Ride Right Through Them

Sorry to be so late today. My allergies kicked in with a vengeance yesterday – the first time this year we had two warm days in a row. I guess the trees were ready and waiting – and came with a massive headache that not even mega-allergy tablets dented.

As an aside, it’s often been a puzzle to me whether I actually think in words, or if I covert the symbols I think in into words very fast, so I’m barely aware of it. I suspect the later, both because I remember switching over to words when I learned to read and write (speaking didn’t seem to do it) and because whenever I’m even slightly impaired (or massively impaired, such as when I got concussion) I think in visual symbols. This is also likely because when we had the younger kid tested, they told us he was a visual thinker and our minds work much in the same way. It’s just at some point – probably over writing, because I remember thinking in written lines – I switched over to words and he never really did. I mean, he can use them fine, (sometimes. There’s a reason he’s High Lord Malaprop.) but he’s very aware of thinking in symbols.

I don’t envy him because I always feel impaired and slow when that connection between symbol and word is broken. I can think fine, mind you, even through a massive headache. I’m just isolated and unable to interpret other people’s words or to communicate with them. Which is how I was yesterday and why this post is late.

Note the reasoning above, like the fact I’ve always wondered how I think. It’s … Odd, isn’t it? But it is odd in a particular way. It has nothing to do with intelligence or learning, though doubtless my classes in linguistics did to some extent give me the tools to think about it. It has to do with a weird turn of mind, what Terry Pratchett calls “The first sight and the second thoughts.”

Practically everyone – or so it seems to me – tends to go through life with a lot of unexamined baggage. Things are done because they’ve always been done. They happen this way because they always did.

This is the inherent difficulty in changing cultures. Cultures are conditioned into children at a very early age, and violating a cultural taboo has the feeling of sin. Often it has more the feeling of sin than actually sin. One of the things that Giovanni Guareschi captured beautifully in his Don Camillo stories is how men can go about and proclaim they’re communists and atheists, but – having been raised Catholic – they can’t prevent themselves from doffing their hat or bowing when crossing the church and passing in front of the tabernacle with the blessed sacrament.

Nothing rational about that. If you believe in the sacrament and the living presence, you also know denying it is more of a sin than not acknowledging it. But humans aren’t rational. And no one examines his every action in the light of reason.

Even we don’t. And we in this case is a subset of humanity. Odds, sure. But other things – outliers. Strange. Different.

Most of us gravitate to science fiction and fantasy at an early age because we’re strange and different, and science fiction has odd ideas, of the sort I put above.

There are theories that most of the science fiction writers and fans are “in the spectrum.” A psychologist (also a fan) once told me that interactions at cons are all typical of aspergers people. [Waggles hand.] I’m not sold on the idea. I think aspergers as defined now casts too wide a net. Autism too. I’ve seen real autism and real high-functioning aspergers up close and personal, and it’s not a matter of squinting and saying “Well, he’s awkward in company” or “he overthinks things” (Something I’m sure all of us were accused of growing up.)

There is a drive to define “normal” really narrowly and really “group oriented” and if you’re an individualist and capable of original thought (or have real emotions – nowadays they define bi polar as sometimes being happy sometimes sad. No, seriously, I saw it in boy’s psychology handouts. We used to call that normal. To preserve an absolute even keel you need to be medicated. Anyone does. Again, having seen real bi-polar up close and personal, I’m not amused by the trivialization of all these things) they’re going to find something wrong with you. I think this comes from an infiltration of Marxist thought. I always got the impression Marx had it in for humans because they refused to be ants or bees. Maybe it’s because all my Marxist teachers held these social insects up as models for humans. (Rolls eyes.)

So I’m not absolutely sure what to call us, but we are different, and the difference is exactly what Pratchett (who is, of course, one of us) tried to describe in his witches, who are capable of the first sight and the second thoughts. You see something and you analyze. It’s what you do. And roughly speaking that’s what science fiction people are. People who think too much. People who do their darndest to stand at the window and watch ourselves pass on the street below. And yes, people who sometimes need dream to aliviate the unbearable flawed reality of life. (And those people often trend more towards fantasy.)

Of course, to ourselves, we say we’re smarter. We’re more creative. We’re special.

We are different. And most of us (but not all. More on that later) couldn’t find the box with two hands and a seeing eye dog, let alone think in it.) But if it’s intelligence, it’s a highly specialized and not particularly useful intelligence. Most of us – oh, come on guys – spend most of our lives working for close to nothing, or doing work we hate, or stumbling around trying to figure our way out of the paper bag of office politics.

Those of us who are more aware and more capable of bridging over to “normal” society can sometimes hold jobs. And writers who can fake it (I can, to a degree. Only to a degree) can bridge the gap and get read by normal people too. It takes tweaking the idea and going “Not quite like that, like this.”

Here’s the thing – it’s not that the “new, new” kids (they think. Most of them are ten years younger than I. The only difference is that by forty I’d lived. Hell, by twenty two when I got married, I’d lived. It included trips on my own to two different continents. And by forty I’d half-raised the kids, moved across the world and across the country, navigated an inter-culture marriage, learned how to function as an adult in a strange culture. And yeah, been published. Professionally. With no contacts in the field. And stayed employed through the great die-off of 03. The last ten years have added very little save a determination to no longer suffer fools gladly.) are not of us. It’s that they grew up in privileged circumstances and that, at the same time, science fiction (all of publishing really) turned to academia for recruitment and started taking “credentials” from “the best colleges” as signals of ability to write.

Part of this was because of political color line. If you graduated from Harvard, unless you’re really a cussed anti-authority stickler, you’re going to be at least pink, if not outright red. And part of it was because it’s how society has gone. We seem unable to distinguish real competence. Or perhaps we need pieces of paper to keep lawyers away. The end result is the same – credentialism, instead of competence.

The thing is the people they collected onto the field are still of us. They’re just academia oriented people like us, and many of them were raised in academic environments and work in them too. (One of the things I’ve noticed in recent years, though perhaps it was always true, is the middle aged woman at cons, accompanied by what can only be described as show-business-parents who lost their way, and who glory in their darling’s success in our small and nutty field. I know five or six of them, too, with impeccable academic credentials and no job (or family or their own) being supported by their parents in their pursuit of literary glory. Maybe this is just a symptom of the infantilization of our society and helicopter parenting.)

And outliers/Odds can go one of two ways. When we first realize we’re different (for me, it was in kindergarten) we can either revel in it or try to hide it and fit in. The sane path is neither, and those of us who have come into our own, some later in life, have learned to walk that line very carefully. We pick our battles “Here we fit in” and “here we lift two middle fingers aloft, because society is barking mad.”

The problem is academia tends to beat the two middle fingers thing out of people and push them into being good sheep. They don’t manage it, of course, because they’re of us.

BUT they become more neurotic than a shaved monkey. They hover between trying to shape everything into academia (come on, guys, the idea of ending default bi-gender would ONLY excite someone who moves in a tightly-knit bubble of gender studies babble. Anyone in the real world would know this fails to bridge all gaps between us and “normal” people.) and trying to fit in and slap down all “bad think” which they can’t help having and are afraid anyone will discover. So any ideas that “violate” what academics around them think, or what they were taught to think, ANYTHING that might feed their second thoughts and make them stick out from their self-willed ant colony is bad, and must be attacked. And by gum if a gender studies department has decided that “lady” is now an insult, it must be expunged everywhere. Lest it cause them to think.

And that, dear sirs, kind ladies, and esteemed those who just looked in their pants to figure it out, (not to mention respected dragons) is what is eating them, and why they think we’re attacking them/being mean/evil – and why they ascribe all sorts of nasty prejudices to us. Those words “racist” “sexist” “homophobic” aren’t real words. They’re prayers muttered under their breath to keep the bad-think away.

It is however important to remember two things: a) they’re of us. B) the push to enforce the conformity in publishing that has pervaded academia for 50 years, is over. Not just because Baen still exists – and thrives, at a time when Harlequin had to sell – but because there’s indie. They might be able to control an industry that has to strain through six outlets (back in the day) all of them in NYC and run by people with similar credentials. But the dam has broken. There isn’t a leak. There are thousands. And the good ones will get read. You can’t stop them.

And they are of us. Sooner or later – later, probably. They’re really good at holding “bad think” at bay in their own heads, they’re going to have to start having second thoughts. You know of the kind that goes “But isn’t most of the world bi-gendered? Yeah, I can write aliens, but if I write humans, will normal humans want to read something that they have to work too hard for?” And thoughts of the kind that goes “Wait, wait a minute. What if not all males are bad? What if women have sex because they like it and they’re autonomous agents, like the men?” and thoughts of the sort that goes “What if I create an all female society and it’s hell?”

They won’t be able to stop it. They’re of us. The second thoughts will come.

To that intent, I submit we do all we can do. Write, read and talk about good books. Big idea books that make you think.

Ride right through them. They can no longer keep us back.

322 responses to “Ride Right Through Them

  1. David, infamous sock puppet

    It is interesting that you talk about the things that make us SF readers. One thing that kind of surprises me is that, although I love SF/F, I started out reading mysteries and detective novels. SF is cool, but I think my two favorite authors are still Alistair MacLean and John MacDonald (Travis McGee). Not sure what that says about me vis a vis most of the rest of the readership, but there it is.

    • Started with SF at an early age. (Try reading EE Smith’s Lensman series at 6. That’ll warp ya…)

      And as far back as I can recall, I’ve been an odd. Never labeled as such, but… odd.

      • I started those at 9, but I was sheltered…

        Problem was, I started talking to my mom about how I wanted to build the spaceships. After that, she KNEW I was weird.

        • I started about 11, but I’d been reading encyclopedias and dictionaries for fun from about 8. That likely bent the twig a bit.

    • My dad had the complete collection of Travis McGee books, all signed by John D McDonald. I got interested in him when I found out he had also written scifi.

  2. Martin L. Shoemaker

    I had a friend once. Not a guy I would normally hang out with, but not a bad guy. We were just of very different worlds. In a discussion one night, the subject turned to what was he thinking (not then, but on a different occasion). His answer: nothing. I said he was joking, he had to be thinking SOMETHING. He said nope, not a thing. I insisted: he had to be thinking something, because you’re ALWAYS thinking SOMETHING.

    That was when he looked at me funny, and I looked at him funny. One of us was apparently very odd.

    To this day, I wonder: was he correct? Are there people who stop thinking for periods of time? To quote Vizinni: Inconceivable!

    • This is something I’ve always suspected about the majority of the human race: They can actually turn off their minds, and enter a zen state of “mind of no mind” very easily. This is something I’ve been unable to manage outside of total physical exhaustion for my entire life. I envy them, sometimes…

      I’ve been 10 miles into a 12 mile road march, carrying two-thirds of my body weight after a 72-hour non-stop field exercise that had us walking a minimum of about another thirty or forty miles, and I still had the surreal problem of having to come up with something to think about while I was marching along. Couldn’t not think, because that leads to concentrating on what hurts, namely your feet and shins, and then winding up stopped on the side of the road in a state of pain-induced fugue. So, what do you do?

      Me? I was telling myself stories from the same universe I’ve been “playing in” since I was daydreaming in grade school. Something I’ve been doing all my life, since I cannot tolerate boredom of any nature. If I’m not able to keep my mind focused on solving a particular problem at work, bang… There it goes, off into “thinking about shit” mode, and that can be very dangerous. So, I keep the damn thing occupied, no matter what.

      I cannot comprehend how people live without some form of inner life, some need for imagination, thought, consideration–But, I know a whole bunch who appear to do so, and who seem to think I’m the one that’s nuts for not being able to do what they do, which is exist as a mental vacuum.

      • Oh, you too have a universe since grade school?

        • Since before, actually. Although, in the nascent state, it wasn’t much to look at.

          If I ever get it down on paper/electrons, it’s going to be interesting to see what others make of it.

          • Mine would have to be under deep pen name cover. That said, some people — Amanda, Kate, other evil influences — have been pushing me that way.

            • That bad, eh?

              I look forward to reading that, if I ever make the connection between the deep cover pen name and your other authorial identities. It’s too bad we can’t convince the reading public that we’re actually channeling these people we tell stories about, so they disconnect the author from the works…

            • Ironically, the stuff I have to release under deep (or deep-ish, anyway) cover isn’t the stuff set in my since-grade-school universe, but the stuff where each story basically gets a universe of its own. Although they do necessarily have certain tropes in common, given the nature of the latter material.

              Whereas the stuff in the long-term universe, if/when I ever finish writing some of it, could easily be released with my real name, no problem.

            • Can I be evil? I’ll just start with a tiny finger poke in that direction.

              O:-)

              I lay no claim to influence, but I think I can manage evil…

            • What! You want all of them to die when you die? Err, yeah, haven’t written mine down either.

          • Cartoon style alligator people that lived under a big juniper on the hill.

            Tried about…twice… to explain it to people, who promptly assumed I thought it was factual.

            /headdesk

            • Ever get sent to the school counselor? Story wasn’t in any of my childhood universes(I cannot imagine what those might have elicited), was just a teenager play, but…

              • Only once, during my senior year when I was neatly organizing the reading record papers so folks could just walk in and pick theirs up and a girl walked up and started grabbing them and throwing them all around to screw with me. I slapped her hands away.

                By the time we moved, I had learned not to talk to people about what happened in my head.

                • Yeah, I stopped telling the inner world stories pretty early. Even my canted brain could parse those looks.

                  • Looks, hell, I had to drag people over to look at the stuff I told them and even then they were shocked that I was being entirely accurate.

                  • “Mom, I saw racoons playing out in the field.”
                    “Sure, honey.”
                    Two weeks later:
                    “The chickens are dead!”
                    “Uh, duh, we have raccoons.”
                    “Surely you’re wrong.”
                    *set traps*
                    *catch….two young coons*
                    “Wow, you were right.”
                    “No kidding, Sherlock.”

                    K, the discussion may have been a bit different, I was about nine at the time…..

                  • I never told anyone, but I had drawings of the houses, the characters, the world (maps) and sometimes I swear I didn’t hear more than two words the whole day.

                    • I took off on monumentally long rides on the bicycle so I could listen to the wind and work out details. Borders, geography, people, creatures… it grew more sophisticated as my understanding of RL grew, and sometimes I’d go revise some arcane detail or another. Hours upon hours.

                      Now I still do monumentally long rides to listen to the wind and work out the details but the bike is — bigger. And more rumbley.

        • almost-gradeschool here – I was working on one ‘verse / setting since about 12 or 13 years of age (started as a map, then another, and then …), but that was classified as “middle school”

      • David, infamous sock puppet

        “I’ve been 10 miles into a 12 mile road march, carrying two-thirds oy body weight after a 72-hour non-stop field exercise…”

        I have been there, too, but thinking was not the problem, staying awake was the problem, since we had had about 45 minutes sleep the previous 72 hours. That was when I discovered that I have amazingly detailed hallucinations when I get really tired. I remember a 45 minute or so conversation that I had with the paratrooper next to me (my roommate at the time) that was so detailed that I was able to write it out later. The transcript came to 8 pages. Then, I almost tripped and realized that I was about 10 feet farther along than when I first started talking to him. I hallucinated a detailed 45-minute conversation in the space of about 3 seconds.

        Now, if I could only hallucinate the next couple chapters of my book while I was typing this comment…

        • Yeah, the transcendent state you find yourself in during that sort of thing is… Interesting.

          Out of the nine guys in my squad who started that particular final march in from the exercise, myself and a team leader of mine were the only ones who managed to complete the damn thing, and I’m told that we were both pretty well out of it by the time we hit the final range where we did a live-fire squad defense with the guys who fell out. We completed that nightmare on a Thursday afternoon, and the only thing I remember from the time we left the live-fire range to the following Sunday late afternoon is standing in line at the Arms Room and making sure all my guys had their sensitive items turned in. After that? Nothing. I don’t know how I got back to the barracks, which was a good half-mile away, I don’t remember showering, I don’t remember ordering pizza, eating it, or a damn thing between about 1600 on Thursday, and waking up on Sunday with a vague feeling I was forgetting something-or-other…

          Good thing it was a four-day weekend, is all I can say. If we’d have had to work Friday, I don’t think I’d have been present for duty.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I’ve more than once dreamed a political argument with a stranger, then on waking had to work out and finish mentally articulating the statement I was in the middle of making.

          • Heck, my most vivid and interesting (and most re-occurring) bad dream is the ‘radio station that doesn’t work’ dream. No kidding; I dream that I come to work for a shift at a radio station, and nothing works. The CD players and cart-players are jamming or non-existent, the control board is all jacked-up, the music library is also jacked-up – seriously rearranged so that I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING!!! and it’s five minutes to airtime, I have no playlist, can’t figure out how to route-around … or there are new units that I can’t figure out how to work…
            Other college grads have finals nightmares. I have the radio-station-that-doesn’t-work nightmare.

      • Yeah – it’s the reason I’m not much into background-music-to-work-by: It distracts me from much more interesting lines of thought/speculation/argument.

        • Oddly, I work better with background music. Trance, no vocals, and I can get into a zone easily. Otherwise, my mind clutters and Squirrel!

          What were we talking about?

          Hm. Need to put my ear buds in…

          • I have to use music because people turn on the TV and there goes my concentration. At the moment I have the place to myself and it is glorious!
            Otherwise I use trance music, semi-soundtracks, Orthodox church music, classical, as long as I can’t recognize the lyrics and start singing along.

      • mikeweatherford

        There is only one thing that will allow me to turn off my mind and relax — fishing. I can sit all day and not think, if I’ve got a baited hook in front of me. I don’t think that’s a problem — I think we all need that every so often. It lets us recharge our mental batteries.

      • THIS, Oh so this. I can never find the damn off switch. Only time my brain shuts the hell up is when i read, and even then the second i stop it tears off thinking about this fact, or continuing the narritive in it’s own.

        Music helps Focus me, makes it easier to follow a train of thought. But pure quiet kills me. I stop imagining and start looking inward. That is a game i lose every time. Long story about no positive feed back growing up.

        Trying to sleep at night takes a CD I’ve had for over 2 decades now (the ambient collection by art of noise) use it when the mind won’t slow down enough to sleep. By using the sound to drive the imagination o can force myself to imagine me on a beach, warm sun, occasional bikini clad ladies with coconut drinks… ZzzZZZzzzzz.

        As for fun sleep deprived in the military stories, my favorite was watching a guy at the end of a 4 day field problem, were we had gotten a total of 2 and a half hours of sleep, go up to a tree, put 50 cents into it, then proceed to kick the crap out of the tree for eating his last 50 cents and not giving him his sprite.

      • To me anymore, the off switch takes the form of migraines. :( It’s all too easy to turn it off (more like lose your ability to focus, and have the color drain from the world, even as it turns too bright and loud and vibrating) when one of those gets going.

        I remember several universes that I used to share with my brother as a child. It was wonderfully fun – perhaps the most fun I had ever had.

  3. I cannot stop thinking. If I were to try my mind would not allow it. Sometimes I think so hard I do awkward things like dropping a tray of veggies in a parking lot. It did distract me form what I was concentrating on, but it was oh crap how do I clean this up.

    • Martin L. Shoemaker

      That’s why I can’t drive in a silent car. Without music or talk, I’ll start thinking about all the ways I could get killed on the road.

      • Satellite radio. Sirus has been my companion through many a long trip… and it really hits the ‘”This. I’m living in the future.” button for me.

        As do cell phones. Who needs a Star Trek communicator or tricorder?

        • For Christmas a few years ago the youngest boy bought and installed a stereo system for my vehicle that had a usb port. Now I never take a long trip without two memory sticks, one with about 8 hours of my favorite tunes and the other with two or more audio books. Long drives have never been so pleasant as now.

      • mikeweatherford

        I have hyperaccusis, so quiet is essential for me to just survive. It does make it hard to get to sleep some nights, when the mind won’t slow down enough to catch some zzzzz’s. I do miss listening to good music, and I’m totally incapable of enjoying an audiobook. I rarely go anywhere, especially anywhere noisy. Yeah, things pop into my mind all the time. Some of them stick, others don’t.

    • This is what keeps me up at night – I can’t stop thinking! Sometimes it continues even after I’m asleep. A few years ago I walked in the door at work and ran into my boss (okay, okay, my boss ran into me and fell on his butt. It’s not my fault that I’m built like a tank). Over the first cup of crap coffee, I got to tell him I solved the problem we’d been working on for several days in a dream the night before. He started laughing. Then I told him what the problem was and how to fix it. Still laughing, he started to check, so he could prove me wrong. He stopped laughing when I was proven right.

      Now, low blood sugar (from skipping meals or trying to diet), that I can tell I’m experiencing when I start having 3-way conversations with myself. Out loud. And I’m losing the discussion.

      • I write a lot like that, too.

      • Three way? I could understand two way (and losing), but am having trouble picturing three way. :?:

        On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > Bruce commented: “This is what keeps me up at night – I can’t stop > thinking! Sometimes it continues even after I’m asleep. A few years ago I > walked in the door at work and ran into my boss (okay, okay, my boss ran > into me and fell on his butt. It’s not my fault that I’m” >

        • They gang up on you. Right bassoons, those others…

          • You know you’re in trouble when the voices in your head are the reasonable ones, and they’re trying to talk you out of doing things…

            “No, no, no… You won’t like jail… The reading isn’t good, there…”.

            • Don’t remember whether I saw this hereabouts or elsewhere, but it’s apposite: http://www.twogag.com/archives/2660

              • Too, too apt. And, more than a little true-to-life, as well.

                I suppose I should take comfort from the fact that the voices are counseling caution and non-violence. Although, if they ever do start going along with what I fear may be my natural inclinations, I’ll probably be fully justified in listening to them…

      • A few years ago I walked in the door at work and ran into my boss (okay, okay, my boss ran into me and fell on his butt. It’s not my fault that I’m built like a tank).

        This is why I treat doors like traffic intersections. I stop and look both ways before continuing through them. If I ran into our HR manager, she might well end up in the hospital.

        • According to my dad, he actually knocked a general (two star, IIRC) on his butt this way. His sergeant handed him and another guy shovels and told them to go dig a latrine. Dad took the shovel and started off to complete the task. They were next to a truck, and we he came around the end of the truck, the general met him coming the other way. IIRC, it was General Pennequick and he was a very short and slim man – my dad graduated highschool at 6′ 2″ and 220 pounds. They collided and the general landed on his rear. Dad saluted, said, “Pardon me, sir,” and took off running as fast as he could!

      • I am by nature an engineer in that I cannot help but see a problem and mentally try to solve it. I have several friends who use me as a sounding board. When they have a decision to make they tell me the options then say “now tell me every way this could go wrong.”
        I always try to anticipate the gotchas in a situation and all the paths to resolution.
        And I cannot count the number of times I’ve gone to sleep with a problem kicking around in my head and woken up the next day with one or more solutions bouncing about in the old cranium. Not always the best solution, but always obviously something my inner beast chewed on over night.

        • It’s happened to me also – waking up and knowing the answer or the solution.
          I can’t imagine not thinking about something … as a matter of fact, I do my best considerations while doing something rather routine or boring. The daily commute to work (back when I did have a daily drive to work), or when running, or when my daughter is driving me someplace. I just look out the window and think…
          I did this as a kid, too – We used to have a rather long drive each week to the church where we were members, and to our grandparents’ homes. I’d look out the window and day-dream all the way. (Kept me from getting car-sick, too.)

        • Jerry Boyd

          The answer I come with overnight is seldom the right answer, but it’s usually wrong in a way that points to the right path.

        • It’s the altered mode of consciousness. It can sometimes be simulated, on a small scale, during the day by going and getting lunch, or even just walking about the workplace.

        • mikeweatherford

          I’ve done that a lot, as well. I’m not an engineer, but I’ve worked personnel problems the same way — go to sleep thinking about it, and waking up with a possible solution. They usually work.

          One of the problems I had that I “solved” in my sleep was how to keep up morale and training in a unit that was winding down and closing. I designed and wrote a scenario that my boss thought brilliant. He took it to the commander, who promptly nixed it — it was TOO real! He decided that low morale and lack of training was better than being scared out of two years’ growth. Something VERY similar to my scenario played out in Afghanistan a couple of years ago. I still can’t believe that, if we’d actually trained for that scenario, things wouldn’t have been so bad there.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I think I’ve a similar habitual analysis thing going on.

          As for analysis while sleeping, I don’t recall that the solutions I wake up with match so much bedtime priming with problems. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, I have at least the start of an answer.

      • My brother in law will get up in the middle of the night to work on physics problems.

      • Have you tried Coast to Coast AM? I turn them on when I can’t get to sleep, low enough it takes some focus to hear, and listen…then the next thing I know it’s six and I’m waking up.

        It’s odd enough that it takes some focus to follow it, and “drowns out” your thoughts.

        • Rob Crawford

          I remember doing this with the BBC one college summer when I was working at a McDonalds — from opening through lunch, five days a week. Not much to talk with the rest of the crew about, as I fell asleep listening to reports of the final collapse of the Khmer Rouge and they were listening to Top 40.

        • I listen to it at times when driving in the middle of the night, to stay awake. Odd enough one has to think about what the heck they are saying, so it helps me stay awake instead of putting me to sleep.

    • Cant. Turn. Brain. Off.

      • how do you fall asleep?

        • Lie down, close your eyes, and at some point the brain-chatter becomes non-lucid. That’s when you know you’re asleep. Waking is when the brain-chatter looks back on the last interval, realizes it was non-lucid prior to shutting off the alarm, and core-dumps the memory of what they were.

          If I really wanted to remember my dreams, I’d have to write them down in the first five minutes of waking, Or get woken in the middle of a REM cycle – that’ll cause some to hang on at the edges for hours.

          • doesn’t work for me. sometimes audiobooks do it for me.

          • The worst part is when your dreams were close enough to reality that the brain refuses to dump them. Then you find yourself reminding a family member of something they said or did, and they stare at you in complete confusion.

            • Hell, my mom does that to my dad while wide awake. “I just told you…” “No, you didn’t.” “Umm, no mom, you didn’t – I’ve been standing here the entire time since you came in and you haven’t said anything about that.” “Really? I swear I remember saying that as soon as I walked in the room.”

              • FORTUNATELY both my husband and my friends are used to my going “WHY did you do that?” “I didn’t do it.” “You did it in my dream.” “Uh… I’m sorry I was an idiot in your dream. Don’t kill me.”

                • While i wasn’t a fan of the second book he wrote, Chris Dolley’s “Resonance” was eerily effective at describing the kind of “gas lighting” environment where etchings around you are constantly changing, and you’re the one they think is crazy.

                  So yeah – dream conversations confused with real ones, I get it.

              • When I have been partially awakened, I have the inability to speak coherently. It’s similar to aphasia, except that as I hear myself speak, I realize that what I said makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

                • When i was working closes as an apprentice meat cutter i came in late one night. I stayed out in the living room, turned on the TV, ate some dinner, and then promptly feel asleep on the couch (around 1 or 2 in the morning).

                  My Girlfriend at the time woke me up at 6:30 am (when she was getting ready for work) and sent me to bed. Apparently I had a 30 minute conversation with her about the day she had previously, and I even told her some details of my day. I even went so far as to confirm plans we had to see her parents on the weekend.

                  I have absolutely no recollection of that conversation and was so freaked out that i woke up in bed instead of on the couch I had to call her at work and find out what happened. I’m 6’2″ and at the time was knocking on 300 lbs, but i was so freaked i still had this image of her carrying me to bed. I mean she was a stout girl… but not that stout. :)

        • Me? I tell myself stories.

        • Patrick Chester

          What is this “sleep” thing you speak of? O_o

  4. Second thoughts… sigh.

    It takes a great deal of ‘force’ to get some to have second thoughts. Got into a discussion yesterday with a special snowflake who prided and preened herself about not buying books on Amazon, because they were Evil. Seems all Jeff Bezos cared about was money, that he was making a profit, and he was treating his warehouse people/pickers like low-level employees. SHE, however went to all the ‘proper’ eclectic indy bookstores, and only patronized cruelty-free businesses, and she used to work for B&N and now worked for a publisher.

    For some reason, I saw red. (Very interesting shades, too.) I pointed out to her (and not terribly kindly) that OMG! her PUBLISHER, plus every one of the businesses she was so proud she was a patron of… was doing it for the money. Each and every business had to make a (gasp!) profit because if they don’t, they don’t stay in business. And warehouse work sucks big time no matter who you work for. You don’t pick the right stuff? You get fired. You don’t pack it right? You get fired. You’re too slow? You get fired. That’s the same all over, whether you work for B&N, Betterworld, Sears – it’s a universal constant in the warehouse world.

    As far as I’m concerned, Amazon’s a flippin’ godsend for the reader. From books to digital, they’ve expanded availability immensely, and made it a lot easier to find what you’re looking for. I miss indy bookstores, but it only takes two or three visits when you can’t find anything you want to read, and one or two attempts to order a book that never comes to take the gloss off the idea.

    Special Snowflake was upset – I didn’t need to be nasty. (The final attempt to shut me down.) I wasn’t near as nasty as I could have been.

    I HOPE I at least fractured her façade of ‘oh, I’m so much better than those folks who aren’t as ‘sensitive to the issues’ as I am’. But in retrospect it feels a lot like spanking a puppy that couldn’t understand what it did wrong.

    • The puppy doesn’t get to vote.

      Also, most publishers make a profit by not paying the talent. Ask Sarah about creative bookkeeping.

      • Puppy may not get to vote, but sad eyes still wrench at the heart.

        And I know what Sarah says about publishers, which was why I wasn’t exactly gentle with the snowflake when she preened about working for a publisher.

    • I can’t decide if I would have hurt her feelings worse, or not, because instead of being nasty, I would have explained it to her in a patronizing, condescending, pitying way, because she’s so obviously “special”.

      • Well, that’s what I did… oddly enough.

        Thing is, I’m just plain tired of trying to play nice with the special snowflakes. You don’t get anything from it but derision, they won’t even attempt to consider your point of view. They’re worse than cats – at least a cat will pretend to appreciate you once ion a while.

    • Birthday girl

      “As far as I’m concerned, Amazon’s a flippin’ godsend for the reader. ”

      Amen. And not only for books. As someone who lives in a semi-homebound environment, Amazon Prime is the cat’s meow … for the material products of all kinds delivered right to the doorstep, for the streaming video, and e-books too. I bet Speshul SnowFLAKE has never considered how frakking difficult it can be for a handicapped person to shop at B*N … at least in our experience, nobody ever considers that … May Gdd bless Amazon and may their business prosper. Waffle House too, though for different reasons.

      • Amazon is great for people who can’t drive, for people who travel a lot. And for people who don’t have time to shop offline. Shopping online is fabulous because it allows you to buy all kinds of niche stuff. Try getting a 81/2 4E shoe at a brick and mortar store!

        • or 17, like older son’s shoes.

        • a 9 –I still haven’t figured out how wide cause I can’t find them. My hubby can fit in my shoes *sigh I as for a NA wide and Nike wouldn’t sell them to me. They gave me the widest allowed for a white. ***CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? clothing by race even though I was willing to pay the price– I wear men’s shoes when I can’t find women’s shoes wide enough. *sigh. Anyway if I wear really thin socks, then the Nikes fit. So they are now my summer shoes.

          • ask– fumbled the fingers

          • “Allowed for a white”? Seriously?

            And you didn’t huff and puff and tell them they were insulting your African forebears?

          • Screw Nike… You want odd-sized shoes, go to New Balance. I’ve yet to find someone with a foot that they can’t fit. And, trust me, of this issue I know–I used to be a size 12 D about fifteen-twenty years ago. I’m now a 16 D. From hanging around podiatrists, and diagnosing troops with feets issues, I’ve probably seen enough oddly-sized pedal extremities to qualify as having a foot fetish. Even though I don’t particularly like them, esthetically.

            Hell, I had a guy whose feet were so weird that we had to send off to have the poor sucker’s boots custom-made. I was able to get him running shoes “off-the-shelf” at New Balance, and he wound up wearing those for a good six months in lieu of combat boots. Poor guy was wearing his custom-made black issue boots in Iraq the entire time he was there, because the custom shop was backlogged. When we got back in 2004, the boots we had ordered pre-deployment were there waiting for us, freshly arrived. Of course, that was right before he got out of the Army, but that’s the way things go…

            • I will keep my eye on New Balance next time– dang it– you’d think they would understand that people aren’t widgits.

              • It’s the only shoe for number two son, who pronates abnormally inward.

              • Don’t buy the ones with the two cloth hookies in the middle of the tongue– the laces go hole, hole, hookie, hookie, hole, hole, tie– because they break.

                Well unless you’re OK with getting a leather punch and just making holes at the base of the cloth hoops. (I’m on 18 months of the same pair and they’re about dead– that’s pretty early death for New Balance, at least for me.)

            • +1 for New Balance. They make shoes that fit.

              • Literally the only shoes I can wear without problems. And I don’t have huge feet, but wide and I balance bizarrely, apparently.

                Mattresses and shoes/boots are some of the few things I splurge and get the good stuff on. Because if I’m not in the one, I’m in the other most of the time.

                Of course, I *am* a redneck, so barefoot is a significant slice of the time pie, too when I can manage it… *chuckle*

                • I have somewhat narrow feet, didn’t used to have that much problem finding boots that fit, but now they are all made in China and apparently Chinese have wide feet. Anyways I went from having normal sizes fit, to them being to wide, and I don’t think my feet shrunk.

                  Dan, if you really want to splurge, get a pair of White’s boots, custom made to your feet they fit like a glove, and far outlast any other boot I have tried. You do pay through the nose for them, though.

                  • Where are White’s boots available? How much? $US 200 US$500?

                    • http://www.whitesboots.com/index.php?dispatch=categories.view&category_id=166

                      Made in Spokane, WA they are mainly a mail order outfit. Their pacs and I believe the Hathorn line can be found in stores (website shows Hathorn’s being custom built also, but I know they used to be found in stores in standard sizes, a guy I worked with wore them), their original White’s line is what I have experience with and they are custom fitted to your feet. You take a bunch of measurements of your feet, and send them in and they build the boots to fit.

                      Closer to the $500 range, can go up or down considerably depending on what model and features you want. The rough-cut calked logger and the smokejumper are what I have experience with and they are in the high end. Been a while since I bought some, but suspect they are over $500 now. Other models are significantly cheaper, as are shorter tops, I like tall boots and always pay extra for the tallest boots I can get.

                    • Worth a look-see. My old Rockies are showing their age, and after five years the Goodyear is about wore off the sole. Longest I’ve kept a pair of boots without destroying them so far.

                      Looks like they’re sold a couple hours from me by the store locator. Once the old comfy boots give up the ghost, that’ll be next on my list.

              • Me too! I wish they made dress shoes. My husband an 114E wears them as his work shoes..

            • My husband has such small feet that he has to use women’s or children’s sizes to find shoes that fit. Unfortunately, that often means it is difficult to find a nice work shoe that isn’t excessively dressy. Try finding a children’s shoe that isn’t a dressy shoe that doesn’t have a character on it or lights or whatever. We’ve found nobody that special orders shoes on the small side, only for the large sizes.

              • *nod* I wear boy’s shoes, because they fit, but it’s not like you can use sneakers as work shoes.

                • And although they make boots in boys sizes, they tend to be cheaply made and not last. Because boys are expected to out grow them quickly, before they wear them out.

                  I hear this complaint from women constantly, and boot companies go in cycles, I was talking to a custom boot maker last winter and their womens boots were on closeout. When asked the lady told me they get lots of requests from women who can’t find boots that fit, they open up a line of womens boots and immediately sell quite a few, then get orders for about ten a year from then on, so eventually they discontinue them, and then start getting requests again and finally when the number of requests adds up enough they open another line of womens boots; rinse, repeat.

            • That’s where I buy ALL of my shoes, in 11 4E. Before they came along, Uniform stores for cops were my bestest friends.

          • New Balance goes to 6E wide in Men’s.

        • Jerry Boyd

          Amazon rocks when you’re two hours from the nearest sizable city, if you use anything that isn’t at Wal-Mart.

      • I don’t think Speshul SnowFLAKE considers much beyond how to win the approval of her social peers by displaying the correct social signifiers.

        But Amazon’s a wonder, and they’re constantly popping out new ideas. Just tried ‘Amazon Pantry’… and although it works well enough, I think I’ll stick with buying the usual staples at Sams’, Walmart, and Kroger. For a shut-in or agoraphobe, it’d be a lifesaver.

        • Isn’t Kroger neat?

          • Yep. Local store that opened about 16 years ago had an animatronics singing vegetable display. Smart&Crunchy son was fascinated by it, and the small train that they had circling the freezer aisle at about 8 ft. above ground. But we moved from that area, the store got renovated, and they took the fun stuff out.

    • Y’know… I’m reading this, and I had this sudden vision of a Sarah McLachlan advertisement:

      Set to all this frou-frou Celtic music, as she discusses the ‘orrid fate of your typical author, kept penned up in a factory farm cubicle like so much veal… Never seeing daylight, never knowing freedom, and constantly living in fear of the editorial whips and electric author prods, as they quiveringly bang away at their poorly-designed and entirely unergonomic keyboards, staring just inches away at the monochrome CRT monitors that are decades out of date…

      And, how for only pennies a day, you could ensure that your favorite authors got to gambol freely in grass-filled meadows, far away from the cares and concerns of day to day live, allowed to produce cruelty-free, vegan-based organic writing to their little heart’s content…

      Cruelty-free writing… A concept we need to embrace. For the authors, ya know?

      Dear Lord, will I ever be able to free my tongue from the inner recesses of my cheek?

      • Perhaps with a 6′ crowbar and a 14 lb maul, with a heavy-duty chain and a tractor…

        The backlash is liable to be fierce, though, once that thing springs free.

      • No, no we really don’t. If we let our favorite authors gambol freely in grass-filled meadows far away from the cares and concerns of day to day life, they would never write anything for us to read.

        Where’s that cattle prod at?

      • And, how for only pennies a day, you could ensure that your favorite authors got to gambol freely in grass-filled meadows,

        *squints at Kirk* Have you been spying at my blogging in the back yard while the kids get into trouble?

    • The puppy may not understand why it got spanked for defecating on the carpet instead of on the puppy training pad, but after a couple times getting spanked, it’ll definitely only defecate in the correct place.

      People aren’t that different – she’s been taught to make all the socially-correct noises and look down her nose because that’s what she thinks is the right and proper attitude, and has gotten praised for doing. If you verbally spank her for it, she’ll be very hurt and confused that you’re not giving her the approval she craves – but like a puppy, humans are bright enough to figure out “I get scolded when I do that. I’ll stop doing that. at least around that person.”

      • She’s likely been spanked – years ago – for inadvertently stepping outside the PC/snowflake bounds. She’s hurt and confused because she learned the behavior that gets rewards, and you’re punishing her for it. Poor widdle snowflake – you’re so cruel!

        • Much less so than I could have been. Had the flensing knives out and ready – then dialed it back a lot because I wanted her to READ it, not just dismiss it with a ‘Haters Gotta Hate’ thought.

          But you’re right – she’s learned behavior that gets positive affirmations in her peer group. And there were a couple of other posters who agreed, saying they NEVER shop at Amazon…

          What’s that about a fool and their money?

      • I don’t think she’s ever seen much of reality, much less actually worked in a warehouse. So ‘blue-collar’, you know…

        Then again, all I’ve got to go on is what she posted.

    • Interestingly, from the bits I’ve seen Amazon is a great boon to those warehouse workers she was so sappy over.

      Increasing automation, innovative organizational techniques, evolving mechanisms for efficiency. Amazon spends a lot of time thinking about the warehouse side and how to improve the operations, which necessarily improves the lot of the people having to do the work.

      • One of the sad things about being a liberal is all it takes is ONE bad anecdotal data point to completely flip something from being Te Bestest Thing EVARR! to Te Wurstest Thing EVARR! One disgruntled employee, and it’s a binary flip-flop with a lockdown on that bit so it’ll never, ever change again.

        Except for Whole Foods, of course. ;) Plenty of horror stories there, but because it’s a status thing to shop there for liberals (IE a positional good) they get a pass.

        • But being a positional good is a precarious position – nice while it lasts, but real easy to get replaced very quickly by the next thing.

    • As far as I’m concerned, Amazon’s a flippin’ godsend for the reader.

      Not just the reader.

      My mom spent nearly a hundred dollars… on a soda stream machine. Which does not have the two kinds of carbonated stuff we drink, and even if they did it would cost more than the packs we get at the store. Tried to return it.

      It’s classified as a hazard because of the CO2, but because I knew my mom’s information and it was a gift and there’s no history of bad stuff, etc, after some dancing with the Soda Stream company and their help desk and such they FULLY REFUNDED the cost to my mom…and ask me to please donate it or turn it in to a hazmat disposal place. (Yes, I am going to do so.)

      I am in utter awe of a group that clearly has run all the calculations about cost to return on this TOTAL gateway item, and recognizes it as a better way to spend money to just ask me to give it away rather than screw around with restocking.

      • Rob Crawford

        Companies are slowly understanding that, sometimes, good will is worth more than the bottom line. And, sometimes, the cost of handing a problem “up the chain” is higher than just “giving” the customer something for “free”.

      • I’ve had great luck with Amazon’s customer service, I used to say Cabela’s had the best customer service and you could return anything. But that was back when they only had a store or so back east, and were mostly a mail order business. Since they have started building stores everywhere the customer service has gone WAY downhill.

  5. I was thinking about (lol) how my mind works. I find that when I am writing that sound (unless instrumental music) can disrupt my thinking. I can only assume that the first symbols in my brain is sound. My mother put me on the stereo after I was born and when I cried she would just turn up the music. Music quieted me down apparently from the stories.

    As for red and pink, even though I was conservative my entire life, college put a tint of pink over my eyes when I finished my schooling. I have looked at many of the things I wrote in college and after it was over and it was not full on red, but it had a couple of tones. Even what I wrote the first year after graduation had slight tones and I was 40 when I graduated. So I know from personal experience that college has become a propaganda machine. I was an adult when I finally earned my degree and was pretty set in my ways. I now see why the colleges want to get their hands on new adults– who are more pliable.

    Just my thoughts on the subject past the musical noise.

    • On college. Yep. Me too.

      • There is a lot of pressure put on people who don’t conform. ;-)

        • Took me an extra year to graduate. I don’t do conform well. Also, had to change major several times. Got the impression I couldn’t graduate with a degree in English, Philosophy, or History with certain opinions. *shakes head*

          • I managed English– although I was going through the college on Ramstein AFB. My choices were psychology, computer science, or English. I already had done computer science and I kind of fell into English Lit. I was pretty good at it.

    • Birthday girl

      Interesting. I find that words and loud sound/music disrupts my thinking processes. Soft music is OK, and instrumental is better than singing. I remember one conversation with my dear mother (who is totally verbal and cannot process a thought unless she physically talks about it) when I had to say “too many words, can’t think” and left the room for awhile so I could process and then return to the conversation. I experience thought as a series of diagrams moreso than words or images … whatever that means.

      And for college pinking … yes … I married directly out of college and found myself a few years later wishing my dear husband was a woman so I could be politically correct … this was approx. 1985 … that was the turning point when I realized I was an idiot and needed to align my conscious thinking with what I knew to be Right and True, which is not politically correct at all … so, yeah …

      • Interesting– and yea — we are all odd in different ways. ;-)

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        There is a reason why music with English lyrics, played to someone else’s sense of taste, timing, and volume, is among the more difficult bits of sonic pollution for me.

        • I dunno – I think I have always been able to focus to an un-human degree. I was able to do homework in the junior high lunchroom, with an amazing degree of ruckus going on. Just now, I was hammering away at a blog-post and my daughter was using a shop-vac in the hall to … well never mind, but it involved the litter-boxes.
          My usual background music is the local classical station … I do mentally hum along with a lot of the selections, being somewhat knowledgeable about classical music. No, once I focus on something, I am able to ignore all kinds of outside stimuli. Once my daughter came home from work and demanded, (in justifiable agitation) did I notice that there was a fire in the back-yard? Blown ember had set a smoldering fire in the bark mulch outside the picture window. Of course I had not noticed … I was reading!

          • Most of my writing is done with three guys in my office arguing about games or superheroes or other “vital” topics. WHY in my office? Who the hell knows?

          • Rob Crawford

            I used to be able to focus to that degree all the time. It’s harder now (older, less tolerant of caffeine, who knows why), but give me a “meaty” enough problem or a decent book and I can do it again.

    • David, infamous sock puppet

      I am just so naturally ornery that all my pinko professors did by pushing the totalitarianism on me was to knock me out of my naturally conservative politics (4th generation Mormon, and my family considers most Mormons to be left-wing activists) and drive me towards the libertarian side of things.

      Of course, my favorite political saying is from PJ O’Rourke: “I may have been a Maoist in college, but at least I never shamed my parents by becoming a Democrat.”

      • 5th generation here– had to count on my fingers. Plus all sides– so yea– and my family considered most other Mormons left-wing as well. Interesting. We probably share some ancestors.

        • David, infamous sock puppet

          Calls? Bunkers? Knights? Jensen?

          These are the most prominent of my lines.

          • Specifically which Bunkers? The Boston ones?

            If so, we might be related, albeit distantly.

          • Bagley, Peterson (or sen), Larson, Allen, Hunt, Bird, Benson, Kingsbury, Meservy, and more are the prominent of my lines–

            • Any relation to Donald Kingsbury the writer?

              • Don’t know– My great-great grandma’s maiden name was Kingsbury and she married a Meservy, mother of my great-grandma who I knew– we used to write to each other.

    • My reaction to the proganda pushed in college was to become more interested in politics and go from being conservative because my parents are to being conservative because it makes sense and seems right to me.

  6. To muddy the water even more…. The difference between Men and Women’s Brains.

    If you have two hours to kill the whole talk comes in 10 parts.

  7. Another thing that I wanted to say was that when I was young and the church I was in said that I had to control my thoughts, etc. I was in dismay. How could I control hundreds, and thousands (maybe millions) of thoughts going in and out of my brain? I would have to build an airport just to keep track of a few of the thoughts– and I couldn’t catch them all or control them. I was a nervous wreck after that Sunday service.

    • Having thoughts isn’t a problem. Dwelling on them with intent, in a salacious (or murderous, or thievish, or otherwise no-good purposes) is where the problem is. You don’t want to train yourself to be a jerk by thinking lovingly about killing the guy who just cut you off, unless maybe it’s for fiction inspiration purposes.

      But trying to control thoughts by brute force, especially trying to not think about something, is like that game where you try not to think of a blue elephant. Doesn’t work, and just makes it worse. A lot of times for me, the best way to deal with thoughts you don’t like is just to picture them like trash in a ditch. They flow in, they flow out. Good for nightmares too.

      And yes, there’s an amazing amount of people who are perfectly willing to give other people a case of scruples (in the psychoreligious sense, where you can’t tell if you’re sinning or not and you obsess about it), by not being concrete enough in their examples and action plans. Not nice.

    • Some of your thoughts are temptations. It’s only the assent of the will that makes them sins.

    • Maybe directing your thoughts is a better way to put it.

      • That’s how I think of it. I can’t help some of the thoughts that come into my head (and there are plenty that I wish I hadn’t planted back in the day), but I can have something positive that I can think about – something that doesn’t tend toward my baser nature.

  8. “Space. The final frontier.” “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” Born years after it was on TV, those words found a place in me. I can still hear William Shatner’s voice. The opening lines from the Star Trek resonate as the essence of science fiction and my love of it. Science fiction embodies HOPE and wonder and adventure like nothing else (and yes, I know I’m not supposed to use and twice in a row like that). Science fiction pushes the imagination and drove my interest in science.

    Fantasy tickles a couple of other buttons – every little boy wants to be a knight in shining armor that saves the day. Plus dragons, how can you not want to read about dragons? Are you a heathen? :)

    • I may be misremembering this, but the very first time they aired the pilot for NextGen, I swear they used the clunkier two-syllable “person” instead of “man”. I even remember discussing that with a friend.

      Later, they changed it to “no-one” IIRC.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Just remember “Sometimes The Dragon Wins! That’s why there are still dragons around.” [Very Big Dragon Grin]

  9. And outliers/Odds can go one of two ways. When we first realize we’re different (for me, it was in kindergarten) we can either revel in it or try to hide it and fit in. The sane path is neither, and those of us who have come into our own, some later in life, have learned to walk that line very carefully. We pick our battles “Here we fit in” and “here we lift two middle fingers aloft, because society is barking mad.”

    My path was slightly different. Rather than trying to truly fit in, I pretended to fit in, while raising my middle fingers in my head. Not too much different, but since I become inarticulate when trying to argue with people who make me angry, it was a compromise which I felt important, since my alternatives were to start beating people with sticks when they irritated me. Which could become problematic, when they went whining to the authorities. Or when they were the authorities, as I came close to beating the county prosecutor half to death one day, over younger son and school attendance.

    • Q: “What do you call 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?”
      A: “A good start.”

      • At the butchers:

        “Could I get two pounds of pork chops, and a couple of tenderloins?”

        “I’m afraid we’re out of pork today, but I do believe we’re overstocked on lawyers.”

        “Oh, that’s a shame. My husband’s developed a dislike of them, but I do appreciate their flavor. Tell you what – two beef steaks, a rump roast, and five pounds of lawyer haunch sliced thin. I’m having the garden club over for lunch tomorrow, and I’ll make finger sandwiches.”

        “We have their fingers, too, if you want them.”

        “No, too bony, they take forever to cook and you get so little meat off them…”

        • Q: How many lawyers does it take to roof a house?

          A: Depends on how thin you slice them.

          • Lawyers make poor roofing material… Too greasy, and the run-off from the rain kills the lawn. Aside from that, they move around and talk too much in the first few weeks after installation.

            • Hey now, I LIKE my IP lawyer.

              • Well, of course you don’t roof with our lawyers, just like you don’t eat your guard dog or sheep dog.

                The other fellow’s, however? Fair game, says I… It’s just like the “dog:wolf” dichotomy: One is a warm, cuddly helpmate, and the other is a furry horror you have to guard your flock from…

        • Q: What’s the difference between a Lawyer and a Carp?

          A: One is a bottom dwelling scum sucker and the other is a fish.

    • My path was slightly different. Rather than trying to truly fit in, I pretended to fit in, while raising my middle fingers in my head.

      Maybe that’s where the “shut up until you’re sure” impulse comes from?

  10. A lot of grief has come, over the course of time, from people reading things that aren’t targeted at them, and thus misunderstanding what they read, from lack of proper context. (No, I’m not talking about fiction. I’m talking, at the moment, about psychology texts. Although closer to my own professional wheelhouse, the notion of Tony Soprano being afraid that web cookies are going to spy on him through other people’s computer monitors also comes to mind. Also, some friends — who are manifestly not engineers — coming down with some laughably ludicrous notions from misreading of articles published in technical journals.)

    It is a perilous mistake, to let psychologists, define what is “normal”, simply because their experience is entirely defined by people who present themselves for treatment. Thus, their first question is not “are you normal?” (because, of course, if you were normal, you wouldn’t be there asking for treatment), but “which of the treatments in my bag of tricks can I get your medical insurance company to pay for, in the vaguely-founded hope of making you happy enough to keep coming back?”.

    The purpose of every word written by and for the practice of psychology is to expand and clarify the answers to the latter question. There’s a perfectly understandable reason why “healthy” does not appear, to them, to be a valid diagnosis…because no person presenting himself for treatment wants to be sent home without any.

    But millions of people pick up excerpts from the DSM, and “diagnose” their perfectly functional selves, friends, and family with psychological disorders…on the basis of definitions specifically designed to exclude “healthy” from the range of possible answers.

  11. …and some outliers are still so convinced that “book smarts” trumps sense and believing what’s right in front of you, that they fail to get the point. or reading comprehension, of plainly spoken words.

    Stumbled into this after looking deeper into the Kerfluffle caused by John C Wright resigning from the SFWA.

    http://fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/silence-is-not-synonymous-with-uproar-a-response-to-john-c-wright/

    The short version – she’s having difficulty parsing that the “silence” is on the part of those Like Sarah who were afraid – or still are – of “rocking the boat” for fear of the uproar, torches, pitchforks, and book and bell.

    The very title says she didn’t “get” it.

    Later, in the comments, she tells us that 1984 was an anti capitalist rant. Somehow INGSOC didn’t clue her in.

    Hell, it’s not like Orwell had an ongoing theme of the evils of twisting plainly spoken words to mean any and everything. Or an essay on how political language does that to ill effect.

    And someone with such poor reading/context comprehension is actually a hugo nominated (fan) writer?

    • There are those who lament that Orwell is remembered for anti-Communism, not for his socialism. They miss that as an anti-Communist, he was a genius, and as a socialist he was below even the usual level of logic.

      • This is really really disturbing: first, that idiot Krystal Ball on MSNBC with Animal Farm, and now this Foz Meadows person with 1984. It suggests a larger pattern of kids getting taught to read Orwell 180 degrees wrong. How long has this been going on?

        On the other hand, you can always cheer yourself up by listening to the Goon Show’s 1984 episode, which takes great glee in pointing out all the bits that Orwell took from studio life at the BBC.

        • Forgot to give the ep title. It’s “Nineteen Eighty-Five” (broadcast in 1955), and it’s the only script they recorded and broadcast twice because of its popularity. The plot is a satire on the (government-run) BBC trying to get rid of the ITA (at that time, the only non-government TV channel). There’s a transcript available, but it’s a lot funnier to listen to the actual show.

        • Well, it does explain why they’ve been using both works as instruction manuals. I wonder how they’d describe Ayn Rand’s works?

          • Well, Balph Eubank recently published an article chiding Rowling for writing and publishing non-children’s fiction.

    • I’ll say up front, I didn’t read it all. Why would I when her manifest inability to understand what was written down right in front of her shows up so early?

      I just want to observe: Notice how “trigger warnings” are being used to prelabel the individual they’re attacking in their post? Classy.

      And we’ll stick with classy ’cause everything else running through my head after reading something like that is too expletive laden for polite, impolite or military company.

  12. Used to be quite active in Mensa, served a hitch as LocSec, did a couple years as the newsletter editor, even ran the local group’s web site for a while. Have drifted away as the organization gradually shifted from slightly pink to flaming maroon. But when active one of the things we did was greet new members and folks who qualified and were interested in joining. A remarkable number of both were obviously highly intelligent, but very poorly socialized, and that combination can present itself as mild autism or high function aspergers to the casual observer.
    I have seen that most folks who qualify and join stay for a few years then drop out having proven themselves and able to put “qualified for Mensa” on a resume. The ones that stay need the social interaction with fellow odds of that particular stripe. The running joke is that a Mensa party is the only place where people gets your jokes.

    • Yep. Mensa, where the odds are good, and the goods are exceedingly odd. Went to a Huntsville RG, back in the ’80s.

      And I met my lovely bride thanks to Mensa. She’d passed her GRE with a high enough score to get in and her sister told her about Mensa. She went to a Games Night, and was about to bug out because, as I said, the odds were good but the goods were decidedly odd in her eyes.

      But I got there and started talking with her, ended up helping her with her computer at a later time, then asked her for a date… and that was 22 years ago this fall. I joke it’s one of the very few times I’ve looked good compared to other men.

      We both dropped out very shortly afterwards.

      Corresponded with a friend who used to be active a couple of years back, wanted to see about getting my son tested… she wouldn’t recommend Mensa any more. Demographics have REALLY shifted to the older part of the population, and the politics have skewed hard left, at least locally. There’s not much give-and-take of ideas going on.

  13. “Not just because Baen still exists – and thrives, at a time when Harlequin had to sell – but because there’s indie.”

    Not trying to snark — I’m really wondering: What happens to that indie if the UN actually gets control of ICANN? I have few doubts that squelching alternative media is much of the reason behind that crackbrained idea. Do we go back to Soviet-era samizdat publishing?

    • Sure! Just change it to “Bean Press – gardening, hybridization, and turf management,” set up file drops, and when Sarah A Hoyt has her next pamphlet up about growing tomatoes in cool climates, you ping for the download. If you happen to get a sic-fi novel as well, *shrugs* wires got crossed, sorry ’bout that, can we interest you in the old-breed bean and pea news list?

    • Two main drivers for the UN internet takeover. First they see it as a cash cow, yet another transfer of wealth. Second, some (maybe most) countries want more control over what passes through their borders, mostly what’s coming in, but to some extent also what’s going out.
      First case, things just get a bit more expensive. Second, stuff goes underground.
      Remember all they are really talking about is DNS. IP is still assigned by machine code, so there are ways around any domain restrictions, and if the code becomes necessary there are tons of folks ready to write apps to take advantage. Or as we used to say in our small independent government agency, where there’s a copper path, there’s a way.

    • ICANN is remarkably important as long as they’re working for something roughly approximating the best interests of the net. As soon as they start trying to push censorship, they’ll find that the tools at their disposal are far too blunt to do the job, and that the actual inhabitants of the net stop paying them any attention.

      This is on purpose.

      The internet functions on consensus. Anyone trying to coerce it will experience much greater frustrations than they typically imagine.

  14. To a certain extent Sarah is right. Oh the other hand “riding right over them” is not going to be as easy as she makes it sounds. See, the Odd part fits. The compulsion and drive, the desire to be an expert, the need to know it all. Yeah, they’re odds. There’s no two ways about it. On the other hand, they tend to be very closed minded Odds. I _KNOW_ there has to be a better way to put this, but it’s very similar to some Odds and the debate between Kirk and Picard. (Yes, I know the debate between freedom and servitude is of much greater importance that the debate between two Star Trek captains. It’s an analogy. It ain’t perfect.)

    When you spend a few semesters inside the Echo Chamber you get an understanding about what we’re really up against. Only once did I ever get a professor who

    a.) Took on the hard subjects.

    and

    b.) Allowed people who disagreed with her to talk.

    Seriously. Dr Elizabeth Faue, if you ever happen to read this, you have my undying respect and admiration for having the guts to allow a rightist to speak his point of view in your classroom. No, I am not kidding. Two years of grad school and a history degree later, she is the only one who allowed dissenting points of view in her presence. Most would either talk over me or ignore me and continue on with their classes as though I wasn’t there. I will probably never agree with the woman, but that’s not the point. She, at least, had the intellectual integrity to engage the other side. None of the rest of them did.

    My point is this:

    In a Kirk V. Picard debate, all evidence is thrown out of the window. It’s emotion that rules. I get that. Regardless of your favorite captain (and mine is Kirk FWIW) there is no way to convince anyone of anything. It’s like talking to a wall only the wall screams back. Welcome to the world of dealing with leftists.

    In a post in the not all that distant past on the Bar, specifically the Kratskellar, someone posted a link to a handbook used by the left to train people to promote their anti-gun agenda. If flat out states that they can’t win the logical argument. It advises people to use the emotional argument. The same way the political correctness handbook says that all white people are racist and that denying their racism is proof that they’re racist. It’s not meant to engage in debate. It’s meant to shut it down. Think about it. Why cry racism/sexism/homophobia every time a rightist says something the left doesn’t like? Because as soon as an accusation is made people stop thinking. That doesn’t mean the fight is lost, but it does make it harder.

    At some point we’re going to have to find a way to force the other side to LISTEN. I don’t know how. I don’t know when it will happen. But we’re well past the point where refusal by the other side to have a real conversation could end in fire and blood. And the “open and honest” conversation they keep asking for means one in which are views are welcomed and discussed as well.

    • The argument is not for the radicals, nor even the comfortable idealists, it’s for the vast majority in the middle. You’re arguing your case before the court, you’re never going to change the other guy’s mind. Don’t try, you’re there to beat him, not convert him.

    • f flat out states that they can’t win the logical argument. It advises people to use the emotional argument. The same way the political correctness handbook says that all white people are racist and that denying their racism is proof that they’re racist.

      Really wish you didn’t make sense.

  15. Martin L. Shoemaker

    But they have no union. Therefore they are oppressed.

  16. Thought control…. blech.

    The church I was raised in was very big on trying to be as passively aggressive on that as possible. (Seventh Day Adventist.) It’s a dang science depending on the conference. After leaving and going pagan, there were a couple things that stuck out to me:
    Regardless of the belief system, people always fall back into ingrained thought patterns and overlay it onto the new belief if they’re not careful.
    And the number of people who I’ve in the Pagan world that were former Adventist was rather eye-opening. Still causes an incredibly odd dissonance to this day time to time.

    Also… I must be vigilant in not drinking *or* knitting when reading this blog. The neurotic shaved monkey bit induced a laughter fit. Ow.

    • Careful, those big needles look funny sticking outta your thigh.

      • Very much so. Or the hand.

        • You can pull off a lot of fun drama in the ER if you impale the hand, though…

          • *chuckle* As it is run up and construction for Haunted House season I’m reminded of the time I was nearly arrested in the ER.

            Brought in a cast member with an almost broken ankle. Spent the next longer-than-I’d-like-to-recall explaining the blood on her neck (and on my hands) was fake and the “wounds” were artificial appliances… Our makeup guy was almost too good. Really. *chuckle*

          • *shudder* I had a nightmare last night that my daughter– four– pierced her ear. And when I pulled her up to look at it, the neighbor girl ran up to tattle because *lifts daughter’s hand* she’d also pieced her hand.

            Right through the BONE at the end of her pointer finger, coming out right at the tip of the nail. She did it last night, but Dream Neighbor Girl couldn’t find me (I was in a demonic (literal) haunted house) so I only found out after a three hour hell (metaphorical) commute….

            I woke up trying not to puke…..

  17. I didn’t really figure out I was somewhat different until well into my 30′s. I may have occasionally suspected it, but my generation here was not raised to think we were special but rather the exact opposite, that we were all just ordinary, and that was the way it should be – Lutheranism values humbleness and modesty highly, and the tendency to push that far enough that it could also smother people still existed when I was a kid (not so much anymore, now we seem to be getting more of our own special snowflakes here too).

    But yes, back then while it was admitted that there were occasional outliers the idea given was pretty much that if you thought _you_ might be one, in any way, you were most likely just conceited. Because the only real outliers were those people who stood out since toddlers so well that everybody could see it.

    So I fought the thought I might be different. Especially when I started to think I might also be more intelligent than average because that was pretty much the definition of conceited, especially since I had no proof for it, for example I hadn’t done much better than average in school. That was why I dared to take the Mensa test only when I was about forty. I suspected I might qualify, I figured I probably wouldn’t, and I could not decide which alternative was better (or worse). Qualifying for Mensa was an ego boost, at least it proved I had been right about one thing, but at the same time it was also a downer, because it made me feel even more of a failure than I had been feeling before. So, I have higher than average IQ, but why haven’t I been able to accomplish anything with it?

    And for the other parts of different – yes, I seem to be, at least it can be damn hard to find people to talk with in real life – on internet we can flock to places like this, but in everyday life finding similar people seems to be between hard and impossible. But it still sometimes feels weird to admit that I think I’m some sort of different. Downright sinful, in fact. :)

  18. What is this business in the video about the favorite box of men being the empty box? WTF? Plenty of the people in this thread who say that they are always thinking about something seem to have male names.

    The part about men wanting to fix stuff rings more true. I have noticed that everyone who points out this phenomenon just assumes that the solution is for the man to listen to the description of the problem without trying to fix it. It’s assumed that his capacity to sink unfixed frustration is without bound.

    • WHAT video? And since when are Cyn, Birthdaygirl and I males? I’ve been accused of writing like a guy (well, the person saying it thought it was bad. PFUI) but that is ridiculous.

    • Is this a nesting fail? Were you referencing the video (way) upthread?

      Clarification, please.

    • I do handyman repair around Schloß Red and Redquarters, plus I used to work on aircraft engines and sheet metal. As long as it doesn’t deal with live electricity, I’m willing to try working on it. Broken things bug me. Oh, yeah, and I’m a chick-type person. Kinda like Sarah but a lot paler.

      • Contextually, I gather the referenced video is the one above from Geoff Whisler where the speaker says men’s brains are full of boxes, wherein they compartmentalize all aspects of their lives, no two boxes to ever touch. He then goes on to state that a man’s favorite box is the empty one. So he can pull it out, open it up and sit around doing nothing, perfectly content.

        The speaker is gently mocking both sexes with generalizations and humor. Mostly misses the mark with me, because I don’t find it particularly reflective of me individually. Nonetheless a bit annoying.

        That’s how I’m reading the latest guest, anyway.

        Aside: I’m also hesitant to tackle electricity. DC, I’ll give a go, though the arcane art still sometimes befuddles. AC, I call for the priests.

        • Birthday girl

          ” So he can pull it out, open it up and sit around doing nothing, perfectly content.”

          And if you ask what he/she is thinking, you’ll might be told “nothing,” which does not mean it really is nothing …

        • 110 is less of a beast than 220 and up. Electricity is fun, but like power tools and heavy machinery is to be respected lest it bite you.

          Also, not seen the video, but if the box is empty isn’t it up to our imagination to fill it? Mine fills up far too many things and occasionally has to be emptied out on paper (or electronically)…

          • Priests, I tell ya. 220 or more? High priests. Read ‘high’ however you think fits.

            Apparently we’re supposed to cherish the emptiness of the box… I dunno. That bit didn’t really resonate with me.

            • 220v 3 phase just to make it interesting……

            • i think that may refer more to our ability to do one single thing, on autopilot and not actually be doing anything else besides that one thing on auto pilot.

              The fishing is how i had to get there. I can’t stand fishing, but my dad ascribes fishing as one of the few pure things he can do were the only things in his world are himself, the rod, and the fish. Nothing more, nothing less.

              I can do the same reading and gaming. And sometimes writing(although that far to often suffers from “aww look at the kitty” syndrom.)

              • If we talk about a clarifying activity where the distractions are eliminated and the focus is cleared, I have such activities. But the thoughts don’t go away, they’re just channeled.

      • Yeah. I’m the one responsible for honey-dos around the place. I used to follow workmen around to see what they were doing and it’s amazing how much I learned.

    • Birthday girl

      ” … everyone who points out this phenomenon just assumes that the solution is for the man to listen to the description of the problem without trying to fix it. ”

      That’s because the [morally superior] woman who is describing the problem just wants a hug, not a reason to stop griping …

      • Not necessarily. She might be looking for an “attagirl” for having been smart enough to figure out the problem all by herself, and be really annoyed at being interrupted before she gets to that part.

        Or she might not even been aware there was a “problem” that needed “solving”, since she just thought she was telling a funny story about something that happened recently.

        (I’ve had both happen to me at various times.)

        On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 3:49 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > Birthday girl commented: “” … everyone who points out this > phenomenon just assumes that the solution is for the man to listen to the > description of the problem without trying to fix it. ” That’s because the > [morally superior] woman who is describing the problem just wants a h” >

      • DrTanstaafl

        I actually tell my husband when I’m going to ask for suggestions, and when he is to sympathize only. Makes conversations much more useful. I find direct communication works, imagine that.

        • This is awesome. I shall remember this, and try to determine which it is, next time I’m listening to a lady in such a situation. *grin*

          • Simple to determine; if she’s hot, she needs a hug, if she’s not…

          • If you can manage it, try some self-depreciating talk about how you need a focus, do they want you to attack the problem or to just listen and respond?

            I phrase it poorly, but my husband and I have worked out where I can say that I want him to fix the problem, or I want him to check if I’m crazy, or I just want him to listen to me.

      • Needs a hug, wants help, just someone to listen… I love the tell us up front idea. It can be such a tremendous PITA sometimes trying to figure out what aspect is needed.

        I say this as someone who has been accused of not listening because i just wanted to solve the problem (her words), and also of not paying attention when i went into full attentive listening mode so she could just vent.

        In the same conversation. /sigh

  19. Off topic, but I hope you can help: When an author has a book in the Kindle Lending Library, and I use my Prime membership to borrow for free, does the author receive anything?

    • yep. Often more than the price of the book (It’s a pool and it’s divided every month. So amount varies.) Never less.

      • Ah, good news then. Some months I haven’t used it. I will from here on out.

      • Oh, and assuming the author has control over the book description on Amazon’s pages, can I suggest that you (and your friends) add a line right at the top for appropriate books: “Book two of the XXXXX series.”

        When you’re shopping from a more basic Kindle, which can be slow and frustrating, that sort of thing makes buying much quicker and easier!

      • *jawdrop* Oh, that’s AWESOME!

        I can now use the lending library without feeling guilty!

        • Yeah, I rather dig that news.

        • Just one of many ways Amazon is abusing the proletariat. They’ll give your books to your readers for free, but still pay you for them! How awful!

          That’s right up there with making a vast array of merchandise available for rapid delivery to your door, paying 70% royalties to authors, and building giant warehouses out in the middle of nowhere that provide hundreds of jobs where there weren’t any jobs before.

          Bastards. How dare they?
          :-)

  20. If you are going to “Ride Right Through Them”, I usually recommend a saber.

    If you are really clumsy, then a mace, sure, but otherwise …. sabers.

  21. “he overthinks things” (Something I’m sure all of us were accused of growing up.)”

    Possibly, but I was accused a lot more often of not bothering to think.

    • Yeah, but if you thought about it and decided, “Eh, I’ll probably live through it” then their criticism was misplaced.

      • Or if you think about it and accept the consequences, then do it anyway (for whatever reason), then giving the obvious answer to “WHAT were you THINKING?!” doesn’t always help…

        • sigh

          I never got asked that. Mostly because they would rather impute the most ridiculous motives to me and laugh rather than ask.

          • More the fools, they. Willful ignorance is a sad, pitiful thing to behold, all the more so because it is by choice. *shakes head*

  22. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Thinking about people “thinking” or “not thinking”, have anybody else here had “thoughts” that when asking “what are you thinking about” that you really don’t want to tell the person what you’re thinking? [Wink]

    For that matter, have any of you started answering the question and have the asker looking like he/she is sorry that he/she asked? [Evil Grin]

    • For that matter, have any of you started answering the question and have the asker looking like he/she is sorry that he/she asked?

      Frequently. They ask but they don’t wanna know? Hmph.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I am a literalist, and have the habit of trying to discuss every matter fully.

      I think faster and easier than I speak, with a more rapid change of topics.

      It regularly isn’t practical for me to answer such questions, and I may be thinking about material I don’t wish to discuss anyway.

      I’ve had people, some of whom maybe should’ve known better, ask me questions then back out of hearing the full answer.

      I don’t read faces well, so I prefer to be explicitly when I’m being a pain, and not left to infer it from clues too subtle for me to pick up in ‘stringing words together mode’.

    • Birthday girl

      See, this is that “man’s brain” empty box up thread aways … it isn’t really empty all the time …

    • Both of those, plus responding, “You really don’t want to know.”, and, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

    • Oh, hell. I hate that. The vast majority of the time the eyes glaze over and I get left trailing off awkwardly whilst they make an escape.

      I get told fairly often, “Wow, you’re really smart!”. As much as hearing that briefly tickles my ego, I don’t feel very smart. Mostly I just feel lonely.

    • I will tell you what men are thinking, “I wanna a beer, and I wanna see something nekkid”.

  23. I am extremely grateful for the internet. Without you people I would go insane – or at least, more so.

    I never fit in to start with. School broke me, and depression and isolation only made it worse. I am *still* dealing with the fallout from that crap, and I expect I still will be for a long time to come.

    It is ridiculously hard for me to fit in here in the UK. Above average intelligence, extremely unusual political views (that maximum personal liberty + responsibility is considered both unusual *and* extreme here is somewhat upsetting) and having interests that just don’t mesh with most of the population makes life pretty trying.

    Ideas excite me. The possibilities and ramifications of, say, asteroid mining – political, practical, economic, whatever – could keep me going for *hours*. Unfortunately the vast majority of the people I know either don’t understand it at all or only care about beer and football – sorry – soccer.

    At any rate, I feel it important to say here how much I love this blog. I love coming here for both the host and the commenters, and I read everything written here voraciously. Thank you all for providing me with a much needed sanctuary!

    • “Unfortunately the vast majority of the people I know either don’t understand it at all or only care about beer and football – sorry – soccer.”

      If i had a dollar for every time i try to talk about something more profound then sports, boobs, or getting wasted with the reply being nothing more than a strange look in reply.

      A dollar every time i try to explain why it’s okay to find something funny, and use your brain to get the joke rather than watch yet another person get kicked in the [censored for family values] again.

      I could by an island, of that i’m sure.

      I use to have friends who wanted to talk physics, now they want to talk Jackass….

      I really missed good smart debate before i found blogs…. i really really missed it :)

    • I’d like to say, same here to all of what you said about not fitting in, and being grateful for this blog, especially as a sanctuary for folks like us.

  24. So do I! They get to be unspeakable! Where’s my white privelage on that, dammit!

  25. Practically everyone – or so it seems to me – tends to go through life with a lot of unexamined baggage.

    Kind of hard to do otherwise– you have to have a starting point, and having enough free time to figure out what you’re building on is a luxury. (Although… one which very few folks seem to avail themselves of, even when they have the time. I wonder if it’s an introvert thing to always think you’re wrong, and only speak up when you’re pretty dang sure. Which results in snark about how nice it must be to always be right.)

  26. Pingback: The Debate is OVER | Something Fishy

  27. Most of us – oh, come on guys – spend most of our lives working for close to nothing, or doing work we hate, or stumbling around trying to figure our way out of the paper bag of office politics.
    Been tested a good bit higher in IQ than Einstein (who really wasn’t super high in IQ, but I’ll use him as the reference) but for years was working just a hair above the minimum wage (and twice for far under it), but luckily only three times was it work I really hated. My favorite job … the one I would still be doing if only the owner hadn’t sold out was my fueling job at the airport.
    Best part was the hours …7 days at 12 hours a day, then off for 7 days.
    When working, most of your day was doing nothing. I read a lot .. I had a paperback in the truck, and my laptop in the office for e-books.
    the 3 worst are a tie for which was worse.
    My very first job – Groundskeeper (I got hay fever so bad then, my eyes would swell almost shut), Dishwasher (a few months only and I quit after Mother’s Day), and DirecTv installer (worked that for about 5 months).
    All others were jobs I liked, but something happened that caused me to walk away for one reason or another, usually a management issue, but occasionally just pay. I’ve been a carpenter’s helper in renovations, Bicycle mechanic, Delivery driver for autoparts, Outside sales for same autoparts place (I hate sales, but I knew most of my customers from delivery so it was less of a PIA), Warehouse manager/order-picker/shipper (I’d put this down near the bottom 3, but would not have been half bad with the help I wanted, but never showed until others had to do my job. I got replaced with 3 people), Aircraft fueler, and my current job – chemical blend specialist (though my new official title is Machine Operator2…sorry I ain’t a M.O. but they won’t let me use Goo Mixer).

  28. I dunno ’bout ‘choo, but the people I am happiest being around are those who are capable of the first sight and the third thoughts.

  29. Way I look at it…there’s natural human variation…and studies show that autistic tendencies aren’t terribly clustered. A bit of autism seems to increase some capabilities…and an awful lot can be crippling. Beyond that, specifics matter. Even mildly autistic people with tendencies towards rigidity and heightened emotions tend to run into trouble. But, mildly autistic people with lowered emotions tend to do okay.

    Self-awareness helps though…and I would observe that people a fair bit onto the autistic spectrum do tend to cluster at extremes of the political spectrum… The thing is that communism and truly radical libertarianism are both unworkable nightmares. [At least, I am 100% convinced, having worked in corporations for many years, that turning over law enforcement and fire safety to corporations to remove tools of coercion from the state would work...poorly.]

    My guess is that the problems in our nation aren’t so much in the balance between liberty and communism – which I think we get ‘reasonably right’ (as do the Europeans…and the Chinese) (this is a broad judgment), but in a mixture of corruption and adaption to generally positive change.

    For the first, we spend far too much on finance (something like 20% of the economy) because, essentially, of government welfare. (Okay, even I can figure out a good investment if you loan me unlimited cash at 0% interest and borrow unlimited cash at 2%…) Similarly for medicine. [Another 20% or so] We really shouldn’t cover every treatment that’s been shown to be effective; just the ones that have been shown to be cost-effective for someone earning close to the median American salary. That’s welfare for the rich – since the average person isn’t better off doubling their medical bills for a couple extra months of life. And lastly, the military, which could use trimming to levels approaching the cold war – when we had someone to fight. Sure, each adjustment would barely improve the resources available to the average American life (by 20% or so), but do everything and they double…

    And for the other, we’re in an era of relatively rapid displacement, and a lot of people can’t adapt fast enough. [Vis a 50 year old bank functionary who's been replaced by a computer...sure...some people can retrain, but not all of them.] There, the most efficient choice may just to be to accept that people die. That woman kept on seeking the same job; lost her heath insurance’ got breast cancer… Thing is that a bunch of not-terribly-adaptable 50 year olds dying on the street won’t pull down the republic. But maybe we could rejigger systems somehow. The problem being that no one invests in people, because they just leave. Never saw a solution there, beyond restarting slavery.

    Later, we’ll run into the problem that an increasing proportion of our population won’t be worth feeding. There’s natural human variation…with some people doing manual and others various intellectual labors. Eventually, computers displace an awful lot of that. Realistically, eg, banks were the first wave – because computers are good calculators. After that, well, modern factories, even in China, tend to hire relatively few people, recently low quality blogs are being written by clever software;…someday within my lifetime, I expect to be able to boot up my workstation and ask for the sequel to Hoyt’s last book and have it churn out something basically indistinguishable, aside from the lack of typos. This may accelerate the trend towards inequality…which becomes fearsome when political classes realize that they can control the political process and increase their power. Eg, loan at 2% and borrow at 0%…

    .Meh. Aspie ramble.

    Oh. And…asteroid mining…lousy short-term investment…amazing long-term investment if we just build some not-terribly fast self-replicating solar factories and start sending home the raw materials… Seriously workable. The second wave should probably use fissionables found in the asteroids… Although, I’ve never understood why you’d mine asteroids before the moon.

    • Derf, that non-adaptable 50 year old is EXACTLY what will pull down the republic…. because she still has one thing of value to trade: her vote for the party of Big Government.

    • Creativity is not randomness. Will your workstation (who uses those anymore?) be creative, Our hostess is.

    • Not going to address the social and political aspects of that, but asteroid mining? Except for a limited few near-Earth asteroids, they will have to be nuclear powered, because out in the Asteroid Belt, solar irradiance is down around 1/4 what it is at Earth’s orbit, and even here, solar power isn’t cost effective.

      • You must remember they don’t’ have this great thumping atmosphere in the way.

        • Plus no day/night cycles. And parabolic mirrors can be very, very big in free fall. Make ‘em inflatable, with a thin Mylar(tm) reflective surface, and they can be arbitrarily large. Focus the sunlight on a water tank, run the steam through a turbine, then through a shadowed radiator, and then back into the tank. Few moving parts, very simple to operate, and can even be built with local materials.

          Darn near perpetual power.

    • Asteroids, moon. Depends on whether you can kevlar-sling the good stuff out of the moon’s gravity well. Also, on the discount rate. It takes a little while to get things back from the asteroids. I just read commie Charlie Stross’ “Neptune’s Children”. Sumbitch is smart, has interesting thoughts on interstellar banking and truly long term finance.

  30. snelson134

    “because there’s indie. They might be able to control an industry that has to strain through six outlets (back in the day) all of them in NYC and run by people with similar credentials. But the dam has broken. There isn’t a leak. There are thousands. And the good ones will get read. You can’t stop them.”

    Don’t worry, Sarah, they’re fixing that:
    SPLC wants Amazon to excommunicate “HATERS.”

    Gee, wonder who will meet that definition….