, maps are lines on a page to me. My poor then brand new husband the first time he handed me a map and asked me to navigate thought I was being funny. This was complicated by the fact that I’d gotten used (somewhat, though I still don’t like them) to Portuguese maps, which at the time were TOTALLY different from American maps. To me it was sort of like being handed an omelet and being asked to tell you the stock market prices next week from looking at it. Fast. While moving. This is why talking GPSs saved my marriage. :)

                    I’m terrified of driving — I mean, I can do it, but I have a bone deep, phobia-like fear of driving — and while most of it is because I can SEE all too well what the idiots ahead (and to the side) of me are capable of doing (Hint, defensive driving is okay, but if it’s paranoid driving, as mine is, you’re always at the edge of screaming. Very tiring on long drives) and can imagine the most horrendous crashes every five seconds, a GOOD portion of the “fear” is my ability to get completely and inexplicably lost. YES even with the GPS. For some reason “lost and moving” triggers panic attacks.

                    • pohjalainen

                      And i love driving. It used to scare me until I got doing geological survey work during the summers for the Finnish Geological Survey, basic mapping most times, and since they were mapping the last bits of the country at that time it meant lots of driving on back roads, enough that I just got used to it. And this was before GPS, so I also learned to pinpoint my location using the map and a compass – and it had to be exactly.

                      Fun times, I genuinely enjoyed that most of the time. Except the couple of times I got into trouble – this was before cellphones too, and if your car sinks into mud up to the axles in a place where you’d need to walk over 10 kilometers before getting to the nearest house it can be a bit daunting. (Got it up. Four-wheel drive and rocks, tree branches and the jack, and a couple of hours of work. And I was a lot less daring about where I drove after that. Well, I probably would not have ended in that particular predicament except for the fact that the car was a four-wheel drive.)

                    • Martin L. Shoemaker

                      I have often said: I can’t have silence in the car, it will let me think too much about what could go wrong. I need something providing JUST ENOUGH distraction so I can concentrate but not obsess.

                    • The Daughter took a while to get her license. She used to say that she did not want to drive because you can’t read at the same time. Then the full truth came out. She did not want to be responsible for a vehicle on the same road with the rest of the world.

                    • One of the coolest things to do with an iPhone is pull up Maps, and watch the Little Blue Dot that means YOU as it moves along the lines of the streets. …you just have to make sure to hold it at the correct angle for waving your hand to say, “Turn THAT way!” >_>

                  • You want to get me lost, put me in a city, in the woods I just don’t get lost, but drop me downtown, and turn me around and I’m lost. I can still follow directions good, but I can’t tell you where I’m at while following those directions. Without directions? Wellll,… ’nuff said.

                    • Dave Drake and I once got lost in a building that contained a restaurant. We somehow ended up next door in the building that contained the bar. Fortunately my husband knows writers so he went “they gravitated towards alcohol. YES, even without knowing where it is.”

                    • Bearcat – dingdingdingdingding! I am the same way. And I think I have an answer as to why. When I was in college, I gradually became consciously aware that I “felt something” when near a magnet. I also determined I felt the same thing out in the woods on a grander scale. By the time I was in grad school, I had formulated the hypothesis that I had a homing pigeon’s ability to read magfield lines, and that this was an innate ability in humans, greater or lesser depending on individual. Discussing it with some of my fellow grad students, a PhD candidate and I went into a physics lab and he got out a good 10 or more bar magnets. I stepped out of the room and he laid each one down on the end of a lab table, markings down to be hidden, and spun them several times to randomly orient them. Then he fetched clipboard and pen and brought me in. I was told to identify the north pole of each magnet. We went through the exercise 3x as I recall and I correctly identified north each time with the exception of two magnets which I consistently got reversed. That gave me an 80% correct rate.

                      In frustration, I said, “Jim, check the polarity on these magnets. They’ve been whacked or something and the markings are no longer correct.” He raised an eyebrow, picked up the magnets in question and took them into the equipment room to test them. About five minutes later he came out with an amazed look on his face and said, “You’re right. They’ve reversed polarity. You successfully identified the north pole of every magnet. You got 100% correct.”

                      I can be anywhere that there is not a downtown city or a local geomagnetic anomaly and successfully determine direction. I think the downtown aspect is that the high levels of metal framework, plumbing, etc. in the buildings form an effective Faraday cage that blocks out the geomagnetic field, at least to a level too low for me to detect.

                      Now don’t that just put a hitch in yer galluses…

                    • Robin Munn

                      Stephanie – That is really interesting. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of someone being able to sense magnetic fields like that, but that experiment pretty conclusively demonstrates that you can do it. I’m much less persuaded than you are that it’s an inherent ability of human beings, though — I’d be more inclined to think that it’s a rare ability, which most people don’t have at all. Sort of like the way I can hear the extremely high-pitched whine that CRT monitors put out: I used to think that I was the only one until I met a few people online (and a single one in person) who could also hear it.

                      As far as magnetic fields, I’m pretty sure I don’t have that ability: I’ve played around with pretty powerful magnets (and damaged at least one CRT monitor in the process by magnetizing the walls of its vacuum tube, so that its color rendering was forever off from that point forward as the electron beams got pulled off to one side) without ever feeling anything from them.

                      It’d be an interesting experiment to try in the general population, though: maybe someone should set it up sometime at a con. That’s somewhere you’d probably get hundreds of volunteers for a science experiment, easy.

                    • Dang it, I can’t hear CRTs any more. My hearing range has come down to about “normal”. I CAN hear the 17.5khz ring tone that I read some younger people are now using for ringtones so the teachers can’t hear them, but it hurts my ears when I do.

                    • I hear CRTs too. They drive me crazy. Plus I can hear when a capacitor is going bad in a power supply – radios and computers. Good thing too cause the hubby is losing his hearing at a rapid rate.

                    • My husband hears some electronics, too. Through bulkheads, at times– even when it’s things without fans.

                    • When I was a kid, I could tell if the computer screen in the computer room hadn’t been turned off; it whined.

                      No more CRT screens in the house these days, so I don’t know if I’ve lost the knack or not.

                      …I wonder how many Odds hear CRT screens! :)

                    • Robin, I guess maybe a better way of saying it is that I think that all humans have the CAPACITY for the magnetic sense, but not all do, and those that do have it to varying degrees.

                    • Stephanie, I have never tested the magnetic theory, but it makes since. And no not everybody has it, some people are perpetually lost. I work with a lady (surveying no less) who constantly is turned around, and to make it worse she tries to use Moscow Mt. as a landmark, which would be okay except, Moscow Mt. is about 10 miles from the office almost due north. When you are working 25 miles northeast of the office, Moscow Mt. is NOT north;)

                      Interestingly my dad could not carry a compass in his pocket until he was over 40, if he carried one for a day or two in his pocket, it would reverse polarity and point south as north. Why this changed after he got older is actually more confusing than why it happened in the first place. If the ability to read magfield lines is how I stay unlost (it can be a word if I want it to) in the woods, I wonder if this is hereditary?

                    • watches, any electronics and ONCE the family TV — I could kill them by APPROACHING them when I was 11/12. Then it passed.

          • my sister was told she was just lazy by the school, when she was dyslexic

            That struck home.

            I grew up with that. I have been told by some otherwise perfectly reasonable people that you cannot be profoundly gifted and disabled. Bull.

            • They call them Twice Exceptional. Marshall refused to go to meetings or … anything. He says “everyone has his own challenges” and just goes on his own way. Counterproductive? Probably. But… shrug.

              • Counterproductive? Not really. Keeping things in perspective? Declining the opportunity to wear the victim suit?

                • well, there were full tuition scholarships for “strivers” who overcome “disabilities” but no, I didn’t push too hard. How could I? I GET his point.

            • Absolutely bull!

              My sister also tells me that girls have been under-diagnosed with dyslexia because people just assumed they were dumb.

              • Laurie, I believe that at the time I was coming through school the theory was that dyslexia was extremely rare in girls. (Maybe they thought boys, with the different neural development were more inclined to have a developmental problem in reading?) So they did not look for it. Which only went to prove their theory.

        • My step-grandson has the same problem with school. His eyes are looking at different lines. The kid is brilliant but because he wasn’t doing well in school they wanted to put him on drugs and in the slow class. His grandfather (my hubby) has the same problem and has spent fifty years in electronics.

          They are finally helping the boy with his eyes and training his eyes. I think he would have committed suicide too if he had been put in a slow class. I watched him trace gears on a ski lift at five. I don’t know too many people who could do that as adults.

          • Yes. I think it often correlates to ‘engineer brain’. Marshall was doing detailed technical drawings (he wanted to build an amphibian flying van. That was his sort of daydream. He called it “the van that goes around the world”) and labeling them at five. He explained the concept to — of all people — Connie Willis at a local con and showed her the drawings. Connie asked if we knew he was very smart. (Well, yes.)

            • Oh yes – my step-grandson does the same thing – i.e. make engineer drawings as daydreams. I am pretty impressed. His family are very bemused with him.

              • is bemused… Funny he is the spitting image of his grandpa with the same brain imho. His family have no idea how smart he is. His sister is in all the higher level classes at 12. She is very communicative and smart as well in a different way.

            • Wait, people *stop* doing that?

              • well, I no longer draw them. Though to be honest, most of what I drew, after about 14, was house plans.

                • Martin L. Shoemaker

                  I once had very elaborate plans for a house built on a hexagonal pattern. I even designed the tools the carpenters would need for aligning things, since their common tools all assume angles on 90 and 45 degrees.

                  And of course, the plans included tower rooms. Also an RPG room with a hexagonal table where the GM could sit in the middle and swivel to face any comfy chair in the room. The GM’s seat was accessible only through a special basement corridor which doubled as the game library.

                  Ah, when I sell my first million books…

                  • Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

                  • I even designed the tools the carpenters would need for aligning things, since their common tools all assume angles on 90 and 45 degrees.

                    Not really as necessary as you think. The techniques for doing such things already exist for doing all your angles with a Carpenter’s Square, as long as you use one with measurements on the edges. It’s awesome that you thought to do that, though, and it could make things faster, because doing it the way I described is a bit tedious, but not too bad.

                    • Wayne, odd angle tools exsist for quilting already. And I remember a nifty little trick with a circle and a compass…

                    • CACS – If the call for odd-angle construction were higher, then specialized tools would be useful by being more efficient. Since it is rare, the time it takes to familiarize oneself with the tool will offset any benefits. In quilting, unusual shapes are frequently used, and often repeated, thus the utility of creating special tools.

                  • Well, world.

                • In Home Ec in fifth grade we were supposed to do floor plans for decorating a home. Most of the others did pretty pedestrian rectangles. I did full specs for a circular home to built mostly underground in a desert area…something I doubt I could do now as I haven’t thought about it in decades…and then did the decorating plans.

                  I used to talk to the mother of an older student who had worked with Louis Khan before branching out on her own. She was really interesting, and didn’t talk down to me. I thought her house was wonderful, full of technical models and the like. I am very thankful for those adults who were like that. They inspired me to keep going.

        • The major problem here is that they want to slap a generic label on kids and stuff them off into a corner instead of teaching them. Simultaneously, they want to micro-divide the “disabilities” into as many tiny categories as they can, so they can “treat” them with gods-only-know what drugs and “therapies” for their own profit. Like boys have ADD and girls have SDD(?) for the exact same “symptoms.” *spit* The school made my son repeat kindergarten because he hadn’t been taught his letter sounds. As soon as he knew them, he was reading Kipling. At age 9, he was pestering me while I was trying to muck my way through Kant for Intro to Philosophy. I handed him the college text book and had him read what I had to read. He read it, came to me with a puzzled frown on his face, and said, “But that doesn’t make any sense!” I said, “Exactly. Now, will you let me study?” Afterwards, we discussed it, and he had better insights than most of my classmates. And the school held him back a grade and put him in special ed.

          • Keep in mind that one point of education is to teach you to believe the right nonsense, and that exposing your son to Kant before the proper base concepts had been laid in place would cause him to be incapable of making any sense of what he read … that and the fact that Kant doesn’t make any sense.

            Call it EWS – Emperor’s Wardrobe Syndrome. The mind has to be prepped to accept that when the government tells it that “Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia”, then Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

            As Orwell has supposedly said, it takes a great deal of education to believe anything that absurd.

            • dracona357

              I was actually educating my sons, rather than merely indoctrinating them with received wisd^^^^ bullsh*t.

              “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” — William Butler Yeats

      • I have a funny story about that: One time I was sitting across the table from someone and looked at his (digital) watch to see what time it was. I couldn’t read it. I shook my head, and it STILL didn’t make any sense. Finally, I figured out that he had it on upside down, so I was looking at it right side up! I was expecting to see it the other way around, and couldn’t figure out what I was seeing.

      • Reading upside down is a skill I deliberately cultivated starting in high school. Does it make me odd that I thought to do it? And that I’m proud of the accomplishment?

        Speaking of aphasia (we were, weren’t we), I find myself, as I get older, going into a sort of mental/verbal vapor lock, wherein all the multiple threads of the inner conversation want to take over the foreground focus, but forget to do a handshake protocol with the speech peripheral. “Quick! One of you: say something!”

        Er. Um. Where was I?

        M

    • Those observations are fascinating, Laurie. I’d really like to see the whole thing, if it ever turns up.

      • Well, darn, I was hoping someone here would know about it and provide a link. I’ll try to search for it at home, I may have printed it out, but gawd knows where it might be in the files.

    • Re: what engineers did back in the day, there’s a beautiful George O. Smith comment, in one of his radio station in space stories, about how every time there’s a technical development, somehow there are engineers born who are uniquely suited to the tech. They talk about what engineers did before radio, for example. (And there was a time when every village had a super-duper fixit man and smiths and so forth.)

      There’s always been a need for accountants, even when people were doing accounts of supplies on tally sticks and tally bones. It’s a prehistoric profession.

      • Martin L. Shoemaker

        I’ve often wondered what I would’ve done had I been born before computers. Setting modesty aside for the moment, I truly have a talent for solving problems and turning those solutions into code; but along with that talent comes a complete lack of fear to try an idea and see where it leads. If you try that with chemicals or girders or bricks or even electrons, it can take a long time and be very dangerous; but if you try it with lines of code, it’s relatively safe (as long as you add testing to make sure there are no unforeseen consequences).

        I have the suspicion that had I been born a hundred years earlier, I would be missing several fingers by the time I reached this age.

      • My theory is that talents run in families. In my hubby’s family they were wagon makers and early engineers. It takes a lot of smarts to make a wagon wheel. So his family has gone naturally into mechanics and electronics — His grandfather was into trains (not play trains, real trains).

    • Sadly, a coronation has been observed between high intelligence and depression. This could possibly relate to the alcoholism as well.

      Of course the depression could be hightened by the feeling that you just don’t fit in…

      • My bad: Not coronation, correlation. Arg.

        • Martin L. Shoemaker

          Heh. I thought it fit perfectly with other comments on this thread regarding word slippage.

      • Kate Paulk

        Depression caused by enforced isolation is a pretty well-known phenomenon. Of course, you’d have trouble convincing non-Odds that it can happen to someone who’s not physically isolated… The analogy I use is “Imagine if you took a normal kid and forced him to spend all his time with intellectually handicapped kids his age. This is life for people like me.”

        It ain’t social maladjustment when no-one well will have anything to do with you. It’s shunning. And it causes no end of problems.

        Of course, being the only one of my kind that I knew until I found the internet (oh my ghod, there are people out there who are smarter than me? I’m in HEAVEN!), I didn’t want much to do with the normals. I just wanted them to stop bloody tormenting me and let me get on with being me.

        • “Imagine if you took a normal kid and forced him to spend all his time with intellectually handicapped kids his age. This is life for people like me.”

          Yeah, that works pretty well as a description. For all that I find Mindmistress‘s depiction of high IQs unrealistic (no, high IQs do not work like that, past a certain point there’s a qualitative difference that’s hard to put into words but easy to see in action), the author of that webcomic did get the isolation-of-high-intelligence part pretty well. One of my friends is someone who has at least 20-30 IQ points on me, though it’s hard to tell how much because he’s past the upper end of what the standard IQ tests are designed to measure. He’s told me before that one of the reasons he loves hanging out with me is because I can follow what he’s talking about; some of his ideas aren’t ones that would have occurred to me naturally, but I ask intelligent questions about them that make him think, rather than giving him deer-in-the-headlight stares.

          • Kate Paulk

            Robin,

            Absolutely – the other reason that analogy works is that there’s a different break between low-normal (aka “slow”) and intellectually handicapped. The latter have very limited generalization ability and need to be taught both explicitly and in-situ. I think IQ over the normal range measures abstract reasoning, not actually intelligence. Outside the normal range the whole thing breaks down – extremely low-IQ people can be quite functional – even brilliant – so long as they’re dealing with concrete references. Extremely high-IQ people… are capable of a different kind of reasoning. I tend to call it super-generalization or super-abstraction. Our kind see connections where normal people see separate boxes.

            I’m a breaker-of-IQ tests, myself, although I don’t hit the highs I used to. Narcolepsy and depression will do that. Bothers me more that I can’t think the way I know I should be able to than that my score on a mostly irrelevant test has dropped – and yeah, someone who can follow what you’re talking about and doesn’t get that “WTF? Where did it go?” look is priceless.

            • I suspect I am not alone amongst this crowd for tending, when taking IQ or Personality tests, to finding myself monitoring the questions for what they are actually asking, what they are measuring, and selecting my answers for consistency.

              I once had a pretty much perfect score (29 out of 30, I think) on a MMP Introvert/Extrovert scale … and right at 50-50 on one of the other dimensions, one which I didn’t care about consistency and so had flipped every time a new question on that phase came up.

              • *Waves hand*

                Yep, I do that too. I used to come out at 100% extroverted when I took the Myers-Briggs test, because I recognized each question as “oh, this is an I/E question, this one’s an S/N question, here’s a P/J question…” and since I saw myself as very extroverted, answering any questions with the “I”-oriented answer felt incorrect. Now, with a bit more life experience under my belt, I might be able to just answer the surface question rather than the underlying one, so I might not score as 100% extroverted anymore — but I’d still have to deliberatly ignore that awareness of which element this question was testing.

                • Kate Paulk

                  I figured out that if I answered them fast enough they got the natural inclination rather than my second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth thoughts – which of course was where I gamed the questions.

                • I think there is a kind of personality you might call “crippled extrovert.” Was extrovert as a small kid, and for one reason or another it didn’t work so withdrew from the world. H. P. Lovecraft was a perfect example. He was an incredible extrovert as a letter writer, but unfortunately, he lived before cons and the internet.

              • Part of the test for becoming an exchange student was a personality test. They were looking for sunny extroverts. No, I wasn’t. I SO gamed it.

              • I N T/F P CTM “A” school gave Meyers-Briggs to all new students. Lost my first test results, made me take it again — T(3) on first, F(5) on second. The “ideal” CTM is supposed to be ESTJ.

            • I’m a breaker-of-IQ tests, myself…

              Oh wow, that brings back memories of fourth grade, when my parents were trying to figure out why I was suddenly having behavioral problems. (The answer was that I was bored in class because I was finishing the problems so much faster than everyone else, then having to wait for them to catch up. Combine that with ADD and voila, a kid who’s a real handful.) Part of what the school counselors did was give me an IQ test. I remember getting to the end of the test before the alloted time ran out (and I think it was one of those tests where you were supposed to run out of time before you ran out of questions) and being annoyed that they didn’t have any more interesting puzzles for me to solve. :-)

              • Kate Paulk

                YES! Oh, so many times yes. I don’t have the ADD aspect, but I remember blitzing through and having fun, and running out of questions before the clock stopped (this is one of the reasons I don’t know my official number. They aren’t designed to measure it when you …coff.. ace the test…)

                • One of the tortures inflicted on “Gifted & Talented” kids is “enriched learning”, where you are given extra work because you’re finishing ahead of all the other kids. Except it is NOT enrichment because it is simply MORE of the same damn stupid problem set they’ve already bored you with.

                  In a typical (math) assignment there might be twenty problems to solve, broken down as follows: five reviewing principles supposedly already learned in the previous lesson, fifteen to teach the new lesson and five to really nail it down. Your typical Odd kid (Oddkin?) will only need two (at most) review problems, will figure out the new principle within seven or eight problems (at most) and nail it with another two — meaning that at least 40% of the problem set is superfluous and tedious.

                  So, what does being bright get you? Enrichment: an additional ten unnecessary problems “developing” the principle to ensure you are thoroughly and completely bored of it.

                  • YES. They give them a lot more BORING work.

                  • Ugh. When I was in 4th grade, the teacher would go down the rows of students, having us read off the answer to the previous day’s math homework. I never did the boring stuff, so I would follow down the problems and figure out which one I was going to get, and work the problem ahead. The teacher figured that out, though, and started calling on me randomly, so I changed to figuring out the NEXT problem while each person was reading the current one. I don’t remember if she ever started asking me for random answers.

                    • LOL. I did that too. I also once read a complete essay from a blank page — 3rd year English, college. The professor came and stood behind me halfway through it, with a clear view of the blank page. She never said a thing, and she gave me an A.

                    • … So she figured out a way to make you do all the homework after all, even though you weren’t writing any of it down. I wonder if she realized that fact or not?

                      And wow, Sarah, that’s a GREAT story! Hilarious! Also a smart professor.

                    • Also a smart professor.

                      There is smart and there is wise. Wise means having your priorities aright.

                    • Sarah, I could have never done that, as extemporaneous speaking is my downfall. I’m an awesome speller, however, to the point that my 6th grade teacher didn’t fail me when she saw that I had accidentally left the spelling book open under my notebook during a test. She just walked up behind me and coughed. When I realized what I had done, I said, “Oh, nuts!” and closed the book. She just walked on, grinning.

                      Robin, I didn’t care if she had, because the writing it down was what I hated, not the working of the problems. I tended to do that almost compulsively anyway.

                  • That’s shudder-enducing for me. I was put into a “Gifted” program in middle school. It was basically a club for Odds, I’d think. We got out of Homeroom and got to sit around and analyze Bugs Bunny cartoons, paint our own “animation cels” (overhead transparency paper and markers – but the concept was still sound), discuss lepers (the “teacher” for the gifted program had been to India and she said she cut her lovely red hair very short when some lepers petted her hair and she hadn’t been able to bring herself to grow it out long since), etc. I can’t remember what-all else we did except sit around and goof off instead of sitting bored in Homeroom with the rowdy “Evens”. Not that we weren’t rowdy. I don’t think the program “challenged” us in any way, but I think it may have more been a social experiment of some sort. I wish I knew what its intentions were.

                    Then there are “Advanced Placement” classes, which never seemed to me to be particularly “Advanced”. I don’t know what they were basing their definition off of – more homework? It seemed about the same amount as anyone else. I don’t know that it was any harder than a basic course either. I only ever struggled with math-related schoolwork (and gym class, which was more teenage mortification than lack of physical ability). Or at things in English that were “math-like” to my brain (diagrammed sentences and memorizing poetry rules).

                    • I also was in many of the ‘advanced’ classes, most of which were not advanced, just different. The biggest downfall of advanced was that they often assumed you knew the things that were taught in the normal classes so they never taught them to you. For example all the grammar and punctuation I do is by the simple expedient of what looks right to me. Because I took ‘advanced english’ classes, and they never taught us the normal mechanics that were taught in normal classes. I don’t know about the homework, because I never did any, if I couldn’t do schoolwork at school, I simply refused to do it. (That alone probably makes me Odd) Because I wanted to keep my GPA up, mainly because it kept my car insurance rates down, I got very good at doing acceptable work very fast. I know of at least one english teacher that I used to drive nuts, because she would pass out homework essay assignments as class was dismissed. The next day I would rush into the classroom, plop down and pull out a pen and paper, and proceed to write a 3 page essay in the 5 minute passing period between classes.

                    • The Daughter was in an excellent program for the profoundly gifted for grades third though five. (We did not agree with everything, but it was a good program.) Many parents whose children might have qualified choose not to send their children because the program was housed in a school in the projects. So when the children moved on to middle school the number of students doubled.

                      The Daughter started complaining, ‘We have been reviewing negative numbers for three weeks and they (the new students) still don’t get it.’ The icing on the cake was when a paper of five pages on the causes of the Bosnian war was assigned. The new kids, to a man, all gasped, ‘Five pages?!? You expect five pages? How?’ The kids who had been in the program in elementary all asked, ‘How can you cover that properly in only five pages.’

                • I loved the ‘what would this fold up to’ spatial awareness questions. They were so much fun and we never did anything like that in the classroom. :-(

                • Sweet! Other people besides me and my brothers who did that! The sad thing is that I’m not very good at math and geometric puzzles per se, but I was decently good at figuring out the trick. Puzzles like that for adults kick my butt, often, but not as a kid getting tested as a kid. Got marked down for not making complex drawings, though, so next time I was tested I added lots of stuff to that drawing of the tree. Still wasn’t a good tree, of course, but at least they weren’t marking me down for simplistic thinking. Bah. Lollipop trees are perfectly good conceptual representations of treeness.

            • So THAT must be what it meant… I have never been able to get anyone to tell me what my IQ is. I thought my teachers, school counselors, etc. were just playing mind games with me to “avoid having her get a big head.” But I clearly remember being sent to a psych for intelligence testing and going through all of these problems. He had previously explained that the point at which I made a mistake (and I had no paper, it was all mental and verbal) denoted the level of my abilities. We kept going and going and going and finally he said, “I don’t have any more questions. You came out the top of the test.” To this day I have no idea what my IQ is, I just know that, according to my ACT scores (which I only took once and didn’t study for like they do now) I could qualify for MENSA.

              • Just recommended your book to neighbor under “insanely well researched” ;)

              • I just know that, according to my ACT scores (which I only took once and didn’t study for like they do now) I could qualify for MENSA.

                Eh, from what I’ve heard about MENSA, it’s not the kind of place you’d enjoy. As you mentioned earlier, you don’t like to brag about your credentials — and from what I’ve heard from other extremely smart people (like my friend who’s in the 99.9999th percentile, the one-in-a-million category, and some of his equally-brilliant acquaintances that he introduced me to once), MENSA is full of braggers. the kind of people who think that joining MENSA actually proves something (which implies that they needed to prove it). Now, that naturally doesn’t mean that every MENSA member is the bragging type, just that there are enough braggers in MENSA that it’s not very enjoyable for the “I know I’m smart, why should I feel the need to brag about it?” people.

                • Yes, I went to one or two of the local MENSA gatherings and, while there were some very nice people, the attitude was a turn-off, which is why I’m not a member. I value my SIGMA membership more than I would that.

              • I also was never able to get anyone to tell me what my IQ was, only that I was ‘bright.’ I do know that even though I was not intending to go to college, I was bored and took the SAT, just to take it and see what it was like. Without studying, just walking in and taking it cold I managed to get the highest score in my graduating class (about 300)

            • I liken it to an average-IQ person trying to discuss abstracts with a chimpanzee.

          • I used to find it useful, back when the Daughtorial Unit was young and Windows was 3.1 to explain the difference as between a 486 and a Pentium chip — yes, the Pentium was faster but more importantly it was processing data at a higher quantum as well. D.U., who is studying neurology and related fields, has explained it in terms of cognitive memory capacity. Think ot it as not simply being able to juggle faster but to juggle more balls as well … and then imagine juggling the balls through an extra couple dimensions …

        • pohjalainen

          “Imagine if you took a normal kid and forced him to spend all his time with intellectually handicapped kids his age. This is life for people like me.”

          Good way to put it.

          Using that could also end with being told that you are full of it. The first time I started suspecting I might actually have a bit higher than usual IQ, and dared to talk about it to a couple of people that’s pretty much the response I got.

          Of course, in my case, the fact that I often can’t speak well probably had something to do with that. The general idea about intelligent is probably somebody who may be a bit clumsy socially but who can give you a well thought out lecture about quantum physics or the evolution of the genus Homo according to the latest discoveries in physical anthropology at the drop of a hat. And that’s not me. Not even close. But I can put together Ikea furniture real well. :D

          • Kate Paulk

            Heh… Usually I don’t add the second part unless I’m fairly sure that the person I’m talking to has managed to “get” the first.

            Of course, I figured out that I had more horsepower between the ears than most by leaving people behind. Crappy on the speaking side, mostly because by the time it gets to my mouth, I’m several concepts away and have to backtrack to figure out what I was talking about. I’d get mental whiplash and lose track of what I was saying, while the poor sods I was talking with would be left wondering where the conversational train jumped the tracks and which universe the new tracks were in.

            I envy you your Ikea-furniture-ability – I am SO utterly physically uncoordinated it’s not funny. I finally figured out embroidery and such in my late 20s, and never really got things like hammering and getting screw-holes aligned working.

            • pohjalainen

              Well, seeing what goes where is the easy part. Have to admit that actually putting them together can be a bit more complicated. Have to proceed slowly and carefully.

            • Crappy on the speaking side, mostly because by the time it gets to my mouth, I’m several concepts away and have to backtrack …

              The Daughtorial Unit was severely speech impaired (I think there were more phonemes she had trouble with than ones she didn’t) and would experience horrible frustration. I analogized it as having a 60 bps processor with a 5 bps output.

              Then she learned keyboarding.

              • So was Marshall — severely speech impaired. He’s licked it and is now very normal. BUT I got a lesson into people thinking he was stupid because speech impaired.

                • Daughtorial Unit got her height very early, then stopped wasting energy growing. In early years it got her in considerable “act your age” trouble when that was how she was acting — she merely looked two years older. I once talked with a lady who had the exact opposite experience: she was always small for her age and thus was deemed “very mature” even though she was acting her age.

                  • ROBERT. We stopped going to Gunther Tooties (Sp?) where we used to meet a friend and her kids, because when Robert was two, we got scolded for how he was acting. They thought he was… six. And they wouldn’t listen when we explained. (Look, they gave him water in a GLASS cup. Fill in the horror.)

                    • When The Daughter went to Washington DC with the 4th and 5th grade children from the profoundly gifted program there were enough accompanying adults to break us into groups of one adult to three children. For the day at the Smithsonian we were each given an itinerary of what we ‘had to see’ and were then free to choose what we wanted.

                      One group spent their free time at the Air and Space. They went to the show at the planetarium, where the children decided to play “I can name that before the narrator.” As they came out someone came up and scolded the group’s adult ‘for making the children’ do that. As if she could have stopped them!

              • Yup. What you and Kate said. But then there’s still the problem of (analogy) you looking at the Sun with unblindable telescopic eyes and describing the flares, prominences, sunspots, and eddy patterns of the corona, and having your addressee tell you you’re full of sh*t; it’s just a blank disc, because they’re looking at it through a pinhole.

          • ah! Though my intelligence is highly verbal I’m a kinetic thinker. I think through my fingertips.

          • “Imagine if you took a normal kid and forced him to spend all his time with intellectually handicapped kids his age. This is life for people like me.”

            One of the greatest things about the Special Ed coordinator at the kid’s school is that she essentially said that, looking at our kid’s test scores. And that part of the challenge was going to be to help her hit that potential, while dealing with the organizational hurdles that she also had. (And while the kid has been in the class with all the other kids… well, it was the classroom, where she worked on advanced math-class-via-computer stuff because the regular class math teacher was a bully and I pulled her out of that. (Since not pulling her out of that would have had me in thermonuclear hounds of war mode on that teacher’s BUTT.))

          • Contrary to popular opinion, “articulate” does not mean “competent.” It doesn’t even mean “intelligent.” There are a lot of very articulate fools out there. There are a lot of geniuses who aren’t the best speakers.

            • A similar mistake many make is conflating vocabulary and intelligence. A large vocabulary primarily means a person has a large vocabulary, and little more. Their IQ may be slightly higher but it ain’t necessarily so. It may merely indicate a person who spends too much time working crossword puzzles.

              • In my experience, a large vocabulary typically means the person reads a lot, which correlates strongly with intelligence. Though not at 100% rates — as you say, it could just mean they do a lot of crossword puzzles.

          • Actually, it’s pretty pleasant to spend time with intellectually disabled kids. They don’t make your life hell, they have good manners and pleasant personalities, and they’re usually interested in things that deserve interest. I don’t recommend getting stuck in classes for them, as happens to many bright kids; but they’re a darn sight better company than most in school.

  13. When I think back on it, I don’t think the kids in the new schools (I got moved around a lot in the early years) picked up on anything I *did* that was Odd. What they noticed and hated was they couldn’t do anything to change me and make me care about the same things they did. Physically I was bigger than all but one or two of my age cohort, and social pressure was simply ignored. I had friends but usually preferred to socialize with adults because they made more sense. If I was just left alone with my nose in a book I was happy and didn’t bother anyone. So what if the social clique thought I was hopeless? The librarians LOVED me, and we all know librarians are godlike creatures. One even let me read a new book before it got the little checkout stamp-sheet pasted in. Mrs. Friedman, wherever you are, I have not forgotten that mark of favor.

    • THAT’s my kids. They both approach schools by “first, get to know the librarian.”

    • masgramondou

      Most of that describes me too. Though I did get bullied as a teenager, mostly because I was about 1-2 years younger than anyone else in my class

    • The librarians LOVED me, and we all know librarians are godlike creatures.

      School librarians all loved The Daughter as well. (That was one of the few things she did miss when we switched to full time home education.)

      The Daughter had to break in the new librarians posted to our local branch of the public library. The first time they would see this child would come up to the counter and put a stack of books that she was planning to take out they would pause, but when she had finally finished her selections they would quake.

      I would get questioned, ‘Do you really mean to let her take all these out?’ And when they started to process the books and look at the titles they would add, ‘You do realize that she has selected books that are not from the adult section?’

      To all of which I would reply, ‘Certainly, we will see you next week when it is time to exchange them.’

      Eventually they would get it.

      The librarian who was in charge of the stacks at the main branch knew her by name and greated her as a friend.

  14. Add me to the list of people who would have been labeled “Aspie” if the category had existed then. I was in remedial jumping in grade school, and double-dutch jump rope gave me nightmares. Even in situations where I’m supposed to be odd, I stand out. (“What do you do on lay-overs?” Read military sci-fi and cowboy poetry. “Why?” Because the books fit into my flight kit.)

    Maybe Odd as a philosophic organization rather than religion, using the literal meaning of philosophy?

  15. I was never really able to pass. In my late-junior/senior year of (private, thank the gods) high school, I said, “The heck with it; I’m here, I’m weird, and I’m gonna be weird with dignity” and wandered around wearing a red-lined black (silk, I think!) cape. In Texas. In Texas summer. All the time.

    These days, 20+ years later, I have a polar fleece cloak, and it does very nicely in New England winter. I stride down the school hallways in it, heading for the School Store (read, candy shop, but it brings in PTA money, so… *sigh*).

    I’m here. I’m weird. I’m unashamed. The mundanes/muggles can cope. (And maybe some of them will see and envy… I think I heard a kid say, as I walked out of the school, that they wished they had a cloak.)

    (It’d take gene-therapy to “cure” Asperger’s, if the current research is accurate; it’s all copy-variations. Too many copies, or too few, of a given gene, and something in the Autism Spectrum shows up. And my diagnosed-Asperger’s kid has no interest in being “cured.” So I think that there’d be some amount of backlash from the Spectrum folks who have normal+ IQ. And their parents, overall.)

    Will Oddity be a mystery religion? Will we get ranks? (Dibs on “Author, Beginning, of the Self-Published heresy”!) :)

    • Bike Riding Trick for Odds (and/or Asperger’s): ride a bike that’s too small for you. I’m talking seriously too small. Not so much that you can’t pedal, but where if you tip at all, you can put your foot down — and if you fall off, it’s not very far to the ground. Do this till you don’t have to put your foot down. Then get a “proper” sized bike, or one that’s only slightly too small.

      I didn’t ride a bike for the longest time ’cause A: I didn’t have training wheels, and B: the bike I had was “proper size” for me. (Also, it had the chain come off, and flipflops make lousy brakes; sprained my wrist in that crash.) I got a scooter (the kind that’s a skateboard with a handle) and zoomed down the steep driveway on it, balancing, and that was fine. Then I rode a tiny friend’s too-small bike and… it clicked.

      My kid had training wheels for ages, and finally I just insisted, “Training wheels off, yes, but SMALL BIKE. The one she’s outgrown, mostly!” And whaddya know, it worked!

      • ppaulshoward

        My “funny” about bike riding is that when my parents first got bikes for me and my “little sister” I could ride hers but not mine. Until the day Ruth took off on her bike and left mine behind. Since I wanted to ride, I was so mad at Ruth that I got on my bike to chase her. Surprising to me (at the time) I could ride my bike. Never had any problems with riding a bike since (except for laziness). [Smile]

        • I’ve a similar experience with dancing — if I try to dance I cannot, because I am too busy thinking about dancing to dance. If I stop thinking about dancing I can do all right, but I can’t ever stop thinking and stay awake. And I don’t believe I dance in my sleep …

        • Somewhat similar, ppaul. Dad tried hard to teach me to ride a bike, but after a couple of falls I refused to go near the infernal machine. My brother, not quite three years younger, had no such problems.

          Then one day a visiting cousin gave me a fifty-cent piece (this was in the mid-Fifties, understand). I wanted something new to read, so I got out the bike, checked the tires (air ok), and rode it to town — a mile and a half — to the drugstore. I think that was when I bought the Edmond Hamilton thing about warming the dying Earth by setting off a nuclear reaction in the core… anyway, I had no trouble with bicycles after that. I was fairly famous for riding my bike with a book open across the handlebars, and multitasking well enough to stay out of trouble on the mostly-rural roads.

          And I’m an Odd, all right, but I’m not as smart as the rest of you folks. Makes it a little harder in some ways, I think.

    • Speaking of “curing” people on the autism spectrum, I definitely need to screw up my courage and read Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark sometime. Every time I’ve picked it up, it’s made me too uncomfortable to read it, and I haven’t figured out why. Perhaps because it hits a little close to home? I don’t know.

      • Yes, its a very good book. I didn’t think I would like it, but I liked Elizabeth Moon so I tried it, and would highly recommend it.

  16. Another mark of Odds is the fact that we don’t seem to see credentials as measures of worth of a person. Let me explain. In the other thread, Stephanie Osborn listed off her credentials as a NASA engineer to support the point that she knew how to do research. The other guy (unnamed lest I summon him over here), who clearly does not think like an Odd, seemed to believe she was pulling the Argument By Authority, which boils down do “Do you know who I am, buster?” (And to be fair, now that I re-read her comment, it does sound a little that way — or rather, it sounds like “You think you have more qualifications than us? Fine, if you want to play that game, I’ll play. Here are mine — trump that, if you can.”)

    But I, and I think almost everyone else who read that thread, did not think Stephanie to be a better person than me just because she’s done some things (some very cool things, BTW) that I have not. Rather, I now know that if she expresses an opinion on spaceflight, she probably Knows That Whereof She Speaks. But I do not automatically think that her opinion on, say, the root causes of the French Revolution is more well-informed than mine. (It might or might not be, depending on how much research she’s done on that subject.) My point is that Odds see authority as limited to specific fields and dependent on your accomplishment in those fields alone, whereas many non-Odds seem to take the word of a Ph.D. as automatically more valid than a non-Ph.D. Which is why the Argument By Authority gets pulled out a lot (“I have a Ph.D. from Harvard, so I’m automatically more qualified to run your country than that plumber over there”) — because it works on far too many people.

    • Odds see authority as limited to specific fields and dependent on your accomplishment in those fields alone, whereas many non-Odds seem to take the word of a Ph.D. as automatically more valid than a non-Ph.D.

      I think Odds were the ones who founded this country imho considering that they did not want to bow to kings or queens. ;-)

      And I do see your point because when someone gives me the Ph.D. argument, I automatically say, “So?”

      • My experience with Ph.D.s has not been very complimentary (of them) so whenever somebody pulls out the Ph.D arguement, my response is, “So, now prove you have enough common sense/intellegence to use the knowledge you got with your Ph.D.”

        • …There were no catastrophes on any of the Shuttle missions I worked, or during my tenure working that program… ;-)

          (Yes I’m being a smart@$$. It’s that or rip my teeth out tonight.)

        • dracona357

          “I have a PhD in education theory!”
          “Yeah? That’s nice. Describe the PN junction interactions in a tunneling diode with negative bias voltage.”

    • I just look t things like Steph’s credentials as “Oooh, goes in the file for questions when I have them.” :-P

      • Precisely the way I want it, dear. The ONLY time I pull out the big stick like that is to lay it over the skull of some obnoxious snob who desperately needs it. There are none here at this time. Perish forbid we should summon the djinn. Or deva, Or diva. Or whatever.

        • dracona357

          Reminds me of a time when a couple of snotty leftist soundbite-parroters got on the Bar and started insulting everyone’s intelligence. I noted that we had NASA scientists and engineers, NIMH and Johns-Hopkins staffers, a protege of Condi Rice, a Treasury appointee of Clinton’s, quantum physicists, lawyers, etc.; that Bar posts had been quoted in the Early Bird; and a straw poll put the average Bar IQ at 125. Strangely, they shut up and went away.

    • Even in their own supposed field, there’s always a healthy amount of skepticism, and a willingness to discount a person’s opinion if it contradicts what we’ve learned ourselves, if they don’t provide adequate evidence. Two examples:

      1) The nursing student who insisted to me that we have over 200 feet of small intestine, rather than the 20-something feet the average person really has.

      And 2) The “3rd year grad student in Physics” who, upon hearing me talking with my friend about an (admittedly radical and preposterous) idea for constructing a black hole (to use as a gateway to other parts of the Universe) in a book I was reading, insisted that the ships the author proposed could not possibly reach 10% of the speed of light, “Because the Inner K-Shell electron of the Uranium atom doesn’t have that much energy”. My problem is that I can never muster arguments in real time in the face of someone that insistent, so I just looked at him like he had three heads and shrugged.

      • My problem — as in the previous thread — is that after doing all my research for one book, I move on and do twenty other. Barring finding my notes, I don’t even know where I got the info anymore I do it by total immersion, then walk away. IF you ask me “Why did you do this” while I’m writing (or up to about a year after) I can USUALLY answer. after that it’s like “what/ I wrote that?” I was talking to DWS about “why you’d ever read your own books” which he asked and I had to tell him “Because I write multiple series. BEFORE I write again, I need to read the previous book, or weird sh*t happens. Note, for instance I changed Red Dragon completely in the second book of Shifters. (I know, I know, I have your letters telling me this. I swear if there’s ever an omnibus, I’ll fix it.)

      • The nursing student who insisted to me that we have over 200 feet of small intestine,

        200 feet??? Crap.

    • Robin, it was most certainly the latter that I was doing. It was an, “in your face, playing your game your way, beat that” response. For those who know me face to face, you know that I’m actually a very easygoing, low self-esteem person. And I seldom “pontificate,” and never on subjects about which I know little. I simply wanted to do a smackdown on Mr. Smart@$$. He is a weaselly squirrelly thing in his arguments; he was sidestepping every time someone countered one of his points, and redirecting the arguments. In point of fact by claiming I was arguing by authority, he sidestepped the fact that I had demonstrated that not only could I do the research, but I had something much more important than “peer review” riding on the correctness of my research, namely people’s lives.

      That post was directed specifically and solely at Mr. Coyote, Wile E. There are far too many people here who are knowledgeable about other things, whom I admire and would never insult, and I have my own sources for things in which I’m not expert. And have been used as a reference myself by both Travis Taylor and John Ringo. (And would be happy to do so for Sarah any time.)

      • You know, I just realized that the “Oh, you want to play the argument by authority game? Fine, I can play that game, even though it’s stupid… and my authority beats yours, by your own rules” thing can be found in the Bible! In 2 Corinthians 11-12, the apostle Paul is writing to one of “his” churches, the Christian church in Corinth where most of the Christians there were people that believed in Jesus through Paul’s teaching. Other preachers had come to them later on and, proclaiming their superior credentials to Paul (Paul sarcastically refers to them as “super-apostles” several times in this passage). So Paul writes to the Corinthians saying, “Hey, what these guys are teaching you is wrong,” and turns their argument-by-authority credentials aroud on them:

        “Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. [...] But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, [...]“

        That’s from chapter 11, from verses 18 through 23 (and Paul’s list of credentials keeps on going for about another full chapter).

        The argument from authority, and its natural counterargument, have been around a really long time. I’m sure there are other examples to be found in literature even older than the 1st century A.D., but that’s the oldest example I’m personally familiar with.

        • Whoops, left out a phrase.

          “Other preachers had come to them later on and, proclaiming their superior credentials to Paul (Paul sarcastically refers to them as “super-apostles” several times in this passage), had been preaching doctrines that contradicted Paul’s teaching.”

          … is how that sentence should have read.

          • Argument from authority and from identity politics. It’s amazing how much stuff like that repeats in human history. Paul cracks me up when he deals with that stuff.

            Telling people who your teacher was and what accomplishments you had was supposed to be a sort of footnote of yourself, combined with gratitude and glorification of your teacher. Of course people turned it around, though.

  17. Exactly. My response to “I have a Ph.D.” isn’t “So?”, it’s “In what field?” — I mean, if we’re arguing geology and you have a Ph.D. in geology, I’m probably going to accept your opinion. But if we’re arguing computers, your Ph.D. in geology does not trump my self-taught knowledge of my own field of expertise.

    • That was supposed to be in response to Cyn Bagley’s comment; don’t know how it ended up in the main thread. Ah well.

      • @Robin – got it ;-)
        I had to deal with English professors (when I was doing the English literature degree) who thought they knew as much as my biology teacher so the “so?”

        I only had one professor that saw eye to eye with me. She was on meds for OCD.

  18. ::throws hands over head and spins with joy:: MY PEOPLE! :-)

    I’ve always threatened to applique’ the shape of a wooly sheep – in plaid flannel – to a sweat shirt; and under I’ll write, “Plaid Sheep of the family. NOBODY knows what to do with me!” :-)

    Excellent post, Sarah!

    • Heh. I’m the red sheep in the family. But we’re all a touch daft, so I don’t stand out that much intellectually. Physically is another story: people used to look at me and wonder if one of my parents worked at a local nuclear plant.

    • I knit nigh compulsively. The sheep I can spin wool with are my friends. :-)

  19. There’s another aspect to “passing for normal” that hasn’t been addressed yet (as I begin writing this comment; who knows what will show up before I hit the Post button?): social skills. Those little details that the mundanes seem to pick up as automatically as breathing or bike-riding. Details like how much eye contact is the right amount: too little and you look like you don’t care about the other person, too much and you look creepy. Or the body signals the other person gives you when they’re trying to politely say, “I don’t really care about how the subject you’re talking about; could you shift to something that doesn’t bore me?”

    The problem with social skills is that they’re never written down, so how are Odds going to learn them? We learn things by reading — voraciously — whereas others seem to learn them by osmosis. At least, that’s the best explanation I can give. I’m eternally grateful to my non-Odd friends and family who took me aside and gently explained to me that I should watch for these actions (looking away, looking at watch, etc.) to make sure I wasn’t boring someone, or that the color of socks, shoes and belt should match. I still don’t understand how they learned that, but I filed it away in my head as “rules to follow so others aren’t weirded out” and stuck to it. And now that I know some of the things to look for, I’m slowly learning to read other body language signs — I approach it as an exercise in anthropology, studying this strange culture that surrounds me. Basically, what others seem to learn naturally, I have to learn by analytical thinking — but I do seem to be learning it.

    If you’ve ever read Pretending to be Normal, what the author of that book did essentially what I did (though to a lesser degree as I’m pretty sure I don’t have Asperger’s): she imitiated the people around her and mimicked their cultural behaviors, using her intelligence to analyse why it works. For her, every day is another acting job: her every day life is a stage play, and her version of a standing ovation is not having anyone think she’s odd when she goes to the grocery store. I’m more fortunate in that I do seem to be able to absorb the rules once I learn what they are — but I still have to use my analytical mind to learn them, rather than the learn-by-osmosis process that most people seem to use.

    • YES! One of the big mysteries of life, to me, used to be “how do people know when guys want to kiss them?” FIRST kiss, the guy was one of US. He ASKED. (Bless him, wherever he is.) I’m not Aspergers, neither are the kids, but yes, we seem to have trouble with little things like that. Of course, layer writer on top… We went out to eat for mother’s day, and it’s an interesting area of town. I was looking out the window at two young women walking by and wondering, you know, what their jobs/lives/preoccupations were… And I didn’t realize I’d been staring at this girl for life two minutes, and she’d turned around, and from her expression she thought I was checking her out or something — particularly since in my bafflement, I made straight on eye contact. It’s… er… …. ODD.

      • In my twenties I was so worried about catching others attention that I refused to look at anyone. I would look out the corner of my eyes. Not that was really hard because I wore extremely thick glasses and I was almost blind.

        Now at fifty I just look as long as I want and then make my notes. If they wonder, they can ask otherwise I am less self-conscious which is very nice.

    • Oh my god THIS! THIS!! Try learning to fit in like this with only 10% vision. I grew up as an odd in a rural school with less than 15 kids in my age group. Most of the kids there didn’t like me because my parents could afford to buy me a new winter coat when I needed it. Add to that the fact that I couldn’t pick up on subtle body language from more than 10 ft away and that I was excluded from bonding activities like sports because of retarded teachers and you have the makings of a hermit.

      There was only one other odd and we’re still fast friends. It took me till half way through my first year in college to find my second odd. I didn’t really find my people until my first anime convention a year later.

      I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pass so unless I’m interviewing for a job I don’t try. I often mention that I’m a blind cartoonist who’s studying to be a ninja early in the conversation. It encourages people to drop their camouflage. Otherwise I’d never find them. ;)

    • See comment elsethread on Edward T Hall’s The Hidden Dimension.

    • I think…I might have given myself an extra edge. See, my parents had a bookshelf containing needed reference material. This included a complete set of the World Book Encyclopedia, a couple of dictionaries, a book of etiquette, a set of classic literature, atlases, etc. I regularly picked on and read it. I’m thinking the book of etiquette may have really helped me figure out a lot of things about how to behave in given situations. I DID have to pick up some books on body language after I started working, due to some conflicts I was having with a couple of people. It didn’t help that particular issue, but it did help with other issues that came up later.

    • Hooo yes! This is why I was a pretty decent kid, and I’m a pretty decent adult, but the teen years were a bust. (It didn’t help that the physical ideal was the anorexic skeleton, so I was convinced I was hideously fat on top of everything else.) I just gave up and tried to become invisible.

    • dracona357

      Hard to absorb social cues when you’re being used as a punching bag, but I like the anthropology study approach. I’ll try to keep it in mind.
      Thx for book link. I’m a pretty decent actress, but gods that gets tiresome fast! Maybe I can get some tips if I can find a copy.

  20. Okay, yeah, I’m one of the “odds”. Fortunately, I’ve been VERY lucky in my life. I grew up in a neighborhood where my relatives were on all sides of me — grandmother next door, an uncle on the other side, another uncle across the street, and a third a block behind us. It was also fairly rural. I was the oldest, and learned leadership at a VERY early age. I went to a school that was VERY FULL of “odds” – about 25 of us in my graduating class of 133. Still, I never fit any specific group.

    I got an appointment to the Air Force Academy after graduation, and washed out my doolie year from a boxing accident. I went back into the Air Force as an enlisted puke. Spent 26 years there in a career field (imagery intelligence) that was FULL of “odds” – almost 90% of us. It was GREAT! For the first time in my life, I FIT! We still get together now and then in person, and we congregate on the Internet.

    Being “odd” means you read things like Dante’s “Inferno” for enjoyment, and a textbook on geomorphology because it interests you. As for religion, we could all join my Universal Church (King’s Cross), where there are very few rules, almost no theology, and if you break the rules for a good reason, you’re forgiven (There’s also Alan Dean Foster’s “United Church” in the Flinx series.)

    I guess that’s why I feel so at home here…

  21. Another category of “odds”, that doesn’t necessarily intersect with the one Sarah is describing but that has similar adaptation problems, is Third Culture Kids, which I’ll refer to as TCKs from now on. TCKs are those who grew up spending significant time in at least one culture that is not the culture of their country of citizenship. Note that I specifically avoided saying “home” country, as many TCKs feel more connected to the country they live in than the country they’re a citizen of.

    TCKs can grow up in other cultures for many reasons, but it’s usually because their parents have jobs that fall into one of the following three categories: 1) religious missions work (my parents were Christian missionaries in France, for example), 2) government work (“military brats”, ambassador’s kids, and so on), or 3) international business. What’s funny about TCKs is that they develop their own culture, and two TCKs from very different cultures (like, say, an American who grew up in France and a Japanese guy who grew up in Germany) will often find more in common with each other than they will with people from their respective “home” countries. There are even “You know you’re a TCK when…” lists that get passed around, with lines like “… you have a passport, but no driver’s license” or “… you watch National Geographic specials and recognize someone.” The final entry on most of the “You know you’re a TCK when…” lists that I’ve seen goes, “… you end up marrying another TCK.” In other words, someone else who’s One Of Us and doesn’t need to have the facts of cross-cultural life explained to him/her, someone who you just feel more comfortable around than all those monoculturals who Just Don’t Get It.

    Some of you who are TCKs yourselves are already nodding as you read. For the others, I mention this not so much to start a discussion about TCKs (though I’d be fascinated to learn if any other regular readers of Sarah’s blog are TCKs), but to mention the similarities of growing up surrounded by people who might look like you, but they don’t think like you. You’re an “invisible minority”: your skin color is the same as those around you, but not the way you think. Sound anything like being an Odd in a non-Odd culture?

    • There’s another TCK — Grew up in Portugal reading EVERYTHING about the US. No, seriously, I was so book-oriented and most of the authors I read were Americans that I gave myself a mild (very mild) form of this, finally completed by becoming an exchange student. My husband? His family were serial hosts to exchange students. What does this mean? Well… we’re very resistant to “but everyone does it this way.” and we really don’t care about status symbols (or status, much.)

      • Yeah, that’ll do it, all right. And I can’t remember which of your posts I read this in, but I do remember your writing a longer post about your life story and how reading all those books about other cultures (particularly the U.S.) made you not fit in well in Portugal. Classic sign of a TCK, right there: not fitting in with the monocultural people around him/her.

        As for “but everyone does it this way,” that argument does nothing to persuade me, but I still take the “this way” and examine it. Is it something I could conform to without violating my moral principles? For example, I’m going to be working in Thailand soon. In Thailand, everyone takes their shoes off when they enter a home (their own or someone else’s), because that’s just what you do. I don’t have a problem going along, even if I never learned that behavior myself. OTOH, another thing “everyone” in Thailand does is attend Buddhist temples and celebrate Buddhist holidays. I couldn’t go along with that, because I’m firmly wedded to my Christian faith. (Phylum Protestantium, class Evangelica, if you’re curious.) Some things I’m perfectly willing to go along with, others not — but I’ll examine each one carefully before I do so. (Actually, some Buddhist holidays I’d be perfectly happy to partially observe along with my Thai friends, because you don’t have to believe in a religion to observe the non-religious parts of its holidays. How many non-Christians celebrate Christmas, or Easter?)

        But other categories of “but everyone does it this way” I’ll just flat-out reject. The culture is telling me that everyone should care about sports? Nope, no effect on me whatsoever. The culture tells me that everyone should want a brand-new car? I don’t care; I’m perfectly happy buying a 15-year-old car as long as I can trust that it’s reliable, and I’ll spend my money on something else, thankyouverymuch.

        One of the strengths of TCKs is that we’ve heard so many cultural messages (many of which contradict each other) that it’s easier for us than for most people to separate out “this is what I believe” from “this is what my culture believes”, and we therefore have more freedom to choose whether to go along with the latter or not. Sometimes, after all, the culture is right: American culture tells me that I should treat everyone as being of equal value, and I’m not just happy but thrilled to go along with that particular cultural message.

        • Hey there! Which part of Thailand will you be in?

          We are generally in the central region but hang around Chiang Mai periodically.

          If we can be of any help to you, this blog is a daily stop for me [even if I am not smart enough to be an actual Odd] so just drop a line in here and we’ll do what we can.

          • Chiang Mai mostly, though I’ll be heading out to the eastern region of Thailand from time to time.

            And sure, I’d love to have some help in moving, etc. I’ve been there once before for a few months so I generally know what to expect and I’ve got some contacts already, but more contacts are always nice. Why don’t you email me at Robin.Munn@gmail.com (since I’ve posted my email address once in this thread, I might as well post it again) so I’ll have your email address, then we can talk without cluttering up Sarah’s blog comments with irrelevant stuff.

            And thanks for the offer of help!

          • dracona357

            Deb, I don’t think Odd is so much “smart” as “voraciously and/or eclectically curious.”

      • For various reasons I stopped living at home when I was 15. My parents finally opted for sending me to a Quaker boarding school in rural eastern Tennessee, where my mother felt I would be safe from ‘sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.’ It was pure culture shock for a girl used to wandering Center City Philadelphia.

        But I believe that this was one of the best things that ever happened to me. When I first arrived in this very small town I felt like I was in an episode of Twilight Zone. They must of thought this leggy mouthy kid with the angel sleeve mini dress (made from an Indian block print bed spread), chained sandals and a white ‘fro was (at best) from outer space. But they embraced me anyway. I learned that there were other ways of looking at the world. I also learned that the great northeastern cities did not have a corner on correctness.

    • masgramondou

      I think my family has bene partially TCK for generations… or if not we’ve always had the wanderlust

    • A college I attended had rather a severe problem of cross-cultural mis-communication when they discovered that various male students who had grown up in Africa (Uganda, IIRC) were seriously misunderstanding the dress and deportment of American girls. Fortunately, being a Quaker college they were able to sort things out … and provide appropriate cultural instruction for incoming non-American students.

      Then there is the infamous (and possibly apocryphal) story from WWII, when the Brits complained that the GIs stationed over there (“over sexed, over paid, and over here” as the Brits were prone to complain) were getting a sizable number of young British girls somewhat umm, sizable. Anthropologists were called in, did some anthropologizing and determined that the problem was that according to American culture it was up to the girl to “draw the line” for young men. English culture held that proper young men took no liberties they were not willing to … um, support.

      The natural consequence being that, while the American troops found English girls to be wonderful good sports, the English girls were frequently finding themselves needing support.

    • My post here was actually going to be about this. Because I read the original post with mixed feelings with several, “YES!” moments and a few, “Hmm…” moments. As I was reading through the posts I started to think that maybe I was just “borderline Odd”. Because while there’s a certain amount of Odd I am uncomfortable being around (even online), I feel the same way about “Evens” (if you have no Odd about you, I just cannot relate).

      But being Third Culture explains everything. I’m not just a military brat – I’m a second generation military brat. From both sides of the family. Neither of my parents had the typical American upbringing of living in more or less the same place for most of their lives. I missed out on a lot of normal things growing up – made worse by the fact that being a young couple on a small budget with small kids, my parents would turn down a lot of social invitations for us because we just couldn’t afford to bring a gift to these sorts of things, so I missed out on even more social interactions that might have helped make me more likely to be “normal”. (The invitations thing was something I wasn’t even aware of until recently when my mom and dad were lamenting their parenting decisions.)

      I was never shunned as an Odd, though. I was more of a Null socially. I was able to get along decently well with just about everyone. I was rarely bullied and people even specifically would look out for me. But I never had “close friends”. Just people I would click well enough with to be friends with. In many ways, it wasn’t even something I was particularly interested in – it was more with the vague idea of, “It’s normal to have friends and I don’t really care what part of the social pecking order they’re from as long as we get along.” So I ended up making friends from all sorts of subgroups. Jocks, nerds, loners, rebels, preps, etc. It took the internet for me to really meet truly like minds and I was lucky enough to meet a few in person around college age (though not actually in college).

      A lot of the personality tests I take seem to identify me as some sort of Chameleon. I am essentially myself always, but will blend based on my environment (often to the point of being ignored). The Meyers-Briggs test is a beast for me to take because I can too easily read which of the binaries it’s asking for, and being as adaptive as I am, I don’t always respond in binary ways.

      So, yes. I know for certain I am an Odd. But I’m not sure if I was born Odd in the same sense most Odds are. I’ve always been intelligent, but I don’t think I started reaching my true potential until sometime at the end of high school when I started being more comfortable in my own skin and didn’t feel like I needed to hide my intelligence or personality. And the intelligence thing may have only happened because an internet friend (frustrated with me being a bit too TeeHee) challenged me and straight up said, “I know you’re more intelligent than you let on. So let’s cut the bullshit.”

      So that always makes me wonder how many Odds are really out there, hiding in the Evens because they’re more able to pass. And how many of them have their Oddness smoothed out into Evenness from pretending for so long. There are so many stories out there about it (masked in other terms – such as the Faeries who forget their fae blood and become mundane, or the Talking Beasts that forget how to talk and become only dumb beasts), I often imagine that some poor Odd writer is expressing their own fears and encouraging the Odds to embrace it before they become Evens and lose even the chance of finding other Odds. I find the idea horrifying and I can’t imagine other Odds wouldn’t shudder over the same thing.

      • Although the Odd/Even nomenclature suggests a binary set, the fact is that we exist on a continuum, with even the Oddest among us having some even and the most Even having the little oddities. Sarah’s story of organizing the other girls to play her games suggests they did not find her wholly Odd, and I suspect others among us might be able to dredge up similar memories.

        I know I was a always Odd yet I always had a few friends and certainly not all of them were Odd. There are niches even in school for different personality types (a friend told me of a study reported in Sports Illustrated, circa 1971, about footsball teams psychological studies of what personality types suited what positions and the fact that, for example, wide receivers tended to be a bit wider than the tight ends.) Other sports similarly find ways to exploit innovative thinkers, so many of us fit in there.

        Theatre always has places for talent, even the very Odd (while they might refuse to learn their lines — or stick to them — they might excel at improv.) If you can sing or play an instrument there is always not just a place for you but an expectation of Oddity.

        As adults most of us seem to have mastered the art of the low profile, although a few have even excelled in their oddity. So please, let us not get too full of the charm of the Outlaw, the Outliar, the Oddity. Sure, we’re peculiar but when you get right down to it so, I suspect, is most of humanity. Our Odd lot is just peculiar in particular ways.

        • For some reason, your mention of Sarah organizing the other girls to play her games triggered my mind to start singing “Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Only that situation was more like, say, a unicorn among reindeer. And instead of the poor, lonely unicorn being excluded from playing reindeer games, the unicorn ended up getting the reindeer to play unicorn games.

        • Kinda like the borderline cases for Asperger’s – “are they diagnosable, or just different?”

          Being human, though, we want to belong– of course we’re going to turn it up to 11 when we find out we’re finally safe.

      • LOL. Actually I make friends from all groups, too. More by the time I entered college and had perfected the social face thing. I had friends among the well… in American terms: the debs, (think terminally fashionable and very appearance oriented with a bit of high class snobbery thrown in), the intellectuals, the anarchists, the communists, the “future home makers”, the brats who sat at the back of the class and made jokes, the serious religious group, the science fiction readers. In Portugal at the time these groups NEVER overlapped. Actually the FUN FUN part of this is that each group was convinced I was secretly one of theirs and was just humoring the others for reasons they didn’t quite get. This was particularly bizarre since I’ve never made any secret of my knee-jerk anti-communism, even when I was young and not very sure where I stood politically. And btw I probably could still pass. I simply don’t make that much of an effort any more. Maybe it’s approaching half a century, my give a d&mn is busted and more so every year.

      • A lot of the personality tests I take seem to identify me as some sort of Chameleon. I am essentially myself always, but will blend based on my environment …

        [b]THIS![/b] So very much this! I’ve often described myself as either a chameleon or a mirror. It caused me some angst back in my late high school / early college years, because I wondered if I had any real personality of my own, or if my constant imitation of others to “fit in” better was because I was basically a blank slate. Now that I’m in my early thirties and have a lot more life behind me, it’s easy for me to see what my baseline personality is. And I’m now aware that while I do adapt to my environment, I only adapt the surface levels of my personality, and my core personality remains unchanged underneath. Of course, my best friends are the ones for whom I don’t need to adapt and whom I can show my core personality to, but that comes back to my being both a TCK and an Odd…

  22. You touch on the political aspect of Oddism here when you mention the attraction of some Odds to totalitarianism, but I’d like to take it further.

    As an Odd, I read science fiction from a young age and could see that, all the statements by writers to the contrary, it was more than just entertainment; it was showing ways to a brighter future. However, I also kept abreast on Normal subjects like politics, because I could see that if we continued down the Jimmy Carter route, we’d eventually end up a satellite of the USSR, with all the dark implications therein. It came as a pleasant surprise when President Reagan proposed missile defense–here was an allegedly Normal president proposing an Odd solution to decidedly Normal problems! The leftist sf establishment today rarely mentions it, but sf writers like Heinlein and Pournelle were crucial in convincing Reagan to go along with SDI, which ensured the downfall of the USSR.

    And the right wing of the Odds has had influence elsewhere as well: Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold the Moon” was a blueprint for private enterprise space exploration; his THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS is the unofficial bible of libertarianism; and he was pro-gun way back when the bigwigs of the “conservative movement” were trying to keep guns away from the Black Panthers.

    I’ve been Odd since my childhood in the Seventies, so like you I have a longer view than some of the Reddit types. For many of *those* Odds, the Universe was a cold, dark place up until the Internet really got going–keep in mind that they were quite young at the time. For me, it was pretty hostile until the late Eighties, but I largely made it otherwise myself. In contrast, they got thrown into a whole new world of Odds (on the Net) without preparation, and as such got sucked in by the loudest voices, i.e., the online Left.

    The right-vs.-left civil war among the Odds is probably more crucial than the struggle between Odds and Normals. From my perspective, Left Odds are really just leftists who happen to be Odds, but add little in the way of new ideas. Right Odds, on the other hand, are a contrast both to the nihilism of the Left and to the pessimistic defensive crouch of the Right. Right Odds don’t want to Defend Our Way of Life so we can go back to the Good Old Days before homosexuals when good Americans ate Spam and liked it. Nor do we want to Stick It to the Man by overthrowing him in favor of a new Man who is the same but worse. What we DO want, to oversimplify things, is a new Industrial Revolution that will make things better for everyone. To some extent we already have that, but we are barely seeing the beginning. And that’s all we’ll ever see if we don’t scrap pretty much the entirety of the post-New Deal bureaucratic state.

    Which is why the Right Odds need to win the Odd civil war. Which would you rather have: a state in which the guns of the state force Normals to accept you–or a society (with or without much of a state) in which everyone is at least a little bit Odd, if only to fit in?

    • not to go into politics, but you hit on many of the reasons I wrote A Few Good Men. (Which I understand is slated to come out early 2013. Now, whether there will be e-arcs soon, I don’t know, but y’all COULD ask.)

      • Larry Patterson

        ASKing.
        ; {)

        • Ask Toni Weisskopf, not Sarah. Toni would: a) know whether or not an e-ARC for A Few Good Men was planned, and b) be in a position to make it happen if she perceived sufficient demand.

      • pohjalainen

        Have to read that.

        I was close to twenty before I found Heinlein, had to learn English well first, but I have been in love ever since.

        • I love Heinlein – I was 14 when I found him.

          • Eight. Have Space Suit Will Travel. Weirdly, I didn’t realize it was Science Fiction. Well, how in blazes would I know what you guys had over here?

            • LOL at eight I was reading Shakespeare. Also I hadn’t found Andre Norton yet. Our library was very sparse with sci-fi. My mother’s great aunt worked as a housekeeper for this professor. He left them his books. They sent his entire collection of sci-fi to my mother the year I turned 14. It was a great year. I read Edgar Rice Burroughs for the first time and many others including Asimov.

              • ERB was the first science fiction I read, and the only for quite a few years, wierdly enough I didn’t realize it was SF until years later, and the couple SF books we were required to read in school I hated. So I decided that I didn’t like SF, without ever realizing that one of my favorite authors WAS science fiction. Of course SF is my favorite genre now, but I’m still picky about authors, I’ll read any genre if the author/book is good.

            • Same age (8). Third grade. The Rolling Stones and Between Planets. Two books with the same characters! Way cool! Funny thing, it took me until The Cat Who Walked Through Walls to realize that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was in the same series and that the little red-headed jump jet with the go-to-hell fighting style was Granny Hazel Stone.

            • dracona357

              I was 9. Our TV broke and we couldn’t afford to replace it for a year and a half. My Dad bought SF, westerns, and adventure; my Mom bought romance (I read the gothics and historicals). She had fits about me reading Dad’s books because “those aren’t for girls.” You’d think that after buying me a rocking horse when I was 3 so I could play Lone Ranger, she’d have had a clue. ERB, REH, Lovecraft, Heinlein, Norton, Vonnegut, Niven, Pournelle, Anderson, DeCamp, Hamilton; “Perry Rodan,” “Mack Bolan,” “Remo Williams”; L’Amour, Edson, Grey… I had a 9th grade reading level in 5th grade.

    • Pretty much since the beginning of society man has had amongst us the aristos, those who think themselves better, smarter, more enlightened, cooler or otherwise so ennobled as to be qualified to tell everybody else how to run things. Some of them are Odd, too. No matter – they’re still just a bunch of smarty-pants who need to go away and annoy somebody else.

    • Interesting. During the Industrial Revolution there was quite a great deal of upheavel. Now with the Information Revolution there is a great deal of upheavel. It doesn’t make the Luddites right. It means we still have some adapting to do.

    • My experience and observations: very bright high school kids who don’t fit in can get really bitter. Take those kids, put them in a bright kid college and you can get a real feeling of elitism. I remember some of those late night b.s.-ing “fix the world” conversations when people would say stuff like “the world would be a better place if a disease wiped out all the stupid people” – never realizing that we’re all stupid, one way of another (there’s a special kind of stupid for high IQ people). Or if WE were in charge, all these stupid problems with the world would be fixed easily. Pure totalitarian socialism (though I knew socialism was bad even as a kid, though from purely selfish reasons: I knew that any system that gave everyone the same stuff meant I’d never get anything I wanted, because what I wanted was too different).

      Fortunately, we leave school, we run into those same high school kids, or people like them, only they aren’t Neanderthals anymore, mostly (some of them take a bit longer, some of them never), and we realize maybe we were kind of Neanderthals, too, and maybe everyone just survives the teen years and we’re all damaged by it. And that someone who might not have a super high IQ can still have a lot to teach – there are more important things than IQ, like courage and character and integrity. There’s even vastly more kinds of intelligence than IQ, for that matter (how much of IQ is just testing well?)

      But some people never leave academia, and remain overgrown disaffected college students. Or they go into another bubble, like the media (words are their own kind of bubble). And they continue to think the human race consists of the Neanderthals of high school, who need to be guided by the smart people. Sadly, these are people who have, until recently, largely controlled communications and imagery.

      • Ayup – this is at the core of the Dumbledore/Grindlewald plan. The brighter the leaders the more disastrous the plan will ultimately prove.

        A basic business lesson I learned years ago is that no plan can be so perfect, so foolproof as to succeed if the rank & file people charged with its implementation don’t buy in to it.

      • One factor often overlooked is that humans tend to prise those skills and talents which are most valuable in our own fields. Thus accountants and MBAs tend to appreciate the ability to analyse large amounts of data. Writers value the ability to craft words effectively and to tell a tale. Scientists value data analysis, the ability to develop a theory extrapolating available data and the ability to devise tests of those theories.

        Journalists and lawyers tend to value the ability to absorb lots of information and create a narrative. They don’t have to be particularly deep, but the ability to take in information, create a synthesis and articulate it is critical to their jobs … and they tend to appraise politicians according to that skill set. Which means our political class is selected for glibness.

      • Yes. And btw though “us” correlates with IQ it’s NOT necessarilly 100%. Some people who do great at IQ tests are very much “them” (actually, I think the majority of those who test well) and some who can’t take a test for whatever reason and suck at school are very much US. I know at least one brilliant inventor who sucks at words and basically flunked out of school.

        The other part of it is we’re not better — but we ARE different.

        As for young… oh, G-d… it’s a sea of twerpitude. I think I was in my thirties before I realized the many kinds of twerp I was. (I still am, but now I try to keep it under control.)

        HOWEVER also for the record we treat young “us” very badly.

        • “sea of twerpitude” – Evil Editor put it along these lines: for the first thirty years of our lives, we’re idiot. For the next ten years, we’re still idiots, but at least we know we’re idiots.

          And yes, young US are treated very badly.

      • Deep Space Nine sort of touched on this– the folks who were enhanced, of which Bashir was the most normal.

        Now I want to go back and watch those episodes….

    • Not sure where you’d stick the people who are aware of how freaking dangerous “we can fix it ALL!” type thinking is.

      That seems to be the biggest appeal to Odds– thinking we can fix people and cultures/governments the way we fix other problems. Tend to forget we don’t understand how and why other people do what they do, so it’s silly to try to control it too tightly.

      Of course, being Odds, some of us dive into the Libertarian “destroy all the rules that I don’t see a good reason for” direction….

      Cats, indeed.

      • I’d rather go Libertarian myself because I can see the problems with people who think they can fix everything. (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction especially when you are dealing with people)

        I do see the use of some rules. I think though that we have gone overboard with rules including PC thinking (politically correct). It muzzles free-thinkers imho.

        • Amen on the rules!

          It just seems we tend towards the “more is good” organization, or we tend to not like to just let things go. Tends to make for extreme politics.

      • Robin Munn

        Of course, being Odds, some of us dive into the Libertarian “destroy all the rules that I don’t see a good reason for” direction….

        You’re probably familiar with G.K. Chesterton’s quote about tearing down fences, but in case you haven’t seen it before, here it is:

        In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

        This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.

        This comes from the essay “The Drift From Domesticity”, which you can read in its entirety here (it’s the fourth essay in the collection; hit your browser’s “search inside page” keystroke — Ctrl-F on Firefox — and search for Domesticity to jump right to the start of the essay).

        I really don’t have anything to add to what Chesterton said, except to say that he was entirely right: only those who understand why a rule was originally made should be trusted with removing that rule.

        • Had that in mind, although I’d only heard the specific “never tear down a fence you can’t explain the reason for.”

        • dracona357

          I think I was reading Sowell when I found: Saying “this is old and therefore useless” is a nonsensical as saying “This is new and therefore useless” without ever checking to find its usefulness or lack thereof. It’s rather like the difference between Decartes’ and Rand’s self-examination processes. Decartes threw out everything and desperately grasped at “Cogito, ergo sum,” then took that as proof that God existed, and turned that into proof of his own existence in THE classic example of circular reasoning. Rand looked at it as examining each board in your house for rot and termites, and replacing any that weren’t sound.

          • Descartes threw out everything and desperately grasped at “Cogito, ergo sum,” then took that as proof that God existed, and turned that into proof of his own existence in THE classic example of circular reasoning.

            If I recall correctly the point of “Cogito, ergo sum” was similar to the Buddhist thought on seeking to eliminating anything but the essence of self, or what cannot be denied. To deny one thought would require thinking. His own thought, thinking was the one thing that Descartes could not deny was his own. I was not aware that this was what he had turned into a ‘proof’ for God.

            Descartes’ argument for God lay in his assertion that, as inferred by observation, it was rational to believe in a supreme being. Descartes made the mistake of taking this — that the belief in supreme being was rational and self-consistent — and concluding there must be a God. It might have been better to conclude that it meant that the belief in the existence of God was not irrational.

      • Waves hand. At least libertarian. When I found out it existed I went “You mean, I can be left alone? And leave other people alone? All right then.” Unfortunately politics STAYS interested in me.

        • There’s a difference between “leave me alone” and “destroy all rules except for those voluntarily entered, in writing.”

          Reminds me– the way we see patterns all over tends to make us very prone to “grand unified theories of everything.” (Sometimes the “this explains it all!” theories work; sometimes they…really don’t.)

          • Notice small l. I think the vast majority of rules SHOULD be entered into voluntarily… The exceptions are ONLY “things worth dying and killing for.”

            • The Death of Common Sense: How Law is – Philip K Howard
              http://www.philipkhoward.com/books/the_death_of_common_sense

              Look into it.

              The regulatory state is grown like Topsy, but the question is: How do you unscramble eggs? How do you unbake the cake?

              • Recall one law at a time – only way to do it starting with the out of date rules from the 1870s and then continuing to today. ;-) Put them on the ballot…. or something… I am not a legal type person so I don’t know how to do it… But it is like taxes… taxes never go down – they always go up.

                • We should have a body JUST for voting down laws. Simple majority.

                • My husband came up with an idea: Put a ten year all-laws-or-regulations-not-re-approved-expire date on all federal stuff that’s not an amendment. At the end of ten years, all laws and regulations have a ten-years-from-enacted shelf-life.

                  Wouldn’t solve everything, but would prevent the being-picked-to-death-by-unelected-bureaucrat feeling.

            • *grin* I’m trying very hard to NOT offend folks who just have libertarian philosophy, especially since it spans a HUGE range–including mine!

            • Martin L. Shoemaker

              I don’t recall who said it first, but I’ve adopted this line: “I used to think I was a libertarian. Then I met some Libertarians.”

              • dracona357

                Oh, gods. I got into an email argument with L. Neil Smith and wound up calling him a traitor per the Constitutional definition. As well as a utopian idiot.

        • That is my problem too – I would like to be left alone. I am more than happy to leave other people alone. BUT if you try to make my life miserable –standby for the hurricane.

        • Anarchist here. Or at least I would be if it were practical. I don’t mean as in chaos and running amok, I mean as in every man governing himself. Unfortunately, in actual practice it would likely end as chaos and running amok.

          • Whenever I hear the word, “amok”, I think of the movie Hocus Pocus, with the witch played by Sarah Jessica Parker dancing around, singing, “Amok, amok, amok, amok”. :-)

          • Martin L. Shoemaker

            I think Larry Niven got it right in “Cloak of Anarchy”: if there are no rules and everyone is free to do what they want, some of them will want to create rules and enforce those rules on others. And how can you stop them? By making that against “the rules”, and enforcing “the rules”. One way or another, someone ends up making and enforcing rules.

            In a very metaphorical sense, Stephen Brust made a similar point in his opening to “To Reign in Hell”: in an initial universe that was complete chaos, literally anything could happen; and “anything” includes order, and powers that desire to preserve and expand that order.

          • I see anarchy as sort of a Utopian dream, in a perfect world it would be Paradise. Since we have to live in reality, not a perfect world, it really doesn’t work so well, so I lean towards libertarian instead.

            • Totally agreed, but that doesn’t stop the fact that I am an anarchist at heart.

              • Part of the problem is that Baconin (sp?) was actually a communist at heart, and therefore anarchy as a movement is tainted by that — I mean, many of today’s anarchists are actually dyed in the wool stalinists.

                • Do you mean Bukharin?

                  Most advocating anarchy will use the resultant chaos to enslave the masses. For their own good.

                  • Baconini? I’m hampered by last having heard of him in Portugal and also by this having been… OMG thirty five years ago. I have a feeling he was Italian, but I could be wrong.

                  • I’m not a socialist or communist. Anything but. To me, true anarchy is about leaving me alone and trusting me to do the right thing, as I trust you to do the right thing. And of course that ain’t happenin’ in real life, so oh well. Moot point.

                    • Yes, my only problem with that is the ‘it ain’t happenin’ in real life’ part, and I see libertarianism as basically having just enough laws to enforce the ‘leaving me alone’ part of anarchy, which is why I lean towards libertarian, because at heart I to am an anarchist.

                    • Which is why i said most. Because most of those seriously advocating it are not actually in favor of anarchy. Sure, there are plenty of useful idiots willing to show up and occupy, but, well, as the Reds said: The worse the better.

            • I favor anarchy for me, because i am enlightened and should not be held down by lesser creatures. The rest of you need rules, however.

              • RES!
                I didn’t know you were Portuguese!
                My kids started understand Portugal completely when they realized EVERYTHING from driving regulations to the business laws in Portugal are HIGHLY valued, as things “Those other people need. Because they’re just horrible.” I.e. in Portugal laws ALWAYS happen to other people. (It’s not even unusual to see someone driving the wrong way on the high way, flipping off people who honk at him.)

                • Nyahh – closest I get is drinking port. But Aristos are worldwide … and I’ve read me some Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed.

              • Martin L. Shoemaker

                “Rules are to keep other people out of my way.” I’ve long believed that’s what most people think, judging by their driving habits.

          • dracona357

            Anarchy = Hobbes’ Man In A State Of Nature. And Big L Libertarianism is too damned close to it, sharing as it does the Communist/Socialist fantasy that Man is perfectible.

            “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary….” — James Madison, The Federalist #51

      • *how freaking dangerous “we can fix it ALL!” type thinking is.*

        That’s another thing most people learn when they leave school and, for the first time, face problems that haven’t been tailored for the schoolroom. Kids think all problems must be easy to solve because all the problems they’ve seen, so far, have been easily solvable – mostly in 30 second test questions. My dad said it was fun to watch the bright kids just out of college, who thought they knew everything and refused to listen to the old guys, until they got hit with some real stuff.

        But that’s not really what you’re saying – because that’s just the stupid part, it’s not the freaking dangerous part, which is the (also really stupid) belief that some small elite group of people could actually solve all the world’s problems if they were put in charge. The world is too big and too wonderfully complex and no one is that smart. And when people have tried anyway, millions of people have died.

        • Martin L. Shoemaker

          In computer science, we talk about O(n^2) problems: problems where the size of the problem grows roughly with the square of the number of elements in the problem. As a general rule, these are problems where every element is related to or potentially related to every other element, and those relationships are the real problem that must be managed, not just the elements themselves. A little simple math shows that the number of potential relationships grows as the square of n; and if n gets large enough, no central authority can POSSIBLY keep up with the O(n^2) growth. I don’t care if that authority is BRILLIANT when n is 100; that authority will be OVERWHELMED when n is a million. The only solution that CAN keep pace with that sort of growth is to delegate as much of the management as possible to the individual elements, and have central authority only set policies and resolve the really big conflicts. Let the elements negotiate the little conflicts.

          When I realized that society is an O(n^2) problem where n is 300 million or more, I lost any faith in central planning. Local autonomy with a hierarchy of more centralized conflict resolution and policy setting bodies is the only thing that can work effectively.

          • Try n = 6 BILLion

            That is the “cost” of an integrated world economy. We buy commodities (oil, steel, rubber, rare earth minerals, etc.) in a world market. China’s subsidization of electronics manufacturing affects not just American manufacturers but American consumers — it determines the prices of iPods, iPhones, iPads, MP3 players, e-Book readers … which determines the market penetration of such devices which determines the secondary market of apps and digimusic and digibooks … which determines the rise and fall of retailers such as Netflix, Redbox, Borders, Blockbuster … which affects the employment of folk in every community which affects housing prices and local tax bases and school quality which affects … and so on ad infinitum.

            • Martin L. Shoemaker

              Yep. But when I had this realization, I was only thinking about governing the US. Expanding to the world only made the problem even more obvious.

              Anyone who thinks they — or a small, select group of “theys” — can plan and manage systems this large is a textbook example of hubris, at minimum. Quite possibly megalomania. Systems this large MUST be managed at a very local level, and then meta-managed only when necessary at levels above that. Anything else WILL fail, good intentions be damned.

              • Geeze, it almost makes you think that the Founders, with their peculiar Federalism idea, were on to something. Or that mayhap we shouldn’t be so quick to discard the Catholic Church’s arguments for subsidiarization.

                • Martin L. Shoemaker

                  Yep. But I never figured that out from the history I was (mis)taught. I had to figure it out from network topology. Back in the day, I was a firm believer in master-client technologies. “Everybody knew” that peer-to-peer was a brain-dead kludge, and it made more sense to put the management smarts in a central server. Then as networks grew larger, peer-to-peer grew more prevalent, and then became the norm. And I was sure that was just WRONG. But when I started researching why peer-to-peer took over and realized the O(n^2) problem implicit in the topologies, I suddenly had this realization that it applied to ANY system where the relationships were the things that must be managed; and suddenly I realized that was society, too. I can’t remember the date, but I remember the place and even what I was doing at that time. It was like a switch flipped in my political brain.

                  • I was on the side of Federalism after reading the Federalist papers when I was a teenager. I worked in the Navy on large computer systems and saw that one master system cannot control the entire world. ;-)

                    I was very shocked when I came home almost ten years later and saw the disintegration of Federalism. I am still shocked at how fast it has eroded.

                    • which I don’t think is healthy. A country as vast and varied as ours can be governed two ways. federalism or tyranny. Only one way WORKS, though.

                    • So true Sarah –
                      Just to clarify I was working as an electronics technician for my country in the Navy and found what I was working towards was being obliterated behind my back. I was not happy (still not happy.). A lot of military people feel that way when they come home.

                    • Well, Cyn, I voted with my feet. Ask me how happy I am.

                    • Ahhhhh, it’s you damned foot-voters who are ruining this country. With your willingness to work (with your understanding of what real work is), with your experience of corrupt decadent societies you just keep obstructing efforts to turn this country into the Heaven on Earth it should be (for some of us, at any rate.)

                    • Disenfranchised -

                    • Sarah – I suspect I know…

                  • Think how much time and effort you would have been saved, martin, did our educators not discard the received wisdom of our ancients as irrelevant.

          • I think that’s called “subsidiarity.” That word is almost as abused as “social justice,” though, so I’m not positive.

            Similar logic goes into building republics (laying common ground rules that don’t change) and representative democracy. (break things down into smaller groups, then the groups send in one or two people to speak for all of their specific group)

            It’s a wonderful release to have the little light go on in one’s head the first time the second paragraph is realized– there are reasons for the mess that’s going on!

            • Martin L. Shoemaker

              Yes, a wonderful release, exactly. I think that’s why that exact moment still is fresh in my brain 15 years later. It’s like my brain went through a phase-shift, and I can’t forget that.

            • dracona357

              The more centralized power becomes, the more absolute it becomes, the more corrupt it becomes.

              • I’d quibble that it’s the more open to abuse the bigger it gets. (which is what corrupted authority is– authority used for a purpose other than what it was granted, AKA abuse of power)

                It’s not a very important point in terms of the main ghist of the statement, just like to be very clear that abusing power is something that is a choice.

                • Thing is, concentrations of power attract Voldemorts rather than Dumbledores. George Washington’s greatest feat was, after eight years in the Presidency, being able to say: Take this job and shove it.

                  • Of course it attracts bad actors– good actors realize what a pain it is to avoid even the appearance of abusing power, and don’t get involved unless they must!

                    The “tends to” change doesn’t alter what our response should be– only the least amount of power that gets the job done– it alters where the blame for bad-acting lies.

                    • The problem lies in the fact that the bad actors get in and expand the power base. We have not maintained vigilance in this area over the years, and it is strangling us. It’s way past time to get out the hedge trimmers.

                    • Expanded by good or bad, we should generally be going “can we trim a bit of power from this without ill effect?”

                      A focus on abuse of power being a choice might sway folks who are tempted to abuse power, though.

        • most of what I write, but particularly the Darkship Thieves series is designed, among other things, to combat the belief that “superior” people should rule.

          • In the Daughtorial Unit’s youth, when arguments of the form “Mom gets to do such-and-so, why don’t I get to?” the developed response was: “Your Mother has previously demonstrated the ability to live as an independent self-responsible self-supporting citizen; when you have done so you will be accorded the same privileges.”

            I have long contemplated (mostly with regret at the impossibility of implementation) that being on the public dole should result in forfeiture of voting rights. This would, of course, result in most academic communities not being able to vote, which is not an entirely bad proposition.

            Part of the problem, of course, with letting “superior” people to rule is how we go about defining which people are “superior” in a world comprising multiple complex environments. Throw most “superior” people into the woods with only a Bowie knife, 1-liter canteen and compass and they would not come out. As we have already discussed, some of our Odds wouldn’t even need that compass (unless seized by an irresistable desire to draft Venn diagrams.)

            • Well, mine were bioengineered to be superior on a broad spectrum because II wanted to kill ALL possible definitions of “superior.” But yes, I test okay on IQ tests, but try to teach me to use a computer — as Rick Boatright and Amanda have at various times — and I come across worse than my cats.

              • Can you bio-engineer moral superiority? If you could, wouldn’t it require humility? I know of no other trait so essential to morality.

                • Exactly. BUT here’s the thing… even “moral superiority” unless to a level of sainthood (and that in itself could be dangerous) could lead to trouble.

                  • Martin L. Shoemaker

                    That’s why humility is far more important. Knowing you’re fallible — and in particular, knowing that you’re blind to some of your fallibilities — will make you cautious and distrustful of “superior” ideas, including your own.

                    • Humility is hard to instill. In the future universe, they clearly tried. They got bitterness, instead.

                    • That reflects one of Life’s Fundamental Ironies I have come to appreciate as I age and learn. Qualities most necessary (in this case, humility) are often precluded by the conditions that require them (in this case, moral superiority.)

                      Another example was presented by the recent kerfuffle over Enhanced Interrogation: a prisoner’s willingness to cooperate with his interrogators is inversely proportional to his belief those interrogators will abuse him. So, by (openly) adopting humane practices our interrogators increase the need for inhumane practices if they are to succeed in garnering information.

                      I leave the exhumation of other examples as an exercise for the attentive reader.

                    • Martin L. Shoemaker

                      My humility (don’t laugh, I do have it) comes from two sources: my parents and my mistakes. It’s learned humility, mostly learned the hard way.

            • Agreed on no voting for anyone who was on the dole for that year. In addition, if you didn’t pay a minimum amount of taxes, you also shouldn’t get to vote this year.

              • Something that drives me nuts is school levy’s, the money (at least in any state I have lived in) for school levy’s all comes from property taxes. But all the people that DON’T PAY property taxes pass the levy’s. Why should they decide that I have to pay for their schools. I’m not against public education (although I do think we should get rid of the dept. of Ed.) but I don’t have children, and I do own my own home. Why someone else, who rents, should be able to decide that I have to pay for their childrens education is ridiculous. If taxes and entitlements were controlled by those paying for them, instead of those recieving them, this country would be a lot healthier.

                • They do pay for them, just not directly. My rent was always being raised the first renewal after a school levy got passed.

                  I just don’t like taxing people on something they already own, especially if it’s a “current value” thing– results in things like the couple up here whose property got re-accessed and they started being charged more a year than they’d originally paid for the property.

                  • A good point. Income taxes have the virtue of being siphoned from an available cash stream. Property taxes require the taxpayer to generate cash and can force them to sell off the property to do so — an action which may not be in the community’s long-term interest. Property taxes essentially mean you do not actually own the property but must pay yearly rent to the government for it.

                    OTOH, they have the effect of reducing absentee property ownership, the sort which tends to permit property to get run down and impair the value of surrounding properties. Like so much else, there is a trade-off involved.

                • The logic of property taxes is that property owners will benefit most (from increased property value, among other factors) from whatever enhances the community’s revenues. This made sense in an America where people tended to remain where they owned property, a nation much less mobile than today’s America. Was a time when people as had property worth taxing stayed put.

                  Good schools was a way of attracting families (pushing up property values) and businesses reliant upon educated employees, businesses which tended to pay well, giving folk more money with which to bid up property prices.

                  Renters were not traditionally a large enough segment of the population to significantly affect voting. Also, as Foxfier notes, higher property taxes are ultimately passed along to the end consumer (N.B. – it used to be widely understood that ALL costs were ultimately paid by the end consumer; a business which absorbed costs either went bankrupt or was already receiving exorbitant profits and wanted to avoid that being noticed.)

                  Allowing college students to vote in the towns where they matriculate was part of a series of “good government” reforms in the late-60s, early 70s that have pretty uniformly proven to be bad policy. In a town where a college is a significant presence (say, Chapel Hill, NC or Madison, WI) the large body of students have a) no long-term investment in the community’s health b) an ability to largely escape the deleterious effects of their policies (they graduate and move away, avoiding the rent increases) and c) a distinct lack of those qualities associated with a mature and competent person.

                  Thus they will vote for things convenient to them, such as letting bars stay open all night, without concern for the effect on property values in the community. Short-term thinking rules.

          • dracona357

            Kratman’s showing the consequences in his Carrera series.

  23. Strangely the SMBC Comic today matches up so well with this post:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2612

    • Sure does, which is why so many TCKs look for (whether consciously or not) and find other TCKs to marry. (TCK = Third Culture Kid; see my earlier post for details). And why Odds so often marry other Odds. It’s the “finally, someone who understands me!” effect.

      • Which explains my hubby – he had an Odd childhood… and he pursued me. He had to tell me that he wanted to kiss me before I picked up the cues. LOL

  24. Larry Patterson

    Once had a party with other band kids, and Strange Days by The Doors had just come out. So Jim Morrison was singing “People are strange when you’re a stranger . . .”
    Somebody said “Hey, Patterson, is that your theme song?”
    42 years later it still is. E porque não?

    • Actually, as I understand it, “strange” in that context refers to being under the influence of hallucinogens. Still, I get where you’re coming from.

      • Larry Patterson

        Never thought of it that way. My take on Morrison’s songs is that he was singing about himself and his milieu. The 60′s were indeed strange in many ways, and these guys were definitely under the influence of hallucinogens. Maybe that was their reaction to being grandchildren of the “lost generation.”

        • *beth sings from memory* People are strange / When you’re a stranger / Faces look ugly / When you’re alone. / Women seem wicked / When you’re unwanted / Streets are uneven / when you’re down.

          When you’re strange / Faces come out of the rain / When you’re strange! / No one remembers your name / When you’re strange, when you’re strange, when you’re strange…” *repeat*

          I thought it was all about being Other. Or possibly vampires, considering the tape I got was of a movie soundtrack.

          And now it’s stuck in my head, dangit. I’m gonna hafta sing the Horse Tamer’s Daughter to get it out again.

          • Behind Blue Eyes.

            Only “clicked” when someone suggested it was a good fit for Elim Garak on DS9.

            Only just realized that might be why I liked the fascist omnicidal guy…..

        • dracona357

          Don’t forget, Morrison was a military brat.

  25. So, when is the OddFinder dating service going to come online? I’m, um, asking for a friend. Yeah.

    (I do *so* have friends!)

    • OF COURSE you do, Sabrina. WE’re your friends! (Hi, Sabrina!) :-P

    • dracona357

      My a-hole (psychotic sociopath alcoholic) eldest brother considers online friends “imaginary people.” Yeah, right. I’ve had those “imaginary people” send me a prepaid credit card so I could go to a con.

      • It terrifies me how many people are comfortable seriously counting those they can communicate with but not see (usually Online People) as not really real. I can see not trusting everything they say about themselves, since at the very best it’s biased by personal perspective, but… wow.

        • Are not ALL people imaginary, when you get right down to it? Most people I know are mental constructs I have developed as a means of predicting the behaviour of the people I imagine them to be.

          Alan Turing, ping your service.

  26. Have you ever noticed that the government, law, big businesses, et al, have increasingly become dominated by the polar opposite of odds? These people, whom I’ll call Hypernormals, are not, as you might think, jocks like Stan in REVENGE OF THE NERDS. Rather, they are people who literally *cannot* think outside the box, ever. Certain professions attract them, such as accounting, polling, and political consulting.

    Examples of Hypernormal thinking:

    The accountant for a chain store who cuts back the hours of his employees to save money, leaving the store only lightly manned and with dispirited workers–at a time when good customer service is absolutely necessary in order to compete against online retailers.

    The political consultant to a candidate who urges him to “move to the center” by adopting positions 180 degrees from what the voters want (for instance, being “moderate” by being anti-union and anti-gun in West Virginia).

    The “strategist” (*cough*David Frum*cough*) who urges Republicans to “appeal to younger voters” (who will have radically different ideas by the time they actually vote in significant numbers) by imposing a crippling energy tax that will alienate everyone who actually works for a living.

    The diplomat who supports “stability” above all else, even when the stability consists of keeping aggressively anti-American dictatorships in place.

    I’m less familiar with the publishing industry than you are, but I’m sure you can name examples of Hypernormal behavior there.

    • I have been mulling through this thread, considering what factors make us Odd. One is an apparent inability to put brains on hold. Another is a certain obstreperousness when facing authority. I think another is related tot he first: we engage in higher order processing. Not “higher”-order as in better or more enlightened. Higher-order in that we think things further, we engage in “and then what” thinking. Call it “nth-order” thought.

      In part this is Heinlein’s doing, teaching us to push our thinking a little further. I’ve heard Thomas Sowell making the same point about economics, however: fix prices on gasoline and then what will happen, and what will be the response to that, and then … For those of us who remember Kingsfield in The Paper Chase the demand for taking the next step is recognizable.

      These hypernormals Ken describes are those engaging in first or at best second order thinking — trying to whip inflation now by fixing wages and prices, or trying to impose caps on CO2 emissions in the hope of stabilizing Earth’s climate.

      Nth-order thinkers know inherently that every thesis creates a counter-thesis which yields a synthesis creating a new counter-thesis and so on ad infinitum.

      • pohjalainen

        And that can make making up your mind and deciding on a course hard with anything a bit more complicated.

    • Larry Patterson

      Wonder if Barry Goldwater was an Odd…
      “…moderation in the defense of liberty [is] no virtue.”

      Of course a guy that honest and blunt had no chance of getting elected…

      • It is a basic Law of organizations that they will become dominated by people for whom the organization serves some personal need. Groups become dominated by the zealots because that is who will put in the time, attend the meetings and do the scut work necessary to keep an organization functioning. Bureaucracies fall under the aegis of those who fundamentally care about the bureaucracy itself.

        Odd, people, basically cats in temperament, tend to show up, pitch in for a while and then wander off in search of more interesting challenges. It is the sons of b*tches who hang around, accreting power and expanding the organizational mission. Because of their lack of creativity there ius no better path to power. Think of the guys who euchered Steve jobs out of Apple the first time.

        Often these people serve useful functions, helping and protecting those whom the organization represents, but the more power accrues in an organization the more it attracts the kind of person who would use that power for their own aggrandizement. Who tend not to be Odd fellows.

        • dracona357

          Just as corporations became truly evil when beancounters, instead of innovators, were allowed to dominate the boards of directors.

          • As Stalin demonstrated, control goes to those who are adept at the internal politics. Innovators may be good at producing product, but organizations are built by those talented at (and focused on) building organizations.

      • barry WAS an odd. Lifelong ham radio operator, very odd.

  27. Read post, not comments (92 and counting) as of yet.

    Initial reaction: lets sit down over here in the comfortable chairs with a pot of coffee and some nice noshes and chat a while…a long while.

    • Up to 160 now (at least 161 by the time I post this). Will this thread end up beating out the thread below, the one where a troll (though I still think he was just a stubborn fool) showed up?

      My prediction: yes, easily. Arguing with a troll (or a fool) is only interesting for so long, and stops being fun even before it stops being interesting. But this subject is one we could discuss for days and it would still be both fun and interesting.

  28. And we’ll continue to wish we were normal. Or rather, because we really like who we are, dirt and grit and all, we’ll continue wishing normals were us, and that we were, therefore accepted.

    No. No more than a cat wishes it were a dog. But it would be less tedious if they just accepted us. And left us alone.

    But the downside of being social is that it also makes us tribal. We want to belong to a group. We want the group to belong to us.

    To (slightly) paraphrase Groucho: I am highly dubious of any group willing to accept me as a member.

    We can think at right angles to other people. We don’t think in the box. We can’t find the box.

    I was going to comment on this being particularly the case amongst our male members but decided there are puns beneath what even I will stoop … then decided that wasn’t.

    Given this is at the bottom (presently) of what bids well to be a longish strand and is a mite lengthy AND that I’ve not started reading the commentary, I will have less to say sooner.

  29. Kate Paulk

    Yet another of the Odd family here… I don’t think I ever managed to pass. It leaves scars.

    I’m all for the Church of Oddkin – but do I join the Right Holy Cat Herding denomination via the Star Wars (But Not The Prequels) Splinter Group, or go straight to the Crazy Writer Division?

    • Kate — the cat-loving Crazy Writer Division is also open…

      My wife is dyslexic. She has a horrible time spelling, she leaves out words when she writes, and she does other odd things. She’s not afraid of challenges, has a HORRIBLE time with phonics, and has spent more than 15 years in other cultures, mostly European. She makes fantastic bobbin lace — learned in an adult education class in England. She also tolerates me and my “eccentricities” I don’t think I would have survived the last 46 years without her.

      I have a chronic pain problem and a nasty problem called hyperaccusis. I CANNOT take loud sounds, and I also can’t do most of the things that used to give me pleasure when I was younger. I now spend most of my time in my “cave”, on my computer or working on my stamp collection. Jean puts up with that, does all the shopping and most of the other things that can only be done outside the house. She’s definitely another “Odd” in many ways, and life’s been fun having her a part of it.

    • Is there an stubbornly independent thinkers (and no I will not prove my independence by wearing jeans and army jackets or anything like that) and I am still a work in progress division?

      • *panic* Oh, no; have I been making an accidental fashion statement?!?! I wear a surplus army(not ours) jacket and jeans all the time, it’s comfortable!

  30. I’m a Holy Hermit of the Church of Oddkin, sticking mainly to the tennants of the Andre Norton sect. I haven’t taken a vow of silence–it wasn’t really necessary.

  31. Kate Paulk

    Another sign: extremely deep knowledge in areas that interest us, broad knowledge across the board, and really really weird blind spots, like me not getting arithmetic at all but tearing through algebra, geometry and the like. (I still count on my fingers, but I look at algebra, geometry et al and go “Puzzle! Ooh!”).

    And bizarre pronunciation that comes from seeing a word, knowing exactly hows to use it, and having NO idea what it’s supposed to sound like.

    • Then you have people like me, who not only get arithmetic but actually have been known to prove (using the associative property of addition) that 2 + 2 = 4 (in mixed company).

      • I expect I am not the only one here who likes to break numbers down into their factors? When I turned 27 I took positive glee in announcing “I’m three!” And my next birthday is a prime number – Whee!

        And I made a point of teaching the Daughtorial Unit about cubes in time for her to enjoy turning 2-cubed.

    • I have been know to say that I no longer am surprised by what The Daughter knows, but by what she does not know.

    • And bizarre pronunciation that comes from seeing a word, knowing exactly hows to use it, and having NO idea what it’s supposed to sound like.”

      Aha! That is me, especially when I was younger, because I read a lot, and a lot of adult books that had words in them I NEVER heard used in conversation; like eunuch, who uses the word in conversation nowadays? I had large vocabulary of words that I had no idea how to pronounce. At least in english, I was perfectly capable of pronouncing them, just that nobody else could understand it, because the pronounciation was so far off, and the word unusual enough, that they just gave me the deer in the headlights look.

  32. “We can think at right angles to other people. We don’t think in the box. We can’t find the box.”

    My spouse says (when I read this excerpt to him), “thinking outside the tesseract.” The box is mere 3 dimensional thinking.

  33. You’d be surprised how many of us are or have been in Special Operations. No need to form a religion. Just stop accepting the hoplophobia of Them. Skill with weaponry (the real kind) comes naturally to us,

  34. Martin L. Shoemaker

    Between this thread, the Human Wave threads, and some other threads around here, I think I see a sure-fire way to generate lots of comment traffic on Sarah’s blogs: post something that helps the readership to see some geeky thing they have in common, but some outside “other” group doesn’t. And as a frequent commenter in those threads, I can hardly cast aspersions; but still, somehow it reminds me just a bit of this scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVygqjyS4CA

    • Don’t forget that she did point out:
      We know each other, mind, and tend to gravitate to each other like a buttered surface gravitates towards expensive, white silk carpet. [...]
      Our families are often unusually warm and connected, in fact, partly because we’re all odd people clinging together.

      …And likely other comments about the phenomena.

      There is a big reason why it’s easy as hell for a group of geeks to cheerfully shout out, “ONE OF US!” Many of us are perfectly aware that when we find our “true flock” we can act just as sheeplike as the Evens. I do think that there are more “leader sheep” in the Odds. Or maybe just more “leader sheep” amongst the types who hang out in the areas I do (like Sarah’s blog). The problem is finding our flock. It’s such a relief to find “flock” when you’ve been trundling along amongst the cows, chickens, and horses.

    • I noted this myself. There is an undercurrent of conformity in fandom: the desire to belong to the Fannish Crowd and thereby hold yourself apart from “the common herd.” One sees people being nonconformist by carefully adhering to the rules and customs of their particular group of nonconformists — they conform in order to be different.
      As far as I can see, it’s the same old status competition and tribal identity game-playing that all humans do, just within a different tribe. In the Geek Tribe, verbal fluency, technical understanding, and imagination are valued while physical competence, social understanding, and ecstasy are valued in the majority tribe.
      (I oppose “ecstasy” to imagination because I notice that geeks or “Odds” seem to have little interest or ability in entering a non-cognitive state. We don’t get heavily intoxicated past the “lowering inhibitions” level, we’d rather talk all night than dance, and we are suspicious of things like religious rapture or patriotic fervor.)

      • dracona357

        I think it’s the statists who try to enforce conformity among non-conformists. Arrogant elitists who proclaim their education certificates as proof of their inate intellectual superiority over everyone who hasn’t a like slab of ink and woodpulp, regardless of how irrelevant said credential is to the discussion at hand. Ditto for wealth levels. They are simply another form of herd beast, subject to the same appeals to emotion and vanity as all others of the ilk.

        One of the truly transformational concepts illustrated by Star Trek is IDIC. Forced conformity limits the range of expertise, of intuition, innovation, and progress, ultimately strangling intelligence itself, just as genetic conformity results in inbreeding, degradation and extinction of the species.

        Odds are Other. How can we reject Other without rejecting what we are?

  35. Regarding the thought process (the way you wrote is exemplar), it’s more being in the matrix, all inputs flowing, and not being quite sure how or why the result happens, but it does, and it winds up being the right answer.
    Rather than thinking “out of the box” we (or at least I) think in the center of it.

  36. And then there are those of us who Don’t Fit In even among the Odd — oh, we can sound the notes; but making the music, it never quite sounds right.

    As to problems physical, psychological, and mental: Try being half-blind (so never any good at sports), smart with a rapier wit (school district file has two notations: “Identified Gifted and Talented, and “teachers do not want this little s*** in their classes”) — and borderline psychotic with violent tendencies (sent home early four times before I left sixth grade — and that’s the ones they saw me do), possibly with PTSD (I’ve never bothered to check — I suspect the answer would do me no good; besides — too little, too late now). Even the Odds didn’t want anything to do with me — and I rather suspect that of the Odds I’m around now, there’s more than a few who’d like to see the back of me — preferably with a knife in it (did I mention that “psychotic” included severe — and in many cases well-founded — paranoia?).

    H. P. Lovecraft’s stories dealt extensively with alienation, and Knowing One Did Not Belong — and people wonder why I have such an affinity for his work. (Even have a Evil Fish thing to go with it….)

    • You got to see your permanent record?! Man, I’m so jealous!

      It’s a lot easier to get away with the occasional berzerker moment if you’re a tiny girl wearing glasses. And if the teachers realize that the one who got attacked by me deserved it.

      None of us (and no normal people either) ever totally fit in. If we humans did, we wouldn’t get so excited about the warm fuzzy feeling of fitting in. We all wake up and go to sleep in our own skulls, with a certain aloneness.

      • dracona357

        Heh. The bullying stopped my junior year in high school when I nearly ripped out one bitch’s throat with my teeth and clawed her from right shoulder to left nipple. Ever had to dig foot-plus-long strips of skin out from under your nails? Ick. Gee, guess what, Daddy? I inherited your berserker state.

  37. I have no problem being “odd.” Since when has anyone who wasn’t odd accomplished anything of significance?

    • The Samwises of the world do rather significant work. It just isn’t flashy.

      I know you were cracking wise, just spent too long as a wren to quietly agree that peacocks are better. (I know which I would rather have around!)

      It kind of gets to the heart of “odds”– we’re different. Even in our own group, we’ve got different skills. Some are the engine that gets things moving, some guide, some are the body that makes the other two able to do what they do.

      I wish I could express it in a way less likely to get people angry– since I know that pretty much any time I say something that disagrees with someone, they’ll get angry, which might be a defining trait for a division among the odds– but I thought it was worth saying, anyways.

      • The problem is that today’s society teaches that being the body that gets the work done is something to be looked down on. Funny thing, this country was founded by people that got stuff done, and were tired of being discriminated against for it.

        Maybe it’s time for another revolution, hopefully without so much bloodshed this time; regardless of what Thomas Jefferson said.

        • revolutions are never bloodless. Not even those that claim to be (aka the Portuguese revolution.) TRUST me on this. The price is ALWAYS high. I’m starting to think it is always high even for “tech revolutions.”

          • Times of change are always hard, even if the change is a good one in the long run. We have a diagram where I work called the change curve (actually a sort of “V”) – you’re going along in a horizontal straight line, that’s your current situation, and then you hit the change and you fall into the V (known as the Valley of Despair). If the change is a good one, you hit the bottom of the V, head back up and wind up in a higher spot than your previous track.

            If the change is a bad one, well, we went through a particularly bad “change” at work, and someone passed around a picture of the V with the bottom cut off, and called it the Bottomless Pit of Despair.

          • The Siamese revolution of 1932, which left Siam (now Thailand) with a constitutional monarchy instead of an absolute monarchy, came pretty close. Nobody was killed (one military officer was “slightly wounded” according to Wikipedia) in the initial seizure of power, though the counter-revolution a year later (which failed) was far from bloodless. From the little I’ve read of it so far, it sounds like a fascinating story, and one which I really should research more once my life calms down a tad.

          • I guess what I was trying to say was, hopefully we could turn the direction of the country around through the political process. Without having to resort to an actual physical overthrow of the government. I still don’t expect it to be bloodless, just much less bloody.

            • The beauty of the American system is that it is designed to channel revolution through political organization. This vitiates the more violent passions and rewards those able to sustain long-term commitment and/or able to transmit their ideals to succeeding cohorts (recruit, transmit.)

              The American system has done a very good job of recruiting (mostly from outside our shores) but a rather less effective job of disseminating our principles (especially in our academic institutions.)

              • dracona357

                Problem:
                “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense…”
                — Alexander Hamilton
                That’s pretty much where we are, right now. Our “representatives” are mostly chosen by entrenched elites whose true “constituents” are not the people, but other elites.