Odds and Radical Losers

I first heard mention of Radical Losers when Gabby Giffords was shot.  I no longer remember where I heard it, and I have this feeling that there was an article/book by that title, but it’s late on Sunday and I’m too lazy to look for it.

Anyway, the original article was ranting about how when these shootings happen everyone looks for the least likely person (and for this, as a mystery writer, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) but in fact, nine times out of ten, the culprit is a “radical loser” – someone so far out of touch with reality they couldn’t find it with a seeing eye dog and a cane, someone who has a Satanist temple with a real human skull in their backyard, someone who has fallen so far into a dream that “What’s the frequency Kenneth” has a meaning to them, someone who – in fact – would shock normal people and make them run away in terror.

They’re also usually people that have failed at everything, people who have trouble coping with the every day reality of being human and making human compromises.

I think the radical in the article referred to something else – to radicalization or “extreme” views.  It is of course very easy for people to get “radicalized” when they don’t fit in anywhere.  This accounts for why, if you polled the science fiction community Lenin might be too right wing.  (There is another effect there, the tendency of outcasts to form their own dogmatic communities that enforce weirdness, and also the pathetic attempt to out-cool the main stream, since left is perceived as cool they try to be “even more left.”)

But let’s leave that aside for a moment.

Everytime I hear of one of these incidents, I cringe, and I think “One of ours, who went too far.”  “One of ours, who stepped out in the dark and lost his way.”

Here’s the thing with us – for lack of a better word – odds: we don’t fit in even if we try to.

I don’t even quite know how to define us.  It’s not even a matter of intelligence.  Yes a lot of “odds” are intelligent or brilliant, but it’s also often in a rather specialized, narrow front, almost bordering on the idiot savant (myself, for instance, I write) but they could pose for the “absent minded genius” in most other fields.

I’m fairly functional, but I have friends who should get help to cross the street and who, really, really really (it’s on my list if I ever win the lottery) need a housekeeper.  As is, I could truly use a secretary/assistant.  (Stupid lottery, keeps drawing the wrong numbers.)

A lot of us, but not all – younger son and I don’t – have trouble reading people, and could if you squinted be considered to be on the autistic spread.  A lot of us are on the autistic spread.  And a lot of us have learned to cope with it so that no one would tell.

But it’s not true.  People can tell.  We can for instance.  Let’s go with Science Fiction, which is a good bet as a repository of “odds”.  I no longer remember when or where, but it was one of my first World Fantasy cons – we left out of a fairly large airport, and most of the flights headed any distance left a few hours after the con ended.  So we trickled in by ones, by twos, by masses, and mingled with large groups of “normal”.  There were, of course, some tells that didn’t need thinking about. A lot of us were wearing fannish t-shirts (me.  I never wear t-shirts for cons, except at liberty con or for the travel.  I try to be professional.  [Liberty is exempt because Liberty is family.]) or carrying sf/f books.  But there was the usual complement of editors who probably think they’re normal and certainly try to appear it in skirt suits and such.

We were in a relatively central area and this was pre-kindle.  I didn’t have anything to do but people-watch.

After a while I realized I could tell “our people” – and I would keep an eye on them till a “tell” emerged, like pulling out the latest sf/f novel, or talking to one of the con attendees and hailing him as an old acquaintance.

I was always right.  It wasn’t a 90% thing, which would be impressive.  Even for the well-dressed and the aloof, I was always right.

Now if you asked me why I could not tell you.  I could tell you we hold ourselves differently, we walk differently and the way we pause to look at things is different too, but I couldn’t describe it.

I might be taking Dave Freer’s name in vain, but I have a vague memory that in one of our late night conversations years ago (we stopped them as we got old 😛  I actually think they were early morning conversations for him, they were very late night for me) we discussed social species and particularly the other great apes species.  If I’m remembering Dave right and not confusing him with something I read somewhere, he said that in all species that like ours are social, with a bit of learning and mimicry thrown in, most of the apes (eh) attune themselves to the group and “are like the group.”  There are ways of being fully integrated in the group, ways of following the leader, and most apes fall effortlessly into it.

But there is also a percentage – a tiny percentage to be sure – who are outliers.  Some radically out of step and out of norm.  Some subversively so.

I don’t think any of it is as bad as the pink monkey where its mates tore it limb from limb.  I think there is some aggression always towards outliers but outlier behavior is tolerated in some measure.  (The measure will vary with stress put on the group.)

I think that’s what we odds are.  We’re that miniscule percentage of outliers.  Yes, there are probably more of us than the usual ape – or hominid – band.  More on that later.

We can tell each other without being sure how, and other people sure can tell we’re odds.  Children are always better at discovering this, and most of us were probably more unguarded as children too.

Most of us had no idea we were odd or we stuck out until we hit elementary.  I know I didn’t. It was a combination, I think, of the family itself being on the odd spectrum and of my assuming my family members were a little weird.  So, no one out there would find anything strange about me, right?

Wrong.  In my case, I seem to elicit reactions of the love/hate type.  People either love me or they hate me, with nothing in between.  In elementary this often took the form of trying to bully me.  I have no idea what would have happened if I were bully-able.  I wasn’t.  So the result is that often hate turned to love, and I became a leader of sorts.  (As I said, unable to play sports – my coordination took a while to kick in, a result, probably of being very premature at birth – or the stupid elastic jumping game, I invented games for the school to play at recess.  In retrospect, I “invented” LARP games: Robin Hood, The Three Musketeers, WWII spies [ don’t even ask.  That one I wrote characters for.])  By fourth grade, everyone in that school played my games, and the lower classes missed us horribly when we moved on.

But in middle school, in a larger area and with no recess long enough to allow me to influence others, I just became a loner.  I had this game of walking around and around the playground on this little ledge.  Later, I’d just stay in the classroom and read or write stories.

I have talked with enough of my friends – and my husband – to find most of us had that reaction.  It was strange to find ourselves the butt of antagonism, to find that the rest of people weren’t in fact like us.

Those little shocks sometimes hit even today.  (“What do you mean you haven’t read a book since high school?  How is that even possible?”)

By high school I’d learned to masquerade well enough.  I wasn’t popular, exactly, but I had tons of acquaintances and a few really close friends.  And by college I’d learned to go totally submarine, and I was one of the glitzy and glamorous.

But I never forgot.  Somewhere, deep inside me, there’s still that little girl who walked round and round the playground, feeling excluded from everything and everyone else.

I don’t say this to elicit pity.  And I don’t think there’s much you can do about it, certainly not officially.

I say this because that little girl deep inside me still influences the things I do and the things I choose.  We all know about the nature and nurture thing, right?

Someone here – I think he’s the new incarnation of someone whose IP changes a lot – was trying to bait me (eh – I’d rise to the bait quicker if I weren’t feeling so out of it due to the flu)  — by asking me to write about how women shouldn’t work.  I think he misstyped.  I think he meant why women shouldn’t vote, because immediately after he went on this tirade on how all women are collectivists…

He’s wrong of course.  Women right now are collectivists, because they’re told that’s what they should be.  And most humans are really good at following those cues, except for the few radical outliers.  Women have had it dinged into their heads that they’re a discriminated against class.  Their entire learning of history from day one has been on how women were treated badly throughout history.  And of course, they’re told men did this and would do it again given a choice (and not that men and women are both captive of biology and before the pill neither had a choice.)  So most women believe that they need the state to protect them from the evil men.  It’s what they were taught.

The little lonely girl inside never believed this – partly because if they tell you, it’s probably bs.  These rules, these ideas are for normals.  They miss us like so many other things do.

Of course, the way to correct that is not to take women’s vote away, but to stop teaching women (and men too, while we’re at it) Bog STUPID Marxist crap.

Because the state can’t protect women and will in fact happily collaborate in their enslavement – see, most Muslim states.

Odds should have the advantage there.  As I said, most of us realize that most of what we’re fed is pablum.  But not all of us.  There is the other force that acts on Odds – the desperate need to fit in, to be “cool.”

This leads into the extreme left odds.  At some internal, aching level, they want the state to make everyone love them.

Perhaps I was blessed with teachers who tended to pile on with the other kids rather than intervene.  Blessed?  Yes, because it’s always what a powerful state will do.

The business of the state is to enforce order.  Order and power over the masses are in the best interests of any state.  The more powerful the state, the less it will have a warm place for odds.  You might think, if you’re a radical, oh, Stalinist, that since every one of them you know is an odd, then if you were in power, Odds would be in power.

It’s never like that.  Even those odds who achieve power tend to enforce the “normal”.  The normal might be twisty and ridiculous, but it’s still herd behavior.

Take for instance the French revolution.  I was recently reading the biographies of the principals and all of them, from Robespierre to Danton, were clearly radical odds.  So once they took hold, the revolution came up with some spectacularly ODD ideas (changing month names, for instance.)  But in the end, at the heart of it, what they were trying to enforce was conformity.

Do I know what to do about it?  Oh, hell no.  I know how I dealt with my odd children, fortifying them before they entered school, explaining the low-value of social conformity and how it’s possible to fake it better when you’re old, and that you were an outcast in elementary doesn’t blight anyone’s life (unless you let it.)  It seems to have worked.

And it’s all we have.  That and explaining that the “cool cult of the week” if it achieved power would turn on them as much as the current status quo, if not more.  And explaining that bringing society down would be worse, because societies under stress are less tolerant of us outliers.

And then you have to work the fine line between explaining their different and getting them to understand other people are still human, just differently wired – if you don’t want to create misanthropes.

This is all I’ve come up with and all I’ve managed.  It might have been/be easier to be an odd in a time with no strict normality enforcing schools – and as such we can hope to be headed there.

Because here’s the thing – what the internet has already done is allow more of us odds to find each other.  To the extent this is a genetic component – and I think it is.  It tends to run in families, like other genetically-undefinable characteristics – it means more of us outliers will marry each other and produce uber-outliers.  To the extent it is an environmental component, it allows us to meet – in the science fiction community, among others – and reduce the tight control on ourselves, and be odder.

So there will be more of us in the future.  We’re not in the old society where an odd might find MAYBE another one in the entirety of his life and probably not of an age to marry/be friends.

And odds can get very odd.  They can become “radical losers” – rejected by school and family and their community, if they never stumble onto a reasonable enough and accepting enough community – they can, singly or in groups come up with totally twisty ideas of reality and fall off the edge, becoming mass murderers or worse (yes, Karl Marx was probably a radical loser.)

Since this community tends to be odd enough all I can say is ‘teach your children well’ and hope for a less conformist upbringing for your grandchildren – which of course means making sure we don’t lose the prosperity and security we enjoy.  Societies under stress are always more conformists.

The odds are quite literally the salt of the earth – not in the sense it’s used normally, but in the sense of a small minority that makes the whole thing work.  We’re the innovators, the ones who strike out in different directions.  We’re also the ones who point and say the emperor is naked.  (That aspergers thing, you know?) There is a reason that the ape bands tolerate some odds.  We are the brakes, the valve, the safety mechanism.

Will there being more of us cause a problem?  Maybe.  I think not.  I think as a whole we’ll leven society towards more individualistic, but we’ll still be a social species, and it’s impossible for the majority not to want to fit in.

But – absent guidance and comfort – that means we’ll also have more of those that fall off the ledge and become killers or bizarre philosophers.  And that we don’t need.

Work to keep us prosperous, safe and tolerant.  And teach your odd children well.

155 responses to “Odds and Radical Losers

  1. Odds are the leavening agent in the bread of society. 😉

    My husband was just asking me about the history of baking powder and that lead to an explanation of using baking soda and when did cooks start using leavening agents and I couldn’t explain it to him because he doesn’t bake (or cook anything more complex than Kraft Delux Macaroni and Cheese). He often asks me very odd questions about cooking and I can’t answer them because I never looked into the history of cooking and baking. Besides, most historians weren’t cooks and didn’t regard recipes as important.

    • Even when we have cookbooks from times of old, they are generally notes that assume the reader is already a competent cook. It wasn’t until the United States produced the home economics movement that we got cookbooks that were written for people who couldn’t boil a pot of water.

      The rule that cups and tablespoons, etc, were measured level was the invention of Fanny Farmer herself. Tells you what measurements used to be.

      • I knew a seriously traditional black cook in rural Missouri long ago. All of her measurements for pastry were based on cups, but in this case it was one, particular, blue-willow-type broken-handled teacup which was, I think, her grandmother’s. I always wondered what would happen if she ever broke it.

        America (and I think England, too) had some 18th century cookbooks aimed at “new housewives” and they did not assume you could already cook. They even told you how to kill chickens.

    • Send him to Alton Brown’s Food Network shows.

      • That might work, or it might just confuse him more. He usually asks me these questions while we are eating and then it’s a bit difficult to look something up when at the dinner table or in a restaurant.

        • That’s exactly why I got a smartphone.

          Of course, then I went and got a job where cameras are forbidden, so I don’t have it with me most of the day.

          • I do pull out my phone and try to look up his questions, but he has usually come at them from such an odd direction that I can’t find an answer.

  2. A lot of us, but not all … have trouble reading people,

    (Raises hand) Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me! I’m not the worst at this – I CAN generally tell when someone is really pissed, but average signals? Not hardly. Unfortunately, everyone else can read me like an open book.

    • I’m often easy to read, but mainly because I am a rather grumpy s.o.b. much of the time.

    • I’d ask about the bookmark, but this is a family blog. 😉

    • Yes. I cannot tell when someone is lying; I trust everyone. Well, more recently, I have come to realize that I should not trust everyone, but I still can’t tell when someone is lying. Frustrating.

      • I have big problems with people like that stepmother of mine (although I don’t think of her as ‘mother’ anything, really, except when I’m joking about evil stepmoms, she is my father’s wife and that’s all). I don’t really trust anyone, I got burned too often when young, but I also have no damn idea how to deal with those people you can’t talk with because they refuse to hear, or hear what they want. Not when you can’t just walk away from them. And I tend to lose because unless somebody is amicable to talking things out and then acting on the compromise reached, well, as said, no damn idea what to do then.

        And not trusting anyone can be a big problem too.

        • Re: dealing with people you can’t talk with because they refuse to hear, or hear what they want — A lot of times, you agree with them (maybe sorta sideways) and then add what you need to say. Rinse and repeat.
          “You’re right, computers can be frustrating. But some of this stuff sounds harder than it is. If you like, I can stay on the phone with you and walk you through X.”

          Or you can say, “I’m sorry to hear that,” or “Yes, that sounds very frustrating,” without actually agreeing.

          Or you can ask questions and get them talking, and find out why the heck they aren’t listening and what their real problem is. You can’t always talk to them about their real problem, but sometimes they feel better if they talk about it to you, and they might even give you a solution instead.

          But there are other ways to go. Sf author/linguist Suzette Haden Elgin has deservedly made a fair bit of money with The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense. It’s not a fix for everything, but it’s a nice tactical book. If people are ripping on you, this is a good book.

          • Maybe I should take a look at that, even though I’m not good when it comes to applying that type of book knowledge in real life. She is very good with verbal abuse, especially the sly type but she can easily escalate to the full out attack too, and now that my father has become almost completely dependent on her help (he has always been about half deaf due to a grenade exploding very close to him during the war, but now, during this year, he has also lost most of his eyesight) I can no longer avoid her even to the extent I could before. If I want to see him I have to deal with her.

            • And yes, this has become rather a big problem for me during the recent months, hence the constant whining about her. Earlier I could at least talk with my father sometimes without her being present, now they have sold their house and moved to an apartment and she is right there the whole time every time I go for a visit, and likely to pounce if I say anything she can interpret as even slightly, er, well, anything she doesn’t like, and that can be almost anything. Rather stressful.

            • A few similar concepts can be found in the Verbal Judo book, by the late George Thompson. If you have an hour and a half to kill, here’s a lecture he gave in 2009, just a couple years before he died, in which he illustrates many of the key principles:

              I don’t know how much of this you’ll be able to apply to dealing with your mother-in-law, but it may help.

          • I had (and have) _The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense_ — shelved next to a book of particularly-vicious insults.

            I left people in tears growing up — soften up the defenses; then lay down the heavy artillery….

    • I can do that, but not well. Can make me feel pretty uncomfortable with people I don’t know. I often tend to say this at some point, and tell them not to hint, just tell me outright if they would prefer I do something. Like maybe leave when I’m visiting and we are starting to reach the point where the hosts would perhaps prefer to start doing something else. That goes for the exact opposite too, I don’t necessarily know I’m welcome unless I’m told, and I tend to go by the assumption I’m not because I’d prefer not to annoy people.

    • Maybe I am an outlier among odds (and I know that I am odd, because my mother has now and again told me so) but I am good at reading people – although not right off the cuff, like a kind of human instant-read thermometer. But after a couple of weeks, or sometimes months of close association, I can read them with a fair degree of accuracy. This used to absolutely baffle other co-supervisors in the shop or in the office, because they could see it about someone’s character or motivations once I pointed it out to them.
      I think this used to scare people sometimes – once someone flared up at me, demanding that I not psychoanalyze them. But it does come in handy, as a writer.

      • When I worked at the airport, We’d always have an issue getting one final good guy to fill in our shift, and the 8 hour shift guys were usually the same way. Within minutes of meeting the FNG(F!@#%ing New Guy) I’d look at my Supe and shake my head. He’d ask “What, you don’t think he is any good?”
        Every single guy I told him “no” on was fired within a month or two.
        I never said anything at the first place I worked at but every new guy they had but one I knew was going to be a waste of space. The one I didn’t know about was an odd. He came across as slightly off, and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him. I did mention to the General manager once I couldn’t figure him out, but I couldn’t say for certain I’d expect him to be bad either. He mention he too thought the guy was strange, but background checking him he had worked at one place for 10 years (starting while still in high school), and they were very sorry to see him go, and to remind him they would be glad to have him back. He later saved my arse on New Years when I had my night from hell (I ended up at work nearly 24 hours) as he showed up for work 4 hours early because he just knew things would be messed up. I coulda kissed his ugly mug.
        I was kinda right in him not lasting, after a year, he got hired by SouthWest Airlines. When my supe met him he asked me “What is wrong with that guy?” I said “Nothing, he’s a bit odd, but you wish you had five of him working for you.”
        Well two guys who weren’t bad, but the other guy (same first name too, Reggie) I knew wouldn’t last because A: he was too good of a worker, and the company would try to take advantage of him. They did, and the B: was he did not need to work. He was engaged to his former boss’ daughter and she had him quit (he was away too often and had a son who was trouble) and he was going back to college so our job was just something to do to kill time for him. So when they were jerking him around he blew his stack and quit, on my shift btw, so I got to enjoy him ripping into our POS Assistant Manager. He was quieter and more polite than I was when I lit into the same moron … I was heard 100 yards away on a noisy ramp (Delta airlines was working flights).

  3. “A lot of us are on the autistic spread.” Amen. Some of us are just a few frequencies short of a full bandwidth when it comes to knowing how to join in and thus are always feeling left out. I can’t see any sense in wasting energy trying to force society to make rules to accommodate these odds, however. If I could wish for anything it would be for some way to encourage those few who try to understand us ‘weirdos’.

    It takes age and a lifetime of experience to appreciate that sometimes being weird is worth the frustration and pain of not fitting in. (I know, I know. Try telling that to your seven-year-old self)

    • Heh. I have gotten accused of being arrogant. Now most times it’s actually shyness and not being sure how to act, but there is a kernel of truth in that anyway – if I could choose I’d rather live in world with more people like me than become just like everybody else.

      What do you think a world full of odds would be like? Complete disaster? (I think humans would have either died out during the stone age, or we would have starships and colonies on other worlds already)

  4. On Goodreads, the voting has concluded. We will be doing specific themes.

    You can offer up possibilities in this thread:
    https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1575388-book-of-the-month-themes

  5. I was one of the hang-out-at-the-fringe Odds, but I found a group of female Odds, one of whom drove a Firebird that we used to scare oblivious freshmen in the school parking lot. The male Odds either found ways to blend in, or they went the “I’m smart and I have a life and you can lump it” route. Now I try to encourage the Odd kids, as much as I can and maintain classroom order. I out-nerd them, which wins cool points. After that, they’re more willing to do what I ask. 🙂

    Aaaand the draft of “Novel Two: The Sequel” got done on Friday. The first historical sci-fi (“The Colplatschki Chronicles”) novel will be coming out in early December.

  6. Yes, this was me totally. When other kids were playing together at recess, I brought my dollhouse and played by myself.

    • I stood on the side and looked until I found that one way to get good attention was to draw on the ground, or on snow during the winter, that usually got me a circle of other kids, asking me to draw this or that. Did that until I found a couple of friends to play with. I enjoyed getting attention by drawing or painting until that third grade, then the bullying teacher managed to rather sour that outlet for me.

      I guess that teacher might be partly responsible for my tendency to try to avoid drawing any attention to myself until I have figured the people I’m with out at least to some extent, as far as I remember I was more outgoing before those two years than during or after them. Unfortunately being quiet in the corner can be a hard way to do that, learning what kind of people you are with just by observing them takes time, especially when you don’t read people particularly well in the first place. Finding friends when you don’t really talk with anybody in a new group for a long while is difficult.

      And I seem to have a tendency to attract the even more socially awkward, including those ones who are really not at all easy to spend any time with. I guess I look safe. And besides I don’t like to be impolite, and since I’m halfway there myself I feel sorry for them. Combine that with not knowing how to approach the people I might like to get to know, and social gatherings can become really unpleasant sometimes. 🙂

  7. Well, it explains why no one except other odd balls ever get my jokes or understand some of my questions or explanations.
    But that’s okay: I’m happy to be different; I’m odd, but some of those normals are plain weird!

  8. “There is another effect there, the tendency of outcasts to form their own dogmatic communities that enforce weirdness, and also the pathetic attempt to out-cool the main stream, since left is perceived as cool they try to be ‘even more left.'”

    “This leads into the extreme left odds. At some internal, aching level, they want the state to make everyone love them.”

    Brilliant, and precisely the reason why, over time, I’ve had fallings-out with most collections of “odds” I’ve been a part of; the creative writing crowd, debate and forensics teams, wargamers, with the exception of a tiny group from college I still stay in contact with and the Baeniacs of course….well, most of them anyway.

    • Most of the Finnish science fiction fans I have met or have known through the years seem to be socialist to extreme socialist, including a few outright communists. I guess that might explain some of that since socialism is even more the accepted meme here.

  9. The “odds” are only dangerous because they get things done.

  10. “He’s wrong of course. Women right now are collectivists, because they’re told that’s what they should be.”

    Thanks for this paragraph. I knew it was something like this, but didn’t have the words.

  11. This is why I favor and celebrate and will fight for individualist societies. Outside of the conformity cauldron of primary school, it’s actually possible to be Odd and succeed. Other societies are very hard on outliers.

    As to odds out-lefting the leftists, I’m just not interested in exchanging one conformity for another.

  12. The walking round and round the playground … yes. The only “normal” interaction I had with elementary school girls was in games where everyone literally formed a line so everyone could have a turn at jumping rope or four square. Less structured games, not so much. BTW, where I’m from, that lining up thing was spontaneous, not adult-enforced.

    • Where I come from, no one lines up for anything. Little old ladies elbow and kick their way to communion. (You THINK I’m joking.)

      • No I don’t think you’re joking. I experienced that in my several visits to Mexico (real world, not Cancun) with relatives … sometimes, just finding the person distributing communion was an adventure trek … good times …

        • The thing I liked second best about the military (first best is that everyone wears name tags) was how everyone so cooperatively formed a single line (even to 6 supermarket check-outs) in all situations without being told. It’s super efficient and wonderful. I think Americans are good at lines, but compared to the military any random bunch of American civilians is like a gaggle of little old ladies elbowing and kicking their way to communion. 🙂

          • Name tags! I loved that, too – being absolutely horrible at remembering names, although I think that I have gotten much better at it. I would know people for months, after striking up intense conversations with them, and then realize that I didn’t know their name, or had forgotten it, if they had ever told me what it was in the first place.
            But the military – piece of cake! Their surname was on their shirt and their rank on their collar! “Oh, hi – Senior Airman So-and-so! Good morning, Sergeant This-and-such! Have a nice day, Colonel Whatsis-fern!”

          • Interestingly, people in the gas station I visit tend to form a single line for the 2-5 cash registers which may be open at any time. I agree, it is efficient, because that allows the next person in line to go to the next available cashier, instead of being stuck behind someone who is taking a long time to get their stuff.

          • Knew an inlisted air ma whoa a blank name tag. When ever an officer would askk his name (It’s not your name tag) He would anwer Blank.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Sarah, I’ve learned *never* to assume you’re joking.

      • Strangest communion moment I’ve had, ever was seeing women enforce men first communion customs (Romanian Orthodox and a very rural church). They linked arms and pushed. I rather offended a woman when I did the US thing and offered to let her go first in the scrum.

        Second oddest communion moment was same church different week when someone broke ranks and a woman went before some of the men. Some wife was confused why everybody was taking it in stride and asking her husband whether it was sinful. He patiently explained that it was not.

  13. I know how I dealt with my odd children, fortifying them before they entered school, explaining the low-value of social conformity and how it’s possible to fake it better when you’re old, and that you were an outcast in elementary doesn’t blight anyone’s life (unless you let it.)

    *wry* We might want to try telling the kids who are normal that fitting in can blight you later in life, if you let it…..

  14. What I worry about is the tendency to medicate our Odds, especially the boys.

    • Medicate, ostricize, punish and then be shocked when they latch on to anything that seems to support them instead of the theoretical goal.

      Don’t get me started on the abuse of the “get an adult to socialize with kids” programs– I’m sure it’s great for kids who don’t have a stable household, but I scared away the sweet, well-meaning gal who volunteered at our high school. (Hint: they should’ve asked a teacher that actually bothered to teach, and they’d have found out I had no trouble connecting with adults when I wanted to– I just had no time for idiots, and 95% of teens are idiots. Who don’t care for having their stupid tricks politely but firmly treated as such, rather than the towering heights of awesome.)

      • ….Oh, bleep. I just realized how much of the way many folks who don’t fit are treated in schools resembles a human predator grooming a target.

        Separate them from the majority of the group, encourage them to think of themselves as an entirely different type (as opposed to the “emphasize you’re different, but still a person” aspect Sarah mentions), make sure they feel vulnerable, then present yourself as a savior who is looking for the special few.

        I think VERY strong, basic rules– they have to have good reasons behind them, but “because it means we don’t have head on collisions with everyone driving on whichever side of the road they want” is a good reason— will encourage acceptance of those Odds that aren’t dangerous, and separate out the just freaking psycho.

        • “….Oh, bleep. I just realized how much of the way many folks who don’t fit are treated in schools resembles a human predator grooming a target.”

          Welcome to the other side of the looking glass. If you stop to look and analyze what is really going on in all too many social situations, you start to realize how many places and times there are where some Very Bad Things ™ have a great deal of congruency with things we do not associate with bad things, at all.

          My epiphany on this subject came when I was reading some psychology works about gangs, cults, and their membership. The part that struck me as peculiarly distressing and disturbing was reading about the various forms of initiation, “jumping in”, and how the group being joined went about cutting ties with family and the rest of the world, and then getting the individual joining to do something that would burn any bridges back to their life “before”.

          Sounds like a study in horror, no? Stuff that the SS would do with their recruits, and all that, yes?

          Compare/contrast with basic training in just about any modern military, including the one I served in, and you find that each and every step along the way is duplicated, right down to the “unique dress” items that have to be “earned”, in order to become “one with the group”.

          What’s particularly insidious is when you know and recognize what is going on, as you are taking part in it. I had a pretty good background in the whys and wherefores of military training from reading, long before I ever enlisted–Which was why I was never able to really take the drill sergeants entirely seriously, because I had a little voice in the back of my head going “OK, they did that… Now, they’re going to do this… And, that’s why–Oh, I can see how this works…”.

          Takes a lot of the fun out of it, when you can see the sleight-of-mind they’re using. It’s quite like knowing how the magician does his tricks, and then trying to watch the magic show.

          • Don’t take this wrong, but I knew that ages ago– part of my mom’s basic education was that similar form didn’t mean similar morality. (Might have been partly in self defense since smart kids can take simple rules and turn them inside out, Jackass Genie style.)

            I’m horrified because people who are supposed to be in charge of stopping predators are setting up an entire class as easy prey.

            • You have to understand that is _exactly_what they want. Moronic sheep, with no ability to stand up to destructive instructions. Those who espouse Elitism,” will never admit it, but they ARE predators. The motivation may be different from actual crininals, but it is the same.

  15. “– which of course means making sure we don’t lose the prosperity and security we enjoy. Societies under stress are always more conformists.”

    I think this is important and nearly presents a paradox. Because prosperity and security require learning a set of stable social rules and expectations so that you’ve got a framework (that isn’t under stress) to be odd within.

    And the other paradox seems to be that the idea that the government has to collectively enable your individual quirks so that you can be quirky without consequence. If you want to get a PhD in Medieval Studies (and who wouldn’t?) and can’t afford it (and who can?) that it’s Unjust to so much as suggest that you haven’t a Right to the fruit of other people’s labor to pursue your own special personal fulfillment.

    I actually wonder if we used to be more comfortable with public conformity paired with our oddness… to *expect* to behave differently in different situations and to take on different roles in different contexts. Was individuality really threatened by taking up the family trade or a set societal role within a community? The feeling I get is that this is why people had hobbies and belonged to clubs. During the day you’re a banker, and on weekends you’re a Furry.

    One of the girls in one of my classes came to class with black hair instead of purple. She’d gotten a job, she said, and had to look like a normal person. I commiserated, but secretly I was impressed that she chose employment over purple hair. What I get from my kids sometimes is the weird notion that all of those “normal” people out there present the way they do because it truly represents who they are inside… that they are not giving up purple hair for a job.

    And worse, that no one should ever have to.

    • Isn’t one of the treatments for aspergers that you teach them “in this situation, do that”? Basically, formal manners type things– such as “how are you” doesn’t usually mean “please, tell me about the problems you had in the restroom.”

      • The potential radial losers would probably also be helped by instructions on how to fake it, to learn the rules explicitly instead of being left to flounder.

        It’s sort of funny… I’ve read more than one historical romance where there was an etiquette book and usually it’s portrayed as an oppressive thing within the plot. But I read one where the young non-Lady had access to one of them and had memorized the entire thing as a study of a foreign species, nearly. So she didn’t apply it to herself in order to feel oppressed by it, but saw it as a way to understand those very strange creatures of the ton and allow her to function as an outsider in their world.

        • Aren’t a great many of the romances written by those “question authority” folks we talked about last week?

          As I understand it, a lot of the etiquette books were that era’s version of “What To Wear For Any Occasion” books.

        • Don’t I phrase a lot of points I wish to make as questions?

          *silly grin*

          I think it’s because I want folks who disagree to do so easily, without having to first get really upset, and the question format allows them to say what they think and why without there being any pissing contest unless they start one.

          • That’s an excellent deconstruction of functionality of question using. 😉

            I’ve actually taught myself to increase the confidence level of my points because I’ve found that sounding like I know what I’m talking about is nearly as useful as actually knowing what I’m talking about. OTOH, I also find myself frequently and reflexively adding weasley bits to open up the avenues to disagreement. I also have learned to be pushy because usually people actually like someone to take charge (and I get annoyed at inefficiency because I’m so inefficient myself) but then I also end up explicitly stating, “I know I’m being pushy and I won’t get upset if someone has a better or different idea,” after all, it was never about me needing to get my own way.

            Do you think that because we had to figure out how people work by actually figuring it out that we’ve had to think it through, why we do what we do?

            It seems a little bit like meeting someone who asks “how do you feel about that” and my reaction is generally “how should I know how I feel?” and their reaction is “How can someone *not* know how they feel?” But to me, the alien thing is someone who isn’t confused about their emotions. But would someone who just always *knew* ever think about why or how or when?

            • I do think the “but why am I doing that?” thing is an Odd thing– as is the ability to know a theory, argue both sides but not really care which is right because it doesn’t matter.

              I only sound like I know what I am talking about when I can back it up, but I keep getting bitten by folks who assume that I’m bluffing– acting like I know more than I do. And when they challenge me on a point, and are wrong, somehow it’s my fault for them deciding to read “I think” into “this is how it is.”

          • And aren’t you sounding terribly Irish? to be sure

        • My whole life has been the study of an alien species. Unfortunately, they didn’t really have a modern etiquette book when I needed it.

          • Interestingly, there are books about business that are essentially etiquette books. I haven’t read them, so I could be wrong, but aren’t there quite a few that lay out how to interact with coworkers at various levels and how to speak to and present yourself to clients, including how to shake hands and repeat their names and just really incredibly detailed and explicit behavioral stuff?

            • Sigh… what Foxfier said…

              • Given that we halfway remember a million things, it’s a very handy way of saying “I’m not sure, have you read about this/heard about this?”

                Very handy for dealing with a supervisor who probably won’t want to be told what’s what by the E4. 😀

            • Oh and it gets even better, because etiquette is also *culturally* defined. I had lots of fun with a great book “French or Foe?” which explains French cultural customs to Americans and those with similar backgrounds (English and German have the same basics as American). I needed it because I was visiting a German-Swiss friend in France, and very helpful it was. It was also helpful to my friend, who knew he was not getting off on the right foot with his French employees but couldn’t figure out what he was doing wrong. Why Europe didn’t have it’s own guide is puzzling. Perhaps Americans, like Odds, are accustomed to seeing themselves from the outside–making impartial analysis more likely.

        • I’d love an etiquette you could learn from a book. Especially if it included the ‘who can you talk to and who should you talk to so that people don’t think you are either an ass or have your nose in the air – that seems to happen to me, a bit too often I seem to be taken for somebody who thinks she’s too good for anybody when it’s really shyness and having no idea how to approach others – and how, and what subjects are acceptable’. Getting to know people is the biggest problem for me. While I don’t read people well I can still read them well enough to be mostly able to figure out where to go once I have been talking with them for a while, but I’m not good when it comes to figuring out how to make the initial contact with anybody (and it can take me a while to loosen up when somebody contacts me).

          I guess the ‘she’s arrogant’ impression comes from the fact that I hate appearing vulnerable, so I guess I’m mostly trying to look as if I don’t care especially when I start feeling awkward.

          • “I’d love an etiquette you could learn from a book.”

            See, this is something that I think is missing from our society. All too many of the rules aren’t written down, and you have to learn the damn things the hard way, plus nobody really “knows” all the rules in the first place. There really isn’t such a thing as a set of rules by which to govern your life and conduct, anyway.

            It would be nice if there was, though.

            Steve Miller and Sharon Lee have a lovely little concept in their Liaden Universe series–The Liad “Code of Proper Conduct”, which is a written set of etiquette rules/values/mores for the entire society. In essence, there are no “unwritten rules”, which I find are the biggest problem for most people. This is an interesting concept, and one I suspect many societies would benefit by adopting. Codify the damn thing, so we all know what the hell we should be doing.

            I’ve always felt that there ought to be some sort of “signing on” for all members of society, where they affirm their desire to live under the rules of our society, where the rights and obligations of the citizen are acknowledged and agreed to. In our society, it ought to include the acknowledgement of the Constitution, and the rest of the general rules we all agree to live under. Call it an “oath of citizenship”, if you like.

            I honestly think that such a thing ought to be a part of every person’s life, upon entering into adulthood. I’d make the whole thing essentially voluntary, but you don’t get the right to vote or take part in civic society until you take the oath, and that ought to mark legal adulthood. In other words, you have to agree to the rules before you get to participate.

            It seems rather absurd to me that if you’re born a citizen, you never have the opportunity to do what every immigrant gets to do–Agree to the rules of our self-government, and swear to follow them. Somehow, it seems to me like you should get the chance do that, even if you are born here. And, right along with that, if you disagree, then fine. You just don’t get to participate in civic life, if you have reservations. I imagine most Muslims would have to decide which held primacy, for them–Secular life, or Sharia. I think you should have to pick one or the other, instead of working to overthrow the one in favor of the other. Religious freedom should extend only so far as you’re willing to grant it to others, and agree to leave faith up to individual choice of conscience. If you’re unwilling to allow others complete freedom, including apostasy from your own faith, then you should not have even a foothold in the secular government from which to suborn it.

            • In other words, you have to agree to the rules before you get to participate.

              We do. Being part of the society is that. Due to a generation or three of deliberately trying to break down the responsibilities but keep the rights makes it a bit less clear, though, and there’s a LOT of folks who can’t recognize that they are benefiting when the answer to an impulse is “no.”

              While the idea of a only-what-is-written code of conduct is interesting, it still requires a common frame of reference.

              As a side note, a depressing number of the folks who promote a clear, volintarily joined code of conduct for society are the ones that will ruthlessly exploit other folks’ rational adherence to the unwritten codes– that’s the strength of the “rules for radicals” tactics. Which, come to think of it, align with the “strengths” of radical losers…..

            • See no when I read a couple of the Liaden books that very strict set of rules made me see it as a fascist-like society that I would NEVER willingly be a part of. It came across as sort of a strictly enforced nose stuck in the rigid society with no attractions to me.

    • Yes, presenting a public face that is chosen to be closer to conformity is very useful, and reduces friction in social situations. I get very frustrated with the people who go down the, “I don’t care what you think of me” road, implying no compromises, which would tend to exacerbate social friction.

      Pretend to be close to normal (not necessarily completely – you need to stand out a little) when dealing with employers and the public, then be whatever you dang well please amongst other people you connect with.

    • I still remember an author interviewing hippies and one was lamenting that there ought to be some people whose bag was looking after other people.

  16. “This leads into the extreme left odds. At some internal, aching level, they want the state to make everyone love them.”

    It also turns on the way the left blames everything on society and wants to change it. Leftist movements attract crackpots who want to blame society rather than themselves. Or the condition of human existence. Neither of which people are willing to admit exist, in leftist movements.

  17. My only disagreement is to point out that the “What’s the frequency Kenneth?” guy was not a loser, he was a genius. How in the world is he going to get a message to Kenneth that he has the wrong frequency when he needs the RIGHT frequency to contact him?! The whole operation is screwed up; Gods we should have thought of some kind of backup plan for this… how could I ever let Ken know that… Wait, is that Dan Rather? Hmm…

    Later, while the whole rest of the world is confused over the bizarre crime, I imagine Kenneth sitting on the couch eating Chinese food, and doing a spit-take when Rather explains “He just said ‘Kenneth, what’s the frequency?’ and then beat the snot out of me.” Genius.

    • Is it a sign of Odd-ness or of a writer that your scenario makes perfect sense to me?

    • Yes, but then how does Kenneth close the communication loop?

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Jack Bauer and Kenneth: “What’s the frequency, Kenneth? TELL ME WHAT THE FREQUENCY IS, *NOW*!”

    • I sat several shifts with a guy who did tradecraft training for intelligence and counterintelligence work. His take on that incident was exactly the one you just laid out, which makes you the second person I’ve heard that from.

      I think you might want to be careful about the fact that you figured this out on your own, as it seems to me to be quite like that supposed litmus test for insanity, where you’re supposed to figure out why the woman murders her sister, not long after her mother died.

      Per that supposed test, only a sociopath would be able to figure out the real reason, which is that she met a man at her mother’s funeral, liked him, and wanted to meet him again after she thought about it a bit. Since she hadn’t gotten his name or contact details, she figured the most straightforward way to get in touch with him was by having another funeral for an immediate family member… Thus, the murder of her sister.

      In other words, your thinking is seriously oblique. I’m not sure that the idea would have ever occurred to me, in just that way.

      Honestly, I don’t know whether to be impressed, or horrified. Per my intel trainer informant, that theory/reason for why Dan Rather got beaten up required a very lengthy brainstorming session by a bunch of very smart people in an intelligence training course. I’d be curious to know how you arrived at that idea, just for the grins and giggles.

      • I’m a little disappointed that it took so much effort for the professional spooks to develop that theory. Isn’t that what they would have done in the same circumstance? I guess it is always tempting to think that only you are especially clever.

        As for me, it probably comes from playing too many RPGs during my ill-spent youth. Not D&D, but ‘harder’ stuff like Traveller and Merc:2000. Whenever anything odd happens, I just ignore what the conventional consensus is (I’ve seen too many real events horribly misreported in the news to trust journalist’s theories) and ask “What does this cause to happen? Why would someone want that?”. Whenever I see any unusual news reports (even fluff pieces), I ask “Why would someone approve, write, and publish this? Why would someone want me to read this?” I think that the chance of a conspiracy failing increases exponentially with the number of moving parts, so I filter ‘conspiracies’ through stuff like “is this to complicated to be pulled off?” and “was there an easier way to do the same thing?” I probably buy into more than the average number of conspiracy theories, but I don’t tend to believe things like W staging the 9-11 attacks for whatever reason or that the Macondo spill was an attempt to depopulate the gulf or some such… and I’m not surprised that Obama’s attempts to use the Federal Gov’t’s agencies to find and disrupt ‘counterrevolutionary’ groups was publicly uncovered. I think blackmailing Justice Roberts into finding O’care constitutional is about in the sweet spot of a believable conspiracy whose existence can’t be directly detected but can be inferred from its effects such as Robert’s suddenly $#!??y legal reasoning (the Pluto technique of reading the news, I suppose). The hard part for most people is probably the complete disregard for what is presented as the conventional explanation, but given my low opinion of reporters that’s easy for me. Just because I came up with a convincing explanation (and the professional spooks agree) doesn’t mean I’m really seeing some hidden truth:
        http://www.murderpedia.org/male.T/t/tager-william.htm
        But it sure is more entertaining than taking the news at face value.

        • Per my informant, the way it went down was a gedankenspiel for the students to figure out how to get in touch with a deep-cover agent for whom they’d lost the means of communicating with. Their solution was to somehow get the message into the media, via a public “incident” where someone yelled the message they needed to get to the agent using his code name… It wasn’t until after they’d come up with the solution that anyone recognized that the Dan Rather incident was actually congruent. with their idea.

          The way he told the story it came out with someone saying to the suggested idea something like: “You mean, do something like attack Dan Rather on a street in New York, and yell “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”?”.

          He told the story with a good deal more humor than I am. Interesting guy–Self-taught in anthropology and history to a depth and degree that actually frightened some former West Point instructors we had around as officers. All of whom he’d often leave mumbling to themselves, and looking for the exit, upon entering into any kind of academic discussion with this guy. He didn’t seem intimidating to me, but on some academic level, he was apparently deeply disturbing. Although, some of his ideas were pretty… Mmmm… What would be a word for describing something both horrifying and yet compellingly right, when heard actually voiced?

          I really wouldn’t like to find out that this character was on the other side, in a conflict I was in. The word “insidious” comes to mind–He would have made a perfect “evil villain” chessmaster, and he would have done the whole thing in a state of absent-minded playfulness.

          • “a gedankenspiel for the students to figure out how to get in touch with a deep-cover agent for whom they’d lost the means of communicating with”. So… basically they figured it out because they played role playing games too.

            Your insidious coworker sounds like an interesting guy to talk to. One of those ‘glad he’s on our side’ guys. Too bad the other side often has their own ‘glad he’s on our side’ people, too. Fortunately they often get purged rather than listened to.

      • Here’s a good one to practice on:

        http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/19/staggering-mich-family-violently-targeted-after-standing-against-teacher-who-molested-their-8th-grade-son/

        This article brings up soooo many more questions than answers, so I’ll just ask a simple question:

        Who do you think burned down Mr. Janczewski’s garage?

        —————————————–
        If you aren’t sure right away, answer these:
        Is there anything in this article that makes you think “That’s an odd thing to happen. What?”
        What were the effects of the garage being burned down?
        Why might someone want those things to happen?
        Who do you suspect burned down the garage?
        If it was them, then what all else does that require or suggest? Does that explain or simplify any other of the oddities in the story?
        Is there any evidence in the story itself that backs up your suspicion?
        Is there any evidence that would clear your suspect?
        What other thing(s) could you investigate that might shed more light on the guilt or innocence of your suspect?

        Bonus:
        Are there any facts that you suspect are misreported? What do you think the reporter’s opinion on this event is? Is there anything in the article that doesn’t try and manipulate you into agreeing with the reporter? What caused this report to be written and published in the 1st place?

  18. Well I “pass” in public. Except of course for those places where I am well known. The longer the normals have the opportunity to observe you the more likely to “Catch” you they are. One of the unfortunate things is that once they tag you as different they must make you horrible in order to justify not catching you earlier. So you become some sort of monster trying to hide in the community and prey upon it. I wonder if this is where the shapeshifter myths got their seed.

  19. I am schocked by this whole post … a mystery to me as I am perfectly normal and know no Odds….

    “Your winnings sir. “

  20. One thing about Odds is that I doubt we are as good at deluding ourselves that it’s all a terrible misunderstanding when the leadership betrays us or arrests us and sends us to the gulags. For us it is merely reversion to usual behavior. And one suspects as a result we’re a damn pain to the inquisitors and prison guards because our childhood “friends” gave us lots of practice.

    Thinking further, as Sarah said, it seems clear that many revolutionary leaders are odds. I do wonder whether part of the reason these dictators and tyrants behave the way they do when they are on top is that they’ve never had proper behavior explained to them so they really don’t know how to act when they are the boss monkey

    [Thought caused by reading this – http://www.desertsun.co.uk/blog/?p=1891 – just before reading this post]

  21. Another thought. I wonder if the reason why humans seem to have more odds than other apes is that for quite a while now humanity has been big on arranged marriages, which tend to force the odd to breed.

    And thinking on those lines, if that is the case, does the current interconnected world without arranged marriage benefit the mating of odds or not?

    I can see arguments on both sides. And I’ll throw in another twist. What happens if the optimum breeding arrangement is odd+normal not odd+odd?

  22. I’m fortunate in that while I am odd, my wife is not. She’s very social and gets along well with everyone. She does put up with me, and has had several awkward conversations with her family where she’s trying to convince them that I don’t hate them all. I just don’t relate the way they do.

    Where the kiddo will come out is anyone’s guess, but she’s very socially gifted. So… the thing that worries me most is that we need to make sure she has a good foundation and we do have to spend some time breaking down what she’s getting at school and explaining why we feel the need to break it down.

  23. Fun fact: My church small group is made up of Odds. Considering the group is selected by the church staff according to schedule availability without any knowledge of many of us at any level other than maybe having seen us once, it’s a small miracle (or, if I might be so oppressively christian enough to claim God’s hand in something so small and silly).

    But it sure is nice to be able to share books and talk about the same shows and play with the same ideas of freedom.

    • I never discount G-d’s hand in the details and small things. After all, if the devil is there, why not G-d?

      • Heh. Amen! Now, try volunteering at a small-ish Southern Baptist church, and finding a group of Odds who can, in one conversation, discuss sf/f books, action movies, favorite alcoholic beverages, GnR-vs-Poison-vs-VanHalen (I’m partial to all three, myself), and the best gun ranges…..yeah, I’m no longer a member of that church, thankfully!

        • “Thankfully”? I’m an atheist, and *I’d* be tempted to join *that* church!

          • Heh. This is what I get for trying to type a response while at work. Meant to say that a group like that was non-existent. One of the coolest guys I’ve ever worked for/with (I’m in IT, the company I work for was contracted by his company to supply their computer support) is an atheist, and I have to agree with his assessment that the biggest deterrent against Christianity today is overly-pious Christians. Another reason I’m no longer a member of that church.

        • Those are bad things?

          • Nope, not “bad things”…unless you’re a traditional, stick-in-the-mud Southern Baptist who follows the established doctrine instead of actually *reading* the Bible and seeing what it says (original Greek/Hebrew is, in some cases, very different from English translation). Sorry, maybe I didn’t phrase my response very well…I enjoy all of those things, and would love to find a group that does, as well, but that wasn’t possible at that church. Which is just a small part of the reason my wife and I no longer attend there.

            • Okay, followed back up the thread and see I missed your point (sorry, the internet, she is fickle). Your point about over-piousness above is spot-on.

            • As a ‘stick in the mud’ Southern Baptist, I’ll point out that:
              1. Van Halen
              2. Because, unlike more structured denominations, the national convention does not own the local church property (making it hard to punish a congregation in any meaningful way) you get a very, very large amount of variety within the “Baptist” label… including some very well read and geeky ones, but unfortunately I don’t know any that advertise the fact. I just lucked into one in college; unfortunately I had to move.
              3. As an odd myself I actually LIKE some of the restrictions the Southern Baptists have because it gives me a ‘reason’ not to have to dance or drink beer that doesn’t immediately lead to some well meaning normal person trying to alter my preferences to be closer to theirs.
              4. Q. Why don’t Baptists approve of premarital sex? A. It might lead to dancing.

              • I agree with your points, I just felt that something was…lacking, in my particular church. Heck, my wife grew up in an independent church (sorta-kinda related to AOG) as a preacher/missionary daughter, we now go to a mega-church (Gateway in SouthLake, Texas…that’s where all three of us, me, my wife, and our 4-year-old daughter all feel comfortable), and I still frustrate the heck outta her by not raising my hands when we sing. Just not my thing. Tried it once, my arms got tired and I was nervous that my conceal-shirt would ride up a smidge too high. 😉 As for alcohol, I have no problems with it, despite all of the intemperance pounded into me as a kid (and the mis-interpretation of “turn the other cheek”, which left me wide open to bullying). I just don’t like the taste of any of the adult beverages I’ve tried. That, and I’m too cheap to spend $6 on a drink that is gone in one swallow. Screw that, sweet tea comes with free refills! As far as those “well-meaning normal person” trying to alter my preferences…I’m quite the introvert with a very dry, sarcastic, cutting sense of humor. “Normal” people tend to keep their distance.

            • Eh, there is no such thing as a self-interpreting text. This is why those Christians who pretend it’s all they need fission like an amoeba. (Not to mention turning into pretzels when you point out that their supposedly all sufficient book has no table of contents.)

        • My cousin the Baptist Minister now gives me a hard time every year at the family reunion because I once brought chicken that had been marinated in a beer-based marinade. And he didn’t find out until after he had eaten it.

  24. Grew up as an AirForce brat, moved around quite a bit growing up, until the 5th grade when Dad was stationed down in South Georgia (seriously…south. You fart, they smell it in Florida was how I heard it described once.). Stayed there through HS graduation. Unfortunately, by that age, all of the cliques had already formed. I always though of myself as not fitting into any sort of social circle, and have this image in my head of a 6-pack of Coke (or Mt. Dew, of which I discovered the joys after enlisting in the Navy): between the rings (circles), you have those odd-shaped gaps. That’s where I fit. In the gap between the circles. Not quite smart enough to be a “smart kid”, but too smart to be the “average” student, not athletic, but discovered the joys of running (hey, solo sport! yay!). I had a group of acquaintances I hung out with at lunch, and one or two close friends I went camping with on the weekends, but that was about it. Even in my family, I’m still the one who’s sitting in the den, reading a book, while the rest are hunkered around the Cowboys game in the other room. Being dyslexic (found this out after finishing an agonizingly long enlistment) I tend to feel that I have to work three times as hard to be half as effective/smart/successful as anyone else, which tends to be viewed by others as snobbery/looking-down-upon/better-than-thou attitude (nothing could be further from the truth). So I guess I’m an Oddity’s Oddball. And while its lonely at times, its how God wired me.

    BTW, just found your blog the other day, linked from a link on another blog.

  25. mikeweatherford

    RA-welcome aboard!
    I’ve said here several times that I’m an Odd Odd. Most of it is because of my early childhood, spent running wild (literally) in central Louisiana’s pine forests, and because I was the oldest of my set of cousins, and responsible for the group when we were together — which was most of the time. I learned leadership, responsibility, and supervision early, and by osmosis. That served me well in later years in the Air Force.

    At the same time, I never quite fit in with any group. I was often a PART of a group, but not a MEMBER of the group, if anyone can understand the distinction. My military specialty attracted Odds, and made my Air Force career rather enjoyable. My last job was enjoyable in part because that job, too, seemed to attract Odds. This is my favorite weblog on the Internet, partly because of the host, partly because of the content, and partly because of the commenters. I’ll stick around until I’m kicked out (I’m an Odd Odd, remember?!

  26. I am not Odd — it’s everyone else who is out of step.

    As for that “salt of the Earth” thing, you’ve gotten it entirely wrong. (Hint: think Romans and Carthage.)

  27. Odds. Yes, I can relate. Except, unfortunately, I was bullyable.

    I’m not sure, though, that it’s either helpful or correct to suggest that radical losers are meaningfully similar to us odds. Paranoid schizophrenia is a very different condition from borderline autism. Borderline autistics, in fact, tend to be unusually law-abiding. Don’t mix up your odds and ends.

    “(“What do you mean you haven’t read a book since high school? How is that even possible?”)”

    Internet blogs.

    My daughter reads twelve books a week, whereas I get through maybe one a week. On the other hand, she’s between semesters of college with no regular job (not many to be had in the wilds of northern New Mexico), and she’s reading young-adult fantasy novels for pure entertainment. I’m holding down a full-time job and pretending to run a household, and I’m reading Minutae of the A-20 Havoc As Employed by Royal Australian Air Force Units In the Southwest Pacific Theater while taking notes and checking the footnotes. Y’know, in support of the most conclusive evidence published that I am an obsessive borderline autistic.

    (I hope you will not fine me $500 for link-whoring. I think it was actually relevant to illustrating my point.)

    • Now you do have an interesting point between autistics and paranoids… My family fits with the paranoids and we are not bullyable when we realize what is happening. But we are Odds none-the-less (intelligent, stubborn, and independent)–

    • I am good for your fines.

    • The part about, “What do you mean you haven’t read a book since high school? How is that even possible?” was referring, not to people who do an alternative form of reading, but to those who don’t read for pleasure at all. The ones who have no interest in reading anything that they don’t have to.

      • Yep. And I keep running into them and being shocked. Yes, I read a lot less than I did when I wasn’t writing for a living (ironic, that) because less time. I too pretend to run a household (btw, audible books are a lifesaver for this. I can clean AND listen.) But I still read: blogs, the occasional book — down to about one a month — and if all else fails want ads. BUT there are people out there who don’t read, period.

    • I know there is a difference between odds and paranoid schizophrenics (though it’s amazing how often they run in the same families.) BUT some of them you wonder if they really are paranoid schizophrenics or just odds who reasoned themselves into something with no contact with reality.