Time Zones

This post is the result of very weird mind-mulch.

You know mind mulch, right?  It’s when you’re reading/looking at three different things at one time, and it all composts in your minds and comes up with a rich ah organic mixture you couldn’t have anticipated.

We’ve been working hell for leather at the other house trying to get it read (I think I have three more days of work, but I’m taking today off so I’m not unreasonably tired at LC.  I mean “I have” three days of work (with Robert doing the walls) and then we hire someone to do the “other stuff” that I can’t/don’t have time to do.  But anyway, the point is, I’ve been putting in a full day of work at the other house and it’s rather brutal physical labor.  Worse than that, it’s boring work.  No, seriously.  Refinished a baseboard, refinished them all.

As usual, like with house work, I deal with this by listening to recorded books and since — we’ve been stumbling tired and forgetting everything — I keep forgetting to buy new audio books (I have a subscription plan that allows me three a month.  It’s cheaper than a cleaning service.  Also, I also listen to them while exercising.)  So I have been listening to whatever was in the MP3 from three months ago.  In the last few days this has included Agatha Christie, Heinlein and Simak.

To be precise I listened to Citizen of the Galaxy and City, back to back.

At the same time I’ve been reading (while cooking, doing laundry, etc) P. F. Chisholm’s Elizabethan Scottish Frontier mysteries at the rate of about one a day.

And my bathroom book (bathroom books are essays or short stories, because if you have never gotten trapped by a novel someone had forgotten in the bathroom and lost the entire morning as well as all circulation in your legs, I can’t explain it to you) is a Daily Life In Medieval England thing. And most of the time I read something that I’m sure the authors thought was new and exotic and think “Well, heck, it was like that in the village.”

So, when I woke up this morning I woke up thinking of how time is different in different parts of the world, which is what the people (Heinlein and Simak included) who pushed for the UN and thought it was the way of the future didn’t seem to get (to be fair, in Tramp Royale it becomes obvious Heinlein got it when he traveled there, and realized it was impossible to bring such a disparate world under one government.)

A minor side note, while listening to City, there is a point at which Simak describes what he might or might not have realized was Marx’s concept of “perfect communism” where the state withers away because there’s no need for it.

Simak thought this would be brought about by perfect abundance.  There are no crimes of property when everyone has too much.  There are no crimes of violence either, because he seems to think those come from property.  (Hits head gently on desk.)

This must have seemed profound to me when I first read the book at 12, but right now I just stared at the mp3 player thinking “what about people who capture other people as sex slaves?”  “What about people who covet something someone else made, including the life someone made for themselves?  Just because everyone has too much, it doesn’t mean that they don’t covet what someone else made of their too much.”

Which is why I’m not a believer in either Communism or for that matter big L Libertarianism.  I don’t believe that humans are only a sum of their material needs and crime the result of the unequal distribution of property.  (There is also the unequal distribution of talent, or simply the unequal distribution of happiness, all of which can lead to crime — after all Cain didn’t off Abel because he was starving.)  And I don’t believe humans are ever going to become so perfect we can get away with no government, because humans will always (being at heart social apes) lust for power, recognition and heck simply control over others (which is subtly different from power.) So we’re stuck with our good servant but bad master.

Which brings us back, through back roads to the main point of this post.  I was (being evil) reading some of the entries in the medieval life book to older son (having brought the book out of the bathroom to pontificate) and I said “bah, it was like that for us, too.  It wasn’t that bad.”  And son said “mom, it sounds horrific.”  And I said “that’s because you grew up in a superabundant society, overflowing at both property and entertainment, which is why the problems we suffer from are problems that only affected the very rich in the past” (Crisis of identity, extreme sensitivity to suffering, etc.)

Which is also true.  And note kindly, that though we’re overflowing at the seams with material goods, property crimes we still have with us, not counting on anything else.

But for my child this is the normal world and it doesn’t occur to him to think of it as superabundant.  He just thinks of the conditions I grew up under (I think it was the “most people only had one change of clothes, including underwear” that got him) as barbaric and horrible.

I’ve long since realized that I grew up somewhere between medieval England and Victorian England.  Tudor England feels about as familiar to me as the present day which is why I like visiting now and then.

But even in Elizabethan England, there were different time zones, by which I don’t mean the artificial time declarations (though they went by the sun, so it was different too) but more that different parts of Britain at that time were in different “places” historically.

The Chisholm mysteries (highly recommended if you like mysteries that are solved through duels, kidnappings and pitched battles)  bring a London Courtier and presumed double cousin/nephew of the Queen, Robert Carey (his grandmother was Mary Boleyn and it was rumored his grandfather was Henry VIII.  There are reasons not to believe this, and the fact that the author believes it because of his “adventurous nature” …. pfui.  It’s a minor annoyance, but I don’t join in the cult of the Tudors.  They had Shakespeare.  It should be enough.  Anyway, I can ignore it to enjoy the books.) to the Scotland Borders to become deputy warden which, if you think of it as sheriff in the old west is about right.

(There are delightful things about the book, including character names you’d expect of the Feegle, and the wonderful understatement of naming areas of pitched battle “the debatable land.”  Charles, if you read this, I’m getting you those books as soon as I have money.)

I’m now at the beginning of the fourth book, delayed because yesterday house work was followed up by ironing, neither of which are suited to reading, and the main character has brought his Scottish (not really, but an Englishman fromt he border) helper to London.  And the two cultures are pitched against each other.

The Scottishish man cannot understand how Carey could be arrested for debts “if you have kin in town” because justice in Scotland is tribal.  It doesn’t matter if you killed someone, it matters if your family will fight to keep you out of the pokey.  Oh, and the ownership of horses and cows is very Masai, since every “surname” is convinced G-d gave them all the cattle.  If someone else owns any, it’s an injustice and should be rectified.

The borders of Scotland are “centuries behind” Tudor England on the road from tribalism to a modern state. This in turn means a lot of other things about it are “primitive” as the poor character keeps suffering through.

And then you get to things like City or some of the Heinlein juveniles, where you’re assured that the UN brought rationality to the world, one world government is wonderful and, as superabundance set in, humans shed religion as unneeded, and went forward to be perfect angels.

I’m not sure what caused this blindness that affected smart men in the fifties and sixties, and still affects academics, idiots and Marxists today, but I read that and I think “Okay, I can see how you thought this was plausible if what you looked at was the intellectual portions  of middle America where religion was a social thing, and where the whole “brotherhood of man” was a believed fable.  But can you imagine making Islam just “wither away” without major persecution, war and executions?  Oh, heck, even Catholicism in the more traditional regions.

There is probably no religious minority as thoroughly gentrified and intellectualized as the Jewish people, and I know that even if you’re a secular Jew you’ll balk and fight if they try to make you give it up.  And even those of us whose ancestors gave it up, haven’t really and there are weird survivals and bits that we cling to.

And then there’s tribalism.  Perhaps the EU has made the Portuguese and the Spanish live in peace with each other (I think they’re biding their time, but that’s something else) what about the myriad little tribes in Africa, or even racial/tribal minorities in Asia.

How could they think the nature of man would pass away so completely?

I attribute it to lack of contact with other lands.  I mean, the US is a huge country, and back then the industrial-news complex had absolute primacy.  You really only got the other countries filtered through the lens of your colleagues in the media.  And you only got even other segments of your own country filtered that way.

This was not malice, either.  I’m here to tell you that understanding another culture — or even understanding that another culture really exists, and they’re not just sort of playing at it — is REALLY hard.  Humans are very good at absorbing the conditions they’re born into and internalizing them as THE conditions, i.e. the only true ones, and then thinking of everything else as a bizarre variation.

At the simplest linguistic level this is manifested in my mom’s tendency to try to talk to my husband and kids by SHOUTING Portuguese words very slowly.  She’s fairly sure if they just stop pretending, they’ll understand her.  It’s not an intellectual belief, of course, she’s not stupid, but at some subconscious level, she’s sure of it.  Same when I used to teach languages.  I remember a student telling me in frustration that he got “cat” because “gato” is not that difference but “What possessed the English to call a cao a dog?”

In the same way, I spent a lot of time after I moved to the US (and remember that I had been primed by growing up IN Heinlein books) trying to make people’s actions fit into the motives I’d learned in Portugal (yeah, they sort of do, but you have to strip away the cultural matrix first, and that’s harder than you think.)

So it is a case of people who lived in a rather provincial group, and thought the rest of the world was like them.  IOW they thought all human beings were the same, they were just sort of “pretending” not to be (this is obvious in City where Simak says something like people stopped caring what their neighbors think.)

For me, who grew up in one culture, entered another when I went to school (think of it as being raised in Apalachia then joining mainstream culture.  I had to learn almost completely different language.)  and then came here for a year, went back for four while dating someone neither Portuguese nor American, then came here to live.  It gives you a very clear vision of both cultures.  And it makes it very obvious it’s not all just “pretending” to be different.

It still stuns me that in that time and in that place, intelligent well read men could believe this clap trap of “one world” and government and religion both withering away leaving behind this human being that if he ever existed would be truly alien.

It stuns me more than in our day and age, with blogs and news that show us clearly the differences around the world, there are people who still believe it.

I want to say it’s living in “different time zones” and provincialism that makes them believe theirs is the only “real” one, but I think it comes down to wishful thinking, and “there are none so blind as those who will not see.”

To which I would add grandma’s saying “I’ve seen them blind, but never without a place for the eyes.”

The funny thing of course, is that these people, nowadays, are in the end just as tribal as the most backwardly tribal of humans.  Their beliefs are simply mock sophisticate.

But their time zone is medieval.

464 thoughts on “Time Zones

  1. “after all Cain didn’t off Abel because he was starving.” Was G-d’s approval (or lack thereof) of their sacrifices the original “positional good”?

    1. I think so, in that case. I mean, Cain wasn’t taking it in the spirit he should, so to him it was a positional good. (And possibly why the approval was withheld.)

  2. This is a very interesting post. I grew up entirely in the West, in Oregon and (bush) Alaska. As an adult I lived briefly in several other areas (Nebraska, New Hampshire each for a few months, Florida for almost a year) but still almost entirely in the West. Then (when Cedar was about fourteen) we moved to New Hampshire to live. Same country, just several thousand miles apart. Totally different culture. And the people there — friends and pastor — that I talked to about it didn’t believe me! They had never lived anywhere else, so they could not believe that the culture in another part of this same country was really all that different from what they grew up in and knew. (I was so thankful to move back to Oregon!!! I was HOME again!)

    1. I’m an Oregonian exile back too. It’s changed because there is a LOT more money here than when I was a kid.

      1. I think this is something where having practically grown up in the YMCA camp where my father worked gave me a huge advantage. That particular camp drew people from a long way off (And now they even get people from other countries), so I talked to a lot of kids who lived in rather different cultures, even though almost all of us came from the same country.

        Plus, the countryside around here varies considerably within a 50 mile radius, and you can find significant cultural differences in that range.

    2. I went through something of the sort. We moved to New York for about 5 years. I had never even left Texas before. You want to talk about culture shock! I thought those people were just insane. I spent the next five years begging to go “home”. Now we’ve been back for 12 years and I never want to go anywhere else. Ahh, home!

      1. I moved to AL to be with my fiance. My 1st year there was hard to communicate because Southern and NY English are different. The vowels are pronounced differently and the idioms are quite different and the speed of speech is different too.

        1. Ah, idioms… I have worked with several Southern ladies. I don’t know how many times I had my soul blessed before I figured out that it was not a compliment.

          My understanding of that particular idiom is still an approximation, by the way – it’s one of those tricky ones that I don’t think you get all the nuances of until you’ve heard it hundreds (thousands?) of times in a wide variety of circumstances.

          1. That one you pretty much have to grow up hearing your Momma and your aunties and your Granmas and your great aunts using to get the full appreciation of the shades of meaning and implication, fine degrees of distinction which make oriental bows seem unnuanced by comparison.

    3. I’m pretty sure there are still easterners whose idea of everything west of about Kansas comes from cowboy and indian movies.

      1. Taking Kansas as heartland or flyover there are western folks, folks flying over from either coast, who know so very much that isn’t so.

      2. It is hard to believe how many people from back east are shocked to discover there are still trees left when they first visit the west coast. They truly believe that we cut the last tree years ago and there are nothing but clearcuts left. And they seem incapable of comprehending that trees are a renewable resource, new ones start growing every year.

        1. *looks at what I suspect are little saplings coming up next to the apartment foundation* Boy, do they….

      3. I’ve got relatives in STL who think that starts just west of the Gumbo Flats.

  3. Sarah Hoyt wrote:
            “I’m here to tell you that understanding another culture — or even understanding that another culture really exists, and they’re not just sort of playing at it — is REALLY hard.  Humans are very good at absorbing the conditions they’re born into and internalizing them as THE conditions, i.e. the only true ones, and then thinking of everything else as a bizarre variation.”

            I read that, and immediately thought of one of Walter R. Brooks’s ‘Freddy the Pig’ novels, in which one of the characters opines that foreigners are just pretending to speak other languages.  When strangers aren’t around, he says, they speak English just like us.  Then I read:

            “At the simplest linguistic level this is manifested in my mom’s tendency to try to talk to my husband and kids by SHOUTING Portuguese words very slowly.  She’s fairly sure if they just stop pretending, they’ll understand her.  It’s not an intellectual belief, of course, she’s not stupid, but at some subconscious level, she’s sure of it.”

            Still chuckling.

    1. This is made worse by a trick of the ear. Our brain converts sounds imperfectly heard into sounds we know. So, if you’re ever in a foreign country, go into a room away and close the door. You’ll hear your hosts speak in English, though you can’t quite make out the words 😉

        1. In my case, after I watch a subtitled foreign film, it is the English words I “hear” in my mind. Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon comes to mind.

          1. At least you can watch them. I have never managed the trick of merging the two – I’m either reading a (very short) story that is all dialog and no action, or watching action with no idea of why half of it occurs. (Don’t ask me what happens to my brain when I make the mistake of having English subtitles on and English dubbing – the dubbing rarely matches to the subtitles…)

            1. One of the best parts about subtitled anime is when you know enough Japanese to pick out the swearwords and see where the subtitlers decided…to not put swearwords in.

              Or when they decide to use an English profanity as the translation for a Japanese obscenity.

                  1. I’ve been playing Inuyasha as background noise while I paint the last couple of days.

                    “kuso” was subtitled as “Nyarrgh”

                    I was amused.

                    1. There was a fansub of City Hunter TV episodes that had an amusing definition of Ryo’s constant use of the term “mokkori”. They claimed it was the equivalent of saying “smurf” all the time. No, I don’t think they were serious.

      1. There is a whole study of this effect in pop music, going under a name I don’t recall and don’t care to look up), examining the ways in which we consistently “mishear’ lyrics. Hendrix’s “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” is frequently heard as “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” while Creedence Clearwater’s “there’s a bad moon on the rise,” is commonly misheard as “there’s a bathroom on the right”.

        One of the most dramatic examples of this seems to be highly idiosyncratic (meaning nobody agrees with me on it) but I maintain that the children’s chorus that can be heard at the beginning of Ray Stevens’ “Everything is beautiful”

        Jesus loves the little children,
        All the little children of the world.
        Red and yellow, black and white,
        They are precious in his sight.
        Jesus loves the little children of the world.

        Everything is beautiful in it’s own way.
        Like the starry summer night, or a snow-covered winter’s day.
        And everybody’s beautiful in their own way.
        Under God’s heaven, the world’s gonna find the way.

        There is none so blind as he who will not see.
        We must not close our minds; we must let our thoughts be free.
        For every hour that passes by, we know the world gets a little bit older.
        It’s time to realize that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder

        is actually singing

        Jesus flagellates the children,
        All the little children of the world.
        Red and yellow, black and white,
        They are beaten in his sight.
        Jesus flagellates the children of the world.

        Does this make me a bad person?

          1. Ayup – sometimes the brain demonstrates it is less a fine-tuned computing device and more of a magic 8-ball.

            1. A related phenomenon I’ve noticed is misreading signs while driving by. As a kid I tended to replace misread words with the names of mythological monsters, which certainly makes supermarket reader boards more interesting…

              1. Heh. I recall seeing signs in Virginia advising drivers it was “unlawful to start fires between” certain hours and “reading” them as saying “how awful to start fires …”

                Then there are the signs which you read perfectly and still misinterpret, seeing “Free Kittens” as a demand of the Feline Liberation Front. I won’t describe how my mind interprets the signs at construction sites offering “Free Dirt”.

                1. “Work Truck, Do Not Follow”… OK, don’t follow because it is going to work, don’t follow because it will throw gravel, stop – turn around – do not follow. Now, some construction sites have ‘chaser trucks’ that take traffic over a one-way route, which have some sign about follow me. It might be that ‘do not follow’ is Spanish for Work Truck, kind of like men-banos at the bathroom.

                  1. I like the dump trucks with signs advising people to stay at least 300 feet behind them as if a) that were possible in city traffic and b) in font too small to be read at 100 feet, much less 300 — classic “If you can read this you are too close” messaging.

                2. Or, to go the other direction:

                  Free Mumia*!

                  *With the purchase of any other Mumia of equal or greater value. Terms and conditions apply.

                    1. I’m all for freeing Mumia from his earthly bonds. I cannot understand why so many protesters demand his suffering continue.

                    1. O.o

                      I get a kick out of people that have a “Free Tibet” bumper sticker next to a ‘Coexist’ bumper sticker and, usually, a half-dozen antiwar bumper stickers. Exactly how do they think Tibet can be freed?

                    2. You have to get everyone to close their eyes, wish real hard and all clap their hands at the same time. silly!

                      Oh! I think it might require fairy dust , too.

                    3. It can also be done if you cut the living heart from a unicorn on an altar of trolls’ corpses under the light of the third full moon in a month (commonly known as a “Green Moon,”)

                    4. I’d find it difficult to be with a woman that found Metrosexy Prancy to be attractive. You might think he’s all built and hunky, but I promise you the exercise he was showing was not the way he used to get in that shape. (I just showed the clip to my GF, without comment. After about 10 secs, she spurted, “Hell no!” )

                    5. Paying more attention to the agility being shown off, as well as the coordination and confidence.
                      That’s not exercise, it’s performance art.

                      The first big sword fight in The Princess Bride is awesome, that doesn’t mean it’s sound fighting advice!

                    6. I don’t recall that swordfight in TPB, but it’s been at least a decade.Methinks needs re-watching. As for the rest, “De gustibus non est disputandum.” We all like/value different things. Enjoy what you will.

                    7. Just watched the fight again.Entertaining, but a Hollywood fight. They rarely even close enough to do more than bang swords together. That’s Rule #1 for safe stage combat: let you weapon reach the opponent’s weapon, but no farther.

                    8. I guess the person taking the video had more information than I did, but the term that came to mind was gymnast, rather than personal trainer.

                      As for Orc? Nah, didn’t see that at all. Other terms? I’d dance any dang way that drew in the ladies if I was built like that.

                3. When my kids were about 6 & 8 the county put up a sign on the newly paved road: “Slow Children”. I really got the kids spun up on that one. “We are not either slow!”

                  1. How about the legend of Falling Rocks, which is the origin of all those signs— “Danger, Falling Rocks!”

                    (Short version– it’s a car trip story, and there was an Indian princess who loved brave Falling Rocks, and she put the signs up to help him win the contest for her hand. Embroider as needed.)

                    1. My family also had the Indian Brave, Kayr, who desperately wanted to play football but died of a broken heart because he could never find anybody with whom to toss the ol’ pigskin.

                    2. An Indian chief in the American Southwest won the hand of a squaw from a neighboring tribe, and was returning to his own people. To get home, he and his entourage had to cross a stream, but a recent thunderstorm had swollen the stream bed to overflowing.

                      Not wanting to risk his bride, who was of considerable girth, he called upon his followers to assist her across the water. He called to his braves: “Two! Come Carry!”

                      And that’s how Tucumcari, NM, got its name. Or at least that’s what one of my uncles told me.

                    3. One Indian chief, who was a skilled hunter, took great pride in the three sleeping mats he had made from the hides of dangerous animals he had hunted: a hippoptamus, a mountain lion, and a bison. He had two wives; one slept on the hippotamus-hide mat, and the other one had to sleep on the other two mats sewn together, since she was quite large. They soon became known as “the squaw of the hippopotamus” and “the squaw of the other two hides”.

                      Both of the chief’s wives bore him a son in the same year, which became a problem about fifteen years later when the chief died. Because in that tribe, all children born in the same year are considered the same age, and so both sons had a claim to be the chief’s eldest son and in line to become the next chief. After much debate in the tribal council, a wrestling contest was suggested: the two sons would wrestle each other, with the winner to become the next chief. A date was set for the wrestling contest, and everyone went home satisfied that a fair solution had been reached.

                      However, the son of the squaw of the hippopotamus twisted his ankle while he was hunting, the day before the wrestling contest was to be held. Not wanting her son to forfeit the chieftainship due to simple bad luck, his mother volunteered to wrestle in his place. Nobody thought she’d last more than two minutes before being pinned, but she was allowed to try.

                      The signal was given, and the wrestling match began. But soon it became apparent that the contest was far more even than everyone thought. In fact, after an hour, people started to exclaim, “This is incredible! The squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the son of the squaw of the other two hides!”

                    4. Now that was “Watch for Falling Rocks” as the poor Indian named Falling Rocks never returned from his search. [Wink]

                    5. I think that’s more of a central-USA thing; the ones I saw in mostly rural Oregon, northern Cali and Nevada were all:
                      FALLING ROCKS

                      We made our own variations on the trip to Utah, and then Kansas. It’s a fun game!

                    6. Give it a decade or so?

                      Then again, mom was a really fun storyteller, and none of us have had to hear it for nearly 20 years… I’ve got to inflict it on my kids next family road trip. 😀

                    7. Personally, I’m just trying to get in touch with the protest group that is putting up the “End Road Work” signs.

                    8. Unrelated, except that it has to do with road signs – Several years ago (probably more than 10), someone went around and attached red reflectors to the noses of the deer silhouettes on the Deer Crossing signs. They got to so many of them, and they stayed up so long, that I thought they somehow were official parts of the signs.

                      Then, a couple of years ago, I was talking about something and mentioned the red reflectors, and no one in the car believed me, so I started looking around for them, but they were all gone! Apparently, someone had finally noticed, and sent people around to pull the reflectors off. I couldn’t find any to show them, so they didn’t believe me. Later, I finally found one left, and I told them about it, but I think they still believe I was imagining things.

                    9. Heh — good prank, and (as you learned) an even better one than the prankster planned.

                      I confess that when I saw the subject of the story was DEER CROSSING my mind jumped to Catholic deer, genuflecting and …

                    10. I always heard it that he went to do X (X varies, depending on storyteller and current circumstances) to win the squaws hand/obtain whatever in order to pay her father for her. He never came back, and the broken-hearted Indian gal searched for ever for him, and never married. To this day you can see the signs put to encourage others to help her find him, “Watch for Falling Rocks”

              2. When I was very young, I’d ask Mom to read for me the book “The Plant Eater”. It was actually titled “The Planet Earth”. [Grin]

              3. And single words that can be read two ways – is “nowhere” = “no where” or “now here”? (There’s a word for this…) — for many years I preferentially read them all the wrong way, more for entertainment than belief.

                  1. Lots of fun with Morse code and deceptive rhythms – as with any early blur or premature hypothesis once the word is copied wrong it’s really really hard to correct and recover.

                    I have more trouble with testing to the teaching than teaching to the test – see also the current fuss in France about coping in English.

                    When I was teaching 300 student sections of freshman economics the tests as a practical matter had to be multiple choice.

                    (haphazardly chosen freshmen can’t be given/ won’t do well in a rigorous course in economics so my function as specifically stated and understood and agreed was first selection then teaching)

                    I wrote one word problem with disparate units. Like a history teacher correcting the diction, punctuation and spelling it was heartbreaking to have a student stick his hand up and tell me he was a hard science major and the correct answer did not appear in this voodoo science examination.

                    It gave me some pleasure to tell the student an engineer who weighs a truck in kilos and runs it over a bridge rated in pounds is in effect and drawing from a better institution more of a rambling wreck and h-ll if he’s an engineer.

                    Barbecue for money has to accord with local demand. As I recall it was Colfax Washington where my wife and I stopped for lunch. With great surprise and pleasure she raised her head and announced to all and sundry that the meal was real southern barbecue (her taste was formed around Jeff Davis County GA south of Macon) The owner came over and said that yes, he’d wanted to live on the Palouse instead of the segregated South and thought he could offer something different that nobody else offered. Next time past the barbecue wasn’t real southern barbecue and the proprietor explained that giving the customers what they wanted was more profitable than proselytizing for southern barbecue.

                    1. I was forever tempted to keep my history exams to multiple guess for ease of grading, but always included essays, even though it was more time consuming to grade them for grammar, spelling and style, since all my students were native Spanish speakers. I felt honor bound to upgrade their English, even though that was not officially my task. Sadly, most of my ex-pat colleagues thought me a fool for not taking the easy path.

                    2. re: authentic BBQ

                      The first law of business is: Stay In Business. That means keeping the customer satisfied even if it requires compromising on authenticity. Very few Americans want to eat in a truly authentic Chinese or Mexican restaurant. Even fewer want to do it twice.

            2. Remember that our brains were programmed by evolution, and the only question evolution asks is “is it good enough?”

              1. Agreed – evolution favors an adequate answer quickly over a perfect answer slowly:

                Oh my, there’s a grizzly bear charging me; should I run away or climb this tree? The nearest spot safe from a grizzly is thirty yards, so if I can run at ten mph I can outrun the grizzly unless it is able to run at least X mph. OTOH, this tree has branched at about eight feet above the ground and extends another forty feet up; how fast do I have to be able to climb it to get out of the grizzly’s climbing range before … (pulls out cell phone) lessee, according to wiki the average running and climbing speeds of a grizzly (is that a male or a female?) are … oh, crap!

                1. according to wiki the average running and climbing speeds of a grizzly

                  Is that an African or European grizzly? And does it like coconuts?

          1. Thanks – for whatever reason “Lady Mondegreen” just didn’t pop up in my cranial google.

        1. I maintain the “misheard lyrics” are “mis-sung” lyrics. If they could articulate the words properly people wouldn’t misunderstand them.

          Various local businesses have Muzak that plays a genre I call “screechy bitch music.” It seems to consists of teen girls with major speech impediments, singing “Muh… fuh… waaahaah…uh, uh… wooooo!” and variations. My wife insists it’s English, but she can’t pick any individual words out either…

          1. I used to work at a mall that was too cheap to pay for Muzak. It would play random notes on what I *think* were strings, hour after hour after hour after hour…

            At Christmas they’d spring for stuff with actual words. By the time I’d survived the 8,483rd repetition of “Santa Baby” by a fourth-rate wannabe torch singer, I was ready for the strings again.

            1. Urgh… the popular songs they play in malls at Christmas all seem to run to the depressing side of the genre. “Last Christmas I gave you my heart” and “So this is Christmas” and the like.

              Suicide carols is what they are.

              1. That first one I think of as the “loser who is using whoever he’s with” song.

                Seriously, the only mention of this year’s target is that she’s “somebody special.” Oh, yeah, that suggests a healthy, well-balanced relationship that isn’t totally about him.

                Personal continuity, every year that song is aimed at last year’s “somebody special.”

                1. That’s a good head-canon. I like that.

                  I’ve always read it as a passive aggressive dig at last year’s girl: “I’ll give it to someone special unlike you, who is not special. So there.”

        2. I occasionally have to ask my children whether what I think I’m hearing is what the words are.

          I don’t do that very often – in fear that they will have me committed some day.

        3. Big ole’ Jed and the Light house
          Don’t carry me too far away…

      2. I spent a summer in an immersion program at the U. De Montpelier. I spoke no word of English to any of the students there and read bandes dessiner and watched T.V.s in bars.

        I remember it all in English. :::le sigh:: though until now I thought it was just me.

    2. Not just conditions. the sort of things that make extroverts refuse to believe that you WANT to stay at home and read.

      1. Or that dealing with people really does take energy, or that it’s not that you don’t like them/are just being polite but you’re really not sure how to interact without stepping on toes.

      2. I confess, one of the random weird things I worry about now that I’m pregnant is “What do I do if the kid is an extrovert?”

        1. Happened with our first, so far as you can tell with a five year old.

          It’s surprisingly OK… just means I spend a lot of time pulling her off of people. (Metaphorically….mostly.)

          It’s the “how am I going to home school someone who would adore all the kids at school…and absorb all the wrong stuff from the same” that gets worrying!

          1. And I think one of the other author-bloggers I read resorted to finding an extra job to pay for a really expensive special school…. I just keep imagining it being like when my little brother seemed to want to talk all the time, except that I didn’t actually have to listen to him. *cough* (My mother, who likes crowds considerably less than I do, assures me it will be fine.)

            1. One of my daughters is the stream of consciousness type. It’s kind of like skimming a book and “seeing” only the key words. (You need to develop the mental ability to record on a short loop of tape for rewind from the key word.)

          2. My wife is more-or-less an introvert, and the Hellion is not.

            She solves this by “play dates”, co-ops and a 1 day a week school for home-schoolers they have here in the Denver area called “options”.

  4. I remember an interesting conversation another person and myself had with a student from Africa.

    The African student was talking about the “clans/tribes” in Africa being more important than the country in Africa to the people living there.

    The other American “didn’t get it” but thanks to my wide reading I understood what the African student was talking about

    Some say that the family is the most important “unit” of human societies and at its base, the tribe was an extended family. The tribe was “who you are related to”.

    The modern “tribe” is closer to “people who believe the same things that I do”.

    Of course, just as the older tribes had the idea that “their tribe were the Real People/Humans” so some modern tribes have the idea that “their tribe is the most important because their ideas are the Only True Ideas”. [Sad Smile]

    1. I remember during the genocide in Rwanda reading editorials complaining that with black Africans we called it tribal violence but in the white Balkans we called it ethnic violence and how that was proof of racism.

      Talk about a tribe projecting their beliefs onto other tribes.

      1. Citizen! It is Racist to think that Blacks are or can be guilty of Racism. [Evil Grin]

        Seriously “Tribe” and “ethnic group” are IMO names for the same thing.

        For that matter “race” as a term is more of another name for tribe/ethnic group.

        Years ago, you would read about the “French race”, the “English race”, etc.

        So “ethnic violence” is the same thing as “tribal warfare” which is the same thing as “racial violence”. [Sad Smile]

        1. You know that and I know that but there are people who should have been Jesuits (and would have in another age or nuns of an equivalent order) who want to argue such things.

          1. Citizen! If a Black person thinks Blacks can be racist, then they have been brainwashed by the All Powerful Whites!!!!!! [Evil Grin]

  5. It’s the central conceit of the Star Trek universe, and quite a popular one. There are the two conflicting sides of mankind’s nature: the fierce loyalty to tribe, without which we could not and can not survive; and the desire to live in peace and plenty, with no need for strife between tribes. Where Roddenberry got it hugely wrong is in supposing that the one side of our nature would supercede the other, that it was an inevitable matter of progressing past superstiton to enlightenment.

    The real answer is the Dominical exhortation to love thy neighbor as thyself – and to identify even your enemies as neighbors. You may have to defend yourself against them if they forget themselves, but ultimately try to reconcile them to God and the truth, to strive together toward it. This marries both sides of human nature and gives our loyalty and our idealism a common ground.

    It’s one reason why, for my money, DS9 was the best of the franchises. Not that I don’t have a lot of love for TOS and Next Gen but DS9 lent itself to a larger variety of shows, and it went a lot more into this duality. It was much less afraid to show characters in conflict, in doubt, and wrestling with problems with no easy solution. It also took religion and faith a lot more seriously than Next Gen ever did as the show went along.

    1. Oh yeah. My recent rewatch of DS9 (I’m halfway through Season 6) consistently impresses me. It’s a different perspective on the usual Trek tropes, something Trek needed very badly back in the ’90s.

      1. DS9 took the elements I found most interesting (an admittedly low hurdle) in Next Gen — the differences in cultures, differences which TOS largely skimmed over — and explored them at significantly greater depth and complexity. A favorite in that was the time the Cardassians put Chief O’Brien on trial and its acknowledgement that in their culture the purpose of a trial had nothing to do with innocence or guilt.

        1. Another great thing about DS9: Worf was allowed to keep his balls.

    2. Funnily enough, DS9 has one of my favorite quotes about faith:

      “That’s the thing about faith. If you don’t have it, you can’t understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary.”

      And speaking of Star Trek, why oh why did Shadowdancer have to bring up STO? I had plans for my weekend, I really, truly did.

    3. Might have something to do with DS9 being the first series created after Roddenberry died.

      1. Keep in mind that “typos” is just an anagram of “posty” and thus are to be expectorated.

        1. I never realized that. I thought it was Potsy, so I keep looking for the Fonz.

    1. Sure, a house can be read quickly if you just skim it, but reading all the details can take a lifetime.

    1. One of my favorite movies is “Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning.” It was made by some more-than-usually-crazed Finnish ST and B5 fans. It freakin’ rocks.

      Anyway, it’s made in Finnish, with subtitles for other languages. The subtitles themselves are exquisitely crafted pieces of amusement. But though my wife and I frequently watch subtitled movies and TV shows, she refuses to believe that what the actors in Pirkinning is Finnish, or that it’s a real language at all. Something about it just doesn’t make the leap to “speech” for her.

      I thought she was kidding when she first brought it up, but she gets angry if I press her on it.

      1. Another reason I can’t do subtitles – something in my brain hears just about all Japanese/Chinese as quite hostile. Makes it hard to enjoy a tender moment when the brain expects bloodshed to break out any second, now.

        I do turn on subtitles for opening/closing music – some of them are actually quite nice poetic pieces. (I have to ignore or turn off the sound, though, or all I’m going to “get” is something like “March of Cambreadth.”)

  6. My husband and I grew up overseas and came to the US for college. We have lived in the US ever since although he traveled around the world (working) for prolonged periods of time. In his first job he says he felt he was a cultural alien (knew next to nothing about sports teams, clubs, etc.) and felt very ODD; it was quite an adjustment although he never told me about it until years later.
    I realize that I look at my country from a slightly different perspective no matter how I have tried not to. This is only one of the reasons why I enjoy your blog and everyone’s comments so very much. It’s so good to know there are other ODDs out there!

    1. Eh, I had considerable difficulty when I got my first few jobs, and I grew up here. I hadn’t realized how insulated I had been growing up. My wife has maintained for many years that I was raised in a cave.

        1. So have I. All too often by people to whom the correct response is “Yeah, and every time I hear a jackass bray, I get homesick!”

  7. I’ve long said that if you want to understand a place, then try to accomplish something there. It could be digging a well or standing up a mfg. facility, but do something that requires supplies, labor, vendors, craftsmen, and/or approval. If you’re a tourist then every place is full of descent people with interesting but different tastes in food, music, and dress. When you stop just seeing and try actually doing the differences cease to be just exotic fashion and actually mean things.

    1. This is often seen in the cultural blindness of the elites. They travel the world, stay in five-star resorts and hobnob with the nobs. They never grasp that the reason a resort is five-star is because it offers a largely uniform standard. They live in the world as Disneyland.

      It never occurs to them that while you can put chocolate frosting on a sponge, a gateau, a cake, a brick, a cowpat they all look the same if you never look underneath the icing.

        1. I’m with Pratchett on his assertion that much “national cuisine” was invented either on a dare or as a game of “what can we get the foreigner to eat”.

          1. Hearing my dad’s stories of things served on the plate in the Far East during the 70s and 80s, I’m prone to agree with the caveat of adding “drunken” to the word “dare.”

          2. Having worked for a cajun, I’m of the opinion that cajun cuisine was invented by two guys walking in the swamp and saying, “Damn, that’s ugly. Let’s eat it!”

            1. Justin Wilson had a bevy of jokes premised on the idea of cajuns eating anything — especially if served with tobasco.

              Ah gar-rown-tee!

              1. Yes and cajuns in the military would STAHV is it wasn’t for the little bottles of tabasco in MREs.

                1. What do those Tabasco mini-bottles and cigarettes have in common?

                  Each has served as a form of currency in the Army.

      1. They live in the world as Disneyland.

        Nonsense. They’d go insane after hearing “It’s A Small World” for the umpteenth time.

    2. Yup. Been there, done that in a few places 😉 Having to deal with people that are neither the elite nor their pet mascots du jour does wonders for one’s cultural understanding.

    3. It takes a few months for the cultural honeymoon to wear off. After a year or two, even the most hardened SJW will be longing for McDonalds and Walmart, and hanging out with fellow expats.

    4. It’s also instructive simply to go to Walt Disney World during the off-season, when there are as many or more Europeans there than Americans.

      When Americans travel, they typically see non-Americans in positions of “service-authority” — museum guides, waiters, hotel clerks, airline employees, etc. They are serving you, but they also have authority and expertise. So foreigners are all efficient and smart. But your fellow tourists are sloppily dressed, ignorant and boorish. Gosh, foreigners are so much classier than Americans!

      At Disney during the off-season, you see American staff being quietly efficient and Europeans being boorish. It’s quite a useful corrective.

      1. Sorry, almost all of the Europeans I have met have been arrogant, boorish, nincompoops (the most polite term I can come up with) who look down their noses at us backward barbarous Americans. But if we act properly grovelly (is so a word) they might deign to explain to us that they can understand our childish misconceptions, but the way the world works, the proper, adult thing to do is to emulate our European betters.

        The bad thing is, I am pretty sure a fair number of them never realize they are doing anything untoward, and are shocked when you take offense at their gratuitous insults, and absolutely can’t comprehend why you don’t agree with them after they have enlightened you. Like Obama, they can’t comprehend that you might disagree with them, they just must not have explained it well enough, yet.

        1. at least Europhobic isn’t a word (yet) to describe the crime of disagreeing with our intelekshual overlords from the old world.

      2. What Pop Idol and soccer hooliganism weren’t enough to teach American’s that Euros can be just as boorish as us?

        1. Yes, but it’s their boorishness, which is quite a different thing from the other guy’s boorishness.

  8. lost the entire morning as well as all circulation in your legs

    I thought I was the only one who did that, to the irritated amusement of my loving spouse……

    1. Nope…though I don’t think your spouse new anything about it the last time I did it. 🙂

    2. I thought the problem was that you occupied the bathrooom that other people might need.

      1. Never have a home with less than n bathrooms where n is the number of resident readers.

        1. Correction: If there are people in your house who DON’T read, you’d better have n+1. (Mundanes need to use the bathroom too.)

          1. You let heathens like non-readers into your house? Aren’t you afraid their evil ways might rub off on you? 🙂

            1. Trying to be a good influence on them.

              Or there’s a gap between knowing how to use the toilet and learning to read well enough to get lost in a book.

    3. Have you moved on to reading with your back in the shower and your body shielding the book from the water?

      My wife is still amazed at this one. It also explains why I took so long to adopt eBooks (that and sitting in the tub).

            1. Why iew?

              Isn’t the bored, middle aged housewife sitting in a tub in a “Calgon take me away” moment the stereotype of the romance reader?

            1. The two of you are very evil and why didn’t I read this before last night’s soaking.

              Now, when you say base Kindle is that one with buttons to page or touch screens?

    4. Maybe we need a support group for this. I mean, YOU people need a support group for this. >.>

            1. …and just to be clear on further reflection, that was a funny acronym, not an aspersion cast.

              1. No, it pops up from time to time. It’s something I can’t use in help desk tickets, alas.

          1. I was wondering whether I’m the only one here who remembers Oil Can Harry, so I looked him up in [searchengine] and discovered he is now the namesake of a gay bar in (IIRC) Austin, Texas.

            I think I’ll stick to Crabby Appleton for my obscure cartoon villainy.

            No problems with obscure cartoon heroes … (although doubts about childhood judgement abound.)

  9. I saw a documentary once on science education. Part 1 was amusing. They polled Harvard graduates and alumni on two BASIC science questions: what causes the seasons? And what causes the phases of the Moon? And these graduates of an elite school couldn’t answer questions I could answer at five years old. (So much for that well-rounded education…)

    But part 1 was just a set-up for part 2. Educators tried to understand how such basic knowledge could elude people. They ran an experiment where at the start of the semester, the researchers (NOT the instructors) interviewed the students in an advanced junior high science class and asked them to explain the same phenomena. The kids gave wild, fanciful answers, including things like light that changes course in mid travel and other nonsense.

    Then the teachers taught the kids astronomy and tested them on the material. The kids aced the test. They answered every question exactly as the teacher expected.

    Then the researchers interviewed the kids again, and the kids gave almost exactly the same answers they had before the course! Yes, they had passed the tests; but they didn’t replace their old ideas with the new ones, they just tried to integrate the new ideas into the old ones. And where the two conflicted, they threw out the old ideas.

    The researchers’ conclusion was that people always evaluate new ideas through filters of what they already “know”, true or not; and if you don’t know what those filters are, you can fail to communicate even though both parties THINK they have communicated.

    1. Interesting. I’m reminded of the story of Richard Feynmann trying to teach science in Brazil. He said that the students were very good at memorizing sentences about the science, and recalling these sentences when they were asked, but they couldn’t translate these into every day concepts. They knew that “Brewster’s Angle is the angle at which light reflected from a medium with an index of refraction is completely polarized…The light is polarized perpendicular to the plane of reflection.” They didn’t, however, have the slightest idea what was going to happen when they looked at the bay through a polarized film; that wasn’t part of what they’d memorized.

      I wonder if a similar thing may be going on in your story: the students have memorized that the Earth is tilted on its axis, causing different levels of sun at different times of year, but they’ve never tried to think about the real world implications of that–namely that it causes the seasons.

      1. I think that’s pretty much it. They knew what they “knew”, and they knew what they memorized, but they never examined the conflict.

        1. I had a History of Science teacher who in one lecture explained how Isaac Newton’s religious beliefs and his scientific beliefs interacted. Afterwards I went to her office hours and tried unsuccessfully to explain that was not how people like Newton think… that he didn’t have little categories of beliefs, but rather he was trying to build a model in his head of how Everything worked and went around testing and tweaking all his various beliefs and observations against it. She simply could not comprehend that a person would do that, much less that they could do it. She obviously didn’t believe my explanation of how *I* would know what a scientist like Newton was trying to do in his mind. Why, I’m not even a historian…

          1. Majored in “History, Philosophy, and Social Science of Science in Medicine.” Big takeaway: scientists believe in Truth; historians and philosophers don’t. Philosophers of science will claim that you can’t claim that our science is more advanced or more true than the science of ancient Greece, because we’re answering different questions and so there’s no real comparison. Scientists think that our science corresponds more closely to Reality and so is both more advanced and more true.

            Generalizations are of course not true of all individuals, and it’s been twenty years so things may have changed.

            1. Scientists think that our science corresponds more closely to Reality …

              Heh. Of course they do.

                1. Engineers and physicians.

                  Cataract surgery makes the blind see. Not only do the lame walk, but so do the legless. I can bring light by flipping a switch, and it’s so bright it’s comfortable to read by. I can turn a spigot and bring water — so much water, that I can bathe in water fit to drink daily if I choose. And the outtake removes my sewage so it doesn’t poison anyone. Not only do antibiotics save lives, so do aspirin and decongestants. Not to mention vaccinations. And these aren’t even the NEW breakthroughs, though the legless walking has gotten a lot better lately.

                  We’ve been given the power to command miracles and we take it for granted to the point where our intellectual caste (barring the ones actually doing the *work*) says silly things like we aren’t really more advanced than the ancient greeks.

          2. Well, that settles it then — if you are not a Historian what could you possibly know of History?

          3. head=>desk

            Really not sure how someone would divide their mind like that, between “religious” and “science.”
            Of course, that may be a Catholic thing– I know that a lot of what I believe is reasoned out by pretty much the same method as science. (Just only with ideas. Yay, natural law.)

            1. “Really not sure how someone would divide their mind like that, between “religious” and “science.”

              Neither am I, but I have seen plenty of proof that people do.

              1. True, and now that I think about it, that explains some of the lectures I’ve heard about “Sunday Christians” and such.

                Huh, maybe I tripped over a key aspect– “now that I think about it.”

                Maybe a lot of folks just don’t think about it, or don’t think about it with the right stuff, they just use it to think about other things?

                1. Maybe a lot of folks just don’t think about it, or don’t think about it with the right stuff, they just use it to think about other things?

                  This fits in with my observations quite well. As far as I can tell, a large percentage of people simply will not take the time to think about how what they know about one thing might affect what they think they know in another.

                  In fact, this also fits why Leftists can hold mutually contradictory beliefs simultaneously. They don’t bother to think about the effects of their beliefs, received “knowledge”, and proposed policies.

                  1. As I recall, back in the 1990s Bill and Hillary Clinton used to brag about their ability to compartmentalize.

        2. In some cases it’s not their fault… it’s possible they had one of those memorize-test-forget curricula that never linked any of the “teaching” to anything they could use in the real world.

          I foundered on binomials in the 7th grade. “Yes, I now know the rules for moving the x’s and y’s from one side to the other. So what is it good for?” (a trip to the office for being a smartass, where they didn’t know either…)

          1. Needed someone like my mom.
            EVERYTHING came down to “alright, if that’s so– then where else can it apply? Alright, it applies there– can it translate into anything else?”

            For example, the seasons were explained to us by standing in the sun or the shadow, and with a flashlight. (Which was old enough that we could feel the center part as being much hotter than the edges. Wouldn’t work so well with an LED.)

            We may not get it then, but we’d not only remember the first thing, we’d remember the related bits, and when something finally clicked, we’d get it all.

          2. In my case it was matrix algebra, followed by Laplace transforms. I could go through the motions, but it was just noise. So much for Electrical Engineering…

        3. In any class, there are three separate things that may be achieved:
          1.) Learning the materiel
          2.) Passing the class
          3.) Making a good grade

          These are barely, if at all, related. It is entirely possible to memorize the material just long enough to put it perfectly on the test; this is called “pump and dump” in aviation circles.

          It is entirely possible to learn what the teacher/prof wants, and to feed it back to them exactly as they want it, without learning a single thing. (Okay, not so much in STEM classes, but the humanities? Easy to ace if you can BS the prof right.)

          It is entirely possible to learn the material, and yet piss off the prof by not conforming to their prejudices. This will result in bad grades, or in the most egregious case I know of, making perfect scores on every test and flunking the class for the three crimes of being conservative and out of the closet about it and male. (Yes, it got overturned on appeal. Didn’t erase its happening.)

      2. I have been (slowly*) reading a fascinating book titled The Geography of Time which addresses a very similar phenomenon. In different cultures (and they are often linguistically connected) the way in which people view Time can be very different. For some cultures, tomorrow means tomorrow; in others it means mañana. For some cultures “on time” means to the minute and in others it means give or take an hour or so. And, of course, “five minutes” are entirely different depending whether you are the one waiting or the one awaited.

        *Slowly because the author keeps quoting admiringly people who I consider utter idiots (e.g., Paul Ehrlich) and it takes a while for me to gather the will to cross the room and pick the book up again.

        1. The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why by Richard E. Nisbett is good.

          1. I shall have to look for it. Here is the Amazon description of A Geography Of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, by Robert V. Levine:

            In this engaging and spirited book, eminent social psychologist Robert Levine asks us to explore a dimension of our experience that we take for granted—our perception of time. When we travel to a different country, or even a different city in the United States, we assume that a certain amount of cultural adjustment will be required, whether it’s getting used to new food or negotiating a foreign language, adapting to a different standard of living or another currency. In fact, what contributes most to our sense of disorientation is having to adapt to another culture’s sense of time.Levine, who has devoted his career to studying time and the pace of life, takes us on an enchanting tour of time through the ages and around the world. As he recounts his unique experiences with humor and deep insight, we travel with him to Brazil, where to be three hours late is perfectly acceptable, and to Japan, where he finds a sense of the long-term that is unheard of in the West. We visit communities in the United States and find that population size affects the pace of life—and even the pace of walking. We travel back in time to ancient Greece to examine early clocks and sundials, then move forward through the centuries to the beginnings of ”clock time” during the Industrial Revolution. We learn that there are places in the world today where people still live according to ”nature time,” the rhythm of the sun and the seasons, and ”event time,” the structuring of time around happenings(when you want to make a late appointment in Burundi, you say, ”I’ll see you when the cows come in”).Levine raises some fascinating questions. How do we use our time? Are we being ruled by the clock? What is this doing to our cities? To our relationships? To our own bodies and psyches? Are there decisions we have made without conscious choice? Alternative tempos we might prefer? Perhaps, Levine argues, our goal should be to try to live in a ”multitemporal” society, one in which we learn to move back and forth among nature time, event time, and clock time. In other words, each of us must chart our own geography of time. If we can do that, we will have achieved temporal prosperity.

            As you might suppose from that description, Levine spends a good bit of the book with his head up his arse between his buttocks but the book is a worthwhile read in that it forces you to look at the 4th dimension in a new context.

            1. Temporal prosperity? You wanna be rich in time? Fine, quit your job and go sleep on your friend’s couch for a year or two. You’ll have all the time in the world…

              1. All the time in the world to grumble about the material prosperity they ain’t got. No one seems to notice that the “poor” in America have more leisure time than the rich, even down to having spent less time on their school and schoolwork.

                1. Remember that the Prog isn’t terribly bright. There’s only room in their feeble minds for money to be the only thing of value.

            2. Based on the blurb, I’d have to agree. While I know and am related to Brasilians who believe it’s perfectly okay to be three hours late, I am equally well acquainted with Brasilians who think they’re brats.

              I’d as soon aver, “Americans all tend to think–“

        2. The Silent Language by Hall (now available for free on the internet) includes an extended discussion of different expressions of the notion of time.

          There is a good deal of material on the interaction of different cultures including in border places where 2 cultures/ethnicities have interacted over many years.

          As I recall the work has been mentioned favorably by Dr. Pournelle or maybe in one of his war anthologies or both. Well worth reading as a how to manual for world building

          Notice that Citizen of the Galaxy explicitly acknowledges a debt to Margaret Mead. Even Jove nods.

          German at unintelligible sound levels really does work well as English in the background as in movies. Much more so than Romance languages or tonal oriental languages.

          1. “German at unintelligible sound levels really does work well as English…”

            Conversely, I can remember turning on the radio in the middle of an opera broadcast. I took me a few moments to recognize the opera, Siegfried, a German opera. It took me much longer to recognize the language in which it was sung. The language was English.

            1. Harrumph. My brother found an Incredibly Great Band, which meant he played their CDs at earthquake level, continuously. Wasn’t too bad when you were far enough away your ears didn’t bleed.

              I couldn’t make out any words, but I have a consistent problem with that anyway. But it took six months for my brother to admit that he couldn’t make out the words either, and a web search to find out that, being Brazilian, they were probably singing in Portuguese.

          2. Agreed, hall’s book is excellent. It was given to Daughtorial Unit to read when it became clear she was having trouble developing an over-arching concept of inter-personal space. Later literature has derogated it as pop anthropology but the framework remains useful.

            While Maggie Mead may have been an utter boob if not a complete fake, her “apparent” methodology and pretended insights remain useful models of proper technique. It is her data gathering and massaging which invalidate her work, not the framework in which she presented it. At the time of Heinlein’s acknowledgement her disingenuity was still largely undiscovered, so no fault on his head. (It would be a different matter if she had been an engineer or otherwise in a field in which he could be reasonably expected to test her work.)

        3. I had an interesting discussion with a friend on the differences between “event time” and “clock time” (reading that description, I suspect she probably got it from the book you’re reading). She makes a visit to the Native American reservations around here once a year, and she says it comes up a lot there:

          Native: We’re having a traditional dance tonight after dinner.

          Tourist: Great. I’d love to see it. What time is it?

          Native: After dinner.

          Tourist: No, I mean what time after dinner. Six-thirty? Seven?

          Native: Around then.

          Tourist (thinking): I don’t want to miss this. Why won’t this stupid guy just tell me what time it’s going to be?

          Native (thinking): Gee, you eat dinner, you come over. Why doesn’t this stupid guy understand that simple concept?

          1. Well, I’m with the tourist.

            If dinner ends around 1 pm but the dance happens around 5 pm, the dance still happens “after dinner”.

            Of course, I was invited to a get-together that was “after church” but wanted to know if it was “directly after church” or “a couple of hours after church”.

            Note, there were people still coming to join the get-together hours after it started. [Sad Smile]

            1. I once went to a baby shower where the people arrived for hours and hours after the start time and we never got to see the mother open the presents because it was assumed that we would wait forever, and we were all partied out.

              1. Crossing the streams, when first I heard the term “baby shower” I wondered if that was a harder rain than “cats and dogs.”

                1. Nah, a baby shower can grow up to be “raining cats and dogs”. [Wink]

            2. I grew up with my mother running on Venezulano time. It’s a lot like Brazilian time. I try very, very hard to be punctual, because there was a time she had to pick me up after school (bus didn’t run to where I lived.)

              To my father, such picking up would happen at 1600 +/- 5 minutes, and why is the bus behind schedule? Unfortunately, this wasn’t a period of life when my father was available for picking me up. So, my mother would pick me up from the end of the bus route dropoff at some point between 1630 and 0030. (To be fair, she only forgot / was too busy until after midnight once. She usually made it by 2045.)

              There was no point in being mad at her, any more than being mad at a cat for sleeping in the laundry fresh out of the dryer; culture goes clear to the bone. She’s a great mother, she’s just not… American by culture. (If you should meet mi mama, do NOT call her “not American”, though. Otherwise you will get a full Latina temper on display, as she makes it utterly clear that she is very proudly a citizen of Los Estados Unidos. Most especially do not tell her this when she’s cooking and has access to knives and artiller… crockery. I understand Sarah’s thrown carp. Oh, do I understand. )

              1. *eyes bug out*

                And I thought my sister and aunt’s “what? It’s the right hour!” style punctuality was bad…. Solution, never tell either of them when things actually start, say that you need them to be there about an hour before you actually NEED them. It mostly works.

                I like the military style “five minutes early is ten minutes late” thing. Especially for medical appointments.

                Digression! I regularly am headed home before I was scheduled to be seen at all– the one doctor that it didn’t work with was also the same one where two hours after my appointment, I still hadn’t left the waiting room. And no, there wasn’t an emergency, or difficult cases, or… any kind of reason. He just wouldn’t shut up with a captive audience like patients, but he couldn’t be bothered to say anything that was more than noise, either.
                The only friction with my husband’s family is the tendency for them to just say stuff and waste time we don’t really have on making the noise… and treat anything you say as equally just noise.
                What culture might that be from? I’m guessing it’s regional, but I’m not sure what common root those two examples might have.

                1. I tend to a genetic explanation, or at least partially.

                  I have two children that come to the point – and one that’s a stream of consciousness type. The wife is somewhat of the latter, although it might be the way her father was about money (I don’t need the entire justification for why she needs a new purse – I just want the “I’m spending $75 on a new purse.” Never gotten that through to her.) Her sister, on the other hand, is just like the daughter – constant babble of whatever is going through her head at the time.

                  1. I’ve had the misfortune to have to work with people like that. I was reminded of the two or three kids I had in every class in school who were constantly in trouble for talking in class. Their brain was apparently wired directly to their mouth. At the time I thought they were just jerks, but now I wonder if they even understood what was getting them in trouble.

                    At work, trying to do something complex, and they’re around giving me their complete stream of consciousness. [blood pressure starts to spike again…]

                    Being around those people was like having one-way telepathy. If telepathy was real, it would suck to be drenched by the gibber-babble going through some minds…

                    1. My stepmother likes to repeat stories two or three times in the same conversation, just to make sure you really heard her.

                      I usually tune out after the second recitation.

              2. You don’t mention clubs, so I guess Mama doesn’t do much baking…

                I empathize, though. Soon after I met my future wife, I developed the habit of setting the “time to leave the house” to somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes before we actually have to leave the house. Then it works out.

                (Interestingly – my wife is Polish/Lithuanian in heritage, and born and raised in a suburb of Hartford, Connecticut…)

              3. Ah, your mama lives on “manana time”, pretty common for Latinos. It is a cultural thing that drives me up the wall.
                Oh a tip, if you are going somewhere with me, you better be on time, because I MIGHT wait for you once, (then again, I might not) but after that, I’m leaving when I said I was, if you aren’t there, you’ll have to find another ride.

                1. Manana Time is particularly irksome for teachers in Colombia that expect assignments, projects, etc. to be there at the deadline. Don’t ask me how I know. 🙂

            3. I went to a coworker’s wedding a few years back and after it I went to the hall where the reception was to be held. I found it dark and locked–evidently the reception was scheduled for three hours after the wedding ended.

              It never occurred to me to ask when the reception would be held, because in the traditions I’m familiar with the wedding party just goes straight from one to the other.

              On the other hand, it never occurred to him to tell me that the reception was scheduled to allow everyone to go home, have dinner, change clothes, etc. because that was the tradition that he was familiar with.

              Sometimes you don’t even have to leave your home town to run into culture shock.

      3. Recently I got into a discussion with a university professor regarding the dangers of industrially driven climate change. Pretty early in the conversation it became obvious that he thought that carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide were the same thing, and that they were equally poisonous. I tried to explain that they are very different compounds and he told me, “I don’t understand the science, I just know it’s a fact.”

        1. So, he probably drank his Scotch without soda, nor consume Gin & tonic?

          Someday I am going to print up a card listing well known facts that simply ain’t so.

    2. This may be what good teachers mean when they complain about “teaching to the test”. A lot of standard ed methodology leads to compartmentalized answers to questions, rather than understanding and application.
      It’s a reason I preferred what used to be called “word problems” in math and science – more interesting and more connected to life; kids who got by nicely on memorization always hated those.

      1. Qualification:
        word problems by someone who actually understands the concepts.

        If I had a penny for every word problem that just didn’t make any sense at all unless you wrote it with only the understanding from the thumbnail summary…..

        1. Truth.

          We has a statistics test that involved the percentage of rattlesnake eggs that hatched in a series of nests that were being monitored by a researcher.

    3. Do you have any idea where documentation of this study might be? It sounds like it might very well explain some of my communication problems with my family. Especially my wife and older son.

      1. I’m looking. I found a good reference earlier today, but I was on a different computer. I can’t remember my search terms now.

  10. At its simplest level, Heinlein and Simak could believe what they did because the world, at that time, had absolutely no experience of superabundance. Remember, they had just gone thorough Depression and World War; the supply of consumer goods was just beginning to catch up with demand. There’d been no time to contemplate the absence of meaning in people’s lives (not that men like RAH and Simak had direct personal experience of that, anyway.) Suburbia was spreading and opening a vista of ease and “the good life” as attainable by all, with competition mostly relegated to who had the better lawn.

    A few authors (Pohl & Kornbluth, Cordwainer Smith) had the insight that material life was not the end all be all real estate agents proclaimed it to be, but they were not dominant in the field.

    1. Point out to people that we live in a post-scarcity society, if such a thing is possible.

      To run a homeless shelter you need to provide amenities that would make kings and queens and emperors of two centuries ago gape with incredulous envy. Either living better than royalty as a charity case is post-scarcity, or human envy means we will never have a post-scarcity society.

      1. The latter, I fear. I don’t think of it as envy, though, just a lack of perspective. Scarcity is viewed on a relative scale, not an absolute.

        1. That’s pretty much the fundamental law of economics: human means are limited while human desires are unlimited. Economics is the science of maximizing the balance between those two incompatible statements.

          1. Hey! I’m human (by some definitions, probably not those of SJWs but they’re all about reading folks out of the tribe) and my desires are not unlimited. I don’t have to have everything. I’d be perfectly happy with the square root of infinity or even the cube root.

            1. Only if you spell human W-A-L-L-A-B-Y. 🙂

              Personally, I’d be interested in the square root of -1.

              1. Try as I might I cannot force that into the tune of H-A-Double-R-I, G-A-N spells Harrigan! Ah hain’t been so depress-ed since I learnt the difference between boys and girls meant I got to be chaste.

              2. The Impossible Dream: I’d like have enough money that:
                1. hubby could retire
                2. I wouldn’t have to budget.(truly impossible)

                  1. I do the least amount of budgeting. just so money doesn’t run out. If I didn’t have that constraint I wouldn’t budget. I think that I’d always have that constraint. Just like stuff multiplies to fill all your space, purchases will increase to consume your money I can’t imagine ever having more money than I could spend. There’s always something else to buy.

                    I am content with what I have, but I have had episodes of shopoholism in my past..

          1. Envy is “I want what you have.” Lack of perspective is “I want more than I have, without regard to the value of what I have.” Envy can be a cause of lack of perspective, but it’s not the only cause. I can want new clothes not because you have new clothes but simply because I’m bored with the clothes I have and don’t appreciate the luxury of clean, well-fitting clothes.

            1. My pastor and I joked about the difference between “coveting” and “envy”.

              To covet something is “to want the thing/person that somebody else has”.

              To envy somebody else *may* be “to want to have an item similar to what the other guy has”.

              IE to covet somebody’s money is to want to *take* his money while to envy his money can be to want to have the same amount of money that he has. [Smile]

              1. A subtle but important distinction. In that sense, envy could potentially be positive IF it motivates me to get off my ass and do the work to get the reward.

                1. Well, technically, unless you regard his owning the money as an injury to you, you aren’t envious. Greedy, on the other hand, is still possible.

              2. No, you covet things and envy their own owners. If I want your car, I covet the car and envy you.

            2. Except that they don’t just want more — that would be Greed — they want more because other people have more and they resent it — and so it’s Envy.

      2. That’s the major reason why I ignore pretty much everything Pope Francis puts out. He keeps railing against Capitalism, but Capitalism managed to do in 200 years what the Catholic Church was unable – or unwilling – to do in 2000: eliminate poverty.

          1. That’s one reason I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. As an economist he makes a good Pope. But his latest bit about how weapons manufacturers are unable to be good Christians has put him in my bit bucket.

              1. The media may be stirring it up, but Francis put the crud there.

                It makes me think of one thing: people, executives, entrepreneurs who call themselves Christians, and are manufacturing weapons! It gives one a little distrust if they call themselves Christians!”

                That’s better than the headline, but not by much. Certainly not enough to excuse an idea that should be shameful in anyone old enough to shave. We do not have war and violence because of weapons manufacturers, and to intimate otherwise demonstrates such a degraded understanding of the nature of humanity that there is essentially zero chance of such a person being capable of providing useful advice and guidance. I’m not Catholic, so it isn’t any skin off my nose, but Francis’ bloviations now go in the same bin as Obama’s.

                1. I am Catholic, and other than annoyance it’s no skin off of my nose– his teaching authority can’t make the GI produce anything but GO, and on those things I am bound to listen to him on, he’s also bound by them no matter his world view.

                  It’s not MUCH better than the good headlines, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the “Pope says Christians can’t have guns” versions.

                  1. The headlines I saw were along the lines of “Pope says gun manufacturers can’t be good Christians.” I might be a bit sensitized since I spent the weekend in a house with around two dozen (not exaggerating, Midwesterners tend to breed) Progressives of various strengths, a couple of whom shared my stubbornness and love of argument.

                    As I said, he goes into the Painted Clock category – he could be right, but that’s not where I’m going to look for an answer. It will be fun to reply to all the “Look at the great thing the Pope said!” posts with “So are you also going to take his position on gay marriage and abortion, or are you just playing with appeal to authority fallacies?”

                    1. Doesn’t really matter. They eventually retreat to “nu-uh.” One of them keeps repeating that the only alternative to a government regulated market is a private regulated market. Oh, and that there are no costs associated with moving off a carbon economy. My favorite was two uncles with advanced degrees in biological sciences discussing an idea of evolution that can only be described as cartoonish. That wasn’t a geomagnetic storm over the weekend, it was Stephen Jay Gould spinning in his grave.

                    2. I have a good time, but combining staying up to 2 am arguing economics and politics with getting up at 6 am when the morning runners start chatting and sleeping on the floor of the dining room (see: house with two dozen people in it) can can remind one that one is not as young as one used to be.

                    3. With such people you can forget about imparting information with anything less than a 30″ prybar; they’re highly trained at believing only what they want to believe. About the only rhetorical ploy you can use is the “give ’em enough rope” strategy, hanging them on their own internal contradictions.

                      I was gong to make a joke about associating “internal contradictions” and entrails, but then I remembered that such people typically have no guts.

            1. Summary:
              in addition to attacking Scrooge-at-the-start-of-the-play, he’s now also against Tony Stark at the start of the first Iron Man movie.

              Finding actual examples in real life might be a bit tougher.

            2. Don’t let it worry you none — at the most, the Pope only gets to define who can be good Catholics. The definition of good Christians exceeds his authority.

              Also, as Foxfier has pointed out: when reading the MSM reportage of papal announcements s mite more than a grain of salt is recommended.

              1. I think of that every time the current Pope says something that irritates me.

                At the risk of being accused of blasphemy by some of those here, Thank God I’m not a Catholic. 😉

                1. Honestly, his theology is sound (IMHO, YMMV) it is only when he attempts to intertwine his political views with it that he becomes irritating.

    2. They were also writing in the time immediately following the release of two nuclear weapons, with the Russians in all out pursuit of the same. To them, at that point, it looked like unite or die. There was a LOT of legitimate concern that the end of the world was right around the corner.
      Then it turns out you can shoot down a plane with a bomb on it, so you have to use something else. Like a V1 / V2. So them Rooskies got ahead of us, having stolen more Germans than we did, plus having some pretty excellent Rooskie talent.
      But then it turns out that by the time you invest enough money and time and infrastructure to launch a nuclear weapon on the end of an ICBM, you realize that it’s pretty much not going to work unless all your enemies agree to go to the same place and wait for it.
      None of that was evident at the time, so the smart money was on unite or die.

      1. How Dare SF authors write in the context of their time rather than in the context of ours!

        1. Are you suggesting Richard Matheson was being microaggressive when he wrote The Shrinking Man?

          1. That and I Am Legend was just one more instance of mansplaining, a dude just having to get in the last word.

            (I am appalled at the idea I should add “mansplaining” to my WP dictionary.)

      2. RIght – their parents had the worldwide “War to End War” which manifestly didn’t; they lived through a worldwide depression (though worse in the US under FDR’s “help”); then they got an even bigger World War, which had been preceded by a decade of escalating transnational naughtiness; and finally they got the Cold War kickoff and what was seen as a successful “peace enforcement” operation by the UN in Korea.

        Given that context I understand why the “somebody should do something” impetus was joined up with the victorious allies calling themselves the “United Nations,” leading to “yeah, somebody should be in charge of stopping bad countries: We should just bump up to a world government” as a reaction.

        Having the further perspective of just how wonderfully the postwar United Nations has ended up being run, and how easy it was for the inarguably evil Soviets to get the UN to dance to their tune (once they stopped the “walking out” business that let the UN go to Korea), and with the further fun going on in the EU under their unelected bureaucracy, we can conclude that the “one world government” ideas were basically nucking futs, but, hey, that’s perspective for you.

        1. Factor in that they had little to no experience with systemic corruption at the Federal level. Municipal government, state government — plenty of direct eyewitnessing there, but the Federal government had generally been sufficiently trivial that corruption in it was only an occasional occurrence, generally in military procurement or cronyism in granting mineral rights and such. That is one reason the corruption depicted in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington* was so shocking.

          It took FDR to make the Federal government sufficiently big and entrenched to make the nation cynical about it.

          *Oh, watch the flippin’ movie and don’t bother me with silly questions.

        2. Have you seen “The Roosevelts, an Intimate History” PBS documentary?

          I’ve watch some of the parts on FDR and his upbringing.

          …It explains a lot about his social policies.

    3. > Heinlein and Simak

      …grew up and reached adulthood in the Depression, then spent most of their lives with the button of Progress jammed in “fast forward.”

      Heinlein: 1907-1988
      Simak: 1904-1988

      Alvin Toffler wrote a book called “Future Shock.” Pop-shlock-psych, but it had a point. There were many people of that generation who grew up without enough to eat and wearing whatever hand-me-down clothes they could get, that lived to see automobiles cheap enough for anyone to own, same for electric lights and telephones, and jet aircraft, intercontinental ballistic missiles, atomic bombs, atomic power, men on the Moon, probes all through the Solar System, computers, satellite communications, the dawn of the internet…

      Every day they got up, looked at the paper, and wondered what new wonder they’d read about. Every day they woke up in a different world.

      “I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”

  11. Seems to me that belief comes in two entirely different and disassociated flavors. There is belief bases on logic and observable fact, and there is belief based on religion. And by religion I mean allegiance to any ruling concepts outside one’s own experience, to include not only traditional religions as such but such things like marxism, AGW, PETA, vegans, and so on. The feelz folks.
    The first sort are engineering and science types, with an aptitude towards STEM pursuits. The second tend towards the arts, law, education, and politics. And I am sadly afraid that the two extremes can never reach a happy medium. One side demands that the other think while that other demands that the first feel.
    And while this observation helps to understand how we get into many of our current disputes it does sweet FA to help us figure out how to resolve them.

      1. There are also values which are not amenable to measurement. How do you weigh Loyalty? What is the depth of Honour? What is the length of Integrity? How high is Justice?

        Ambrose Bierce said a man’s word was worth its weight in gold — but he said it at a time when fortunes were entrusted on little more than that and a handshake.

        As in so many other areas, the key to resolving the conflict between what is “measured” and what is “known” is understanding where the two intersect … and where they don’t. Applying the tools of one realm to the other brings folly.

        For the strict empiricist a person’s worth is measured by their material contributions over the expected run: children run red ink until they earn income and may never repay their initial expense; oldsters eventually cost more to keep than they can contribute, so — is it time to throw Momma from the train?

        1. “empiricist” (in my case, meaning: I want to trust my lying eyes, not the Gospel According To The NYT) is not the same as “materialist” or “utilitarian” 🙂

          1. Awwww, you can always trust the NY Times … the same way you can always trust the native from the Village Where Everybody Lies. The trick is always in properly phrasing the question.

        2. Continued: I most emphatically believe in values, as I believe everybody who is familiar with me will affirm. (Which is, BTW, the reason I reject utilitarian moral calculus even as I understand its inner logic.)
          However, if a certain course of action is being pushed in the ostensible name of a given value (say, “equality”, “social justice”,…), and observation establishes that it’s a null operation at best or counterproductive at worst, then no amount of “feelings” or “good intentions” will redeem it in my eyes. To a true “neo-gnostic”, results and consequences don’t matter, being “politically correct” does.
          And some “purely values-based directives” actually have a quite rational basis. “Women and children first!” is of course the classic example, as RAH (pbuh) would be the first to affirm.

      1. Because there are the rare few who can meld fact and belief into a cohesive whole. But for the most part the true believers insist on their beliefs in the face of contrary facts. And at the other extreme the hard science types refuse to accept anything as a simple matter of faith.
        My entire point is that with a bit of reason and cooperation both types could coexist, but sadly they rarely do.
        Personally, I see no conflict with a scientist investigating the wonders of God’s work to better understand the true miracle that it is. And if facts contradict some long held tradition of scripture, then it’s the interpretation of that scripture that’s mistaken. A truly religious person would welcome the new additional knowledge. Only someone invested in the current belief system as a tool towards power and control of others would object. And there you have the problem. Mostly it really does come down to using beliefs and twisting facts as the means to serve some person or group’s ambitions.

        1. Fair enough, I was just curious how you handled a very obvious set that bridged the gap.

          What is interesting is I lack such a handy list of “just the facts” types in feels fields. I’m sure music has plenty (J. S. Bach in all probability).

          1. “Bach is Bach as G-d is G-d” (Mauricio Kagel). It wasn’t just that Bach routinely solved complex contrapunctal puzzles in his music AND played all sorts of numerological games on top of that (themselves often inspired by his deep Lutheran faith) — it’s that he had enough surplus brainpower to still write emotionally compelling music even in his most formal and ‘constrained writing’ works — to “make the rules do his bidding” as it were.

            1. I’ve just started Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven
              by Gardiner. Despite how much of his genius I already knew this is an eye opening work.

              There is a reason he was selected to be the first music heard by someone finding Voyager 1 or 2 and the only person to be selected three times (and one of only two selected more than once).

        2. “And at the other extreme the hard science types refuse to accept anything as a simple matter of faith.”

          Eh, they refused to accept that they accept anything as a simple matter of faith. There are some fundamental precepts that they are simply assuming — and we can tell that because without them, science does not occur in a society.

      2. I am a scientist by training and also a somewhat observant Jew. I regard trying to unravel the secrets of the Universe as one way of honoring its Creator. This quote from Tennyson’s “In memoriam” hit me like a hammer the first time I saw it — and it’s always stayed with me.

        Our little systems have their day
        They have their day and cease to be
        They are but broken lights of Thee
        And Thou, O L-rd, art more than they

        We have but faith, we cannot know
        For knowledge is of things we see
        And yet we trust it comes from Thee
        A beam in darkness, let it grow

        Let knowledge grow from more to more
        But more of reverence in us dwell
        That mind and soul, according well
        May make one music as before….

      3. Another good one on science and faith, that is pretty dear to me, but from a prose writer (Herman Wouk, “inside, Outside”, p. 567)

        [The fictional scientist and Jewish atheist Mark Herz — somewhat inspired by Wouk’s onetime neighbor Richard Feynman — tries to answer the question: “What can you know about G-d? Either you believe or you don’t.”

        You can know almost anything about G-d, provided you put the right questions to Him. You have to learn how to put the questions, and they have to be accurate and airtight. […] [M]y father, for instance, doesn’t know that two atoms of hydrogen bind with one atom of oxygen to form a water molecule. Yet it’s G-d’s truth, and an important one. You don’t know it […] you believe it because you read it somewhere, or a teacher told you. I know it. I’ve put the question, and He answered, straight out. G-d will answer a high school boy. He asks only that you use common sense, pay very close attention to Him, not be sloppy, and count and measure correctly. G-d ignores sloppy questions. Sloppiness is the opposite of G-dliness. G-d is exact. He is marvelously, purely exact. Theology is all slop.

        1. Ah yes, and here again we have that rarest and most precious of skills, common sense, remarkable simply because it is so very uncommon. And in my experience it grows less common the more educated a person becomes. I guess that when you’ve invested time and money and energy in learning a set of revealed truths it becomes increasingly difficult to accept logical proof that you’ve been mislead.

          1. “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” (Richard P. Feynman, 1974 Caltech commencement address [a.k.a. “the Cargo Cult Science speech])

                  1. Hawking is a specialist, but Feynman is highly competent in a broad range of disciplines. That was what I meant by “all-around” – I couldn’t think of a better term at the time.

                1. “The” most brilliant: in fact, the Manhattan Project brought together some truly amazing minds — Wigner, Fermi, Teller, Oppenheimer, Bethe, …, and (to me especially) John von Neumann. Feynman is well known among the general public because on top of everything else he was a great science communicator.

                  1. Interestingly, from what I have read he got the job on the Manhattan project (final interview) because when Oppenheimer told him what they were trying to do, he told him he was crazy in very detailed scientific terms. Which Oppenheimer then refuted in equally detailed and scientific terms that Feynman followed and went ‘Well, not getting this job’. And was then hired. Why? He argued with Oppenheimer. They needed people who would argue in detailed accurate terms and apparently Oppenheimer was intimidating. /random

                    1. Oppenheimer had a reputation for intimidating people. Max Born described in his autobiography “Mein Leben” that when he gave seminars, Oppenheimer would often get up, interrupt Born, and say “that proof/derivation/… can be done much easier, like this…” Born was a rather modest, bashful person. Feynman had a common touch Born didn’t, but I think the person who could intimidate him intellectually yet has to be born.

    1. Sorry, citizen, time to update your handbook: STEM is now no longer PC – they are now using STEAM to rope in Arts.

      I certainly have nothing against art or what artists contribute to the world, being married to a concert violinist and all, but squeezing art into the same boat as engineering and science and technology and math is pretty much a tanker full of 1D-10T concentrate.

      1. STEAM is fine if they’re gong to go punk — let the Arts majors go deco and the others go demo.

        Cripes, if it wasn’t for moving the goal posts those clowns would never score.

      1. Yes, I believe somebody already made that observation, in precisely the same words. Grating minds stink alike, eh?

  12. Part of the thing of experiencing another culture is the matter of adjusting your reflexes — those actions and reaction that occur without your processing thoughts. It can be as simple as learning to turn your head the “wrong” direction to look for traffic while crossing a London street or something as complex as how deep to bow on meeting a Japanese businessman.

    These are things you can read about but must actually experience to comprehend, such as how to move a German acquaintance from “sie” to “du” without somebody getting his face slapped (flirtation strikes me as inherently dangerous cross cultural territory — a few decades back the local Quaker college ran into a problem with its African exchange students misinterpreting the behaviours of American coeds with sometimes tragic consequences.)

    1. “sie” to “du” is a big thing in Germany indeed, but languages without a T-V distinction (like English and Hebrew) are actually the exception rather than the norm. In standard French too (I understand less so in Quebec), shifting from the formal “vous” to the informal “tu” is considered enough of a big deal that they invented a verb for it: “se tutoyer” (calling each other by “tu” — idiomatically somewhat comparable to “being on a first-name basis” in English). Dutch? “U” vs. “jij”. Spanish: “usted” vs. “tu”. Russian: “vy” vs. “ty”. Etc.

      1. Yeah. You’re conflating hard scientists with engineers. And reason with science. Good luck using hard science to prove mathematics.

        As a squishy science person (biology and chem.) I can sympathize. But it’s an error.

  13. At the simplest linguistic level this is manifested in my mom’s tendency to try to talk to my husband and kids by SHOUTING Portuguese words very slowly. She’s fairly sure if they just stop pretending, they’ll understand her.

    Hah! I’ve seen things imply that only Americans do that*.

    Side not: I have been guilty of that when talking to one particular Lib former friend, in order to try to get him to consider the qualifiers I was using, but he theoretically spoke English, he just didn’t want to understand me.

    1. I’ve had cringe-inducing embarrassments with immigrants who compensate for limited and broken Hebrew vocabulary by doubling and tripling the volume, preferably in the worst accents possible. Not a role model to emulate 😉 The French expression for the equivalent is “speaking French like a Spanish cow” (parler français comme une vache espagnole)….

      1. I wonder if it’s related to dealing with elders slowly going deaf and surly mumbling pre-teens? If a person ought to understand, and doesn’t, it’s because they can’t hear what I’m saying. If they ought to be comprehensible, and aren’t, it’s because they’re mumbling and need to speak up. Therefore, louder volume and slower speech is required. Also works with high background noise levels.

        Incorrect instinctive issue identification.

        1. Not the particular cases I was thinking of. Middle-aged adults speaking to adults. Surly mumbling teenagers is a separate issue that exists in pretty much every country I’ve lived in — and drives me up the wall. I once told one such teenager (in Hebrew): “if what you’re saying is not important enough to bother to open your mouth and clearly enunciate, why should it be important enough for me to pay attention to?” 😉

          1. I meant it wasn’t an intentional action, but instinctive: that even the worst offenders know perfectly well that speaking louder won’t help when the issue is lack of language knowledge, but that it’s just wired in.

            1. Actually, as an American living part of the time in Mexico, it really does help me understand when people speak Spanish a bit louder to me–this usually helps me pick out sounds that I couldn’t hear the first time. (Louder and slower is even better, of course.)

          2. I’ve been known to say something similar when confronted by email that looks like someone’s dog wrote it with a mouth stick.

            It’s not just spelling, punctuation, or capitalization – some of what I get looks like an explosion in a Scrabble factory.

            Back when I did a lot of SMTP email I had a filter set up that piped incoming messages through a spell checker. Too many fails and they hit the bit bucket. It was astonishing how the quality of incoming messages improved…

    2. To be fair, when you’re speaking to someone who doesn’t really know the language, it can help to speak loudly and slowly. It doesn’t help if someone REALLY doesn’t know the language, but it can help if you’re dealing with someone who’s had a class or two but not a lot of practical experience. When we speak as natives, we tend to mumble and slur our words together–and that’s fine because we know what words sound like and can divide them where they’re supposed to be divided, as well as filling in any sounds we didn’t quite hear. A newbie at the language often can’t do that.

      Despite my internet handle, I don’t actually speak Hungarian…but I do kind of speak loud, slow Hungarian : – )

        1. Hey, there’s a reason one of my most memorized sentences in French is: “Parlez plus lentement, s’il vous plait.” (Speak more slowly, please!)

          1. Here’s the Japanese for you: “Mo ichi-do yukkuri itte kudasai” (Please say it once more, slowly) And no, the word order does not correspond between the languages.

            1. For those wondering and considering a net search, ‘yukkuri’ is the ‘slower’ part, and ‘itte’ is the ‘again’….

              I’ve got just enough Japanese from listening to anime that I can “hear” part of it, but parts other than “please” (kudasi) and one (ichi) were beyond my ken.

              Have some donuts!

      1. The three Japanese gentlemen who asked my assistance many years ago, in Columbus, were specifically examining the way Americans blur words together when speaking very common phrases. They asked how I enunciated “What time is it?” when asking another American, and had me repeat it a couple of times, marking down what I presume were notations of how the phonemes changed between the words spoken as a phrase and how they sounded when spoken separately.

  14. I had that experience listening to Arthur Clarke’s “Childhood’s End”. The idea that universal welfare and universal free education would of course lead to the end of crime seemed so logical when I was a teenager, but sadly has been thoroughly proved wrong today.

    1. Clarke also said in Childhood’s End that development of reliable birth control and infallible paternity identification would utterly change sexual conventions and customs in the West.

      1. Well, contraception will. Unfortunately, most SF writers do not believe in evolution and project the consequences all wrong. When giving birth is purely voluntary, evolution is in overdrive, and what it is selecting for is desire to have babies. Yet they overwhelmingly write societies in which people are even less likely to desire babies than in the modern day.

        1. Evolution can only act on heritable characteristics. You’re describing cultural evolution, which is Lamarckian in nature. Thus birthrates aren’t the only – or even the most significant – factor in the future. A culture can have a huge birthrate, but if people are choosing to leave the culture faster than they’re being born into it, that culture is doomed.

          1. No, personality traits are also genetic in origin. Indeed, twins studies lead to the conclusion that they are half genetic and half Heaven only knows what.

        2. Or freaky religious beliefs, like being open to life rather than trying to control every aspect of the kids’ being, to include them coming to be….


        3. There is a large selection of western men who will tell you contraception leads women to select for @ssholes and thugs. That might be cultural or genetic but it is alarming how much money is to be made teaching men, often ODD men, how to be dicks to women in order to be attractive.

          1. …well… there is an element of truth to this. Hormonal contraception can change the type of fellow a woman is physically attracted to.

            Doesn’t necessarily make them attracted to jerkish personalities, but 3/4ths of the anecdotal evidence I have suggests that there is a correlation. ^_^

            1. Hm, now you’ve got me thinking about correlation vs cause– are they looking for jerks because of the hormones, or are they using the hormones because they’re looking for a relationship which will have sex? (Not actually the same as looking for sex– seen too many women who think the only way to not be alone is to trade sex for company.)

            2. I have always wondered it if it was more that it turned off filters (and would love to see placebo/real thing on the psychological impact). Does the knowledge of ‘i’m not going to get pregnant if…’ turn off the ‘he’s not going to be a good father’ instinctive filter? Thus allowing more consideration of the ‘bad boy’ that is actually BAD to make it past the ‘don’t give him the time of day’ part of the selection tree.

          2. And they then complain because they get women who aren’t loyal and want to hook up with jerks.

            The girl version is “if you don’t want to be alone, you have to be willing to put out quickly and be abused; using them is expected, too.”

            So everyone is told the only way to not be alone is… to go be prey for the predators who like being jerks and users, who will of course be a disproportionate percent of the “looking” population because they’ll never leave.

      1. “c4c” means “comments for comment”. It’s a comment made so the person can click the “notify me of new comments via email” checkbox. [Smile]

        1. It serves the purpose of collecting additional Marching Chinese in a convenient location while you read the actual post (as if 60% of the comments are in any way relevant to the post in this den of kittens.) That way one can read the post and (if careful either to not reply or to reply by opening in a new tab) the comments which were posted before you got to the post.

          Crafting of “First past the Post” jokes are left as an exercise for the lame.

        2. And any strange cryptic posts that follow are more-or-less making fun of the semi-cryptic nature of “C4C”. A variety of real or fictional aircraft, starship, robot, vehicle, etc. designations are common follow-ups.

        3. They *could* say something to contribute to the conversation, even if it’s drivel like mine.

          1. What can you say if you haven’t read the thread yet, read through email and want to get subscribed early.

      2. c4c= Comment for comments

        Basically, I don’t have much to add, but would like to get the comments in my email.

        by the way, sir, I’ll admit to being more than a touch starstruck – I’ve been reading your work since early high school.

      3. Any ensuing flurry of letters and numbers is Internet silliness, on the other hand. 0:)

  15. Is it possible for books such as Citizen of the Galaxy this is a storytelling simplification? Clearly, the book has multiple, non-unified human cultures between different planets with Spacers as yet another culture. Perhaps just letting Earth be one government and present whole planets as the nations is a storytelling shorthand.

    Now, City by contrast is a unified Earth government as a statement and not a simplification.

    1. Oh, in many cases I do think it’s more of a simplification than a statement. SF writers can be a bit lazy. I like to use the “We are Humans. We speak Humanish. We live on the Planet Humania in the Human System” to poke fun at it.

      1. It is also a matter of the granularity of the writer’s purpose. In Citizen Heinlein is primarily interested in depicting a specific stratum of the society, so the degree to which other strata occur and how they function would drain momentum from the story. Even in contemporary US society we can see the elite’s pretensions of enlightenment in the ways in which they dismiss “Flyover Country” as bitterly clinging to this and that” and in Thorby’s time (and status) the distinctions must surely be greater.

        In other of Heinlein’s works, such as Red Planet, such cultural blindness is the crux of the story.

        1. I thought of that after I posted…the main character in Citizen is a Vanderbuilt type kid. What experience of Earth would he have that wasn’t unified when already I suspect the rich of NYC have as much in common with the rich of Tokyo as they do the hipsters in Brooklyn or blacks in Harlem.

      2. Jack Chalker had comments in some of his books indicating that every species called themselves “Humans” and most of their home worlds were called “Earth” (in their native languages). [Grin]

        1. Yes, but Jack Chalker doesn’t exist because breaking out of the gender binary in SF/F has yet to really happen…the SJWs say so 🙂

          That does sound like a Chalkerism, though.

    2. Pournelle’s CoDominium is a pretty good example of what a real one-world government would be like.

  16. We often make the mistake of looking at other cultures (and forgetting that the past is an other culture) through the lens of our own times … a problem especially when we project present conceptions on past events.

    We’ve discussed this in the context of Historical Mysteries, most notably Brother Cadfael, where solving the mystery requires abandoning modern lodestones and thinking in terms of the values of the other culture. This category area shows up in surprising areas and often pops out unexpectedly, usually when our attention is elsewhere.

    An example is my realization while listening to an audiobook of Bernard Cornwell’s Agincourt that all which I had been taught about how oppressive the nobility were for forbidding peasant archers and men-at-arms slitting the gullet of a fallen knight — class unity uber alles — was utter codswallop. The reason peasants weren’t allowed to slay a fallen knight had nothing (directly) to do with class privilege and lese majests and everything to do with money. A fallen knight was to be ransomed and slaying one was akii to burning money. Bloody obvious, i know — except my schooling had put blinders on me, leaving me not looking for a real reason for thinking I already knew it. (Were Cornwell to hear me say this I expect his response would be on the order of “How bleedin’ far into the book did you have to go before you figured that out? Didn’t i practically put it in italics with frigging arrows pointing at it? Christ on his cross, I cast pearls before swine.)

    One component of this blindness derives from how highly “educated” most of us are — the scare quotes are intended to indicate we suffer less from education and more from indoctrination, a process which bears the same resemblance as near beer does to beer. Indeed, the better “educated” we imagine ourselves to be the harder it can be to see the truth.

    A recent column by Orson Scott Card pointed this out nicely in reviewing the Matthew Shardlake novels, set in the England of Henry VIII, where

    All you need to do to remain safe is to declare, always and to everyone, “I believe what the king declares to be the doctrine of the Church.” Because that’s really what matters – that you are loyal to the king. Henry cares most about being the highest religious and civil authority in England; that means he will never return to papal supremacy over the Church of England, even though he doesn’t want the doctrine to stray too far from Catholic orthodoxy.

    The more I read of the struggles of conscience in the hearts of characters who are loyal subjects of the king but who can’t bring themselves to lie about what they believe about religion, the more I couldn’t help making a comparison that [The Author] himself never makes (or even implies).
    Today, those who fail to bow to the will of the Politically Correct Inquisition are not burned (that’s ISIS’s gig), but you are subjected to the pillory – and forbidden to speak in public, teach at a university (or, really, anywhere) or hold any appointed or elective office. It is not really a matter of belief, but rather of obedience, just as in Tudor times; as long as you obey and do not dispute the right of the Inquisition to rule our national thoughts, you will be left alone.

    But heaven help you if you are accused of heresy, for even the accusation is enough to cost you friends, money, job and freedom. I can assure you from personal experience, that this is as true today as in the 1500s – and the accusers have no qualms about lying outrageously in their accusations, while their followers quickly “believe” whatever lies they’re told.

    Once they’ve decided to accuse you, you pay for your thought crimes as if you were guilty. End of discussion.

    But of course, our conception of ourselves as modern, sophisticated people of wisdom and enlightenment blinds us to such similarities — which is one reason C.S. Lewis recommends reading old books (Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes.) … and one reason the indoctrinators discourage such reading (except, of course, when done with the modern eye.

    1. “One component of this blindness derives from how highly “educated” most of us are”

      Or to put it another way…

      “It’s not that they’re ignorant. It’s that so much of what they know just isn’t so.”

  17. Also worth considering is that our modern cities are particularly at risk from intermingling time zones. It is less the wealth inequality that causes hazard than it is the cultural mismatching.

    For that matter, how much of High School warfare is simply a battle over control of the Time Zone?

  18. I was first exposed to actual tribalism when I went to college in Tennessee away from my home state of Texas. All the non-Texas students used to rag against Texas constantly for reasons that escaped me, since I frankly didn’t care what state they came from.

    After what turned into four long, grueling years I was a tried-and-true Texas partisan and moved back and frankly am glad I did because I’d had enough of living out of state. It’s absolutely remarkable how even a few hundred miles can totally change a person’s outlook on life.

    The flipside of moving back home is when Californians flee their state’s policies and then set about trying to transform their new homes into California, a practice which strongly reminds me of locusts consuming crops.

    1. It’s absolutely remarkable how even a few hundred miles can totally change a person’s outlook on life.

      Yes — the things some barbarians will attempt to pass off as BBQ are appalling. Then there was the time I bit into my first Southern hamburger and discovered some vandal had slathered the bun with (shudder) mayonnaise instead of mustard.

      We won’t even attempt to engage on the weird stuff people attempt in pursuit of mustard, much less the mélange often piled on a hot dog.

      1. My response to mayo on a hamburger is surprisingly similar to Jimmy Tudeski’s.

        1. Having lived in 13 different states now, I have encountered and enjoyed a wide variety of food and condiment combinations. I find it best just to enjoy whatever is offered.
          And I don’t care what your barbecue method is; as long as it’s barbecue, I’m happy

          1. I thought “any BBQ is good BBQ” until I experienced South Carolina vinegar and mustard BBQ. After that I only tolerated catsup or molasses based sauces…

        2. I don’t care how long I’ve been living in the South: Ketchup goes on burgers and mustard on hot dogs. Hot dogs also like sauerkraut and pickle relish.

          What’s up jalapeno chocolate?

            1. Whenever i see documentary footage on what is done to the raw material in order to make chocolate or coffee my mind begins to wonder: how did they figure to do all that? I can see one step or two, but if you aren’t getting something edible by that point …

              1. Chocolate (and coffee, too, IIRC) were originally medicine.

                Medicine doesn’t have to taste good. If you’ve ever had the experience of tasting cacao – yup, has to be medicine, nobody would ever consume that stuff as food. (Raw vanilla bean, pure cinnamon, straight soy sauce, etc., the same.)

                We humans tend to take purely awful flavors, though, and fiddle with them. Mix them up. Occasionally, we end up with something made from absolutely terrible flavors (or no flavor – fresh tuna sushi has less flavor than cardboard, for God’s sake) and turn them into deliciousness.

    2. When I was growing up in Tennessee — before WW II — Tennessee schools taught in third or fourth grade that Sam Houston was Governor of Tennessee before he ever saw Texas, but Texans don’t know that, but should.

        1. We can drink like Mexicans too, at least those of us who went to HS on the border (El Paso, Texas; the farthest north you can be in Mexico without entering the United States).

    3. There was a reason the sign on the Oregon border with California read “enjoy your visit” for many years.

  19. It makes me glad that my religion sends out young men to work with the peoples of other nations. They don’t just go to a foreign country and study up in a monastery or something. They are to spend every day among the people, teaching them as well as working beside them. (They are required to do a certain amount of public service each week. It brings you closer to a people to stand beside them and hoe a field or shovel snow, depending on the climate.)
    I feel like it gives our religious culture a chance to be both more understanding as well as…I don’t want to say cosmopolitan, but I’m not sure what word would be better.
    Anyway, being totally focused on self is an excellent recipe for self destruction. And our current culture is definitely focused inward. We need to be more aware, but I’m not sure of how to promote that outside of my own family.

    1. This reminds me of why, in the past, a person could not be considered educated unless they had “traveled.”Travelling being different from the modern practice of”vacationing. I lived and worked for two years in Colombia..I can tell you that living in a blue-collar barrio in Bogota is an experience different from going there to see the sights.

      Side note: re:altitude sickness.Bogota is at 8,000 ft., and I had acute bronchitus most of the time. I blamed it on the pollution, as the exhaust of most vehivles there was a toxic blue smoke.

      1. Historically, I suspect their record for integrity is higher than that of most religious faiths.

        I never heard of the Marines selling indulgences.

        1. The Corps is the closest thing to a religion whose values and standards I still adhere to. There are a lot less contradictions in that system of belief.

  20. I’m not sure what caused this blindness that affected smart men in the fifties and sixties, and still affects academics, idiots and Marxists today

    Redundancy alert!

  21. “…and still affects academics, idiots and Marxists…” to the extent those are different, my mind automatically added.

    Over the last 40 years, I’ve spent a week or three each in the UAE, Mexico, Italy, England – enough to see that they aren’t California. But gotta say, the real multicultural experience came from reading the ancient Greeks. If you do it enough, you start to realize they just don’t think like us, after you fall on your face enough times trying to make them fit 20th century California cultural and intellectual assumptions. It’s invigorating.

    For centuries, education in the West meant reading exactly those Greeks; I imagine such educated people as being less d*mn gullible back then, but maybe I’m projecting

    1. It would help. My own recommendation is for aspiring writers to read all the primary source they can get from any culture they can get.

      Including Ancient Greek.

  22. I’m not sure what caused this blindness that affected smart men in the fifties and sixties, and still affects academics, idiots and Marxists today, but I read that and I think “Okay, I can see how you thought this was plausible if what you looked at was the intellectual portions of middle America where religion was a social thing, and where the whole “brotherhood of man” was a believed fable. But can you imagine making Islam just “wither away” without major persecution, war and executions? Oh, heck, even Catholicism in the more traditional regions.

    I can’t see religion just “withering away” in any group that doesn’t have a parasitic relationship with their religion– such as the mentioned intellectual groups that are culturally members of a the same religion.
    Unless the culture is very consistent, it won’t be able to fill all the needful aspects of religion– and even if it is, I’m not sure it would last for very long.

    It’s easy to build theories and just-so stories that are reasonable and rational, ie that work if everyone involved fits your self-image of “how people really are.” I greatly question how those things could survive, say, five minutes of exposure to the average three to five year old. (Old enough to communicate, not old enough to have largely absorbed “how things are done.” Well, relative to well conditioned adults, anyways.)

    1. Historical blindness?
      I mean, hardly anyone at all follows the old pre-Christian Western religions (I know of a handful who claim to, but even they admit they aren’t sure they’re doing it right), so a person who isn’t educated might think those did wither away.

      1. Possible– maybe because they have the illusion of wide knowledge? Like with a lot of high level leadership– they leave their expensive, clean, yes-man office, fly to another country, where they talk to people who share roughly the same world view in their expensive, clean, yes-man office. They don’t even see that they’re dealing with people who share the same basic… call it intellectual culture?
        And those aspects that they don’t agree on won’t come up because they’re not relevant to the conversation.

        1. When I was hanging around with the customer service engineering staff at Boeing Commercial, Wedding Cake Building with folks who were from all over, had lived all over and traveled all over routinely, we agreed that big cities had more in common with each other than any of them did with their own hinterlands.

      2. Mrph. I have encountered people that say they follow “original” Christianity.

        For some reason, they all got annoyed with me when I said “Oh? Which one?”

        1. Well, I get seriously annoyed at the people (usually non-Religious) who proclaim that Saint Paul distorted “Real” Christianity and that “Real” Christians would ignore Saint Paul’s writings.

          IE “Real” Christians would only follow the words of Christ in the Gospels.

          Of course, these sorts often don’t know what Christ actually said in the Gospels. [Sad Smile]

          1. I quoted the Great Commission once and got told that. Someone else in fact weighed in with the vital information.

        2. … say they follow “original” Christianity.

          They boast about just making it up as they go? I think I’ll stick to the unoriginal type — it has the advantage of being well-thought through.

  23. I could respond thoughtfully and contribute to the discussion of tribes and cultures, but all I’m going to do is thank you for reminding me of P. F Chisholm’s mysteries, which I lost track of after #4.
    Also writes as Patricia Finney, BTW, under which name she did a couple Roman Britain era stories I loved back when they were new, and much more recently a couple Tudor straight historicals. Sort of. There was magic involved in foiling the Armada. Maybe. If the guy wasn’t nuts…They were a bit on the grim & gritty side but not so much as Stephenson’s Baroque thing was.

    oh, and apparently as Grace Lady Cavendish, if I can believe Amazon.

  24. I actually took a class as an undergrad entitled “Intercultural Communication.” It was actually kind of fun and pointed a lot of this out. We talked about the four different skill levels of such:

    1.) Unconsciously Incompetent: You don’t know that other people live differently than you. Also known as “Too dumb to know how dumb you are.”

    2.) Consciously Incompetent: You don’t know what to do but you at least know that you don’t know. Also known as “smart enough to know how dumb you are.” This is me in most cases. At a certain level I think it helps to be a bit on the socially awkward side. I’m used to not doing then right thing.

    3.) Consciously Competent: You know what to do but you have to think about it. I call this step “I’m smart and I know it.” In some limited circumstances I fit in here too. (IE I know that in India you’re supposed to apologize if someone falls/hurts themselves. So one day I was at the mall and an India guy fell. The first words out of my mouth were, “I”m osrry you fell. Are you ok? INSTEAD OF Are you ok? He was and he smiled because he had never met an American who knew enough to do that before.)

    4.) Unconsciously Competent: You know what to do and you don’t have to think about it. Also known as “I’m so smart I don’t even know how smart I am. I almost qualify for this in my own neighborhood. Sort of. On a good day.

    Sarah hit it dead on the head though because most people fall into Category 1. Oddly enough, it’s comforting because it’s good to know that other people screw up too.

    1. I find I am category 2 everywhere outside of my own brain. I can on rare occasions, and with lots of help, muster category 3. This is even in my own native country/state/grouping.

    2. the advantage of being a writer is that if you are in group 2 you know when you need to research.

  25. THIS JUST IN: Americans concerned over the latest news on the magnitude of the OPM hacking now being up to 18 to 30 million people’s records compromised can rest easy: we are now able to assure all Americans that neither the birth certificate, senior thesis nor school transcripts of President Obama have been breached.

  26. “And most of the time I read something that I’m sure the authors thought was new and exotic and think “Well, heck, it was like that in the village.””

    If they really got it right, like it was in “the village” I tend to be shocked that the author actually knows what they are writing about.

  27. ” I don’t believe that humans are only a sum of their material needs and crime the result of the unequal distribution of property. (There is also the unequal distribution of talent, or simply the unequal distribution of happiness, all of which can lead to crime — after all Cain didn’t off Abel because he was starving.) ”

    I suspect this was a pet peeve of Louis L’amour’s. Anyways in any number of books he has the protagonist pontificate on the fact that poverty is not the cause of most crime. He points out that most thieves are NOT stealing in order to eat, and that those who really are reduced to thieving (when they were not thieves before) because of hunger, only steal what they need to survive. Most thieves are people who have some and want more. Without working for it. Or are simply jealous (often the case in other types of crimes) and don’t want someone else to have something they don’t.

    Remember that he had traveled the world and seen communism and socialism at work first hand, from the underside, so to speak. I would guess that the idea that: “There are no crimes of property when everyone has too much. There are no crimes of violence either, because he seems to think those come from property.” which was so popular in the fiction he was reading in his time, and with the editors and publishing houses he dealt with, irritated him greatly.

  28. Couple-a things, because “the time! No time!” and I can’t see this at work since Barracuda thinks you’re a “social media” something-or-other again.

    Growing up in the back hollers of Appalachia and entering mainstream culture, yes, that resonates. There are parts of the U.S. with less in common than whole countries in the E.U. have with each other, according to my father (spent a while stationed there before I was born). Coming from the hills to the city was like stepping out of bright sunlight into a dark barn, with a flock of chickens gabbling their heads off and wondering why you didn’t bring any feed in with you.

    Two, I think I studied anthropology and history to be able to translate cultures. Not intentionally, but that’s sort of how it worked. And yes, it seems to me people are inherently tribal. It’s what we default to, whatever our social strata. And why “one world government” sci-fi tends to kick me out, because I think we’re more like to end up like ancient Greek city-states than unified, and more like than that to end up squabbling over peanuts endlessly before we ever get to the stars (in my slightly more cynical moments. “more cynical” for me tends to lead me to think in the end, we’re doomed as a species some days).

    Now, must run. Thingses to do, and if I don’t, they don’t get done.

    1. I think we’re more like to end up like ancient Greek city-states than unified …

      I suspect they had no idea the level of micromanagement a Unified World government would get into, either. Certainly the EU regulations defining agricultural products like tomato sauce would be the sort of thing they’d believe had to be satirical.

      Remember – the abuse of the Commerce Clause had begun only recently and the locus of most managerial activity was still in state governments.

      1. Regarding my contention about 1950s SF writers never being able to imagine the rise of Bureaucracy (in spite of Heinlein’s portrayal of Mr. Kiku) PowerLine offers two items today demonstrating the growth and function of the Leviathan:

        [SNIP] These days I work for a hedge fund that has been pulled into the maw of the regulatory state by Dodd-Frank. … The government is interested in creating monopolies and oligopolies that operate as public utilities, which are the functional equivalent of state-owned enterprises. … Since 2008, this has been occurring in my world as banking has come to be dominated by a few players who are closely tied to big government and the Democratic party, under the guise of reining in Wall Street (“Don’t let a good crisis go to waste”). The financial services industry has been dramatically reshaped by administrative agencies accountable to no one. … I don’t make a decision anymore without thinking about how I’ll explain it to our regulators. They’ve made it clear to us that they won’t hesitate to pull the trigger on the gun they hold to our head. I used to think only of our investors, but they’re a distant second to the regulators. I can afford to lose an investor, but I don’t get to lose the regulators. How many people are there like me throughout the economy?


        The late Arnaud de Borchgrave and the still kicking Robert Moss published The Spike in 1980 to expose the power of the media to suppress politically unpalatable stories in the service of covert political interests. The University of Chicago’s Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science Charles Lipson draws on the metaphor of “the spike” to describe what has happened to the revelations of Monday’s Wall Street Journal story reporting the substantial evidence of Jonathan Gruber’s instrumental role in the development of Obamacare. … The Wall Street Journal just revealed the news about the Oversight Committee getting these emails in a major story. The key points are that Gruber was deeply involved in crafting the health care law, he worked very closely with the White House, and, when he became a political liability, the president and his senior aides simply lied about it.

        QUESTION: Is the news a regulated industry? Hasn’t the government attempted to carve out a 1st Amendment privilege that only applies to “real” journalists? Is it easier for “journalists” to cover regulated industry?

        1. ANSWER:
          1) It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.
          2) No. The question was never in doubt, it did indeed succeed.
          3) It depends. “Cover” as in “cover for” or “cover up”? Probably yes to both.


      2. Only recently? I’d have said the germ of the problem was sown back around the late19th/early 20th century, but that’s a back of the head guess at the moment.

        I remember reading about the “living document” idea that’s been kicking around for a bit. The idea of, “if they knew then what we know *now*” continues to be a bit strong. The language, the culture, the *people* change. The words…

        Essential freedoms.
        Temporary security.
        Sex (or gender. Whatever naughty-bits you were born with. You know, those things.)

        I suspect they’d have quite a bit to say on how the very ideas that those words were supposed to represent. And I imagine it would (at least at first) have to be said, because they would believe it to be unprintable!

  29. >, because if you have never gotten trapped by a novel someone
    > had forgotten in the bathroom and lost the entire morning as well
    > as all circulation in your legs,

    This used to happen to me a lot. Then I started eating vegetables and oatmeal and cut back on the breads and grains.

    Now I don’t even have time to start the kindle.

  30. “There is also the unequal distribution of talent, or simply the unequal distribution of happiness, all of which can lead to crime — after all Cain didn’t off Abel because he was starving.”

    Or, as Aristotle put it, “Men do not become tyrants in order that they may not suffer cold.”

    1. If material abundance alleviated all human need, there would be neither Doms nor Subs.

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