Belonging — The Great Divorce

To begin with let’s get something out of the way.  I know the popular idea of the libertarian out there on the public airwaves is the lone wolf, surviving by him/herself and needing no one.

That I know of that’s not true of any human unless he/she is actually insane — as in profoundly damaged to a level that can’t be retrieved.  Humans, whatever else we are, are social animals.  Okay, perhaps we’re not precisely animals.  Perhaps there is a greater animating spirit, an anima, if you will, there.

But rationality, no matter how shiny and glittery doesn’t overcome instincts laid so deep that they aren’t verbalized most of the time and we’re not even aware of it most of the time.

Whether we were made or just growed, what we came out of is a social animal base, and beneath the speech and the math, beneath the rocks we’ve gotten so good at piling together in sky-high caves, the social animal’s impulses and instincts remain.

Social animals — for our sins — have a need of belonging, and a need for the comfort of the band.  If I were a psychologist, instead of just reading a sh*tton about psychology and behavior (and yeah, I read about everything.  Wanna take issue with that?) I’d say it was perhaps worse in humans than in other apes because of our prolonged childhood which not only gives us the idea of a “golden age” when the group protects us, but also on the other side of it as an instinctive need to protect our kin, our kith, our tribe.

I’ve said before that tribalism is one of the greatest evils of the human condition.  In so far as it is exclusionary, it leads not just to racism and all the other isms that break humanity into bits, but also to things like voting for a president because he’s “our people.”  (And that’s not just a matter of race.  How many Catholics, whether they admitted it or not, do you think rushed to vote for Kennedy because he was “one of ours”?  If the bios I read are any indication, most of them.) Or refusing to listen to someone because he’s NOT our people.

The thing is tribalism is also one of the greatest goods of the human condition.  which of us has never had a group of people — friends, family, co-workers — that was just right and to whom we belonged?  Which of us doesn’t remember when you all gather together and everything works just right, with this sort of warm golden glow?

All those stories of large families, of kin groups, of villages that work harmoniously — why do you think they’re so successful?

It’s never quite right, of course.  There’s always one person who is an annoyance (I think lately at MGC that has been me, with all the late posting and stuff) and one person who is out of step, but it’s worth enduring it all for the golden glow of belonging.

There is a reason solitary confinement is a horrible punishment and few people emerge from it sane particularly if it takes a long time.

Which brings us to various evils of belonging, such as the instinctive ranking of people and positions, which brings us to “bling-radicalism” or “radical chic” which makes horrors like communism a positional good in certain (alas creative and academic above all) circles.

That will be dealt with in a later part of this.  Right now I want to talk about the groups that do not and cannot belong harmoniously to the whole, and the problem of their attraction for dictatorial regimes.

First I will give my cred for this.  Someone (ah — maybe more than someone, though in one body) on twitter was going on about how Brad and I were not real geeks/nerds and how we didn’t know the pain of not belonging.  (Rolls eyes.)

I don’t know what real nerds/geeks are.  There has been some intimation it’s tied to high IQ, but as a fan of mine who is a psychologist pointed out, we’ve got really good at measuring IQ.  We know it’s a consistent measurement.  We know what it does and how to test it.  What we don’t, in fact, know is what it’s good for.  Beyond that there are people of extraordinary intelligence who suck at testing.  Testing is really bad, for instance, when it comes to measuring kinetic intelligence.  There are tests that will do it, but not the normally applied ones.

I have reason to know this because there are indications both younger son and I (though doing well enough academically) are best at learning through our fingers.  What I mean is, I can figure out how to build something better by manipulating the pieces than by looking at the instructions, either drawn or written out.  And younger son, I swear, learned to read by learning to write, which sounds inane, but it’s what he did.

Anyway, so it all brings us to “what are nerds/geeks”?  Right now it’s hard to tell since so much geekdom has gone mainstream, but at its roots, and starting with us or our parents, you could substitute for both terms “odd” or even “excluded.”

And who are the excluded ones?

There are certain things that are almost constant about us. We usually have some things in common, like a tendency to overthink things, to have to do by thought what others seem to get instinctively, a tendency to like to take refuge in imaginary worlds and stories, and often (though not always) a tendency to create, whether machines or paintings.

Yes, I am aware that what I describe above sounds like “autistic spectrum” but there are some odds — me, for instance — who can read people quite well, thank you, and understand emotions perhaps a bit too well.

There is a phenomenon that my friend Dave Freer, who is a biologist and used to live in Africa, described to me.  Apparently ape bands have “odds” too.  He calls them “outliers.”  They’re apes whose behavior doesn’t quite mesh with others, and who often become the target of aggression.  The thing is they’re also usually the creative ones who figure out how to break the seed to get at the interior, or that a particular berry can be eaten if thoroughly rinsed, or whatever.

This brings us to the fact I think the medicalization of oddness, as well as the marginalization of it might be a factor of our mass culture.  With the advent of industrialization that required large scale machines, investment and labor, the concept of “normal” set in.  Since I grew up in a very weird place and time, I can still, sort of, see not so much through it as around it.

I’m not talking about “normal” as in “can look after self” but “normal” as in “does the expected.”

For instance, while dragging my kids behinds to school every day at the same time, and trying to get them to turn in homework, I became acutely aware that I’d have failed elementary school in the US. You see, the village hadn’t yet got the standardization thing and since my family was known to be — well — odd, but okay with all the learning stuff, the teacher didn’t bat an eye if I showed up at 9 or 8 or 10 or 11 or whenever mom persuaded me to go dragging into school.  And as for homework, well, the teacher proved willing to accept, in lieu of essays on “my favorite holiday” short stories about colonizing a planet.  Because standardization hadn’t hit.

But modern life and standardization have little room for outliers, which is why we medicalize it and treat it as an abnormality.

Recently (!) a friendly acquaintance in the field was lamenting that his son was “autistic” but the symptoms he gave was that the other kids wouldn’t play with him, and that he still couldn’t ride a bike or jump rope.

Well, by that definition, my entire paternal line is autistic.  When my brother was a star handball player, and part of the training involved rope-jumping, mom tried to teach him (and me.)  It couldn’t be done.  Brother never learned to ride a bike, even though it was the normal mode of transport over somewhat longer distances.  I’ve learned three times… and forgotten each time (and I was never great at it.)  And while mom used to go all over the surrounding areas on a bike as a young woman, I don’t think dad ever learned to ride, because all his stories are of WALKING everywhere, including high school which was hours away on foot.

As for getting along…

We might not know what Odds/Geeks/Nerds are, but normal people do.  They tend to be the rejected kids, hanging out, solitary, often with a book (I suppose these days with a tablet) in a corner of the playground.

In my family we usually figured it out and could “ape” normality enough to have a social life by the end of elementary/middle school. Some of us were so good at it that we got a little lost, and the suppressed oddness came out with a vengeance in old age.

But anyway, I know what it is like not to belong.  My normal number of close friends is three or four.  I was “popular” in college but the acting and constant watching yourself in public made it difficult.  And even then I was only popular as the “Weird friend.”

So while I can’t point and say “I was a different color/gender/orientation and that’s why I was excluded” I can say I was an odd and an outlier, and I know what it is like to be outside.  (And in point of fact, at least in high school and college, I was a different social strata and a provincial — even though the village was only ten kilometers from the city, it’s a long distance when your transportation is mostly public buses — and my gestures/dress/speech showed it.)

Now I know, I understand, the desire and need to belong, and how, like a mirage, it recedes the more within your reach you think it is.  Short of denying who you really are you can’t “fit”.  It’s just not there.  And particularly for kids, this is very painful.  You don’t expect no to belong.  And when you don’t it comes as a shock and anger.

I think this explains why racial, orientation and gender minorities both tend to resent the regime they live under, particularly if it’s more or less free, and wish for a more top-down system.

Our first experience of belonging (or not, for some) is of a family.  And even in dysfunctional families, the parental authority, if it’s worth anything enforces the “he/she is weird, but he/she is ours.” In school, also, for the truly odd kid, the teacher and the supervising assistant, or whatever, are the ones who intervene to stop abuse by peers.

So at the back of a mind of a lot of oddlings — no matter how or what makes you odd — is the idea that a benevolent dictator could MAKE others accept you.  That you could fit in.

I completely understand the radicalization of minorities.

But I submit to you it also comes from a total lack of knowledge/acceptance of history.

There is a reason in my revolution-against-a-suffocating regime I had a gay couple as heroes.

I know that in many places, from Nazi Germany to Soviet Russia, Odds, including racial and sexual minorities, were part of the supporters that brought the regime to power and were also the effective target of those regimes, sometimes to the death.

I know that in no dictatorial/oppressive regime is ANY minority free to express itself.  It might be tolerated as long as it stays hidden.  And that definitely includes those undefinable individuals who are “merely” odd.

This is because cohesiveness is the greatest tool of an oppressive regime.  You can’t kill all dissidents, but if you create the impression “we’re all this way” you stop a lot of rebellion before it happens.  Hence minorities must become invisible in the whole, or perish.

In the Soviet Union (refer to Nicki’s essay yesterday) racial/ethnic minorities were excluded/treated like second class citizens/encouraged to hide themselves.  Sexual minorities…

I invite you to tell me in which communist or otherwise dictatorial regime homosexuality is free to express itself.  In China, apparently, there’s a concerted effort to deny that Chinese CAN be homosexual (and sexuality as a whole is considered a sort of downfall unless it’s married sexuality in its proper place.)  And we all remember Iammadjihad assuring us there were no homosexuals in Iran.

What else?  Cuba? Ah.  Even in Russian in his gathering, non-doctrinal dictatorship, Putin very much wants to exclude any sexual minorities.  I confess I have no idea what he’s up to with racial minorities, but I’d warrant it’s not good.

As for the other “Odds”, those of us who just don’t fit in and aren’t sure why, (And I’m aware some of you are double odds, yes, both an excluded, obvious minority and one you don’t know why you’re excluded, sometimes by your own subgroup) we also don’t do so well.  You see that “creative” and “doesn’t do what is expected” makes us the bane of dictators, who want both predictable and stable societies.  The stable is sort of how they sell themselves to normal people.  “You won’t be rich, but you’ll know exactly how poor you’ll be tomorrow.”

It seems to be part of the social destiny of the odds that in striving for inclusion and fighting against the regime we grow up in and which seems to exclude us (which if it’s a free regime is not exactly true.  We are excluded by structures remaining from mass industrialization and from the habit of “normal” in our schooling and society) we end up installing a regime that denies us/kills us.

On the other hand, the era of standardization, mass industrialization and “normalization” is passing.  The coming era of fractured production and industry and more importantly the coming era of communication long distance, allows each oddling to find his/her group and to belong without sacrificing all of oneself.

Which is something that will produce, hopefully, creativity without the pain of not belonging.

Even if the remnants of the mass-industrial-art complex are still doing their best to pound us square pegs into round holes.

It doesn’t matter.  Theirs is a time that is passing.  Ours is the time that is coming.

In the end, we win, they lose.

Ca Ira.

298 responses to “Belonging — The Great Divorce

  1. I don’t think you can really define nerds/geeks as the ‘odds’. Sure, many of them are, but one of my best friends throughout elementary and junior high was just as into science/math/science fiction/fantasy as I was, perhaps even moreso. But he was also one of the most popular kids in school, and one of the top athletes in the state. Actually, several of the popular kids were really into SF/F, gaming and pulled excellent grades while participating in various sports. I think it’s more of a mindset than a social status.

    • I was talking in the “revenge of the nerds” sense.

    • I’ve kind of fiddled around and found a workable definition of nerd and geek– a person who expresses excessive passion for a usually technical subject, with geek being the more social of the two.

      So there are sports geeks, for example, but they have to be REALLY far out there to reach “excessive.” The house down the road that repainted into Seahawk Colors, for example, is probably far enough out there to be a “geek.” Can probably even spell all the names of the players and knows their stats.

      I personally think that it takes obvious love of a subject, but that’s my view, rather than an attempted definition.

      • I’d posit that to reach true geekdom, there’s an element of outreach. Not only do they paint the house, and know every player, all the stats, and the secret handshake and fan sign, but they also want you to know everything too, and may get a little frustrated when you don’t instantly appreciate and share their passion. Or respond with a rebuttal for your team (in some cases. I watched a Cowboys buff and a die-hard Broncos fan go at it, and finally interrupted with “Go Horn Frogs! Go Packers!”)

        • That’s where the idea of sharing the love comes in for me– but I can’t figure out how to quantify it.

          I know a lot of Marvel fans who must dump on DC, and the other way around– and I know folks who just really like BOTH of them, or love one and are OK with the other.

        • Which is where the geek social fallacy comes into play. “I want all of my friends to love the things that I love.” So my theater geek friends don’t understand my role-playing game friends, and neither of them get along with my academic decathlon friends…

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    It’s not surprising IMO that libertarians get that reputation. There are some who seem to believe that the community they live in has valid “no reason” to disapprove of them or their behavior. Sadly they come across as jerks who tell everybody else “what they’re doing” wrong but never want anybody to express disapproval of them.

    Me, I can get annoyed at people who “tell me what to do” but if I’m going to be part of a community (like this one), then I shouldn’t act like a Jerk.

    • Good heavens, does disapproval break their leg or pick their pocket?

      • Disapproval is hate speech, hadn’t you heard?
        I wonder that some people haven’t figured out the difference between “I don’t think what you are doing is right” and “Kill the !@#$es!!!!.

  3. c4c

  4. I know that in many places, from Nazi Germany to Soviet Russia, Odds, including racial and sexual minorities, were part of the supporters that brought the regime to power and were also the effective target of those regimes, sometimes to the death.

    The French Revolution is also an excellent example.

    • I recall reading that the Viet Cong troops were killed or imprisioned once the NVA had taken over.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Plus the Viet Cong had been mostly destroyed as a fighting force after the Tet Offensive.

        • First they were pretty much wiped out in Tet, then what was left was sent to the camps after the fall of Saigon. A fair number have made it to the US after somehow getting out of the camps alive. Interesting politics in the Vietnamese community sometimes.

        • Shh, that’s a state secret!

          • True. Yet, Walter Cronkite pontificated that Tet was “…a huge victory for the VC because it showed that they could attack anywhere and any time they chose.”

            • well, after the Tet offensive, they really couldn’t, not that anyone who has taken a history class in the almost hald century since knows that…

    • The sort of odds who support revolutionary regimes do not so much object to oppressing people so much as they object to being the people oppressed. Because they are prone to be argumentative know-it-alls with no capacity for compromise, is it any wonder they are often the first disposed of when power is being consolidated?

  5. I was definitely an Odd in High School. In fact it continues to this day, especially at Class reunions.

    This place is my tribe

    • Yeah. I’m amused that I’ve become the “cool nerd” because I still don’t give a fig about fitting in. Apparently if you survive long enough, you go from target to treasure. *snort* But I’m still not really part of that tribe.

      • I try not to get annoyed, because I know they’re trying to be nice, but I am so tired of hearing “You know, I really admired how you didn’t care what anybody thought in high school.”

        Dude, you were a jerk. It’s OK. You were a kid– we all were. And I wasn’t acting like that because I didn’t care, I acted like that because I believed that it was of higher relative importance. (Or I had no idea it would twig off the people it did.)

        • It will probably twig them off all over again, if you respond, “You had a really odd way of showing your admiration.”

          • I may or may not be prone to saying things like that WITHOUT thinking anything of it until the Strained Silence starts.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              My poor memory insulates me from the possibility of responding that way, except for the special few who stand out in it. I remember having people who were jerks to me, but not many memories of individuals doing it.

              • I treasured when folks said or did nice things to me– still do, it stops the less appealing obsession-circles I sometimes get into.

                Behaving poorly, unless it drew blood or reached similar levels of real threat, or was memorable for some other reason– nope. I remember the girl who thought she was being kind when she told me I should go get drunk and screw anybody who would let me, but that’s because the world view was so very strange. She very obviously really did think it was for my own good.

                I also tend to be pretty dang obvious when I decide to show what I think, and frequently found the subtle attempts by others to be pretty sledge hammer.

                You had a couple of girls that liked you and thought they were being obvious, didn’t you? (or am I confusing?) You remembered enough to think “that’s odd” but didn’t connect it to what they later explained it as meaning.
                “Oh, I always thought (something positive)” would have me scanning my memory for any evidence, and speaking before brain engaged on “….you’re just being nice, aren’t you?”

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  You had a couple of girls that liked you and thought they were being obvious, didn’t you?

                  As far as I know, there was one in middle school, but that’s all. If there were others, I was too oblivious to even pick it up in retrospect. I have found that there were several who would have been willing to try dating me, if I had had the guts to say something, but I was one of those guys who couldn’t ask a girl out if my life depended on it. On the other hand, except for a couple of them, I always got along pretty well with the girls in school, even though i don’t think any of them really thought of me as relationship material.

        • I was acting that way because I was oblivious. You know the opening scene in Disney’s Beauty and the beast? That was me. Except in the resl world, the villagers try to trip you for larfs.

          • Beauty and her dad were from the big city– so they had some residual attractiveness, and the competition was with things like that snooty “behind that fair facade, I’m afraid she’s rather odd” guy. They were “not from around here” and that was worthy of pity, because they didn’t blend in.

            It’s only under times of stress that you’ve got to reach for actual abuse, as a group; even Gaston was alright with her being weird and would’ve left her alone except that she embarrassed him– damaged his social standing.

            That he was stupid to put himself in that situation just raised the stress level.

      • I have learned that the essence of “cool” is simply not giving a flip.
        Wish I’d known that 30-odd years ago.

        It’s fun seeing my very odd daughter being one of the most popular kids in her school, simply because she’s oblivious to all the social games going on around her, and if she ever noticed them, it would never occur to her to care.

  6. One thought: To belong is apparently an innate drive — at least Abraham Maslow thought so — but one can override that drive by the exercise of conscious volition, which is what many “excluded” individuals do to salve the wound and buttress their sense of self. That might not be relevant to the political implications of tribalism, but it tends to explain quite a bit about the behavior of socially scorned minorities such as “geeks” and “nerds.” Many elect to transform their exclusion from a defect to an assertion of choice…and being their own, it becomes a thing in which they can take a measure of pride.

    • Yes. This is not in the post because it’s already the size of the world, but yes. This seems to transmute in a certain type of personality to a “counting of grievances” for some reason mostly in the left side of the spectrum. IF one more sixty year old woman stands up on a panel about women in SF and says “my fourth grade teacher corrected me on science when I was RIGHT” I’m going to cry.

      • (chuckle) Well, if you ever have the misfortune to be asked to participate in a panel discussion of men in SF, I have a ton of stories from my Catholic grammar school that you can have for nothing!

      • You’re better than I am, Sarah. I’d have a nice little stash of paper wads to throw at the grievance nurse, each printed with the World’s Smallest Violin(TM).

      • If she didn’t come back at the teacher with sources and references and proof, how is it somebody else’s problem?

      • This may actually have been a better learning experience than knowing your teachers were watching and waiting for you to trip them up. At least Grievance Gal learned that sometimes what’s right isn’t what those in charge choose to do.

        • I wish there were only ONE grievance girl. To use a portuguese expression “They’re more than mothers.”

          • I thought it was my job to correct teachers and note their spelling errors, probably because my dad had me correcting multiple choice quizzes at a young age. And I knew that it was obviously just an oversight. And luckily most teachers of both sexes took it well, but some did not, of both sexes.

            OTOH, my little brother had a lot of female teachers not respond graciously. Obviously this is due to prejudice against boys, amirite?

            So yeah, a true geek is often going to get into these situations. The question is whether the teacher is full of intellectual false pride, or whether he takes correction graciously; and it does not matter whether the teacher or student is female or male.

      • … my fourth grade teacher corrected me on science when I was RIGHT

        That was when you should have learned that authority is arbitrary and abusive and when you should have become a libertarian instead of a bitter old cow who can’t let go of something that happened before you were even in a training bra.

        • I had a second grade teacher who put tape on my mouth because I talked out of turn in class, when I thought she was overlooking something that was in the book and didn’t wait to be called on. I learned was while being smart is good, looking like a smartass isn’t. Where the line is, I’m still not entirely sure…

      • My fourth grade teacher pretended to be a time traveller and told us stories about her buddies Thales, Pythagorus and Archimedes. She was terrific! No victim cred for me alas. I guess the patriarchy was on sabbatical. On the other hand I was frequently at odds with my teachers on points of grammar and logic because I read more than they.

        Does that mean guys can play the victim card when marginally competent unionized teachers diss them on “female” centric disciplines like writing and history?

        We can have fun with that. The public school stupid is a gift that keeps on giving.

        • Does that mean guys can play the victim card when marginally competent unionized teachers diss them on “female” centric disciplines like writing and history?

          No; “male privilege” trumps all such discrimination complaints.

        • Does that mean guys can play the victim card when marginally competent unionized teachers diss them on “female” centric disciplines like writing and history?

          Teaching is often a closed-shop. My mother was a teacher, and oh, the comments I heard from her and the others.

        • My college US history teacher taught pre-1965 history from the viewpoint of the BRITISH…kept talking about those long-haired hippies, Washington, Jefferson and Franklin! A very fun class and quite enlightening.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Yeah, I’ll cry them a pity party. Right after I cry for myself because my high school Math teacher “corrected” me on a Physics item (he told the class, while sidetracked, that “Heavy Water” was H3O. I explained what it actually was, but he insisted he was right.).

        The worst part about that one? I found out later that he may have just been trying to provoke me into proving I was right. Instead, I just shook my head and let him keep his incorrect notion

      • In my case, it was my ninth grade science teacher, and the question was why our sun won’t go nova.

    • One sign of being a geek/nerd (reverse that, portmanteau it:) neek is the ability to memorize and quote with sincerity Groucho’s line about not being interested in belonging to any club willing to have me as a member.

      Being accepted is nice, but unless you are being accepted for who and what you actually are you haven’t really been accepted.

    • “Many elect to transform their exclusion from a defect to an assertion of choice…and being their own, it becomes a thing in which they can take a measure of pride.”

      Working a night shift I was once asked, “Aren’t you worried about, well, weirdos?” And stunned the person asking with, “I am used to being the weirdest thing around.”

      • A cousin (fecking cancer took him a few years ago) while just out of High school was waiting in an ice cream shop for his then Steady Girl, who worked elsewhere in the mall that contained the store.
        A flouncy pink cloud sat across from him and chippily said “Hi, I’m {name}, who’re you?”
        He looked up from his parfait and said in a raspy voice “I’m Weird” and went back to eating his treat.
        She got a stressed look (I mean gee, her charms were not working like they should!) and eventually got up and walked out. His girlfriend then sat across from him and bust out laughing. She had seen the whole thing play out from behind him.

  7. To expand your ‘odd’ animal comparison/metaphor a bit farther. A lot of dictators are themselves odds. Just like in wolves (and I assume apes, although I am not as familiar with their social dynamics) the odd or different animal is picked on and attacked, because it is different and possibly a danger to the whole. So the odds tend to be either, a) ran off b) killed or c)tough enough and mean enough to take over and become the leader.

    • Argghh! Hit post to soon.

      If you see a white wolf in a pack, or another abnormal color (here black is common enough to be a normal wolf color) it is usually an Alpha. Same for other ‘odd’ characteristics, whether they be physical or behavioral. They either become the ‘top dog’ or they leave the pack, one way or the other.

      Humans aren’t wolves, but sometimes we act like them. Look around at leaders in many things, whether it be in government, business, or charity organizations. The percentage of ‘odds’ in leadership positions is far higher than the percentage in the general population.

      • In a required “Leadership and Management” course I took several years ago, they emphasized that every organization needs a good group of people sort of in the middle–those who will go along either through inertia or because they actually enjoy what they’re doing and have no designs on leadership. What you have to watch out for are those who are dissatisfied with their position for some reason as well as those who are also leaders by nature. Essentially, those who do the routines are the normals, and you try to keep them going along with the routine. The odds who are against you you either co-opt or get rid of (through performance counseling, not cement shoes) and the other odds who are also leaders you try to make into your deputies. Seems to fit with the idea that odds are either leaders or outcasts. They just didn’t put it that way.

    • Or we just go off and do our own thing, and snap at those who try to force us into their mandated patterns.

      • That would be the “lone wolf” or as Sarah puts it, “taking over the world and leaving it ruthlessly alone.”

        Ah, a new philosophy, the Libertarian Wolf. 🙂

    • Birds will attack and kill one of their own kind if the colors are wrong. Jerzy Kosinsky wrote a book called the “Painted Bird”, which was required reading in one of my literature classes in college (before most of you were born, I imagine), and it gave me freaking nightmares for years.

      • In unreasoning species this is a way of eliminating mutations which might endanger the group.

        One reason I abandoned fiction for a period was I lost the ability to suspend disbelief and ignore the author moving the scenery about, adjusting the mood-lighting and pulling the characters’ strings.

  8. Our first experience of belonging (or not, for some) is of a family.

    If the family is healthy, it’ll also teach those of us who are not so good at picking up a clue about what things are alright to be odd about, and which ones are, and why.

    Reading a lot: OK, basically.
    Reading while visiting: not OK, because there is an expectation of attention while “visiting,” and that “says” that you don’t respect them– in which case, you shouldn’t be there. (Followed by a “no, you are a child, you don’t get to choose to visit or not.”)

    Basically, family teaches you how to be properly respectful…and what sort of respect you are due in turn.
    (School SUCKS at this.)

    • I don’t think I ever got “respectful” out of the family experience. I was tolerated until I turned 18, then told to leave. I packed my stuff and was gone within the hour.

      All in all, my life would have been much nicer if I could have just fast forwarded from birth to the part where I was loading my books and clothes in my car.

    • “Reading a lot: OK, basically.
      Reading while visiting: not OK, because there is an expectation of attention while “visiting,” and that “says” that you don’t respect them– in which case, you shouldn’t be there.”

      I still struggle with this. My wife just yelled at me last week because I was reading in church while the pastor was explaining the kids’ Wednesday evening instruction.

      • It is… very not easy.

        Especially when some folks don’t hold up their end of respecting person who’s supposed to be listening……

        • SheSellsSeashells

          I recently visited my equally-Odd aunt out in Washington state. She took me and the child to a lovely outdoor concert, and we all three happily read through it. Nice to have a relative or two who understands. 😀

          • My husband is the first person to understand me like that. We’d like to attend LibertyCon next year and see some of you in person. I feel like I’ve finally met my tribe in you guys. Hubby and I would never have met without the internet. I met our mutual acquaintance on the Bujold mailing list in ’99.

            • Yes. Meeting my husband was like finding a fountain in the desert.

            • Fellow Bujoldian here: Slugsbane. Are you still on list? I’m on-again off again: mainly because my mail client sucks.

              • I haven’t been on the list in 15 years.

                • Emily61,

                  My wife and I also might come to the next LibertyCon – we tried to get to this year but we just couldn’t make it. We would love to meet someone people on here in person as well. What age would people bring kids to one of these things? My daughter will be 11 at the time (well, also two smaller ones at 8 and 5) and she reads a lot – although mostly Fantasy type stuff – I tried Heinlein’s juveniles but no traction there yet. Is 11 too young? I know there is no “right” answer – but wanted to see what people thought.

                  -John

                  PS to Sara – that is my work email – I can’t login to WordPress from work – and it won’t let me comment without logging in – sigh.

          • When I chaperone my yard apes field trips I bring a bag full of good books to share out.

            • I once had to deal with a friend going ballistic over my use of the term “yard apes” because (according to my friend) the term was horribly racist.

              The fact I had only previously heard it used by a mother of Caucasian aspect in reference to her own children cut no ice.

              BTW, new research reportedly demonstrates that “youngsters who do not have a garden to play in are at greater risk of putting on excess weight.” So government efforts to consign families to housing projects are unhealthy? Who’d have ever suspected!

          • My own aunt was my “Auntie Mame”–a bit Bohemian, but loving and always nice to be around. She took it upon herself when I was born to “see to his cultural upbringing.” For example, for my 3rd birthday, she gave me a season ticket to the local symphony concert series–and then took me to all the concerts! She gave me the current Newberry Award winning book every year thereafter and taught me to read before I was 3. She was still giving me books for Christmas and birthdays well into my 40’s.

            • If you haven’t read the original book (most people know it only from the movie) it is well worth the time and money spent.

              There are values to older books and their portrayals of different approaches to reality, as C. S. Lewis has said,

              Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook—even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. … To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.


              One of the delights of childhood is the illusion that adults have any idea what they are about. One of the delights of adulthood is discovering that some indeed do.

        • “I never see my preacher’s eyes
          He hides their light divine.
          For when he prays he closes his,
          And when he preaches, mine.”
          – Author forgotten.

          I suspect I ended up in the sound room because the preacher caught me dozing one Sunday.

          • I was just talking to my husband about a pastor who wasike this: he made Father Brown look like an indifferent slacker, he was such a great-hearted shepherd of his flock: but good Lord his sernons! I memorized more hymns (and in Latin) those years. It keeps youbawake, and no-one looks askance at one having one’s nose in the hymnal.

            • Heh. I’ve noticed nobody criticizes you for reading the Bible during sermons even if the portion you’re studying has nothing to do with the topic of that day’s sermon. One of the great things about the Bible is people cannot readily tell whether you’re reading Luke 15:11-32 or Genesis 19:30-38.

              Now if only it were possible to configure a Kindle to make any text look like it is Biblical … (No, I am NOT advocating reading Jim Butcher during sermons! Harold Lamb, OTOH …)

              • Pick two passages closer to each other and I’d agree with you, but I, for one, could glance over and tell by the thickness of the pages whether you were reading Luke or Genesis.

                OTOH, I’m likely to be doing the same thing, so it’s not like I’d be criticizing you for it.

              • To clarify what I meant about “thickness of the pages”: whether the mass of pages is on the left side of the book, meaning you’re in a later part of the book (Luke is at least three-quarters through the Bible in page count) or whether the mass of pages is on the right side of the book, meaning you’re in an early part like Genesis.

              • Hoo, boy. They can in the local churches around here. Even before I started having to project scripture on the walls. When a preacher reads the wrong passages, people start glancing at each other going “What?” It’s really common here to follow along in the bibles.

                That takes some of the pressure off in projecting the verses on the wall. Only one preacher has given us his verses of scripture before the service. Usually we put them up as they’re referenced, and sometimes the preachers has gone on on before you find it.

              • Some parts of Jim Butcher are… angelic.

              • well, actually…Genesis is at the Very Beginning and Luke is generally around the 3/4 Done point. You might want to pick a couple of titles that fall closer together. Just saying!

                • OF course people can distinguish between when you’re readin’ the early Old T and middle New T, but it isn’t likely to cause any eye-wagglin’, especially as you can allus claim you was cross-checkin’ a refer back from one to the other.

                  I am disappointed nobody has picked up on the contrast of the two passages cited.

                  You think I just picked two at random? Y’all don’ know me very well, do ye?

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Hey! Harry is pretty familiar with scripture.

              • And now a reading from The Book of Troopers, Chapter 1, Verse 1:
                “And lo, Johnny didst get the shakes, as he oft did before he droppest. Tho hadst he the injections…”

          • I suspect the introduction of stained glass visible to the congregation (and/or choir) was in part to give people something to do during less-than-stellar sermons. Like counting the pieces of glass in each section of the window.

      • I didn’t have this issue with my family, as such, because we’re a family of readers. But when I went to a friend’s house or party, and everyone was off doing whatever, and I had settled down with a book I found or brought, *then* it became an issue. Which is why I didn’t get invited to parties past the obligatory elementary “invite the entire class” kind. Well, that and I was the “poor kid from the wrong side of town, but academically talented, so put her in the gifted class with all the rich (for values of “rich” in Danville) kids”.

        Plus the “one of two white families in an all-black lower class neighborhood” thing. But yeah, I have no idea what it’s like being an outsider. *rolls eyes*

        • I loved when people tentatively asked me if I was studying for a test…
          Heinlein, what a test.

        • In Korea in the early 60’s, I’d occasionally take a book and go into the village at one of the bars that inevitably spring up around military installations. I enjoyed the background music and the bar girls knew I wasn’t a likely “mark” so they left me alone.

    • Heh, this one is likely to be something my husband and I have to sort out when it comes up. Reading while visiting family was normal for me — that’s why my grandparents had kids’ books as well as toys; we were kind of secondarily at home there. It wasn’t any stranger for the kids to read while the adults were talking than to play with the bubbles or blocks or board games or balls (or frisbees), whether it was me and my brother or a get-together with all the cousins, and even as we got older I don’t think anybody gave books as gifts without acknowledging the possibility that they were going to lose the recipient from the conversation for a while.

      Meanwhile, reading while at get-togethers with people you only see a few times a year strikes him as uncompanionable… which I can understand to a point, but less so if half the room is napping in front of a football game. 😉

      • Oh, if I’d been over with the kids who were playing, I could read. I just couldn’t sit where people were socializing and read.

        There’s a LOT of assumptions built into all the stuff.

        (I can’t figure out the “let’s sit and watch TV and NOT SAY ANYTHING” thing that my husband’s family does– if we’re watching TV, and it’s not really intense, we’re talking. Or reading.)

        • My family are talkers and readers too. I also never got the point of sitting and watching something without talking as a social thing. Going to the movies as a “social event” for example. You can’t talk. You’re not socializing. I never did get this one. But then I’m odd anyway.

  9. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I’ve said before that tribalism is one of the greatest evils of the human condition. In so far as it is exclusionary, it leads not just to racism and all the other isms that break humanity into bits, but also to things like voting for a president because he’s “our people.”

    What if it is the other way around? What if the default is distrust?

  10. Cuba and its odds? Not only did Cuba imprison its transgendered, it tatoo’d an ID number on the inside of their lower lip. In fact, IIRC, there was even a court ruling in Florida prohibiting the practice of ‘lipping’, or cops checking if they were dealing with an immigrant trans by pulling down their lip to check for the tattoo.

  11. Bjorn Hasseler

    c4c

  12. unrepentant_chocoholic

    (Hi everyone. Long time lurker. Very long.)

    My take:

    A geek has a very strong interest in something technical. Hence, there are food geeks and beer geeks, and so on. A beer lover will have favorite styles. A beer geek will tell you the difference between a pale ale and imperial pale ale. A sports geek will quote stats left and right, and so on.

    But beer nerd? A sports nerd? Doesn’t really exist, because beer and sports are cool. If they’re a nerd, it’s because they’re a nerd in some other unacceptable domain.

    The essence of nerd is social ostricization. Thus, nerds are contextual: something nerdy in one place or time, is not nerdy in others. They are geeks who suffer because their chosen interest is socially unacceptable in their public square.

    (Yes, I said “their” public square, not “the” – that’s the set of people they routinely are in proximity with, via physical *and* electronic means. It can’t restricted to just our friends: because it’s too easy to self-select the people we choose to be with, and then magically, we’re not nerds anymore, because everyone else has the same interest. False.)

    You are not a nerd unless you have been publicly humiliated for your geeky interest, and have taken pains to hide it from the rest of normaldom.

    The MBA who got bored with finance, who late in life discovers coding and then christens themselves a “total nerd” is incorrect. Same for self-described “sex nerds” who are just pretty girls with glasses. No matter how talented they are, they usually just garden-variety geeks.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Welcome! 🙂

    • What Christopher Said! Keep that unlurk button punched.

    • Sex nerd. That’s not a term I’ve heard before. I like it. I think I need to find one to investigate this phenomenon further… 😀

    • … nerds are contextual: something nerdy in one place or time, is not nerdy in others.

      So, a modern kid fascinated by swords and swordplay and the techniques and manufacturing methods involved is a nerd, but any medieval culture kid similarly obsessed is normal?

      Makes sense.

      • Yup. Nice points thanks.

        You delurked WAAAY more gracefully than I did by-the-by which leads me to this corollary: there must be sn element of social awkwardness/cluelessness involved for true nerdery. It can be intrinsic (Aspies) or situational (Ms Hoyt’s account)

      • Not necessarily. The story of Vulcan and Venus sounds very much like the geeky tech who marries a woman with better social skills.

        • Yeah, and look what happened with that one. The jock got the girl anyway. Though admittedly, the geeky tech caught them at it.

        • Meh. Vulcan was the only one in that social set who had steady work.

          His low self-esteem also meant Venus could be pretty abusive with little consequence. Goddess of Love she might be, but stupid she wasn’t.

          • Personally, I always kind of hoped that Aphrodite would go away and let Cupid and Psyche take over for her.
            Things would probably work out better for everyone.

        • Vulcan was “flawed” because he was maimed or lame– not because he was a smith.

          I can remember that because he was the only one in the entire batch that wouldn’t have been in the shoot-it-fast category, and my teacher trying to explain that his flaw WAS that he wasn’t physically perfect, and they thought that was as bad or worse than Zeus being a psychotic womanizer.

    • I have always personally saw it more as Geeks are obsessed with the technical aspects of real things, while Nerds are obsessed with fantasy aspects of fiction things. So in my opinion you would be a sex nerd if you were obsessed with the sexual habits of fictional creatures like Wookies, Klingons, Elves, Orcs, etc…

      PS. Could you please direct me towards some of these “sex nerds” I’d like to do more “research” into weather they are actually nerds, or really geeks on the topic.

      • …I might know where to find one or two. How will this “research” be conducted is the question?

        • By using a basic knowledge demonstration test. A geek or nerd subject should be more knowledgeable in one area or another, unless they happen to be both, which a knowledge demonstration would still show.

    • Oddly, I have an inverted definition. Where I come from the Nerds were single-issue interests. (With some expectation of social ineptitude but it wasn’t a requirement. It usually came out of their absolute focus on The One Thing.) The Guy who was chemistry all the way was a nerd because he couldn’t care less about physics or books or really anything that wasn’t about chemistry. The Geeks were broader interests, though their interests tended to be in things intellectual (though not exclusively.)

      And frankly I find the ‘to be a REAL geek you must SUFFER’ to be as silly as ‘To be a REAL you must suffer for you ‘. While it’s common, it’s also common in other folk. And the number of Geek-Jock combinations I had at my school growing up was astonishing now that I’m not there anymore. The Captain of our Football team/Quarterback was one of the biggest geeks in school. His girlfriend (as was relatively stereotypical, captain of the cheerleaders and most popular girl in school) also exceptionally geeky.

      • Valid point — for many of these it isn’t their geekiness or nerdyness which defines them so much as it is their victimhood, which they cling to as if it were some ennobling attribute.

        In most heroic tales such a history is celebrated for being overcome, not wallowed in and held up as badge of glory.

        Got news for those weeping willows: in this world everybody gets picked on, everybody gets teased, everybody gets undeserved abuse. You want fairness you came to the wrong reality.

  13. Strikes me that all of modern humanity are the descendants of odds. If you hold with evolution, and I mostly do in spite of all the theory’s warts and holes, we can assume that it is a process of constant trial and error with improvement of the species as its goal.
    The single trait IMHO that sets humans above the other species is our ability to bend nature to our wills. We do not adapt so much to the natural order of things as we make use of tools to change our environment to something more desirable. Fire, clothing, clubs, pointy sticks, the sharp edge of a stone, all are tools to increase comfort, reduce labor and make us more secure in our lives.
    And who is it that is most likely to step outside the box and try that new thing? The odds of course, the ones not content to stay within the bounds of things the way we’ve always done them.

  14. A minor point about IQ:

    Arthur Jensen makes a good argument for referring to IQ as “g” (for “general factor”), and ceasing to apply “intelligence” to it. His point is that we know exactly how “g” behaves, but no one can define intelligence clearly enough to decide what would and would not be evidence of intelligence (he refers to several organized attempts to do so in psychological circles).

    How “g” behaves turns out to be really significant (Jensen’s book “The g Factor” is excellent, by the way, even skipping over the math), but once you call it “intelligence” you start making bad assumptions about it.

  15. “he/she is weird, but he/she is ours.” In school, also, for the truly odd kid, the teacher and the supervising assistant, or whatever, are the ones who intervene to stop abuse by peers.”
    Except in some cases, like mine, where the teacher picked the target. The new kid from out of town whose parents were not working for the majority employer in town. What she did was very intentional. Luckily my folks were odds too. So while it was painful, I survived. Actually had a classmate from 3rd grade come apologize to me in senior year. The thought of going to a reunion has always been somewhat amusing to me. I have to say the idea of having to defend or justify my self identification as an outsider would probably involve my middle fingers, not a reasoned written argument such as yours. 😉

    • Well I saw the “he/she is weird, but he/she is ours.” shown very well in school. When the teacher obviously picked on the kid that most of the other kids didn’t like (because he was weird) obviously unfairly; not because of something he did, but because he was different and the teacher saw him as fair game. The other kids defended, covered for, and in some cases even ran interference for the kid who they otherwise couldn’t be bothered to give the time of day to.

      Of course the fact that the teacher was hated and despised, no doubt helped in that situation.

  16. the expression is “like riding a bike” meaning that it is something that you don’t forget … muscle memory … that you had to relearn how to makes you odd … YOU WIN

    • I always thought the expression was a lie. And currently I don’t know how to ride a bike. BTW kid has gone through that…

      • Interesting. For me, learning to ride a bike was a one-time affair, shortly after I learned to walk. I managed the Vulcan hand sign and Spock eyebrow shortly after I saw them. Well, right right eyebrow; which I can dance Jack Black style; the left eyebrow just doesn’t seem to be wired up for movement.

        Now, whistling… it took me years to manage anything at all, and if a few months go by, it might days days before I can do it again.

        • I had a duel experience. Could not ride my first bike without training wheels. My father would take them off, and after getting enough bruises and scrape I’d hunt up the tools and put them back on. Then I got a larger bike one Christmas and rode it from the get-go. Shrug.

          OTOH, my father learned to ride a bike by order. The officer assumed everyone knew how to ride a bike, and ordered him to take one to deliver a message. By the time he got there, he could ride a bike.

          • “I had a duel experience.”

            Since you are commenting here, I assume you won.

            • Yes, indeed. It was one of those meeting for two and breakfast for one sort of things. We met on the field of honor that frigid morning, my breath hanging in the air; the sun gleaming off its chrome and fresh paint. It declined a choice of weapons, the cad, and I opted for hand-to-hand combat, with pliers in my pocket just in case – I had resolved it would be either it or me.

              A neighbor from a half mile up the road (in the country that made you next door neighbors), was my second. My opponent had none. But no second would be needed that day.

              In two steps I strode to my foe and grasped it by the handlebars. with a mighty jerk I wrenched it around and was quickly astride. A quick kick to the stand, and another to the pedals, with me bearing down with my full weight, and the duel was over. I was victorious.

              After maybe half an hour gloating in my victory by wheeling my vanquished foe around the driveway, and returned to the warmth of my home. Then I remembered by breath was hanging in the air, and had to go back out and get it.

            • “I am The Other Sean. You dissed Heinlein. Prepare to die.” 🙂

        • Juggling three objects is the one I learn and forget.

        • I don’t have problems with eyebrow or Vulcan hand sign.

          • Having watched both children and adults wobble about and (sometimes) crash, I’m half-convinced that the problem isn’t so much steering as pedaling. Most people have this belief that they’re somehow “balancing” the cycle to prevent it from falling over. In truth, once you’re rolling faster than a walking pace you’d have to work very hard to make it fall down. Gyroscopic stuff. But pedaling is not a normal human motion, and watching some people crash, the problem seems to often start at the leg motion…

            I bet you wouldn’t have any problem on a motorcycle.

  17. I am so Odd, that I don’t even fit in well with other Odds. I have also devoted much attention to figuring out how and why I am odd, and what I can do about it. Not terribly much, it turns out. So I do what I can and must to compensate and survive. Sometimes that means going along to get along, and not being too insistent or outspoken, so that I don’t antagonize the tribe too much. “The squeaky wheel gets greased”…double meaning intentional.
    However, I also have some experience with small scale oppressive dictatorships, and I have repeatedly observed that on various scales, when revolutionaries have successful in overthowing them, they seldom do much better. There is an overwhelming tendency to become dictatorial themselves.
    Whether you are on the top of the social heap, or in the middle, or at the bottom, you cannot force people to like or accept you.

    • For a number of years of early adulthood I’d a friend who would repeatedly inform me that I was not normal.

      I found it generally confusing that anybody would think a) I didn’t know and b) normal was anything I might want to be.

      Normal seemed a terribly boring thing to be.

      • oddness in the individual is a species survival trait, like fainting goats half the flock falls over and chase predators follow those that run. or half runs and the other half gets eaten by opportunity eaters genes move on species survive “so sorry about Ralph, Edna”.
        Or flocking in birds or schooling in fish. there are always birds or fish who get the message to turn NOW late. and that’s bad if there are individual chase predators about. they’re the ones who get picked up. BUUT, if its a big ole whale interested in a mouth full of fish the whole middle crew (that’s the cool kids table) gets ate.

        with people its the same way, pick a disaster most folks either stare and go ” impossible that can’t happen here” , or run in panic. a handful of odds analyze and react.

  18. because all his stories are of WALKING everywhere, including high school which was hours away on foot.

    Uphill both ways in waist-deep snow?

  19. I sincerely believe that you’re wrong to think the “odds” will win in the end, Ms Hoyt. Gays, for example, live, on average, 20 years shorter lifespans than heteros and the “gay lifestyle” is ANTI-reproduction plus, if anything about Darwin is to be believed, it’s that anti-survival characteristics are eventually bred out of the genome…assuming that there actually IS a “gay gene” and “gayness” is NOT what psychologists always thought until the APA changed their minds–or whatever passes for a psychologists “mind.” I have a few gay friends and we get along famously because they don’t make a big issue of what they do for sexual recreation–and neither do I.

    • If you’ve been to any SF convention, you know the “odds” are repoducing like socially awkward locusts.

      • Of course their kids are all becoming accountants in an act of adolescent rebellion and we all know how drab and uncreative THOSE are…

        oh…

        Hi, Larry…

        • I vaguely recall a story where a young man rebels against his “be your own self” California parents by going back east to a WASPy Ivy League college.

          • As PJ O’Rourke put it, “the kids [in the 80’s] took one look at the burned out 60’s rejects littering the landscape and said, ‘Give me a haircut and a job.'”

            • Kids in the 2010s, too, at least the ones I’m around.

              • One thing I’ve noticed about my kids and their friends, that I wonder if it’s just their group or generational, is that they all are entrepreneurial. Not just “I wanna start a business” but either just doing it, or working at doing so.

                • my sister was shocked to learn my nephew was often making more a month than she was, when he was a Sophomore in high school. Because he has a kid now (and is a senior in school) he now does all that, and works part time after school and weekends.

                  • My kids are not only starting stuff, but laying in plans to make it bigger. If we manage not to squelch their ability to do new stuff — ACA and minimum wage and crap — I suspect these guys and others like them will unleash a wave of innovation like nothing in this country or the world for over 100 years. They’re the children of the future. They grew up with highly personal tech. Being free and creative is second nature.

                    • And it seems they diversify too, Nephew isn’t doing just one thing. And my other nephews and their freinds seem to be the same way … they do several things to make scratch … programing games and clothing design are among what my nephew does outside the part time work while finishing school.

                    • Brings to mind Poul Anderson’s novel Brain Wave — once the field suppressors are lifted the sky’s the limit.

                    • Some of this could be due to minimum wage requirements. Really a lot of potential employers can’t afford minimum wage (plus all the payroll taxes, etc.) for somebody who doesn’t know how to work. Plus all the requirements, of what an underage employee is and isn’t allowed to do. So if the kids want to earn money, there aren’t nearly the entry level jobs for an underage kid with zero experience. Either they work under the table, or they start their own business (also often under the table).

                      Really what we are creating is a thriving grey market, and all those kids who start out that way, how do you think they are going to view things when they receive their first “real” paycheck and see how much is taken out of it?

                    • “Who is this bitch FICA and why does she get all my money?” — Jennifer Aniston, “Friends”

            • Some certainly did, but not all.

              It seems like people with a rebellious or contrary streak can rebel against any of three things: their parents, their peers, or the perceived expectations society in general, and it’s easy to be a rebel if you can get support from one of the first two. If your peers are rebelling against society in general, you can get the thrill of rebellion and social acceptance at the same time by joining in that rebellion. This is why the left has to pretend it has no power and is standing up against the Man, because that way it can pull in those that desire to rebel.

              As a natural contrarian, I had issues growing up in the 80s because my parents were neutral enough that there was nothing to rebel against, and I grew up in a diverse upper-middle-class suburb where there was no obvious social consensus to rebel against, so I ended up getting my ‘contrariness’ fix by disagreeing with my peers on anything, which made elementary school a pain and definitely left me Odd.

        • As a child, I saw a cartoon in one magazine piled up in our home – Post maybe? It was from the 60’s and showed two hippies watching their son walking from the house – all spiffy, clean cut, and in a scout uniform. The parents were asking “where did we go wrong?” A good take on viewing social fads using the long view.

        • Well, creative accountants tend to go to prison… not a lot of reproduction going on there.

        • I was forced to become a corporate accountant because I can’t account for myself.

        • yeah that glint on the hilltop? Larry.

      • Yes. Particularly with the internet. Most of us outliers would have never married in less internationally connected times. (And we managed it via phone/mails.)

      • They’re rubbing their legs together to make noise to attract a mate? First, that’s just weird, and second…ummm…women might have more success attracting a suitable male by shaving their legs.

        Yes, yes, I know, that was sexist and misogynistic and I’m supporting the patriarchy or some such. Blah, blah, long live the hegemony, blah, blah.

    • Was NOT talking about gays specifically, but those that fit oddly into life, of which they’re rather a small subgroup. I mention them because they’re easy to track in dictatorships.

    • It isn’t being Odd that makes gays not reproduce. It’s being gay.

    • I agree with the specific objection– although homosexuality is easiest to track, it’s not a very good stand-in for “Odds;” it just happens to be an acceptable screening indicator to try to find what cultures are sturdy enough to deal with deviation.

      You and your friends are an example of that– both sides are mature enough not to make a big deal out of it, and it’s not a big deal.

      What I think of as poisonous tribes can’t deal with that; the existence of different is an inherent threat.

      Digression: this can’t be simplified, like the screening mechanism of the BMI, into “any objection to (insert usually sexual activity) is proof of evil.” It’s just an easy to identify marker, which could just as easily be tripped by forbidding even supported objections to (usually sexual activity).

  20. I wouldn’t say I was an “odd” in grade school so much as I was “prey.” The shrimpy non-athletic kid the bullies knew would never fight back, who was socially ostracized for reasons I still can’t figure out. I admit that deep down, I desperately wanted to fit in and be accepted.

    Little Brother, on the other hand, was most definitely an Odd growing up, and absolutely reveled in his Odd-ness. This was a kid who went to public school – in the late 90’s into the 2000s, mind – dressed every day in a suit jacket, slacks, and tie, and carrying a briefcase. This was the kid who, when called a “dork” in the 5th Grade, whirled around and proclaimed, and I quote: “I’m not a dork, I’m a nerd! In fact, I’m the King of the Nerds!” and proceeded to sign his classmates’ yearbooks “[NAME], King of the Nerds clear through high school. He made being a nerd cool, and this was years before Hipsters or the Big Bang Theory.

    I, on the other hand, stopped trying to fit in in college, and became the Odd of my honors cohort: the lone Republican/Libertarian in a group that quickly embraced Christian-disguised Marxism.

    And as far as family goes, holy carp and other assorted fish, you’d better believe I’m Odd! The Raptor Clan is almost universally comprised of practical, scholarly, soft-spoken, pretty-religious Christians, and nobody’s quite sure where Raptor, the outspoken USAian who pursues his dreams rather than practical goals, has chosen to write *gasp!* science-fiction, and *GASP!* likes guns came from. Word is that Grandma Raptor was horrified when she read Lifeblood, to the point where she publically questioned my “commitment to Christ” over it. She hasn’t actually said that to my face, mind, since she’s afraid I’ll reject her or something. Joke’s on her, though: I stopped caring what she thought of me back in high school.

    So yeah, I’m Odd. And you know what? I like it. Normal’s overrated in my book, so screw it.

  21. In my family we usually figured it out and could “ape” normality enough to have a social life by the end of elementary/middle school. Some of us were so good at it that we got a little lost, and the suppressed oddness came out with a vengeance in old age.

    Reading along, nodding as I did, and then the Lady of the Place drops this in my lap.

    I wasn’t lost, it was camouflage. As RAH pointed out, you need to know when to put the blue mud in your belly button. I had kids to raise.

  22. As an outsider, I think how we react varies. My father and I didn’t care enough about not being in the “in” crowd to try and fit in other than basic manners. I was once in a group of four outsiders in school, and the two more socially adept ones quickly fit in. I didn’t do that well, but the fourth did, or so I thought. Years later, as high school freshmen, I noticed some of his new “friends” were playing on that for their amusement. That might have been how he got into drugs.

    I wouldn’t put it past the disaffected to throw in with a group just to “belong.” I won’t say I didn’t care not being with the “in” crowd, but I didn’t care about it enough to pretend to be something I wasn’t. If it worked, it wouldn’t be me. I doubted that it would, and after what I saw happen with my friend, figured it wasn’t worth it. I was enough of “hoodlum,” in the words of my wife, without being in with the “right” people.

    My father’s family moved to their community about a century ago, which made them outsiders of a different sort. That actually wasn’t too bad. Since we weren’t kin to anyone local, we got to hear the most interesting stories.

  23. I got put into ballet and gymnastics classes once my parents realized that the difficulty walking was a coordination/balance difficulty and I learned how to fall without injuring myself. Because I did. A lot. I still have difficulty walking. Swimming and riding a bike, though? Like I was born to it.

    It didn’t occur to me how odd I really was until I realized I was the only person who wasn’t invited to the Senior events my Senior Year of high school. No parties, no class meetings, no planning committees. I almost was left off the list for the Senior class dinner but my parents were part of the group planning it. Speeches and awards were given, most of them referencing events that I’d had NO IDEA were going on, and I was the only person in the class not to receive something. Even the nerds, geeks and goths got something. I didn’t like any of them, didn’t want to be a part of that particular group, but having been forced to be in the same space as many of them 9 or 10 years, it would have been nice to be acknowledged.

    Ah, well, I may not have found a tribe that embraces me yet (aside from the odd little family I made) but this seems to be one that doesn’t mind me hanging around the edges and I appreciate that.

    • I had permanent knee scabs till 14. Weirdly I could play competitive badminton. Go figure, right?

      • Everything has a trade off. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      • used to play some vicious badminton games in highschool, especially my Sophomore year with one of the Seniors in my study hall. We’d walk out of study hall ( “cursed” along by the Spanish teacher who monitored it) to watch the class in Gym, then take over once they played their mandatory games. Coach let us go at it because it kept the others from getting bored and wandering off, and as long as we made sure the others played the mandatory games (I realize now we were basically his assistants) he let us play. It was during winter, and they left the gym open but until we cam along, the rackets and stuff tended to get put away. So we sometimes got other challengers and the other courts got use too. Often through lunch.
        All because he and I would get bored and Mrs. Artilla didn’t want to deal with us in a bored state, and knew we’d not be trouble where ever we ended up. other than the gym it was the library, even though my cohort was hated by the librarian, being part of the National Dishonor Society … formed because one of the smartest guys in the school was blocked by her from joining the Honor Society … hmmm … thinking back, I think she and the Spanish teacher didn’t get along very well either (~_^)
        We went to the gym for badminton, archery, and to watch floor hockey, though if someone was missing coach would let us be goalie. And when they were doing Doubles, we often would be an extra team when it was an odd number of pairings, though he never got us to do it for ping pong.
        Oh, and Coach’s last name was fitting … Boddy

    • As long as you don’t fall over the edge, you’ll be fine. On the other hand, if you were so far over the edge you needed binoculars to see it, you still might fit in reasonably well, here.

    • “…It didn’t occur to me how odd I really was…”

      I had a sort of similar experience growing up. I knew the family’s living arrangements were different (landlady had to move, sold her house, we needed a place to be, and the only place we had was a pole-building* rapidly converted into living space) but it never felt Truly Weird to me. It just, well, coping. We had power, heat, water (alright, there was a Very Odd Aspect to the plumbing… it’s hilarious to see Mr. One-Up deal with my informing of us having had a gas-fired toilet.) and a generally functional family, which was perhaps one the strangest things of all, it seems to me now.

      * Yes, pole building. Meant as workshop, but only partly used for that after the conversion. Amazingly,to many, I was not actually raised in a barn. Pole buildings are more apt to be machine sheds or such, it seems.

      • Pole buildings either designed as houses, or converted into them are very common here. My house is one, and I designed it as a house from the get-go. My parents also built one next door (on property I sold them) and I am currently building one for my grandmother to move into.
        All of these were originally planned to be houses, but a number of people build a shop with an “apartment” in it, and live in that. Actually what it often turns into is a house with attached garage/shop.

      • Dad built an 8″ concrete block garage first while he built his 1,200 square-foot “dream house” himself. It took 7 years and I turned 18 during the 6th, so I never got to live in the actual house. He divided the garage into 3 rooms. One bedroom for him and Mom, one for me, my brother and sister and the third a combination kitchen/living area. No hot water, no sewer line(into a 5-gallon bucket which I had to empty every once-in-a-while.) no toilet (an outdoor toilet–2-holer). Also, no insulation and heated with a fuel-oil-burning space heater which was turned off at night–even in the dead of central Indiana winters! The range/oven burned propane and the water came from a hand-dug well about 20′ from the outdoor toilet.

  24. Someone who would go on twitter about how anybody is not a real geek/nerd and doesn’t know the pain of not belonging is not a real geek/nerd and doesn’t know the pain of not belonging.

    Because nobody who truly was a real geek/nerd and knew the pain of not belonging would inflict that pain on other persons by telling them they are not real geeks/nerds and don’t know the pain of not belonging.

    By their willingness to exclude others they exclude themselves.

  25. I don’t know if I’m an Odd but I do feel at home here on this blog. And I was good at being invisible in school.

    • Kate Paulk was the invisible girl, I believe.

    • Alas, I was not invisible, I was far, far too visible. And it wasn’t until way, way late I figured out how to “pass” even a little bit. But by then, I really no longer needed to. Part of it was dealing with adults, and part was that world changed some. Much of Revenge of the Nerds might seem odd now, but when it came out… well, the idea of not only not being alone but maybe, once in a while, actually prevailing? Hope.

  26. I don’t know if I qualify as Odd (I don’t exactly know how Ms Hoyt defines Odd) but I’ve never quite felt at home anywhere.

    Back to lurking mode…

    • It is in large measure self-defined. And that’s Mrs. Hoyt 😉

      • Then I’m an Odd. For the most part, molecules make more sense to me than people’s behavior does. I’m never quite at home with any social group and everyone in the group knows it. Odd it is.

        And my apologies about the wrong honorific, ma’am. No disrespect intended to you or your husband.

        • I confess the honorific is me being countercultural. I am married, and happy with it. 😉

          • Mrs Hoyt? Excellent: one never knows these days. And I loathe the first-naming that’s become the norm: as if I were a child or a household pet.

            • YES. When I was younger and had more energy to slap people around (metaphorically speaking) I used to stare at strangers who called me Sarah and say “Did we attend school together. Funny, I don’t remember you.”

          • Like my using “Miss.” After six years the kids are catching on, but a few still hesitate and it comes out “Mizzss.”

            • I was in 7th grade English class when we got this entire presentation about “Ms.” and when it should be used.

              “So, guys have only one prefix, but women now have three, (two of which are nearly indistinguishable when spoken) and we not only have to make a random guess at which is ‘correct’, we get a little fit of injustice-outrage if it’s not the one they prefer?”

              “Heads we win, tails you lose.” I’m not playing that game.

              • Technically, guys have two:
                Mister for adults, Master for children.

              • You were lucky, I had a first grade teacher, Ms. Lecker, who insisted on being called Ms. and threw a rigging fit if called by either Miss or Mrs.

                I thought it was stupid, and hated that teacher.

                I got to sit at the table for the bad kids, almost all year.

                On the plus side, I got to hear my mother rip a bloody strip off of her, when she threw a fit over my mother calling her Miss, and informed her she saw where her son got his ill manners from. 🙂

              • That’s not a problem with “Ms,” that’s a problem with the human involved.

                Ms is useful when you can’t identify if the lady is married and don’t wish to offend.

                I have run into people who use various prefixes to be a jerk– at least as often as the demand-a-prefix-to-be-a-jerk.

                Jerks are. *shrug*
                (I’m quite pleased to be a Mrs.)

  27. “In a classroom, the teacher protects the odd, that’s why they go authoratarian.”. I must have been very lucky. In my experience the school authorities first declared bullying and fighting off limits, then failed to enforce their ban, then punished me for attempting to defend myself. Perfect recipe for turning an eight year old into a libertarian.

    • That’s the typical and usual setup. Denial, really. Then punish the one seen as The Problem, after all if *you* weren’t there, what problem? Thus the only bullying (you know, somehow I don’t like that word very much) treatment with even an element of truth to it was given by Slappy Squirrel.

    • Okay, I should have said — it’s not working that way THAT MUCH now. It did about 20 years ago.

  28. Somewhere in junior high, the feetball coach took a dislike to me. Probably because I refused to play feetball. This being a major affront, he passed the word to his thugs, who would set upon me in packs of six or eight and pound me into the ground. Then they would claim I had attacked them and they were wholly innocent. And since the coach was also the disciplinary vice-principal, there could be no doubt…

    I had several pairs of glasses broken, and a tooth broken, and got a few small scars. Plus endless “anger counseling”, and detention, and expulsions, and Serious Meetings between the school board and my parents, who were told that my behavior could have them up on criminal charges. Which almost certainly wasn’t true, but made my non-school life hell too.

    It took me quite a while to realize that if I was going to be punished anyway, there was no reason not to carry the fight to the enemy. I found that if I jumped them from behind I could take them on three at a time. And I had finally figured out that their value to The System was their feetball prowess. They never did seem to make the connection about serious knee injuries and their long-term entertainment.

    Eventually, I got one of them with a bag of books and fractured his skull. It took that long for the coach to realize that his chances of another AASS or whatever trophy had gone down the toilet. Even the school board finally realized that a 40-odd-year-old principal attacking a 14-year-old student was unacceptable. Meetings were held, and they reluctantly told me that if I left the feetball team alone, things would go no further.

    I served out rest of my incarceration in the public school system and left when I was old enough that the deputies couldn’t drag me back.

    I still feel a spike of fulminating hatred thinking back over all that. Not so much against the thugs; they were interchangeable losers, and most of them wound up addicted and/or dead. But the coach, and the entire scholastic/disciplinary system that supported him…

    • suffered through a season of Track under the worthless football coach. While nowhere near as bad as your story, it was hell dealing with someone only concerned with what his stars were up to. It was our largest team in years (he told his boys if the joined, no laps come football season) but our worst performance in some time. Several of the footers were involved in a party that went wrong and a rape was covered up. His ranting afterward made it clear to me his big worry was not the laws broken (under-aged drinking and, well, RAPE), but what it could have done to the season the next year.
      years later, the football team got to the state championships … my fist question was “Who was the coach?” They had to have replaced Watson if they won that much, and I was right. It was my 4th grade teacher coaching the team.

      • The ONLY thing that made me even marginally socially acceptable was that I was sort of the school jock…star running back, guard on the basketball team and state record holder in the long jump, hurdles and anchor on the 4×220 (it was yards then) relay team in track, plus sprint swimmer and 3 meter springboard diver in the summer. Participating in sports was also the only way I had year-round access to a SHOWER.

        • I was the alternate for the sprints and 4×440 relay. The number one guy I was to replace walked r e a l l y s l o w, but in a hundred yard dash where he started at 120 yards, passed me with about 10-15 yards to go. The other 3 guys were neck and neck with me, but I wasn’t a football player. The fastest was, but was not a star in the coach’s eyes.

    • In elementary school I was the fat short kid who always had his head in a book of some kind. From 3rd grade on I was at the top of my class by a wide margin, which was not as impressive as it sounds as there were never more than 28 kids in my class, and never more than 400 in the entire school K-12.

      In the 7th grade, i finally started to grow upwards, and shot up to my present height in the 8th grade. The HS football coach looked at me and knowing my dad, who was a 6’5″ behemoth saw visions of a monster lineman. He got me into weightlifting and I took to that discipline heartily, eagerly hitting the weight room every M/W/F. By the end of my 8th grade year, I was easily among the top ten strongest boys in the school. To the coach’s disappointment, I never got any taller, but I did get stronger and still was a decent offensive and defensive lineman. I was just too slow to be an outstanding one.

      The result of this weight training was that it turned me from a fat nerd into a knuckle dragging nerd, and I was never bullied again. And I still graduated as class valedictorian by a wide margin.

    • It wasn’t possible due to being in another state, but I’d have been off the OJ jury in a heartbeat. “He’s guilty.” “Huh?” “Football player equals guilty. Done.”

      Whenever a team threatens to leave a/the state if they don’t get a stadium gifted to them my take is: “Go ahead and lower the crime rate.”

      • Eyeshield 21, the football anime, has an entire high school team made up of a Japanese motorcycle gang. Hilariously, the hoods eventually turn out to be good allies to the nerdy main characters in times of trouble. (And to be fair, sometimes this is true in real life.)

        Of course, in Japan you have to be nerdy to be playing football instead of soccer or baseball.

      • “Whenever a team threatens to leave a/the state if they don’t get a stadium gifted to them my take”

        Is… it’s a flippin’ business, and a very profitable one. Why should I pay for their place of business?!

        Yep I was living in Washington when this first came up, and in fact the voters voted NOT to pay for a new stadium, but the governor decided we really didn’t know what was best for us, and we should pay for it anyways. I’ve never watched another game, since.

      • Hey now, football players can be lovely folks, and I say that not only because I used to play a bit in junior high (linebacker). I guarantee you that when I saw someone getting clobbered by a bully, I’d wade right in. And I got that notion from my dad who was the QB on his high school football team.

        The types that would like to raise hell and lord it over the other kids tried to make fun of my dad and his friends on the team for their determination to live rightly and called them the Goody Boys. But dad and his friends turned it into a badge of pride. Play hard, work hard and do well at school, go to church and treat folks right.

        It’s not football that’s the problem in these high schools any more than it’s honest gun owners. We have a virtue problem up the wazooo.

    • My kid went through this with GIRLS which in current days means “untouchable.” He COULDN’T take the fight to them, so we pulled him out, homeschooled him for a year, and put him in a different school afterwards (only because we found one that was dual highschool/college and had a GOOD culture.)
      I think most of the little bitches didn’t even make it to college, and I pity any man involved with them.

    • I wonder how many libertarian-odds went through hell in school?

      I know I did. And a large part of the hostility was with the school-teachers (one in particular) and the administration.

      My first day of kindergarten, I might have had naive hopes of fitting in. At the end of 2nd grade, after being experimented on, cross examined monthly by a slew of psychologists/neurologists that were searching for something they could use to take me away from my family and have me committed as mentally deficient (my 2nd grade teacher and her husband the principal hated me, and had some sort of vendetta going against my parents. They decided that I was ‘defective’ and that they could prove it and use it to cow my parents with legal threats.) and violently beaten by other (sometimes much older) students with the smirking consent of those same teachers, my only ambition was to survive (literally) and stay out of a mental institution.

      (Funny/Scary: one of the psychologists the school had me talking to was apparently trying to make a name for himself by finding cases of ‘child abuse’, and he thought he saw markers of abuse in my behavior. My parents were saints. I was being abused by the school personnel!)

      After my parents managed to extract me from that school and send me to another, things got a lot more sane, but it took a while to recover. I remember my thoughts going to school each morning were some desperate mantra of “Please don’t let me be noticed. Please let me just get through today without being noticed and causing an incident.” (Oh, yes, it also took a long time to realize that these “incidents” largely weren’t my fault. I couldn’t avoid setting off people (adults or bullies) who were looking for something to start trouble with. There was no correct behavior to placate these mysteriously hostile people.)

      • Most of us. I spent two years in coventry. and the last two years were hell too, because I had no one I wanted to talk to and I was JUST subtly out of step. By college I’d learned to fake it.

        • *raises paw* I was the target of choice for over four years. Female nerd, overweight, incapable of fitting in even when she tried. I showed up at the start of 7th grade and could NOT figure out what had happened over the summer and what memo I had missed. It went downhill from there.

  29. The one thing about this article and the reactions that struck me is that once you’re talking about Odds and Geeks and Nerds, you’re beyond tribalism as seen by the Identity Group Industry Progressives. I see myself in a fellow Geek, Nerd, or Odd regardless of what other boxes they check much more than I see in someone that I share a common ethnicity but no common interests.

    That’s one of the things which has always pissed me off about the modern Progressive anti-bullying and microaggression movements. I’ve been a Geek, Nerd, and Odd since I had peers to relate to, and I’ve seen my hobbies and interests go from outcast to mainstream without any kind of politics. Now they’re going to use politics and coercion to force people to accept and even respect their favored groups as mainstream by fiat? Bullying and harassment is all of a sudden an issue, because their favored groups think it’s a problem? After years of doing nothing while the problem resolved itself, they need to create an easily abused legal remedy because its their side that’s not winning?

    • I expect much of it is driven by the media flaps over various teens who have suicided due to “bullying.”

      No scars? No reconstructive dentistry?

      Sorry, snowflake. If you have to check out because the in-group tweeted badfeelz at you, you probably weren’t going to make it far in the real world anyway.

      “Think of it as evolution in action.”

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Bullying can/has exist without “scars or reconstructive dentistry”. (Been the victim.)

        However, somebody expressing an opinion/fact that you don’t agree with IS NOT BULLYING!

        • Yeo. Girls are particularly good at relenless harrassment that doesn’t leave scars but can make navigating a space hellish.

          Property destruction, social sabotage with the authoities so you end up in detention, whisper campaigns… shudders

    • This is one of the things that has irked me in the geekish pursuits of comics and superheroic shows. For instance, Agents of SHIELD. Which I know they’re setting up for Cap 3 and Civil War, but that is a stupid storyline to begin with. “All powered people are a community together but apart from non-powered people, even if they have NOTHING else in common with each other.” O rly now?

      • No, no, no – you’ve completely missed the concept.

        It’s a metaphor.

        What’s a meta for? Its for writers who can’t do characters or plots for Scheiß.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Yep, it’s the “super-people/mutants” are “gays” nonsense. They Have To Band Together Against The Evil Normals!!!!

        Never mind the “why they would get along with others with different personalities/interests” but the writers ignore that normals might have good reasons to fear somebody who could crush an air-craft carrier.

        In the Wearing The Cape series, the capes acknowledge that people (and governments) have reasons to fear them.

        So the “Good Guys” work to show that they can be trusted.

        • Um… most of my gay friends would rather cut off major limbs than band with say Barney Franks. These people are nuts.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            No argument about that. [Smile]

            I still enjoy what S. M. Stirling “did” to one of those types.

            “Pamela Lisketter, good luck dealing with those proto-Olmec. I don’t think you’ll enjoy it”. [Very Big Evil Grin]

        • Yeah, that and the “people have no reason to fear things they don’t understand.” Everyone who gets a mutation/power is a good, law-abiding person with Western ideas about power and laws and democracy. A person who wakes up one day in Mosul or Tehran with super powers would CERTAINLY never try to use those powers to promote his or her own tribal and ethnic/religious group. And if they did, a Powered Law Enforcement Group that tried to stop/regulate them would definitely be wrong for making the attempt. Because reasons.

          • People who believe all cultures are “equally valid” are likely to believe many other strange and peculiar things, too. It is best to avoid leaving them around children and other defenseless beings.

        • A sage soul once observed that X-men is not about persecution — it’s about persecution complexes.

          My mother, teaching chemistry to the age group that allegedly has mutant powers emerging, saw this the first time she saw the first X-man movie. (After asking me how her parents changed her diapers and learning that Rogue’s powers had just started.)

        • Never mind the “why they would get along with others with different personalities/interests” but the writers ignore that normals might have good reasons to fear somebody who could crush an air-craft carrier.

          To trace it in neon- I have very good reason to fear “someone” who can juggle tanks.

          But if someone like that adorable, geeky guy my aunt totally crushed on in high school has a condition that sometimes makes it so he flips out? But it can be managed as long as you’re not stupid? Totally different.

          My cousin’s drinking buddy can run straight up a wall, like three stories, and do a backflip down, not hurt himself and not spill his drink? That’s cool!

          A war hero that probably saved my grandfather’s life is adorably clueless about popculture, but is willing to find out, and only breaks things in half when he’s being relentlessly badgered as part of a long-running and very important argument? Uh, dude, normal people with a temper are worse than that.

          There’s a guy who looks like a blue, fuzzy demon, but talks like he’s Pope Benedict the 16th’s duplicate, if said duplicate was raised on waaaaaay too much Princess Bride? Who’s an acrobat?
          You’re kindding, right? What kind of shallow prick would stay mad at THAT guy?

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            True, but in the Marvel World you to “love *all* mutants” even though some of the mutants are assholes who given non-mutants good reasons to fear/hate them.

            In the Wearing The Cape universe, the heroes acknowledge governments and individuals have reasons to fear what super beings can do.

            It’s one thing when a non-super loses his temper and tears up somebody’s home.

            It’s another thing when a super loses his temper and destroys a town.

            • An amusing example of how it would REALLY work– I regularly talk to a guy who’s on the other side of the country, about political stuff, and is a trusted source on Common Core issues.

              I was going to explain to someone how I knew him, and then realized that “Well, he use to hang out with a guy, who has an uncle, who was in a gaming guild with my husband back when he was stationed in Norfolk” would just make their eyes glaze.

              Seriously, if Agents of Shield was real, Phil would have a serious online presence in Captain America collectibles fan boards, he could’ve called on folks he knew that way, Sky would have some kind of a Diner type association in the first season or two instead of being so Terrorist Lite, a ton of the X-Men would be in various fan groups, and the best place you could go for Meta info would be fanboy wikis.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Chuckle Chuckle

                Just another indication that the Marvel World isn’t the Real World (even without the lack of superbeings in the Real World).

                Oh, just so the DC fans don’t feel “left out”, the DC World isn’t the Real World either. [Evil Grin]

      • Considering that Coleson STARTED as a Captain America fanboy…. that’s painfully dumb.

        You’d have supers, and folks who agree with them, and the folks attached to both for non-agreement reasons.

  30. Being born with Spearman’s “g” in the 4+ sigma range used to be a sentence of a lifetime in solitary. Thanks for the internet, Algor!

    A bore is one who deprives me of solitude without providing me with company — Oscar Wilde.

  31. I grew up in a small town that had a few “foundation” families. If you were part of one of those families, or accepted by peers who were part of one of those families, you were golden. If not, you were a target. I have always been an “odd” so I was, of course, a target. The teachers and administration at the school quickly learned to take their clue from the foundation families, or were soon looking for a new job.

    I didn’t understand it at the time and made the mistake of fighting back… Unfortunately for me, at my house, fighting in school was severely punished. So, I would defend myself at school, only to get the blame regardless (because one of the “Family’s” kids could do no wrong, and they knew it). Then I could expect a beating at home for starting fights at school.

    4th grade through 10th grade were hell. Then my family moved to the city and I found a group of other “odds” to hang with. I still didn’t really fit in well, but at least I was no longer an active target.