The Nail That Sticks Up

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Last night we went out for dinner with the idea that since older son was getting home too late for dinner, we’d meet him half way out somewhere and have a family meal, anyway.

Those of you who are from Colorado or know Colorado will know what comes next: we got slammed with a surprise-blizzard and crept back home at 20 miles per hour on the expressway.

Needless to say, this threw the night/evening off.  Though the reason we came home instead of going across the street to an hotel for the night is that son wished to do the next chapter of the fantasy novel he’s been making progress on. So we all risked our lives so he could put down another few thousand words on a work in progress.

This is relevant in the same way it is relevant that when I wen to bed I fell asleep to husband and older son debating how to measure the snow fall, because the weather site was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Earlier on they’d had a civil argument over the theory of prime numbers which started by older son saying mathematicians are as mad as poets.

It was relatively civil and quiet, because younger son didn’t make it up from the Springs.  If he had, it would have been louder and more vehement, because once you add three of Us you know what it gets like.

So what is “Us”?  Who are “We”?

We know each other, if not on sight, not far off.  Some of us are harder to tell because we’ve learned to fake it better.  I could pass off fairly well when I was young, aided by the fact that I was not only attractive, but liked to dress well and fashionably, which is an odd characteristic for Us and camouflaged a multitude of sins, allowing me to date fairly normal people (it’s not worth it.)

The other day we were sitting around with a group of friends talking and we decided the best way to identify Us, other than assiduous participation in the comments at According to Hoyt (apparently) is to go to an elementary school and find Us in embryo.  The kid walking forlornly along a ledge, back and forth, during recess is probably one of us.  Depending on the grade, he or she might also be hiding in a recess somewhere reading.

IQ tests are so-so at identifying us.

I was reading a defense of IQ testing yesterday, and they are right and it is defensible… for one thing: predicting success in college or in a narrow range of intellectual professions.

The person writing the article seemed to think it was a measure of superiority though, and that’s where the wheels came off.  Reassuring comments like “People who don’t perform well on tests and don’t qualify for higher education might still lead fulfilling lives” made me roll my eyes so hard they almost fell out.

We have somewhere, and plan to frame it once he achieves something, younger son’s first IQ test, given by the school in kindergarten.

The disaster starts with the fact that the kid didn’t realize there was more questions in the back or maybe decided he was bored and didn’t answer them.  It continues with the fact that has sensory issues (as I suspect does all of my family in the paternal line.  None of us was ever able to jump rope or ride a bicycle (a problem for dad in a time when that was the best way to get around at least for a young man of no wealth) we’re INCREDIBLY slow at writing till about 14 for girls and 19 for boys (but fast at typing, if we can get a typewriter) and our handwriting has driven teachers to despair.  We usually read fairly fast, but only by dint of getting bored and only having that as an escape.  Sometimes we have speech issues.) which in kindergarten means he could write in a line or fill in the right square to save his life.  To make things even more disastrous, younger son had a rather bizarre approach to answering questions, in that he assumed the people asking him things were doing so for nefarious purposes.  When he took a test on the Great Lakes at 10, for instance, he refused to answer because if the teacher wanted to know those things, she could study as he had.  Only when he told me this did a lot of his tests throughout his school career make sense.

Anyway, that test gave him an IQ of either 65 or 70 (can’t remember precisely.  I really should find it) and the results letter assured us with care and patience he might learn up to a 50 word vocabulary, and be able to look after himself in semi-independent living some day.  Even at the time I couldn’t be alarmed by this, considering this was the child who, the year before had gone mute at his pre-school teacher for six months because she “patronized” him (his word) by treating him like an infant.  Same child who pulled out Shakespeare quotes for every occasion, even if he had to fit them in with a shovel.  I knew his vocabulary was probably bigger than his teacher’s, he could make explosives that made craters in the backyard (with common household chemicals, too), had made a bizarre contraption of lego, k’nex and wood pieces so he could turn his room light from his bedside (we were in a Victorian then and only switch was by the door) when he got tired of reading my mystery collection (which I only knew he was reading because he both shelved them not alphabetically (he didn’t know the alphabet, being a self-taught reader) and because I’d found them under his mattress.  Why he thought reading mysteries was something to hide from me, I don’t know.)

When he was 12 we had to have him extensively tested by a psychologist because of issues in school (which had a lot to do with depression) and they estimated his IQ in the mid 180s.  Estimated because above 165 it’s all meaningless, more or less, and also because he’d hit his head on the top of every test they threw at him.

But other than that rather specialized test, his tests that denote IQ aren’t particularly shattering.  Mostly probably for the reasons that kindergarten test was bizarrely low, only less so because he’s learned why he must answer questions.  But he still gets bored, or gets strange ideas or whatever.  The IQ tests are not calibrated for him.

He’s not alone.  I know any number of Us who have so so (or disastrous) academic careers and many who bounce between failing and top grades depending on how interested they are. Then you throw in test anxiety and some of us can achieve bizarrely low scores, while not fooling anyone they’re actually stupid when talking about a subject.

IQ tests might be good predictors of college.  Or not.  If the schools are administering them you run into a lot of things, like how the “set” is selected.

Older son ran into this in first grade.  His teacher apparently had a history of picking on a child a year, a child she perceived as “miscegenated.”  We didn’t know this, and if we had we probably would not have thought about it, since it didn’t dawn on me till a decade or so later that people not only perceived me as Latin but often added their prejudices to it, to the point of imagining I spoke with a Spanish accent (no, seriously!) or looked Mexican.  (Honestly, in Portugal they’re more likely to peg my husband as a native than me.  They will approach us and speak TO HIM in Portuguese.)  So we missed that until we talked to other people about her, years later.  And I’ll confess we had it way easier than the parents of Robert’s first crush, a young woman who was Black/Cherokee/Irish.  This teacher called her parents every other day to tell them she was mentally retarded and they should put her in an institution.  (She was almost certainly of Us, and not at all slow.)  Oh, the teacher was very left, to no one’s surprise, I’m sure.

Well, this teacher decided Robert was slow, couldn’t read, would never learn to read, and must be put in special ed.  … Our son whom I’d found out could read when he was forty pages into a biography of Julius Caesar written for scholars, at 3.

Without telling us the school had him tested, and called me to inform me he was dull-normal (107 IQ) and we had to have a staffing meeting for him, to decide what we could do to ensure, yes, that he could lead a semi normal life.

This was just before Christmas, and the meeting was set for the start of Spring semester.  We spent $500 we didn’t have to have him tested (difficult, because to be valid we had to use a different test from the school’s.)  We were fortunate because he shocked the socks off them, so they gave him another battery of tests wholly free, including one that was entirely musical, and one that was all math.

He was diagnosed as profoundly gifted (and I use diagnosed advisedly.  It’s as hard to get the schools to do a good job with that as with profoundly mentally retarded. — yeah, I know politically incorrect terminology, but it was the one used 20 years ago by psychologists) with an IQ around 165.

All of which mans that, yes, he does relatively well in school, at least if he’s studying something he’s interested in, and is fully engaged.

But the point is, in the course of the would-be staffing meeting, which did NOT go the way the school expected, we found out that the psychologist was the teacher’s best friend, and also that they have to pick what set they used for testing, and she’d picked the one that MAXED at 107, because her friend had told her our son wasn’t smart enough to ever learn to read.

What I’m trying to say is that IQ tests are very useful, to an extent, but they’re not, as the writer of that article seemed to think, the be-all end-all of prediction for how well people will do, or even of a certain type of mind.

For instance, I test nearly mentally-retarded on visual reasoning, math depends on the day, but verbal and auditory is through the roof, which compensates, given strategies.  At some point, at a test for other purposes I was told I was a visual thinker with impairment (i.e. being very premature and a couple of concussions damaged my visual area, but I was designed to be a visual thinker.  Which would make sense, since both boys are.  Also, my illustrators always say I’m a very visual writer.  You couldn’t tell it by IQ tests, though, because damaged.)

I have relatives who just test really badly.  Yes, it’s predictive of school work, because they test badly at any tests.  Tests are such an horrendous stress they shut down.  You could give them a test for eating candy and they’d fail it.

So…. what makes Us is not exactly IQ, it’s something else.

My friend Dave Freer who is a biologist and knows a bit about primate populations says that we’re “outliers” or perhaps “goats.”  In every band of primates there’s some who don’t fit, who see other things, who act differently.  Primates (and we’re that) whose thinking/acting ranges from “I see the box, but why are you thinking inside it?” to “What box?  There are no boxes?”

Depending on how stressed the band is, these are either known as “dead” or “the primates who find a new berry to eat, or who learn to pull up ants with a stick, while everyone else is starving because the berry we ate went extinct in this region.”

That “dead” part is still mostly how normal people react to us.  There are evolutionary reasons for that.  You get too many strange offspring in a band, and soon the entire band is strange, i.e. not of the species.  Remember most mutations are harmful.  So normal creatures are trained to resent and eliminate, most of all, weird ones of their kind.  It’s some kind of uncanny valley, pink-monkey effect.

Don’t judge the other primates too harshly.  First of all a band all of Us would be funny.  “Hunt?  But I found these interesting reeds and wanted to weave baskets.  What do you mean starve?  I don’t care.  You’re not the boss of me.”  multiplied by a hundred or so.  There is a reason most of Us have small friend groups, many of us have rocky marriages, and a not irrelevant portion of us has problems with extended family.

At any rate, humans do it too.  They cut out the goats quite neatly, particularly before any kind of higher processing/reasoning sets in.  There’s a reason for most of us the early years of schooling were hell on Earth.  (Yes, I hated them too, though I coped by being a one-girl avenger who beat bullies and protected the helpless… most of them Us.)  And even those of us who could fake it into the “cool kids” at some point (for me it took till college) we never felt like we fit, and weren’t particularly well liked.

What I mean is, IQ tests are lousy ways of figuring out who we are.  (And to an extent lousy ways to organize schooling, unless you retest every three years, have far more complex tests than the schools administer and learn to observe for things like “bored out of gourd.” Schools are very bad at this too.  Most people they identify as “gifted” are high-normal highly compliant kids.)

But we know who we are, an can usually identify each other on sight or shortly after.

We’re people who go out in the middle of a blizzard to measure the snow on the trash can lid.  We’re people who can have knock-out drag out fights about prime numbers.  We’re people who can get hot under the collar discussing Roman monopoly laws at the breakfast table.  We’re people who read everything.  Yes, even the stuff everyone tells us is trashy.  Yes, even the high brow stuff that’s actually good.  We’re the people who can pursue an interest exhaustively for three months, then put it aside as if it had never been.

Conversations between two of us might range all over creation and back.  Most of us aren’t rich because a) we could never get that worked up about money b) have never figured out what we wanted to be when we grew up, and bounce over professions and interests like loons for most of our lives c) had to spend all our money to learn something obscure that no one else could figure out why we cared about.

We’re lifelong learners, you can say that.  Mostly because we can’t figure out how not to play with our minds. But the way we learn and what we want to learn might be the despair of any and all teachers.

We bore easily.  Two days ago I had to rinse hair dye, set my alarm, and found out that I don’t do well for even 20 minutes without story or movement or SOMETHING.  I swear it was subjective hours. Hell for us is having to sit (or stand) and do nothing for more than about five minutes.  Purgatory is doing some boring, repetitive physical thing for a day.  (Usually I use this time to plot, but there are nuances.  If I can leave the task, I’ll just walk off.  Without audio books, my house would NEVER get cleaned.)

The internet is very bad for us.  We can spend hours going down rabbit holes, reading about things that are only loosely related and that no one else not a specialist would give two minutes thought to.  (Lately?  Reconstruction of historical skulls.  Sigh.  I’ve become aware after a while it’s for a novel.  Time travel mystery/romance.  How am I going to find the time?)

Those of us who have a “true vocation” (sometimes for strange things.  I’m fairly sure younger son was born to be an engineer) can become amazingly good at whatever our field is.  The only issue is that we often can’t complete a college degree on it (not younger son, thank heavens) because we get sidetracked by amazingly weird sides of the subject that interests us.  Also, we don’t do well with group/group paced instruction.  (Some of us.  Others excel at it.)  And if we are in the popular entertainment business the best we can aspire to (unless we’re very, very good and also good at publicity, and you know exactly which of my friends I’m talking about.  There are half a dozen of them, the lucky bastages, who understand publicity and all) is high-mid-list because we are just a little too weird, and also we tend to jump around instead of doing one series and staying on it, locked for life.  (Mind you in indie, high mid list, or even mid list can feed you quite well.  I need to go more indie, in my copious spare time.)

Also, no matter what we do, and unless we find ourselves inexplicably, by random chance, in a workgroup of Us (my husband had that for ten years. They were miracle workers.) we’ll find that some people inexplicably really hate us (even though we weren’t even aware they existed before they brought themselves to our attention by trying to sabotage us.)  Like older son’s first grade teacher, some people hate our guts.  Though it might have side-lights of her being a rotten racist, the truth is that every kid I knew of she went after was also Us.  Which leads me to believe those were the ones she talked herself into actually acting on.  Because we annoyed the living daylights out of her.  I’m sure most of you have met with this in jobs and gone “WHY does this person hate me?”  The more paranoid of those not-of-us not only hate us but are convinced we’re conniving master minds and have it out for them.  (Even though, again, we might never have noticed them.)  I think it’s because these are manipulative people who live and die on manipulating others, and they can’t read Us, which identifies Us as threats.  (Oh, btw, we couldn’t master mind our way out of a wet paper bag, since the only people we can sort of read are Us, too.)

And possibly worst of all is having strangers identify us as “so smart” (or total morons, nothing in between) and decide we MUST be rich and also need no help at ANYTHING including learning things we’ve never done.

So, how can you tell Us?  We’re the goats, the outliers, the Odds.  Those no one understands but some others of us.  Those most people consider a threat, though to be honest we’re mostly threats to our own confused selves.

We’re the nail that sticks up and most of society snags on us, and devote themselves to pounding us down to match people not like us.

America, to an extent, more than other countries, has a tolerance for Us.  This post is already way too long, but there are reasons for that including probably genetics (people who live or get thrown out their birthplace are not usually conformists), the automobile causing the spreading-out and mobility of people, so that you’re probably not near “tribe” of the genetic kind, some more innate flexibility than in older societies.

This is why the future, by and large comes from America.  Because our Odds invent it, and people put it to use.  It’s also why Europe is stagnating.  They’ve been kicking out or losing their Odds for a long time.  It’s also why our vast normal population (they’re still way in the majority, even here.  Or as my mom puts it of younger son “the world will never be built for him.”) envies Europe so much.  They instinctively feel Europe has way fewer goats to deal with, and those they do have keep under deeper cover. (Bah!)

The truth is that without us, the human race stagnates.

Sure, most of our brilliance often translates into wearing our underpants on our heads, forming incredibly bizarre cults, (Yeah, guys, sorry, Marx was probably Us.  He had the stigmata. Including being absolutely convinced he understood economics, without actually bothering to learn them), creating the strangest theories of everything (and mustard), and generally being godflies.

But when the berry bush the band depends on dries up, if there’s an chance of finding an alternate food source (there often isn’t) the one who finds it will be a goat.  Metaphorically speaking, world without end.

You’re smart, though probably not in the conventional way, you’re creative, though you might devote half your time to sculpting belly lint, you’re insatiably curious, though you might spend your time reading up on a planet you know never existed and become the world’s foremost expert on belly lint sculptors.

I don’t think it’s possible to cut out the weird and concentrate on the useful.  That’s not who We are.  But if we apply ourselves even half-way to the useful, we transform the world.

Yeah, kids in school picked on you.  Ignore them.  It’s not that none of them are smart enough to understand you.  It’s that they’re boring.  You get back in touch twenty years later, and they’re doing exactly what you knew they’d do in elementary.

Build under, build over, build around.  Be yourself, underpants on head and all.  Shine on you crazy diamond.  The continuance of the species will probably depend on one of you when things go pear shaped.  And if not that, the survival of the group, the village, the profession, probably will at some time or another.

Learn, build, be.  Be not ashamed. Question.  Ask them who is going to make us?  Them and whose army.  Go build that weird reed basket when everyone else goes hunting.  You might find out it’s pretty good for catching fish in, and have supper ready when they come back empty handed because the mammoth moved on.

Say it loud, say it clear, and never be afraid of saying it: Bah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

554 responses to “The Nail That Sticks Up

  1. Christopher M. Chupik

    “Depending on the grade, he or she might also be hiding in a recess somewhere reading.”

    (raises hand)

    • Ledge walker here. Although I recruited two companion Us.

      • eventually I did too. But yeah, ledge walker. Weirdly not in elementary school, where I suspect we had a HIGH percentage of Us. (The village was odd.) I invented LARP and was essential as DM (a term I didn’t know, of course) for those games, so at the center of everything. Then came middle school, with hundreds of students. Ledge walked A LOT, or hid in a corner and read.
        My kids ledge walked. Husband ledge walked. Eh.

        • Had a random thought after posting that – perhaps We are the remote descendants of the goats that were driven into the high mountains by the sheep of the flatlands.

          Unlikely, even by modern genetic theory, that the survival trait would last that long, of course. Interesting thought, nonetheless.

          • Sort of genetics on a macro scale. One recessive is good, but two is nearly as bad as none. See Tay-Sacs or Sickle Cell Trait in malarial regions. A tribe/community/world with some of Us is better off than those with either all or none.

          • I keep in mind that, in contemporary sports lingo, GOAT stands for Greatest Of All Time.

          • Hm … would that implied the Scottish Highlands (at least at one point) had more of this group than elsewhere in Scotland? Any group which can come up with and execute the Highland Charge and be a serious threat to taking over the world if they (we) didn’t keep backstabbing each other sounds right on the edge of the Odd. 😉

    • (also raises hand)

    • Until about fourth grade or so, I survived by being the kid on the playground who invented fun let’s-pretend games. Looking back, almost none of those kids (girls, mostly, because we were a rotten little bunch of sexists at that age) were actually my *friends*…but they did seek me out on the playground.

      I’m not clear what changed after that–maybe that ‘let’s pretend’ games were no longer cool? But after that yeah, I spent all my time reading.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        You too, huh? I cribbed shamelessly from whatever interesting thing I was currently reading, with an occasional shot of whatever cartoon my mother had forbidden me from watching (I credit my debatable writing skills to sneaking episodes of G.I. Joe with the sound off and having to make up dialogue for them).

      • Until about fourth grade

        So, right about the time the first signs of puberty start to manifest in some girls?

        • I strongly suspect that played a large part in it.

        • OMZ (Oh My Zeus!). I never made that connection to puberty before – yeah, my quirkiness made me an outcast just about that time. Didn’t help that my best friend moved away, also, that year.
          Girls are really much more conformist than – in general – boys. I hung with the guys, which helped (not just then, but later in life, when my absorbing STEM-y knowledge helped me to earn a living at computers and teaching science).
          I may have to re-think this whole history of mine – I always assumed that I had DONE something. Maybe it was just women’s driving away the outlier.

      • Same. Elementary school in Portugal is first to fourth grade. I retained A friend from those years, but alas we fell out over politics some eight years ago. Sigh.

    • SheSellsSeashells

      In fourth grade, I recruited two other girls to be backup players in a fiendishly complicated Tolkien AU. One of them was Odd, the other considerably less so, and to this day I have no idea how we got away with disappearing to MIRKWOOD DAMMIT NOT THE SCRUBBY WOODS BEHIND THE SUBDIVISION at all hours.

      • Man, I wish I’d known you in fourth grade!!! 😀

      • We played Robin Hood, Three Musketeers, World War II and I THINK War of the Roses. My best friend always got to be the enemy commander in all these (the Sheriff, the Cardinal, the German commander) because we weren’t stupid, and we knew the enemy was the second most important role.

        • We played Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica (rhrip) and I could rarraggh like Chewbacca (note: spewl chuckur thinks i mean Backache) till it made my throat hurt.

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            I can do Vader breathing sounds with just my mouth.

            I probably shouldn’t be overly proud of that.

            • me too, but i didn’t want to be Vader. I can even do the ‘click’ in the back of my throat, or i could

        • we knew the enemy was the second most important role“?

          A good enemy can sustain a story with a meh hero far better than a great hero confronting a meh villain.


          I could cite f’rinstances. Batman, without The Joker, is merely a sad obsessed vigilante who never got over the loss of his parents. Superman without Lex Luthor is a big boy scout (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) The Fantastic Four without Doc Doom is a family drama. The X-Men without Magneto is a tiresome transgender debate. Thor without Loki is just …

      • Yeah, we did various myths, as well as riffs off various pieces of gothic literatures (escaping nefarious orphanages using secret tunnels was big). Fantasy stories, whatever bits of cartoons we all liked.

        Although I was in middle school by the time me and my small circle of then-friends developed an obsession with Batman: the Animated Series, heh.

      • During a school camping trip in Germany, the same boys I used to fight with and I went exploring the forest (by this point, they’d all decided I wasn’t a little weakling and wasn’t a girly girl, so I was ‘cool’). We weren’t supposed to, and the former hunting lodge in which we were staying was up a fairly steep hill. To facillitate our getting down the steep incline, I stole all the jumping ropes by eating very quickly that lunch and haring out the door. We tied them together and to a tree and started climbing down. One of the rope’s knots slipped when we were halfway down and we all took a tumble, with trees in the way, but the loam was niiiice and thick, so we weren’t badly hurt.

        We had gotten this odd idea that we’d find a wolf den somewhere and take one of the cubs to raise – but when I think back, I doubt we’d have found anything other than bunnies, squirrels and woodpeckers. We had fun tromping around the forest though, and found what looked like some local kids’ hideout, and an acorn-studded woodpecker food tree. Then we trekked back and found that the other kids had found our rope and were using it to slide down the hill, climb back up again and rinse, repeat. The teachers, surprisingly, didn’t scold us. I remarked to one of them that I was somewhat surprised that they were letting everyone get so dirty, to which I got “You’ll all wash off before dinner or get none at all, now go and have fun.”

        In retrospect, I guess they were happy I was doing something ‘normal’ and physical, instead of just sitting somewhere reading… but FOREST YAY! Oh and the kids who were sliding into piles of leaves and over churned up soil were all very tired and happy and quietly slept that night.

      • I think I was in fourth grade when I came up with a sci-fi sort of story where the kids were teenagers who had been given the ability to transform into different animals by a race of benevolent aliens in order to save the world from the bad aliens who were trying to invade (and all their minions).

        The Animorphs books started coming out about ten years later, and the similarities were rather startling to me.

    • (Paw in the air). Or developing LARP games at my first grade school. Second grade school didn’t allow that. Then hiding, period, for two years, before finding Odds in High School. And hiding.

      • I should also add “being hidden.” I had a teacher flout the rules and open a classroom for me for the better part of a year so I could escape the predators.

        • The usual school yard predators started leaving me alone midway through my 7th grade year after the jr high football coach got me into lifting weights. That spring one of the 8th graders started in pestering me got a real surprise when I picked him up with my right arm and threw him away from me.

          I was one of those high school rarities, a knuckle dragging nerd……

          • So, related to me. I was taller than most guys (Portugal, you know?) and I fought like crazy, because I berserk. They left me alone too. They did start a completely unfounded rumor I was a lesbian. Eh. Portugal where courting by hitting someone goes on till college.

            • The one time I went beserk I damn near killed a man (I was 18). He went to the hospital for several days. SInce then I keep a very tight control on the inner Viking.

              • Yeah. First time it came out to play I was 11 and threw a full grown 14 year old male against a wall hard enough to crack ribs. OTOH he was lurking in an empty classroom (and I think had taken my project out of my folder and hidden it, so I’d come back for it after everyone had left. I was so innocent it took me 20 years to figure that out) and tried to grab me in shall we say a very non-consensual way.

          • Not the only one. Twice, once in elementary and once in HS, I went after another kid during class. They had been harassing me for months, could run faster than I (thus I could not catch them outside class), but were relatively immobile inside a classroom.

            So, I thumped them. As they sat, trapped in their desks. Lots of calls to parents, after school punishment, counseling, speeches on resolving differences in a civilized manner. But they left me alone after that.

    • Aye. No ledges about. Though more than a few crystal radio diagrams were traced out in the snow, well away from the dull ball/puck/whatever that stuff was going on.

    • Eh, too dangerous– you can get cornered.

      When we had recess, I was on the swings. You can think, and it’s very hard to grab anybody without loosing a tooth.

      In high school, sat in front of the door to my next class. Too high risk that the teacher would show up for most harassment, and honestly just not a good target of opportunity unless you were going to search me out.

      • I’m very thankful that I went to a small private high school. I may not have been particularly popular, but I was basically considered A Law Unto Myself (subset “Academically Driven”, not a bad thing at a girls’ school founded by nuns who were basically founded by Jesuits.)

        It was surprising to me, at one point, to find out that people thought I was quiet.

    • Raises both hands.

    • I was a perpetual haunter of the sandbox which usually had a nice thick layer of damp sand perfect for building tunnels in and using the spoils to build walls or bunkers.

      I wasn’t a reader until the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade when I taught myself because the school was failing to even with special tutoring. They had trouble understanding how I went from the bottom of the class to should have been in the advanced group on my own that quick.

    • I read in the corner. Also every year I would get sick for two weeks. When I went back to school, I would go finish all of the work that everyone else did in one school day. At thirteen, my parents started the home school business. Also in school I stayed just below the “smart” kids so I wouldn’t get noticed.

    • On my, yes.

      The Mother-In-Law believed that you should never stop a child who was reading from doing so.  She told me that it meant it was no good using the tactic of sending the child to his room as a punishment with The Spouse.  The Spouse would go and do what The Spouse preferred to be doing, read.
       
      Me?  I liked high places.  I would to climb into trees and with a book and read.

      The Daughter?  The Daughter has had an ongoing love affair with books from the time she could hold them.  Even with a library card and weekly trips with permission to take out as many books as she could carry, keeping her in books proved a challenge.  I recall the morning routine, going by her room to keep her dressing, ‘Put down the book and put on your pants,’ then, ‘Put down the book and put on the other shirt.’  So on and so on, sock by sock, shoe by shoe … admittedly the process was easier and shorter when we had warmer weather.  One of her teachers once made the mistake of telling her she could ONLY bring one book with her on a field trip.  She brought along a hardbound copy of the complete Lord of the Rings.

      • My parents’ backyard had a mulberry tree. Mulberries are, shall we say, malleable. My dad had spent a number of years creating a cave out of the lower branches, and encouraging the upper reaches into a sort of natural fort that completely blocked off accidental contact with the overhead power line to the house. (They stopped pollarding it about the turn of the century, so my mom has finally removed the cave as it died off from lack of light. Mulberries spread BIG.) We have photographic proof that the “fort” area is enough for at least eight full-grown adults. And yes, I certainly read up there a lot. Though I was only allowed as long as there was an adult on the premises and either in the backyard or that there was another kid to go for help if needed.

        And the morning routine—oh yes. My children are definitely my kids. Plus there’s the nightly ritual of removing all the books from the bed (they all hang out in the same one…)

        • Instead of a classic tree house The Daughter had a low growing dogwood tree (under a large pin oak) which served as a house tree. The branches forming three rooms and a roof. The floor was moss which we would sweep it regularly. It was very soft on little bare feet.

      • I used to lie down on top of the garage and read. It’s flat and sort of a terrace but no one ever remembered to look there for me, for some reason.
        As for keeping them in books, the boys cost me a fortune, first and last.

  2. Your opening paragraphs remind me of the Friday that had an unexpected ice storm come through mid-day, while we were at work. The “Friday” is important, since we had a group of people meet up for coffee and games every Friday up in the Highlands (NW Denver.) To make this happen, I would drop my husband off at work in Littleton (SW Denver) and go back to my job in Englewood (S Denver) from our home in Aurora (SE Denver.) So I had to take the car—with no chains—over to Littleton, whereupon we proceeded to drive to the Highlands to the group meetup.

    Where we were not the only people from the SE corner of the metro area to show up.

    Yeah, that was kind of dumb. It only took hours to get around and eventually get home. The meetup was fun, though.

  3. King of the Universe, blessed be inventors of audio books!

    • I am reminded of Philo T. Farnsworth who supposedly despaired of the misuse his contribution to technology was put to… but decided, on 20 July 1969, that perhaps it was worth it after all.

      • Decades later, the engineer that handled the downlink found that, due to various errors, only the low-resolution “check” video was broadcast on television. The high-resolution transmissions from the lander were still on tape.

        Which, as with so many things, NASA seems to have misplaced

        • I was working at McD’s that night, running fries and cleaning the kitchen stuff, so by the time I got home, it was video of a buttoned up LM. Apollo 12 was a disappointment with the (sun?) damaged camera. “That was one small step for Neal, but a big one for me!”–my favorite line from that mission.

          It wasn’t until the later Apollo missions that I had the opportunity and access to a good TV (U of [mumble] dorm lounge TV FTW!) to see a mission in real time, and in color, even.

        • My dad and paternal grandfather had driven over to see the future in-laws that day (a few days early because they got bored of the women folk at the big family reunion as I gather) and arrived just before they were about to leave the LM. Without looking up from the TV my maternal grandmother said “come in , sit down, and shut up!”. She was highly embarrassed about that later. Wedding still went off fine a few weeks later 🙂

        • No, they lost a lot of the resolution in converting the format from slow scan (sstv format) to ntsc format for broadcast and further downgraded it for satellite transmission from Australia where it was downlinked to the US. but they did record the original sstv signal to tape and shipped it to the US later. Problem is a decade or so later NASA was having a tape shortage so erased the tapes and recorded over them!

          In the search for the missing tapes I the run up to the 40th anniversary they did find some better recordings of the ntsc broadcast from Australia that missed the satellite hop.

  4. I.Q. tests only measure a highly restricted part of what we are; not what we do. I suppose you could consider what I do to be the emergent phenomenon of all the things that I am. Sure, my I.Q. influences what I do, but only to a small degree. And how I do it is more influenced by what I know and how I’m feeling at the time.

    e.g. Tree needs to be moved. Okay, on day I’ll hook the tractor up to it and yank it out, another I might just try to push it over, or a third day I’ll use the chainsaw and cut it down, then take the shovel and pick and dig the stump out, or the fourth day I’ll say, If I dig it out, it’ll fall over faster and then I can chainsaw it, or the 5th day I’ll try pouring a few pounds of black powder in a hole in the roots and try to take it down that way, 6th day I might decide I haven’t had enough exercise and I’ll take the felling axe to it instead, and on the 7th day, I rested, figuring the tree will still be there for me to worry about tomorrow.

    • IQ tests are designed and calibrated to predict academic performance. Thus it follows that high scorers are academically disadvantaged because they lack the innate mental mediocrity that enables high academic performance. Our modern schools are designed to develop and reward plodders, those willing to not only tolerate the drab conformity of the classroom with its intellectual inertness but to desire to win Teachers’ approval.

      You can tell an odd by the fact he could, with a little effort, get A-plus grades but can’t be bothered because there is no point to it.

        • Attend classes (maybe take notes), ace the exams, never turn in a lick of homework (I already know this; I’ve got better things to do with my time), slide through with a C average. Doesn’t work so well in college, thus my aborted academic career.

          • Never bothered attempting college. Was very much the slide through type though. Had three teachers who singles me out .One thought she was helping, one hated everyone, but me in particular, the other though i needed special education. Then there were the three who not only dealt with me as i am, but worked to keep others of my back. Two husband and wife. There 7 grade teacher not a fan of the one trying to fob me of to special education.

          • $TEACHER: You’re doing ‘A’ work, but I think you can do better, so I’m only giving you a ‘B’.

            $PA: Since doing ‘A’ work only gets me a ‘B’ anyway, I might as well relax and only do ‘B’ work for this moron.

            • B work? No work.
              In the case of one teacher’s clocks homework over Christmas vacation, Dad refused to let me do it. 6th grade.
              The look when I got to tell him “my dad threw it out because you were just giving it to us to be an ass, and said to tell you if that was a problem you could call him. ” was priceless. He knew and feared my dad, and well all of our family.

              • SheSellsSeashells

                My beloved Auxiliary Mama is one of those terrifying itty-bitty Southern women. AND she’s blind, for an additional bit of Politeness Judo finesse.

                She took severe exception to the incompetent new principal of her granddaughter’s school, and at the school picnic marched up, shook her hand and held it tenderly, and launched into a paean to the school and the many virtues it had stood for over the years. “And then YOU came, and well…”

                • Hehehe
                  Nice.
                  The year before I had him, this teacher insulted my cousin in class (called her a fat idiot or something, Fat was part of it) and in response she cried and ran out of class.
                  The next day, my Aunt, who worked for the schools at the Middle School, marched herself into his class, and all 4’6″ of her lit into him verbally and gave him a good embarrassing in front of the class, then made certain he understood that he would insult no one else and expect to keep his job.
                  Then when he left for the day my 2 cousins were waiting to discuss his slander of their sister (I think the oldest brother was stuck in classes at the college or it’d been 3). They lovingly described the pain he would experience if he were unlucky enough to come into their reach if he insulted her again, retaliated against her via grades (the man did subjective grading on Math…ffs). Being champions in wrestling, they knew all the “fun” moves they ban for good reason.
                  The next year, when I had to suffer under him, someone reminded him I and my other 2 cousins my age were all related to Aunt Max, so when I told him dad tossed it out, he just clammed up and hurried back to his desk. I know he got a bit of a chewing over by dad in Parent/Teacher meetings once too. Forget the reason for that one.

                  • Hubby is youngest of 4, by 4 years from next youngest, & 10, from the oldest. Everyone went through the same schools. Not only, that he was the smartest of the bunch, academically, across the board; by the time he hit HS he’d been doing his older siblings HS homework for the last 13 years. He remembered turning in a few papers where the teachers remembered something similar, he had changed it, but given the topic, it was “too close”. He was accused of plagiarizing & getting too much help from older siblings. His response. “I can’t plagiarize something I, Wrote!” (Ignored the other half). By then older siblings were well out of HS, so teachers could not penalize them for not doing the work.

            • Had that happen.

              • Me too. AND had a letter sent home. When folks learned I was acing tests & homework, despite the letter saying I “could do better”, they were not happy. Last time that occurred with any of my or siblings teachers.

                • Did you get the “could do better” thing in the meaning of “you can do the teacher’s job, even though it’s about as bad for that social thing you keep harping on as can be imagined”?

                  My mom was Not Impressed.

                • Had a principal in elementary school who decided that us gifted kids should be split up into different classrooms. Y’know, for our own good. (And which guaranteed that few if any of us had any actual friends.)

                  And then second grade teacher in that same school put me in charge of teaching the other kids how to read. At which point Mom stomped into the school and said “You want my kid doing the teacher’s job? Then she damn well better be getting paid a salary and get benefits.”

                  • In kindergarten, I wasn’t teaching the Polish kids how to read, I was merely playing with them while the rest of the class got reading lessons, since I already could. And then I’d come back after (my) school to a class for advanced readers. I still remember that teacher’s name, and the yellow chair that stood for so many things…

            • Yeah, I had a few instances of That Teacher.

              As demotivators, they were highly effective…

              • Them, and the ones who decided that the best reward for being the Smart Kid ™ was to give you more of the same boring work when you got done before everyone else.

                By the time I was in high school, I was a MASTER at reading a novel on the sly. (Did have one teacher who wasn’t fooled…but she was used to kids like me, and didn’t object.)

          • Yep, story of my life- A if I liked the class, C if I was bored.
            Until I got to honors Bio and Anatomy. Both taught by a good teacher* at a college level. Found out that I really didn’t know how to study. Got a C in those classes, but that was earned.

            *actually named Mrs. Good.

          • What was truly interesting/disappointing was after qualifying as a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist after taking the PSAT in my Junior year. I was getting application packets from the Ivy League & big-time tech schools (MIT, RPI, etc.) Would fill out and return said packets. One look at my transcript and I’d get a, “Thank you for your interest in _____” response. Main thing I’d do if I ever got a time machine is go back and kick myself in the hinder to do the damned homework.

          • Freshman HS Biology. Lab partner and I would forget to study for the test (most of which was rote memorization), and still make the curve. He was less Odd than I was, but neither of us were well liked.

            I did OK at University; integral calculus and diff-e-q were running 6 months ahead of my ability to grok the concepts, but I survived. (I did ask the TA in the latter for “mercy, not justice”.) About the time I started using the math in EE circuits courses, it had sunk in.

            It wasn’t until 12 years later when I took an MS that I actually worked fairly hard on classes. There was a pair of hated and sloughed off math classes that were marginally useful, but required. (Which requirement had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the professor/textbook author was high in the university’s pecking order. No Sir!) I did well enough to get reimbursed by work, but it was a waste of a couple of quarters for me. I took the hard classes that interested me and did really well. I don’t know if I made the curve, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

            (The MS “advise” meeting brought back memories of High School; the advisor could not understand the mix of classes I opted to take. I tried to explain that the life of a product engineer was better if one knew a fair amount about a lot of subjects, rather than a huge amount in a very few subjects. That’s my story and I stuck to it. My bosses at work bought into it, too. Whew!)

          • Geometry teacher cut a deal with me, so long as I did not disrupt the class and I continued to ace the tests I could skip the homework and do whatever I wanted in class.  Funny, after that I did the homework for the next day during the class because geometry interested me.  The class tedium did not.

            Most teachers were not so accommodating.

      • The last day of Freshman High School I was informed in no uncertain terms that I was not to enroll in Sophomore shop class because I needed to focus on “serious” college track coursework. I spent the next three years doing my level best to be a terrible disappointment to my instructors. And after graduation it took almost 15 years for me to return to education whereupon I completed a dual major five year engineering degree in three and a half years.

        • My high school advisor could not understand that someone who was in “superior” track (one notch below Honors) in math and science insisted on taking drafting and metal shop. I convinced him, somehow, and still made the dean’s list that year. (The guys in the shop class knew I was an Odd, but didn’t really care. A) I knew the dirty jokes as well as they did, and B) in the upscale township we lived in, they were as much a minority as the Odds.)

      • TL:DR Version: Academic success (IQ) is a measure of giving expected answers. Odds tend to give unexpected answers.

      • I took all of them at one time or another. At least, that existed up to 1970 or so. They were crazy for testing back then.

        I noted even then that the tests concentrated on math, speed, and vocabulary. Probably because problem solving tests are hard to come up with, and probably even harder to score.

        They didn’t limit themselves to IQ tests. We got everything, including the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Profile. The version they had then had about a thousand questions, approaching the same topics from different angles. The test creators were *really* interested in Jesus freaks, thieves, and homosexuals… I felt it said a lot about the test designers.

        • that, and the Iowa tests… them midwesterners must have a lot of time to sit around making standardized tests

        • One of the more odd testing experiences happened my senior year. We were frequently being marched into the auditorium for this standardized or that. One was a thing called the National Math Exam, or something like that. I was fairly indifferent to maths at the time, and had very little formal education in the subject. So, it was a surprise to both me and my teacher to find out I was in the top 3 of the results- not in the top 3%, but top 3 students in the school overall.

          • I was 28 when I took the SAT, trying for some grant money. The results were…interesting.

            I do arithmetic just fine. Trig and geometry, no problemo. Algebra… we were supposed to figure it out from first principles. I gave up.

            So, the SAT results said my math skills were great, and that I should skip Calculus I and start with Calculus II. I knew better than that. It also said my English skills sucked, and that I needed remedial 9th-grade level English. Which I doubted, as I had sold half a dozen magazine articles and had two books in print at the time.

            The history section of the test was a set of detailed questions about the politics of pre-Revolutionary American history and a bunch of stuff about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Even if I’d been applying to a religious school, the kind of detailed knowledge they were testing on seemed odd.

            I wound up paying my own way, which merely showed that I was still a poor fit in the academic world, and wound up getting a police escort off campus after getting the dean of students wound up until he was showering spit onto his desk while he was screaming.

            • For reason most of you might understand The Daughter was pulled from school half way through the sixth grade and Home Educated.  Preparing to apply for college she took the GEDs.  She received 100% on the social studies, to achieve this she answered the question choosing the most politically correct answers — before she read the selected readings.  She caustically observed that the questions often had nothing to do with the provided passage.  The answers often didn’t necessarily have anything to do with either. 

          • In HS one did not have to take math if you passed the basic math assessment test taken sophomore year. Problem was everyone had to take the assessment test even if you were past the “basic” math you’d have to take if you “failed”. To say those in that category finished the test quickly is an understatement. Then they wouldn’t let us leave the test area. On top they wouldn’t let us bring anything in. Twitchy kids sums it up; the quieter we tried to be the more we weren’t. Been a long time ago, someone finally took pity on the other students & dismissed us to the library. Someone got wise & after that if you had passed math higher than basic assessment, they were dismissed immediately to the library.

            • Variant on that for my college. My Calculus 3 professor was in charge of updating the Math Proficiency test students could take to test out of the Gen Ed math requirement.

              He gave the students in his higher level math classes the option of taking his nearly final draft test for extra credit to give him a baseline data set of “these folks better be able to pass this!” with a statistically decent sample size for the scoring.

              It was actually kinda hard to dig out of my memory banks the methods for some if the things I hadn’t used since I took algebra 2 in Jr High years earlier. I think I had to brute force the compound interest question after forgetting the shortcuts 🙂

        • My school district was crazy for testing. I remember MANY conferences with the guidance people and teachers who just couldn’t understand how I could score so high, but have such abysmal grades.
          Easy – I treated the tests like a puzzle. I liked puzzles.
          School work, OTOH, was profoundly boring.

    • I hate IQ tests. The sequences didn’t make sense to me, nor did the supposed ‘pattern recognition’. They still don’t. Also, they were deeply boring for me. But I’m the kid who started reading the encyclopedia and decided to quiz my parents about human reproduction, in perfectly pronounced medical and biological terms, one day at breakfast, at the age of two.

      • I only had the one, in first grade, when my school wanted to test me for the gifted program. It didn’t actually have a result, since I got bored at the long assessment (I think we were there for at least two hours), and they stopped once they’d gotten well past the point they needed, but they said that I’d scored at least at an eighth grade reading level.

        And I thought even at the time that it said something sad about the expected level of eighth-grade reading.

      • I wonder how many other kids just got bored with the test halfway through and started filling in the answers to make patterns on the test sheet like I did?

    • I’d have spent all 7 days looking up how to mix the right household chemicals to remove it with a bang. Only to give up because I’m sure I couldn’t pay the bail money.
      Then start all over next month.

  5. “Depending on the grade, he or she might also be hiding in a recess somewhere reading.”

    All through High School – library, computer lab, photo darkroom.

    “Europe is stagnating. They’ve been kicking out or losing their Odds for a long time.”

    Or slaughtering them wholesale.

    “Europe has way fewer goats to deal with, and those they do have keep under deeper cover. (Bah!)”

    Or, ‘Baaaaaa’.

    • If Hiroshima and Nagasaki want to blame someone, let them blame Hitler and Mussolini for driving out so many the Manhattan Project employed (Fermi, for example.)

    • Recess?? Study Hall? All I EVER did was read, and it usually wasn’t a text book! Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Robert Heinlein and John Norman got me through High School. Well, them and 3 science teachers that actually made learning about the universe interesting.

      • HS? Forget that. 7th grade through HS (Jr High started with 7th grade). Read fiction in every class, except 9th grade Spanish (teacher wouldn’t allow) & band (rather difficult). Homework was still completed before class was out. Tests were rushed; so I could read. = Major college impediment. Eventually figured it out how to fake it (College average GPA went from 2.33 to 3.5), helped that better grades started when the well-rounded-who-definitely-not-me-cares classes were behind me.

        Hubby & kid more mathematically inclined, all not super social (I’ll never have grand kids; sigh, okay, whine done), kids test anxiety matches or exceeds mine.

        • *chuckle* I would complete homework during recess too, and I made agreements with the teachers that once I put down a test and folded it over, I couldn’t write in it again, so I could pick up (very obviously) a science fiction or fantasy novel, and read quietly, not disturbing anyone else.

      • Right found SciFi in 5th grade when I mentioned I had liked The Hobbit that was read to us in 4th grade (thank you Mr. Lariat) and loved Star Trek (which ended in 3rd Grade). Fifth grade teacher mentioned there were additional stories in related to the Hobbit (i.e. Lord of The Rings) but thought it was out of my reach (he was wrong found a copy late 6th Grade and tore through them). But he also pointed out 3 titles in the middle school library, S is for Space, R is for Rocket and I Robot. Those were devoured in the next three Library runs and I was off and running. By 8th grade I’d additionally found Heinlein, Niven, Farmer and the SciFi book club. I was sitting in a study hall reading Larry Niven’s Ringworld and the teacher (Mr Barry a Science teacher) who was a Scifi reader himself paled a bit. Ringworld was probably a bit racy for most 12 year olds in 1973 🙂 and he knew it.

        • *laughs* Whenever I came to ‘racy’ parts in adult novels when I was a young’un, I’d gloss over them as ‘irrelevant to the plot and boring; summation: relationship upgrade complicating mess.’

          • Terry Sanders

            Still do.

            • Me too; & I’m north of 60. If this occurs too much, I have been known to “oh, looks interesting, … darn by XYX, nope, next” mentally exclude that author’s work, or if I can limit exclusion to specific series. But lord help the author whose more racy series I stumble onto first … sorry, too much out there to read.

          • Oh, yeah! I still do that.

          • I still do that too. It almost never adds anything of value, nor do you actually miss anything of importance to the plot.

            • It bit me in the metaphorical arse in The Dresden Files, because then I missed a plot point that became important only some books later. So Jim Butcher’s my exception to the rule.

              • Dresden Files. Yep. Had a “have to go back & read the part I skipped” moment. Jim Butcher has a reason for every scene. Lesson learned.

              • Hence my caveat of *almost*. My standard operating procedure these days tends to be “dialog only” for those scenes, since I have yet to come across one where the, ah, descriptive elements were the important part. 😛

                • My other exception is Anne Bishop, mostly because she glosses over the… er… bump n grindy parts and focuses on the emotions, or writes more of the romantic leadup to actually falling into bed. Steamy? Yes. But fun, and for a number of the characters, is relevant to their character arcs/plotlines.

        • *Grumble* When I was in 4th Grade if we wanted to read The Hobbit we had to read it ourselves, in the snow, uphill.

          OTOH, bless the teachers who read us the Uncle Remus stories (and next time, if the dish hasn’t run away with the spoon*, I shall tell you how Br’er Fox tried to trick ol’ Br’er Bear) and The Boxcar Children (I think that was the series.)

          *Possibly a different story cycle – spot check of Uncle Remus suggest Harris did not employ that particular ending device.

          • My brother read me uncle Remus…

          • RES the thought of a wallaby in 3′ (roughly a meter for metric types, metre if French or Pedantic but I repeat myself) of snow hopping uphill just made my day. My 4th grade teacher Mr Lariat was an odd duck, almost certainly one of us. He was the ONLY male teaching in either of the town’s grammar schools. He’d been teaching 7th grade social studies and requested transfer away from the traumas of teaching those starting to undergo puberty. He would read during recess when the weather was bad, or if you wanted to stay in and listen. Given my severe asthma (and late 1960s asthma meds). I was indoors a great deal.

  6. “…older son saying mathematicians are as mad as poets…”

    Really, older son? As a mathematician, I find that deeply offensive!

    Mad as poets? As? AS?!?!?!?

    I’m sorry, but we aren’t mad as poets. We are far, far madder. We make poets look like calm psychiatrists talking to an obviously schizophrenic patient!

    Indeed, David Hilbert once asked why a certain student was missing from class; when told that the student dropped out to pursue poetry, he said “Ah, yes, I always thought he didn’t have the imagination for mathematics.”

    So, please, older son: keep things in proper perspective!

    • Right? Husband is a mathematician, too.

      • Now that I’ve finished reading the post, another story came to mind:

        A couple of fellow grad students had gone to the American Math Association/Math Society of America Annual Meeting in New Orleans, in part so that they can apply to schools and be interviewed for various professor or post-doc positions. As they were driving around, one of the students, looking at all the absent-minded people around her, pounded the steering wheel, and said in frustration, “What’s up with you people?!?” The other turned and said “You do realize that you’re one of these people?”

        I often don’t think of myself as Odd (mostly because I don’t think about it) but this post resonates with me deeply. I’m not super-dysfuctional odd, to be sure, (after all, I have been able to find and hold jobs), but I certainly go off on tangents as well.

        Speaking of tangents…a couple of years ago I embarked on a quest to learn what ternary logic circuits would look like. I had made a lot of progress in designing a ternary logic computer, and made marginal progress on the circuits, but I’m stuck: I can’t figure out how to put a simple Not gate together, so that it would produce an output. (I’m happy to say that I’ve made enough progress that it no longer releases the magic smoke.) Every time I’ve been able to ask an electrical engineer for help, though, I get the answer of “I’m sorry, but I’m only familiar with binary logic circuits”! (Well, not always — one time I got the answer of “you just need to use binary gates” — but the venue was noisy, and I didn’t have the time I needed to explain myself better.)

        And the reason I embarked on this little project? Because the consensus is that, while in theory, ternary is better than binary, in practice, binary is better…and while I suspected that the consensus is right, I couldn’t help but think “well, yeah, we’ve had several decades of binary logic development…but how much time have we spent on ternary? The only way we could be sure, is to research ternary to death as well!”

        Now that I have explored ternary logic, I’m not so convinced that binary is better; however, even if it’s not, it’s certainly a lot more fun!

        • Ternary systems can get really complicated. There are 3^27 =7,625,597,484,987 (That’s seven trillion) possible binary operations on two variables that take ternary values, instead of the merely 2^4 = 16 binary operations on binary values. Fortunately, for logical purposes, you’re really only interested in a tiny subset of these.

          The consensus has been wrong since about 1925. The way to do it properly is quite elegant and simple, once you know how, but the very devil to figure out. The learned professors of formal logic are collectively so far up the wrong trees they can’t even see the ground anymore. Drop a comment on my blog http://sapiencekb.com/wp/ and join the revolution.

          • When I was looking at ternary logic gates, early on I convinced myself that there would only be 81 possible binary logic functions, and I set out to write all of them out. I can’t remember how far I got (maybe half of 81, perhaps all of them) before it came clear that there was something *very* wrong with my intuition; after a quick combinatorial check, I learned the error of my ways.

            On the one hand, that is indeed daunting — so many gates! — on the other hand, as you said, you only need a tiny subset…and I suspect that having so many possibilities can open the door to optimizations binary can only dream of…or not, as the case may be…

            • I think I was off by a power of three. A mere 19,683 is still about a thousand times more formidable than 16.

              • Michael Brazier

                There’s n^(n^2) binary operations on a set of n elements – n^2 combinations of inputs, and n outputs for each combination – so yes, 3^(3^2) = 19,683 is the correct number of ternary gates.

    • I’ve read a few history of science books and best scientists and mathematicians are mad as a hatter. They see truth or beauty in numbers in a way most of us don’t, math makes us twitchy with anything more than simple adding or multiplying.

    • Had a friend who was a mathematician. When meeting a new person she would always introduce herself by saying “I love to count!” in a cheesy Vlad Dracul accent.

    • “What’s with him?”
      “He’s Engineering.”
      “Worse than that.”
      “Oh, Electrical.”
      “Ah. What about him over there?”
      “Physics.”

      Evidently the math folks pegged the needle so hard no indication was revealed. Or they all were Elsewhere.

      • Heh. That explains what happened to a lot of the fairy hills, where you spent the night and ended up mad or a poet.

        Mathematicians drove the fairies mad….

      • And now I’m remembering the Great Lightbulb Debacle of 1994 (of which I heard tell; I was not present.) Three engineering majors and a physics major heard tell of how you could safely light a lightbulb in the microwave by placing it upright in a glass and carefully filling the glass with water so that the metal was completely covered (but not the glass of the bulb.)

        Three engineering majors and a physics major did the sneaky-sneaky walk into the kitchen of the Honors Program’s house and closed the door. Three engineering majors and a physics major apparently couldn’t figure out how to reduce the power on the microwave, so the people outside the kitchen started seeing a glowing pulse around the edges of the (sliding) door.

        Apparently it turned the “soft white” of the incandescent bulb into lime green. Which of course started getting swapped around the house as a joke.

        My brother (the rocket scientist) was one of those engineering majors. Good times.

    • My father, PhD in math and college math professor, watched A Beautiful Mind with the family when it first came out. He said it matched the feeling of the stories about Nash he had from his professors at Caltech who had been classmates of Nash.

      Acording to my father Nash’s problem wasn’t hearing voices or having weird ideas appear fully formed in his head. All higher level math folks have that happen when they have an epiphany. Nash’s problem was not knowing how to ignore the voices not talking about math and bringing his head back to reality so he could function as a human in society.

  7. We’re people who can get hot under the collar discussing Roman monopoly laws at the breakfast table.

    Okay, now that is simply stupid silly. Monopoly wasn’t invented until the 20th Century:

    The history of the board game Monopoly can be traced back to the early 20th century. The earliest known version of Monopoly, known as The Landlord’s Game, was designed by an American, Elizabeth Magie, and first patented in 1904 but existed as early as 1902. Magie, a follower of Henry George, originally intended The Landlord’s Game to illustrate the economic consequences of Ricardo’s Law of Economic rent and the Georgist concepts of economic privilege and land value taxation. A series of board games were developed from 1906 through the 1930s that involved the buying and selling of land and the development of that land. By 1933, a board game had been created much like the version of Monopoly sold by Parker Brothers and its related companies through the rest of the 20th century, and into the 21st.
    Wiki

    So Romans wouldn’t even have had rules for it, much less laws. Although, considering some of the peculiar variations some players use I suspect Monopoly Laws might be a good idea.

    • Augustine monopolies, cawker. Sigh. At least St. Francis preached to fish. I preach to wallabies.

    • I never could really get into Monopoly; I think a major reason is that it’s designed specifically for one player to grind the others into the dust, as if capitalism really works this way.

      What most people don’t realize is that capitalism is really more like Settlers of Catan: you start off with some resources, you improve them, and you claim more resources over time; in the meantime, you trade your resources with those of your fellow players, to get what you need but can’t produce, and vice versa.

      It’s also a far more pleasant game to play than Monopoly.

      • It’s a game, there’s a winner. . .who needs it to connect to reality?

        • I don’t care if a game is grounded in reality; the purpose of Monopoly (or at least earlier incarnations) was to show how awful Capitalism was. I think this is a major reason why playing it was such a pain — it wasn’t really intended to be fun.

          I wouldn’t say Settlers of Catan is realistic, per se, but its “capitalism simulator” is simultaneously more realistic and more fun to play….

  8. godflies

    That is the most awesome typo ever.

  9. you might devote half your time to sculpting belly lint

    Hah! Everybody knows BBL is highly unsuitable for sculpting, lacking coherence. The kludge that one finds between the toes at day’s end is vastly better material for sculpting.

    • And earwax. Don’t discount the artistic properties of earwax.

      • The Spouse has often pondered aloud how Dumbledore knew that the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Bean he ate was earwax flavored.

  10. This actually may explain the issues I had with my 2nd grade teacher and why I ended up having to repeat 2nd grade (well, that and an undiagnosed perceptual disorder that had me in remedial math courses through junior high).

  11. I think it’s because these are manipulative people who live and die on manipulating others, and they can’t read Us, which identifies Us as threats.

    Having done masked costume stuff (hiding the horns ain’t trivial!) and having had an aunt that did performance as a face-painted clown… I can sure see that. I’ve long suspected that those creeped out by such, were creeped out because a familiar signal (facial expression/tone) was cut off. I’ve wondered if these people were also more likely to be taken in by pathological liars – those with no or few ‘tells’ as they don’t consider it untruth – as they didn’t discriminate by logic but by (unreliable) signal. And now, thinking of ‘tone’… would that explain at least some racism? If ones skin is really dark, does blush show?

    • No, blushing does not show on really dark skin.

      There was a book on what people think of as beauty, approched by the numbers, that cited a study that most people consider blue eyes more attractive than brown, and hypothesized that was because you can see the dialation and contravtion of the pupil more easily in blue eyes, thus leading to dark eyes being mysterious and inscruitable, and light eyes, or very close up eyes, being windows to the soul.

      Now what was that book called?

      • Hrm, my once BLUE! eyes seem to have gone somewhat blue-grey. I wonder…

        • That has to do with which kind of blue eyes you have. It’s been a few years, but there’s two types of blue eyes-I have the color changing kind, too. Some folks get more color reflection from what’s around them or something? (It was briefly deeply fascinating a couple decades ago. I’m sure, in this crowd, there’s someone up on the genetics of eye colors.)

  12. I had a teacher who picked a project student each year and picked me. It’s why that quote from CS Lewis sticks so hard… someone who abuses you out of the excess of their “caring” will never rest.

    My nephew apparently had the other sort of teacher who picked him and who was always telling his mom how awful he was. What is it about elementary school teachers who think they’re gods?

    My own kids probably would have done better had I been more on top of things, and I wish I’d known more about sensory issues in retrospect I can see that was a very real problem. But as a parent school made no sense to me. Them: “We’re going to test for learning disabilities.” Me: Yay! We might find out what’s going on. “Okay, how do you do that?” Them: “We give an IQ test and if there’s a big difference between the IQ score and class grades then there is a learning disability.” Me: (laughs) Them: What’s wrong with that horrible parent, this isn’t funny. Them: “Good news! Your child has a sense of humor. Children who are retarded (whatever term they used) don’t get jokes. We know you were worried.” Me: omg

    • “What is it about elementary school teachers who think they’re gods?”

      It’s simple, but revolting; The Job attracts those with a deep seated desire to bully other people who haven’t the guts to take on adults. The same sort of ‘logic’ applies to Priests, Ministers, and Teachers who are sexual predators of children (the percentage of Catholic Priests and Protestant Ministers who predate is roughly equal. The figures on public school teachers are not available. Thoroughly not available. SUSPICIOUSLY thoroughly not available…..

      • And attempts to make it available tend to suggest “astronomical” is an understatement, and then it gets smashed away again.

      • There was a US Dept of Education study I used to have a link to that had, buried* deep inside, a percentage of abuse cases that was roughly equal to the percentage in most child-centered groups… and a bit higher than that of Catholic priests.

        *Only buried inasmuch as information is usually buried in a large study full of information, that is, not deliberately obscured. Just in the middle of a huge honking report on a lot of things. It’s probably still online; I just lost all of my links the last time my computer crashed due to glass of water. (And that was ALL I lost, since the backups worked and the hard drive was retrievable.)

    • Huh. The mentioned $BigBoss_no.2 is very smart in the job but I am convinced I’ve met snakes and spiders with a better sense of humor. As I’ve put it… were he in medicine, he would perhaps be a brilliant diagnostician, and/or a fantastically gifted surgeon – and have the bedside manner of a seasick crocodile… on the better days.

  13. Need to link to the Slow Mo Guys recent video with wrestlers. One communicated in grunt and growl, then fell out of character to describe his degree in medieval literature.
    The look on Gav’s face was priceless. (Phone YouTube does not embed)

    • Here you go JP:

      at about 1:30 (12th Century Romance Literature)

      • That was amazing!

        • Dan would have been slightly better looking at attempting the wrestling up to last year when he was still in the British Army.
          He barked up a bit once he left the service.
          he left in part because their videos got so popular (he was given leave a time or two by it being justified as doing a shoot for videos), he needed more time to make them, and I think this “show” set was in the works.

      • Yep, that’s it (and I am just about to head to bed and it hit me, I forgot to do this).
        I’m guessing that guy is an odd. Don’t know why that occurs to me.

  14. Also, a fellow odd and I have fallen out of touch because she cannot do the internet any more. It became a time sink for her, and she feared addiction would drag here down.
    Every so often I get a reply to an email out of her, and she has a slight presence for her latest job (previously took care of her parents as a full time job).
    She turned me on to Baen’s ebooks.

  15. I gather I scored well on my kindergarten IQ test, but I strongly suspect–from my own fuzzy memories of it–this was because that particular version of it was highly visual. Which I am, being a visual artist by inclination (at least until university all but destroyed said inclination, which is another story). But I was That Kid who taught myself to read at 3, and my parents were frantically trying to locate ‘age appropriate’ books, because I glommed hard onto scifi/fantasy, and so they had to find stuff that was both a challenge for me and not lead to really, really awkward conversations. (It was a little easier in the 80s to find these in the scifi/fantasy genre…but I still recall picking up a book from the family bookshelf at the age of nine or so and hastily putting it back a few hours later going “Yeah, NO DID NOT NEED TO KNOW THAT.”)

    As to IQ. Yeah, technically mine is in that ‘genius range’…but I learned long ago that a.) it’s only for a given value of genius, and b.) only in certain areas, and some of those areas can change without warning. A mild case of discalculia means that math and I never got along, because I kept seeing the numbers wrong. (Not all the numbers, and not always the same numbers either, which is hella frustrating.) And I was only ‘genius’ so long as I was interested… It also meant that I entirely failed to see the point of most social rituals–even though I do understand them, and read most other people well. (But not in a way that helps. I can be cruel as all get out, because I am damn good at getting under their skin…which means that mostly, I’m quiet and don’t ‘fight back’ unless given compelling reason to, because there’s just no call to be that cruel.)

    I didn’t make a True Friend (ie, someone who was of Us) until my freshman year of college. She and I are still brain twins to this day. And I have several other dear friends I met as a result of that same group of weirdos.

    And I am so glad I found you lot.

    • There are tricks for the discalculia. Both kids inherited mine, but thank heavens by then I’d worked out TRICKS (mostly triple verifying, really) so they both went all the way to Calc III and probably beyond.

      • I think my problem was that it was never severe enough to be formally diagnosed. I scraped by, and bought the whole “Well, just not good at maths” thing. Which isn’t entirely untrue–but I could have been a whole lot better had I had teachers (particularly in elementary school) worth a damn. And, alas, the only parent of mine that was any good at math…was and is a terrible tutor. I love my father, but his attempts to ‘help’ me with math and so on always ended in fights and tears.

        By the time I might have been old enough to encounter better math teachers, I was firmly stuck behind the “just not good at math” thing, and was too stubborn/didn’t have any teachers who cared enough about the math to haul me kicking and screaming out of it.

        My coping method nowadays is to triple and quadruple check any math I do, and if still not sure, go and have someone else check it, heh.

        • Oh, hell, yes. I didn’t even know it existed. So I thought I was stupid, which is how I ended up in humanities. But somewhere along the line I figured otherwise…
          And OMG. It’s easier to make a pattern in paper of the wood I need to cut than to measure it. So much wood wastage when I measure. When 534 is the same as 435 it’s a problem.

          • And apparently, someone who has discalculia also finds it near-impossible to remember peoples’ names.

            That explains SO MUCH.

            • I don’t have trouble remembering people’s names. I just confabulate names that sound alike to me. Like John Denver and Bob Dylan. (Not JOKING.) It made life so interesting.

              • Not directly relevant but I was reminded: apparently the guys who play Reed Richards and Victor von Doom in the 2005 Fantastic Four movie look very much alike to a limited subset of people, resulting in bafflement for everybody else who can’t understand how we could possibly have mixed them up.

                • I can definitely see the “look like” angle. Jawline, wide mouth, long nose….

                  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120667/

                • I have a “problem” with seeing sometimes very subtle similarities in people. I’ve learned not to ever say that anyone looks like someone else (except to another Odd), because a lot of the time NO ONE else can see it.

                  (And I have a terrible time with names. But no dyscalculia, pretty sure. Just terribly visual.)

                  • ” I have a terrible time with names. But no dyscalculia …”

                    I have a horrible time with names. Even with those I work with regularly whether professionally or otherwise. Keep a cheat sheet to use for a long time, even then names will elude me. No problems telling people apart, I just can’t remember names. Definitely no Dyscalculia, no problems with math or numbers at all. Don’t remember higher end math processes unless use regularly, & lord help me if I have to take a written problem & intuit the theorem needed (just tell me the math function type to solve dang it, example minimum path).

                  • ME. The seeing people look like someone else. Same thing.
                    I’m not alone!

        • Oddly enough, they have come up with an angle on dyslexia that might be right brain-left brain related. Is it the corpus callosum that communicates between the halves? Whatever it is, it seems to be slightly off in dyslexics, which essentially means that they’re receiving information from two eyes and can’t quite reconcile it.

          I really want to see the testing on that one, because it if it’s correct, one possible aide for dyslexia and similar issues could be an eyepatch to block out one set of input while reading. ARRRR!

  16. “I don’t think it’s possible to cut out the weird and concentrate on the useful.”
    No, no, no! What we Odds do is embrace the weird, poke at it, tear it apart, and say to ourselves if we tweak this and twist that then how amazingly useful this new thing we just made might turn out to be.

  17. “Them and whose army. ”
    “Depending on how stressed the band is, these are either known as “dead””

    It used to be that if nothing else, the Odd could leave, and go somewhere else. That escape hatch is rapidly slamming shut. We haven’t had an unclaimed frontier since 1900 except for maybe Alaska.

  18. I think it’s because these are manipulative people who live and die on manipulating others, and they can’t read Us, which identifies Us as threats.

    I think you just explained why $BigBoss_no.2 says I “rub him the wrong way” (I’m not supposed to know that, as if it he isn’t broadcasting it on all bands already.) Something about him sets *me* off and my protective reaction is to go flat-neutral and deny as much feedback as possible, lest it be used for evil. That absence of signal must drive him bonkers, considering. Why yes, though it might be limiter of sorts, I will claim success on this one. He sets off some very, very old and very, very deep alarms. I’m not sure exactly what they are, but those alarums aren’t there by accident.

    • Those sound like my “threat” alarms– you know, like how you sometimes just get a Feeling you should back up, slowly, and leave the area, don’t turn your back to THAT alley.

      If he’s not malicious, he might be fine…or he might be a rattlesnake, where you can’t hear the buzz and everyone else can.

      • I wondered if it was something like that. Other than this particular person, I don’t really get such alarms. Maybe I’m normally in Rather Safe environments, but more likely the detector is out of calibration – which means either this person is Mostly Harmless but hits the right (‘wrong’) notes to set it off – OR – The signal is so ridiculously strong that I finally get it. Considering what could happen, I’m going with ‘strong signal’.

        • Mountain lions, wild dogs and imported druggies are all real threats in areas I’ve gotten the “BACK AWAY NOW” sense in, so just possibly a bespectacled hobbit is slightly less intimidating than a Minotaur.

          • I think the only Significant Threat I encountered was perhaps the black bear. One close encounter… and let’s say we silently reached a mutual understanding of “You go your way, I’ll go mine.”

            The most interesting thing was immediately after that encounter, someone let the dog out. She barked up a storm, tore around the yard like mad – and, for once, would not set paw into the woods. Dog wasn’t stupid.

    • Yup. People who try to “befriend” me set all my alarm bells off.

      To be sure, the subsequent rate of sulking and attempted emotional blackmail argue that that’s a true positive.

      • Though some of them clearly think that they have a set of tricks that qualify as befriending people, and anyone who doesn’t get befriended by them is the one at fault.

  19. …this is one I needed today, and I look forward to all the comments.

    (I am coming to fear that I’m less functional than I ever realized. I suspect I will get different angles on the subject.)

  20. I score high on the academically functional Odd scale, so long as intermediate math is not involved. I can do the basics in my head, and I actually do surprisingly well on trig (never tried calculus), but the stuff in the middle is a disaster UNLESS it is a word or engineering problem. Social interactions and reading people? *rolls on the floor with laughter* Yeah, not so much. But give me a story to tell, especially to an interested audience and you’d think I’m a people person and wild extrovert.

  21. I suspect another ‘tell’ is being asked how can anyone think that way or of that stuff… and the reply is, “You don’t?”

  22. One of my husband and my first conversations was a long silly thing about how could you make a laser terminate at a particular point in order to make a light saber.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Answer: You don’t.

      The Light Saber is either a special type of “force shield” generated by the hilt or it is the result of a “special charge” following a wire that extends from the hilt of the saber.

      Now there’s the question of “where does the energy come from that supports the blade”. Special batteries? 😉

      • Imagine getting a short in that system.

      • I think that we also concluded that “you don’t.”

        OTOH, they do manage somehow to use a particle accelerator such that they can measure the point at which an accelerated particle will destruct. My husband and I got a midnight tour of the accelerator at UC Davis (it might be unused now) and the friend who was there doing midnight testing of satellite hardware to see if it would stand up to cosmic radiation (or something like that) showed us around and one of the experiments was trying to burn out brain cancers by having those little particles go through the patient’s body and destruct inside the cancer.

        So… given a suitably magical way of producing the energized what’s-its, why couldn’t they terminate or destruct at a given point? Or many of them do so at each point along the length of the energy blade?

      • Heh. In the case of the lightsabers, at least…magic crystals. (aka, khyber crystals)

        Alas, this does us no good at all here in the real world. 😀

        Most scifi I’ve read that have some form of blasters go with a usefully vague “power pack” idea.

        • I like Babylon 5’s approach to the blaster. The PPG fires superheated blasts of helium, so it’s essentially a very very very hot air gun.

          • Plasma Packet Gun
            Again, magnetic bottle effect that keeps the plasma contained until it runs out of charge. Which takes longer the larger bore for the packet, which is why the larger ones (fighters and capital ships) had a better range. Notice the beam weapons essentially couldn’t be blocked.

          • B5 is my most favoritest scifi show ever. 😀

            However, I did not know that about the PPGs.

            • It’s also my favorite sci-fi show. =) I have a black army of light uniform to cosplay as Ivanova at cons.

              IIRC, the PPG explanation came up in one of the JMS commentaries on the DVDs. I may have heard it from a convention clip instead, but it was definitely JMS who said it.

              • iirc, it was explained in rec.arts.tv.sf.babylon5 waaaay back when jms frequented the group.

                yes, he took the time to participate, and periodically took the time to flame a troll.

              • Amsel, Matthew

                It was also explained in dialogue in “Grey 17 is Missing”

      • Sure you do. You create a laser-like beam of light that has a frequency approaching infinity where the beam then falls back on itself. Then you only need to modulate the amplitude in order to get the blade length you want. Just because we don’t have the technology to create a laser of (practically) infinite frequency doesn’t mean it’s impossible. =) (I’ve had this discussion before).

      • I liked Larry Niven’s variable-sword better.

        A filament made out of a single molecule, mounted in a handle, that’s basically just an edge.

        Of course, since the filament is invisibly small, the fight scenes wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic…

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          IIRC, there was a ball at the end of the “blade” so the user could know how long the blade actually was. 😉

        • Magnetically stiffened for a blade, but also available with a loop on either end like a cable saw and useful as a garrote.

          • Terry Sanders

            The “stiffener” was one of those Slaver time-stasis fields. No time passes for the wire, so it can’t bend–bending takes time. So the blade is unbreakable and *infinitely* stiff.

        • The filament, IIRC, was the locus of a stasis field (also of monomolecular thickness) which kept the “blade” rigid. Extend the tip sufficiently and you could cut a planet in two. (Well, it would probably seal up behind the cut; I’ve often wondered whether laser rayguns wouldn’t be self-cauterizing.)

      • Plasma within a magnetic bottle.

      • Terry Sanders

        Always figured it was a “ray shield” (in Star Wars the two are separate). The ray shield contains the energy (standing waves?) and reacts with other ray shields (thus you can fence with them), but matter it ignores. “Cut” an object, and the “blade” passes right through, but the energy inside the tube gets dumped into the object.

        Simple enough.

    • In the Gundam universe, the beam saber is basically magnetically contained plasma.
      And you might be an Odd when the thing that bothers you about a mobile suit anime is not the beam sabers, but the use of physical swords at that scale.
      Or mobile suits at all, for that matter.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Thought about “Giant Suits”, they make good targets. 😉

      • You could hand-wavium that one, IF you postulate a neural control system AND limit it to humanoid suits. Basically, the suit is directly controlled by the operator’s brain, which gives it very fast reflexes, enough to defeat many conventional weapon systems. However, the brain is wired to operate a humanoid body…which means the suit has to take that form.

        • The funny thing is that a Gundam type suit is often controlled with joysticks and footpedals- which makes the sword usage even more nuts.
          The only weapon that uses neural controls in the UC is the funnels- deployable combat drones.

      • I enjoy giant mecha shows, even shows with giant transformable mecha. But in terms of practicality, I’ve never quite thought they made sense as combat units. They require a lot of handwavium for justification, as in most circumstances a more conventional vehicle (tracked or wheeled land vehicle, aircraft, etc.) seems like it would work just as well, be less complex, and be a smaller target.

        Smaller combat mecha like power armor, hard suits, etc. are another story, as are non-combat mecha (like the power loader in Aliens, or the labor units in Heavy Gear). Those make sense to me.

  23. I would like to propose a theory. I don’t insist on it, but it rose in my mind and I thought it would be fun to see my fellow Odds here kick it around.

    The Establishment Left hates the Odds becUse the Dds are clearly what the Establishment Left would like to think that they themselves are.

    Intellectuals. People who live in their minds. As opposed to their gonads, their stomachs, or their hearts.

    • *DING*DING*DING*

      “You’d love the Big Bang Theory!”
      “From I’ve seen of it, it’s tiresome and annoying.”
      “Really?”
      “Remember, as a kid, watching shows with kids and going ‘that’s not how they/we/I would really behave!'”
      “Yeah.”
      “Annoying, wasn’t it?”
      “Yeah.”
      “Big Bang Theory is just like that.”
      “Really????”

      • I enjoy Big Bang Theory, though I don’t watch it much and haven’t seen it lately at all.

        I know “geeks” who absolutely love it and others who just get mad that it makes geeks look stupid.

        • Watching even short scenes of it gives me a feeling akin to sunburn. I liked how someone here summed it up: Seinfeld with technobabble.

          • I have seen it a few times, and have known people much like the characters. Step-niece’s hubby supposedly went to highschool with the proto-Sheldon the character is (not. no way at all) based on.

          • Oh, and it is the only modern sitcom I have managed to watch all the way through and not be totally annoyed. Not that it is high on my list of things to spend time watching.

        • hell, that happens in this house… my roomate and his wife like it a lot but i get tired of it making us look like buffoons

          • Do you know of any sit-com that doesn’t make its cast look like buffoons? Sometimes the format is of a single sane person (Barney Miller, Andy Griffith)) amidst a sea of buffoons, but that’s about as good as it gets. What matters is whether they are laughing at or laughing with.

            Although there is debate over whether The Beverly Hillbillies made the Clampetts or the residents of Beverly Hills look the greater buffoons.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Well, in The Beverly Hillbillies, Jeb Clampett seemed to be the sanest of all the characters. 😉

            • Debate? Really? Jed was the Voice of Reason.

            • Night Court made its cast look like buffoons, but they did it well and the cast knew it too.

              • Crazy in various ways, but generally not stupid.

                • Yeah, more “zany” in the traditional “has this one thing that is abnormal” meaning.

                  That takes skill to write, rather than idiots.

                  /sigh

                  • That’s much the way I’d describe Barney Miller. The detectives were far from buffoons. Oh, they had quirks that were played for comedy but on the whole I’d say they were a pretty good example of what cops should be.

                    Now, the short uniform who’s always brownnosing and trying to make detective, he’s a buffoon. 😉

                    Loved that show.

                  • Night Court and Barney Miller (and a precious few others) were great that way. There was no obvious ‘Idiot Ball’ but actual characters..that happened to be characters.

        • There’s a good reason many Odds tend to adopt Monty Python as their official source of funny. Much of the humor there is based on the normal world being absurd, and they call gloriously call it out on it.

          • I have to confess, I never ‘got’ Python. Most of the skits struck me as anything but funny. Then I spent the summer in the UK (Father had been given access to come Wedgewood family papers) and realized that a lot of Python that Americans consider surreal is actually fairly subtle satire of actual BBC programming, which can (or could) get really weird in a dead earnest way.

            The interminable skit about scaling (generic English street name here. South High Street?) with the camera over on its side and the ‘climbers’ driving pitons into the sidewalk and going ver slowly is a case in point. I happened on a BBC program about mountain climbing that was about as stirring as cold pasta, and followed the same formula. In the mid-’70’s.

            We don’t get exposed to a lot of the BBC programs that Python makes fun of.

            Thank God!

            • Sketch shows have a lot of hit or miss, and an awful lot of misses. But when the sketch hits, it really hits. Monty Python was like that, certainly. And the ‘Pythons’ were bewildered by the American reaction… they wondered how anyone not of themselves could get the humor due to the specifics of what and who was being sent up. They would go after mannerisms of a particular MP, say, but the American audience would read it as ‘generic British politician’ and go with it.

              • My family and I watch BYUtv “Studio C”, and I’ve noticed that with them as well. Sometimes I can go for two or three episodes, and wonder “Why do I even watch them anymore? Besides the fact that even their lamest sketch is funnier than most of what Saturday Night Live puts out nowadays?” The answer usually comes in that one sketch that I find particularly hilarious, every two to three episodes…and that one episode every season that is 100% funny.

                I haven’t diligently tried to watch Monty Python, but I have seen a few of their sketches. I don’t like a lot of their humor, because it’s sometimes a particularly cruel humor…but I have seen a sketch or two that hits it out of the ballpark, too.

        • We’ve been watching Scorpion, though a lot of it seems based on “look at the geniuses doing really stupid things”. $SPOUSE and I gave up on sitcoms several years ago, but enjoy the humor and the technogeeks(tm)* and combinations thereof in NCIS and NCIS-Norleans. (We liked Bones too for much the same reason.)

          (*) After Y2K was a favorite web comic when it ran. I had a couple of Abacus World Expo shirts and a Tubes Rock one.

          • Amsel, Matthew

            I get thrown out of shows like that too easily – “Computers DON’T WORK THAT WAY!!!!”

            • I really struggle with the magical imaging–ie, they can take a satellite image and create a perfect picture of . The graphic designer/computer artist in me always starts screaming “THAT WOULD BE NOTHING BUT A MESS OF BLURRY PIXELS, what is wrong with you people?!”

              But those shows did go a long way towards explaining all those people I encountered who could not grok why I couldn’t do magical things with the 72 dpi image they gave me…

              • yeah, been there… or people who want to convincingly fake slow motion, etc.

              • I’m getting impressed by the Google(spit!) satellite images. I normally use ESRI, but they’re lower resolution and a few years old, while the latest Goog-sat images are more recent (about a year ago) and higher resolution. Both sources seem to be from a bird in low earth orbit, or else one that goes up to around 35-40 degrees declination. On Google, I can count the solar panels on various items around the place, and medium contrast features (10″ light grey roof vents on a dark grey roof) show nicely/

                No reading license plate numbers, though. 🙂

      • I watched a little of one ep. The laugh track killed it for me. (Laugh Tracks Delenda EST!!)

        • There is no laugh track – it is filmed i front of a studio audience.

          The distinction may be purely academic but I do not think it prudent to engage in discussion over what sort of people constitute such audiences, beyond the obvious fact they are predisposed to enjoy the show.

          Like many a sit-com (or any other theatrical performance) enjoyment can be an acquired taste, requiring familiarity with characters and interactions. Those geeks who dislike perceive it as mocking geeks, those geeks who like it perceive it as lovingly mocking geeks, their foibles and their basic humanity.

          • The laughter seemed fake to me. Or it came after something that wasn’t funny to me. It’s been a few years.

            • As noted, the audience consists of people who made an effort to be there for that show. They’re already fans and are eager to laugh. The biggest challenge is probably getting them to tone it down.


              The moronic nature of television studio audiences has been amply demonstrated by Christopher Hitchens.

          • For this season of Studio C, all the episodes have been strictly “on-site”; in the process of realizing this, my wife and I noticed something interesting: while there are plenty of skits that are funny on their own, there are a handful that need an extra boost from the studio audience to be funny.

            It’s weird, because you’d think that the recorded laughter would add nothing, but it somehow does make a difference — but only for certain skits.

            Having said that, studio laughter is ok, but canned laughter can get on my nerves. (Mostly because canned laughter, as often than not, is an attempt by the writers and director to say “See! SEE! That’s a Joke! It’s FUNNY!” when no sane audience would laugh at it.) But even then, some shows (particularly the Muppet Show) can get away with it…

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              One explanation for the Laugh Track (recorded laughter) was that even when the show had a studio audience, what the audience in the studio saw wasn’t always how the show was shown on TV.

              Scenes might have to be re-shot, etc.

              So if the TV viewers heard the actual laughter, they might notice gaps or other differences in the laughter.

              IE The laughter may have seemed off even if it was real studio audience laughter.

              Mind you the “canned laughter” can be worse.

      • Gah – a significant number of lawyer shows share the same problem if you actually know how the legal system works. TV can be annoying that way. 😉

        • Amsel, Matthew

          ISTR several polls of the relevant professions concluding that:

          1. Night Court is the most realistic lawyer show

          2. Scrubs is the most realistic doctor show

          3. Down Periscope is the most realistic portrayal of life on a sub

          • I’ve had one person tell me that WKRP in Cincinnati is not at all like working in radio. And another person tell me that WKRP utterly nailed it.

            • Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister were widely reported to have been lauded by British politicians for its remarkably accurate portrayal of the bureaucracy — while getting the politicians utterly wrong. British civil servants,


              OTOH, thought the shows’ depiction of the political class was hysterically spot-on while utterly failing to capture the nuances of the bureaucracy’s efforts.

            • I suspect it might depend on the radio station, too….

              (In much the same way that the “Pickles” comic strip is nothing like my grandparents, but the couple depicted is based largely on the antics of the comic strip creator’s parents-in-law….)

            • WKRP has enormous amounts of space. I’ve worked at more than one radio station that could be compared to a janitor’s closet.

              These days, working in radio is a lot like being a trained monkey. Very few live shows are made on site, and some of the ones that are have a lot of segments that are pre-recorded or done by phone. (I had one show that was exclusively done by phone; people who had met the host in question said that was all to the good, since he was a jerk.) I still have a deep and abiding love for two live shows I got to run in particular, and very much appreciated the hosts of the third, even though I wasn’t too interested in the topic. (The local gardening show, The Cowboy Libertarian, and a real estate show, in that order. And seriously, the gardening show. Amazingly acute and snarky host. If gardening weren’t very local, I’d recommend his show everywhere.)

          • Terry Sanders

            And BARNEY MILLER is (I’ve heard) the truth about cops.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              About the only criticism about Barney Miller from police is that Barney Miller had too high of rank for his job.

              IE Managing that station wouldn’t have been a Captain’s job. 😉

          • No different than how Dilbert’s a documentary.

        • NCIS! There are occasional howlers, but most of their stuff is plot-required simplification— jobs done by an entire department are one character, basically.

          • Pauley Perrette has said in interviews she realizes she is a composite of at least seven different professions, etc.

            (NCIS is also funny to me because they keep checking to see who a handgun is registered to- in VA….)

      • I did enjoy BBT in the beginning, when they talked about physics more. Right now, it’s Middle School Boys with Sex.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      My intellectual journey towards anti-intellectualism was heavily shaped by Kratman’s explanation of why he didn’t consider himself an intellectual.

      Yeah, I live in my mind, mostly. Yeah, mental tasks are probably the ones I am best able to make a living with.

      But I have some hard experience with the limitations of my mental abilities. A functioning human society requires, and will always require a wide range of abilities. It does not revolve around ‘intellectuals’, and most certainly not as understood by a bunch of magical thinkers who are perhaps mostly competent at social manipulation.

      • There has to be some unassailable authority to replace God. No?

        “Anti-Intellectual” is a concept that bugs me. Mostly it seems that the more you know, the more you know that you don’t know much. So anyone who themselves feels like they’re a know-it-all, and anyone who appeals to the authority of the know-it-all, sort of disqualify themselves as intellectuals.

        So it’s not anti-intellectual so much as it’s being profoundly unimpressed with those posturing as intellectuals.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          There are probably are anti-intellectuals who aren’t in fact merely unimpressed with credentials or unimpressed with magical thinking or unimpressed with arrogant bigots.

          The visionary reshaping society is vastly over rated.

          I think I can make the world better in small ways by steadily working in my chosen field. But I could also make the world better by steadily working at plumbing if I had the ability.

          I’ve learned a lot from listening to a wide range of people.

          The smarter you are, the more people there are who aren’t as a smart. I’ve met a lot of very skilled people, very able people, very respectable people. So what if I may do better on standardized tests, I have a knack for those.

          My anti-intellectualism consists of my goals in life, and what qualities I let feed my ego.

          • A co-worker of mine once admitted that he resented me because I talked a lot, and used big words, so he thought I thought he was inferior to me.

            I pointed out that he had practical skills that I completely lacked (he was head of maintenance and the only reason anything worked). I told him, “f’crying out loud, I don’t think I’m better than you. I swallowed a dictionary and know a lot of unrelated stuff. YOU know how to fix an engine or a florecent light ballast. On a practical level, you are a lot ‘smarter’ than I am!”

            • That’s the “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” effect, wherein the devils pervert the human desire to feel like a valued part of the community into the ostensibly “democratic” resentment of any kind of difference in ability or quality. Anybody who enjoys doing or being something that you happen not to be able to do or be is immediately assumed to derive most or all of that enjoyment from the knowledge you can’t do it, leading to the fatal urge to assert, “I’m as good as you!”

              (“I don’t mean that his statement is false merely in fact,” remarks Screwtape. “I mean that he does not believe it himself. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain.”)

            • I think that I escaped that sort of resentment – well, mostly escaped. I guess I had developed some disarming social skills by a certain age, to the point where other members of whatever unit I was in at the moment, seemed to take pride or at least a degree of amusement in the spectacle of my bulging brains. The supply NCO noticed that I knew a lot of answers on Jeopardy, tossing them off before the televised contestants gave them. He offered to be my agent, get me on the show for %15 of my potential take. At another unit, they used to get out a dictionary, ask me for the definition of a word … and I was usually correct, when checked against the dictionary. All this means essentially is that I have an awesome memory for trivia of a certain kind. But there were times when I could see connections … interpretations, and such. And when I voiced them … everyone smacked their heads, saying, “But that was so obvious! Why didn’t we see it?”

              I did get tested — my next-youngest brother also — in grade school in California. This would have been in the flurry after the Sputnik launch, when the educational establishment in CA was in a panic, and I assume looking for child geniuses. All I remember is that the test was very long, and part of it involved visualizing certain arrangements of cubes from various angles.

              Brother and I apparently tested out as gifted, although per the common practice at the time, we were not told anything, then or thereafter. Mom resisted having us in accelerated classes. She was worried about that warping our social development. (She did say, several times since, that I was a very odd child.) By high school, I was tracked (also per the custom of the time) into the honors and advanced classes, which was nice for me. Now and again by scheduling accident, I wound up in a normal class. I would have been bored out of my mind if that had happened regularly. Thank god for the library – the public one, and the school one,

              It was a relief to get out of high school, and into college. where (at the time) you were assumed to be bright enough for the materiel, and didn’t have to prove it, all over again.

              • My mother also resisted the school’s advice to skip me a few grades. She thought my brother would be embarrassed to have his baby sister in the same class (probably doing better). Not that he wasn’t smart, just a typical under-achiever.

                • I think that age-based classes are an issue. I do rather like the “gifted” track, where you learn things in more depth and at an accelerated pace, but you’re socially with a group of folk who are also gifted, so you don’t get a false sense of superiority.

                  • No, no – age-based classes make perfect sense because all kids grow mentally at pretty much the same rate, just as they do physically. You can confirm this by looking in at any classroom.

                    Besides, once you get out into the working wold you will generally be interacting with people pretty much the same age as you are.

                    • Um… I have never had a job where I was interacting with mostly people in my age range. Retail, no, bookselling, definitely no, radio, no, photography, absolutely no. And that includes my coworkers.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Didn’t you notice RES’s tongue poking through RES’s cheek? 😉

                    • Yes, but we had the animator fix it and rerendered the shot before sending it to the client.

            • I’ve run into that a number of times. A certain type of person loses their rag when someone uses a word they don’t know.

              • This is why it is important to be niggardly with one’s vocabulary and to never snigger at anybody not understanding one word or another.

              • Often they have the deep-rooted belief that you know that they don’t know it. After all, words they use are regular words, ones they don’t are high-faluting.

            • Of all the things which I might have considered intimidating, vocabulary was never one. In my situation it merely indicates a retentive memory for certain trivia (some people retain sports stats, I retain word meanings) and a certain period of time spent doing crossword puzzles. None of which puts a dime in my pocket.

              • My usage vocabulary is lousy (sucks). My reading & listening vocabulary is fine. Have no problem picking up meaning of new words. Pronouncing new words, or pulling them up latter for use, let alone spelling, written or verbal, forget it, not happening. Always been lousy with crossword puzzles unless list of words actually presented, even if more words presented than actually would be used.

                • I’m aware that I mispronounce some words. By some standards, anyway. Dictionaries are only useful if you want to say things like they do in New York. Since I don’t view Manhattan as the cradle of civilization, I’m not impressed…

                  My wife loves British cop shows. Occasionally there are some hilarious differences in pronunciation between British and Southern American English. “Patent” and “urinal” are always good for a laugh…

                  Hey, what are foreigners for, if not to laugh at?

        • I recommend Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society. He distinguishes modern intellectuals as possessing several faults, the most significant of which is that they are arrogant and tend to prefer “elegant” solutions over effective ones.


          The problem with intellectuals is that they are prone, like Greek philosophers who derided Archimedes as a second rate mind because he (gasp!) tested knowledge, to thinking intellect is all that matters.

        • Sounds like my usual answer: “Define intellectual.”

          Usually kills the conversation dead, or at least makes the screeching take on the appropriately obvious lack of content.

      • The thing is the Liberal Left hijacked the term ‘intellectual’ to the point where it mostly means ‘somebody who went to college and thinks that he thinks’. They don’t mean the original meaning, which was ‘one who works with his mind’.

        They WANT to be intellectuals. What they mostly are is emotive twits, imbued with a sense of superiority left over from a time when most people either couldn’t read or found it difficult.

        They have a set of fantasies they have latched onto, but they don’t actually THINK about them or they wouldn’t advocate obvious non-solutions like huge wind-farms or battery powered cars.

        They gravitate to Statist positions because they prefer themworld to be run by little clerk/beancouters because that’s what THEY are.

        Oh, theremare real intellectuals on the Left. A hanful of environmentalists have come out for Nuclear power…amd been ignored. A handful of feminists are more,concerned with the spread of the more Patriarchal and intolerant forms of Islam…and they get shouted down.

        But most of them don’t think. They don’t argue, they bully. They don’t seek solutions, they posture.

        And so they despise people that DO think, because we undermine their self-appointed status.

        • Yup. The “intellectuals” on the Left are mostly fakes. The ones who aren’t totally fake are highly specialized…with no knowledge outside their specialty.

  24. I had disasterious approach to public school like Mrs Hoyt’s sons but I am not an odd and was thrown out my grade nine algebra because I could just not get my mind to accept negative numbers. I was in class for three days asking what does zero represent if you can also have negative numbers, you can’t have less than nothing so I thought advanced math classes were fraudulent and then my teacher moved me to basic math class with other math haters.

    I generally hated teachers, many of them are petty tyrants who get their jollies from bullying kids, and I would just refuse to do work or answer questions because I mostly loathed my pillock instructors.

    • Oh geeze, you might well have loathed p-type semiconductors. The ‘holes’ are considered the charge carriers rather than the electrons.

      It makes sense, in a way. Dig a hole. You have a hole and pile of dirt. In n-type, you only move the pile(s) of dirt. In p-type, you have to dig holes all the time and trade of piles of dirt. Not a perfect analogy, but it is a FIRST approximation.

    • I got “New Math”, and was taught to visualize a line of numbers to the left and right of zero. You just counted right for + and left for -.

      Alternatively, you could think of negative numbers as debt…

      • I thought of it as a mirror reflection. I kind of invented negative numbers before I was taught. Just about gave seventh grade teacher a heart attack “Could we have negative numbers? I was thinking we could do some fun stuff with them.” Discalculia saved the world so much trouble…

    • I explain negative numbers to pre-literate kids like so: If you want to buy a candy bar that costs a dollar, you say “Momma, may I please borrow a dollar?” and I say “Yes, here you go,” and you buy your candy with my dollar, then you have to give me your next dollar you earn. Right? So between when you spend my dollar and when you pay me back my dollar, you have negative one dollar, because you owe a dollar.

      This seems to make sense from about the time they first want to buy something that costs more than they have and they have to pay it back later.

      • My teacher tried that explanation and I pointed out that I have zero dollars and owe someone ten dollars when I have money again, there is no such as negative dollars. I also pointed out to my teacher and classmates that using their math rules, I should borrow money from multiple people because two negatives make a positive and if I borrowed from four or six people they would owe me money.

        I was sit at back of class kind of student and I remember three other kids sat at back with me started to wonder how valid algebra was, that’s when I was removed from class for leading insurrection against advanced math.

    • what does zero represent

      Visualize a staircase with a landing halfway up. That landing is “Zero.” Positive numbers represent progress up the stairs, negative numbers are progress down the stairs.


      It’s not at the bottom, it’s not at the top.

      • Thanks for video. I eventually had it explained to me that zero is not an object, more of a concept.

        • Don’t feel too bad about it. There have been entire civilizations that had no use for zero, and others that were probably deeply suspicious if not alarmed by the whole idea…

    • I generally hated teachers, many of them are petty tyrants who get their jollies from bullying kids

      That, I think, mistakes a symptom for a cause. The real problem is that many of the are not particularly bright (look at entry qualifications for schools of education) and are the product of a system that enforces conformity. Thus the real problem is that many of them are threatened by intelligent children, and this perceived threat is what causes them to lash out and (attempt to) impose conformity.

      Some teachers are decidedly not threatened and these can be a joy to have. You can identify them by their reaction of delight to learning something new from a child.

      • To be fair, part of the problem is that in almost any public school you can find, a single teacher generally has to wrangle 30 to 40 kids per class at any given level, and needs to maintain at least some measure of discipline and authority to do it. And despite this almost always being completely unintentional on the part of the kid in question (because Odd kids bright enough to spot inconsistencies or be aware of outdated knowledge usually don’t think along these lines), the fact remains that any public demonstration of a student bettering a teacher undermines that authority, especially in front of kids looking for any excuse for disrespect they can find.

        A smart kid can be a joy to teach. A smart kid who makes it ten times harder to teach the average-to-dumb kids because they stop listening to you as a result can be very easy to resent, however inadvertent this effect. Men are not the only ones who resent being made to feel that their efforts to do their job are being made futile.

    • My mom got to that– I helped with running the till for various fund-raisers, and counting the take from the firemen’s beer garden and such, so I already had the concept of “negative numbers” as owing.

      You start out with nothing, you have to pay this much for the beer garden space, that much for beer, and then you have to have someone float the change-money for the till (usually mom and dad), and so on.

      At the end of the night, if the first number is bigger than the second number, that’s bad! (Especially since mom and dad got paid back last….)

      I can definitely see how that would be an issue, though.

    • Advanced math consists of saying what you were taught before isn’t entirely correct. You can’t subtract larger numbers from smaller numbers, until one day you can- and that’s where you learn about negative numbers. And negative numbers can’t have square roots, until one day- i is introduced. My Algebra 1 teacher had a planned absence that day, and left a note for the substitute that I was to teach class that day. With no warning at all. just the instruction- teach the square root of negative 1. It actually was rather fun…

      • I just wish they hadn’t called them “imaginary” numbers. I get the symmetry with “real” numbers, but it is a poor naming choice – as is “irrational” for “not-ratio”.

  25. Kid #3: Mom, I’m confused. Was my namesake a theologian or a philosopher or a mathmetician?
    Me: Yes. All of those. We call people who do lots of things polymaths.
    Kid #3: But we have to pick a thing to do . . .
    Me: You can do lots of things, but you do have to figure out how to make a living, which is why most people pick something they can get paid for and specialize.

    (Namesake is Blaise Pascal.)

    • That would have been third son, if we’d had one. By husband’s command. Eh.

      • That sounds perfectly fair, considering you picked your first son’s name.

        In our case, all the kids got family names, one from each side: it just so happens that Daddy’s middle name is after Blaise Pascal (his little brother’s named after Alexandre Camus). Since Daddy’s family is French-speaking, #3 got the hardest name for Americans:

        “His name’s Bless?”

  26. Hmmm….you guys make me look normal. 🙂

    A couple of points I’d like to add:
    1. The Government schools do an adequate job with students with IQs from about 80-110. Once you get to IQs above 120, they do poorly…and for 130+, Government schools are a 12-year prison sentence.

    2. There’s also a creative component. Most people think inside the box. Some people think outside the box. A very, very few don’t see a box at all…they see a square drawn on the floor, and pay no heed to it at all. I’ve got co-workers who are smart – but no capacity for creative work. Incapable of advancing the state of the art.

    3. Robert Heinlein was right about the power of the encyclopedic synthesist. Someone who knows a lot, about a lot of subjects, and can make the cross-connections between seemingly unrelated fields.

    • Aye on no.3. Fact A might be commonly known in Field 1. And Fact B might be commonly known in Field 2. But it takes someone at least a little familiar with both fields to put A and B together. Perhaps most of time this doesn’t mean much. But every once in a while… gestalt happens.

      • Case in point: There aren’t many people interested in multivalued logic. There aren’t many people interested in finite mathematics and the properties of mathematical operations. The set of people interested in both is vanishingly small. Put them together and. Hey Lookee See What I Found meets Ho Hum.

      • Can be simulated by two people who really love subject A and subject B talking to each other.

        Well, geeking out, honestly.

        I think that was the real point of the Inklings. 😀

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I thought ESR had coined that phrase. It seems to describe him and Denbeste fairly well. (I’m a bit close to it on the synthesis end, but am far too ignorant.)

    • My school system had a lot of programs geared to the gifted side of things- having the daughter of your Superintendent in your class is a help. During middle school, the gifted kids got to go ride to another campus on Thursday for special educational activities. Too bad that attempt to taxidermy a fish didn’t work out.

      • The school I went to had a whole separate track for gifted kids. It worked out rather well aside from having the same classmates for five years running.

  27. I take it you were reading that piece on the front page of the Review section of the Wall Street Journal a couple Saturdays ago. I didn’t read it closely, but its format was basically: “if you believe x about IQ, you’re wrong because studies show that….” They are forgetting that lots of studies these days can’t be replicated, so why should I believe them? I’ll continue to believe that IQ tests aren’t very reliable, that they don’t test for creativity, and all the other things I am not supposed to believe.

  28. B work? No work.
    In the case of one teacher’s clocks homework over Christmas vacation, Dad refused to let me do it. 6th grade.
    The look when I got to tell him “my dad threw it out because you were just giving it to us to be an ass, and said to tell you if that was a problem you could call him. ” was priceless. He knew and feared my dad, and well all of our family.

  29. Ledge walker until I was old enough to get in the library during lunch hour. Since I couldn’t run, throw, or catch; was neither strong enough nor vicious enough to fight; didn’t care about my appearance, and had some Odious Personal Habits, I was bottom dog in the school pecking order. Besides that, I routinely got in trouble by reading ahead in the books and remembering what I read, acing the tests, and dawdling on homework.

    • Not counting when I broke my leg,, and did some make-up work, I might have done some homework my freshman year (leg was junior year), and a touch, after the leg, was done in study hall (had to rearrange schedule after breaking leg the first day of school), but I did no homework at home my highschool years.
      Also, most study halls the junior year were spent either in the library or harassing . . . err helping, the gym class
      The teacher was happy to let us wander out ( a senior and I) without a pass as long as we stayed out of trouble.

      • Refuge was the school (or public.. next door in Sr. High) library. Cockroft-Walton machines! X-ray machines! Atom bombs! Anesthesia! Hypnosis! Move a ball around? Why bother?

        • Because it can feel awfully good to get cheers from everybody you know, instead of just praise from parents and teachers.

          I was as non-athletic as anybody else in these parts, but I still remember (and the fact that I do still remember it so clearly says something) an afternoon in Grade 8 when, as part of a gym class soccer game, I actually won for our team by being lucky enough to be in the perfect place to tap the ball into goal past the goalie when it came shooting my way — thus scoring the only goal of the game for either side.

          The cheers and hollers for the victory were amazingly heady (and all the headier for having that note of delighted surprise because nobody had expected it from me), and I can easily imagine people getting addicted to them if they didn’t usually have more interesting things to do.

  30. I’ll add a few other points:
    4. It helps to have a goal growing up. I was born in 1963…and wanted to be an astronaut so much I could taste it. Ride fire into the sky! Of course, the road to the Cape isn’t open to everybody…it takes years of study, the greatest possible commitment. So I was an attentive (if often bored) student. Didn’t become an astronaut – my eyesight and path went a different direction. Worked with a bunch of guys who did, though.

    5. If you keep your chin up and stay in the fight, it pays off in the end.

    • Born 1962, but I KNEW I couldn’t be an astronaut. Portuguese would only go to space when we could take chickens. So I became an sf writer.

      • ’61 and I wanted to be an astronaut so bad I could taste it. (I was in summer school–that 2nd grade thing I mentioned above–and I stayed after to watch the Apollo 11 splashdown on TV, rather than miss it on the walk home.) Then along about 5th grade my vision went to hell and “military test pilot” (the primary route at that time) went right out the window.

        I had a lot of emotion tied up in despising the glasses I had to wear to be able to see my hand in front of my face. I eventually got over it. Mostly.

        • I got around it. Flight test engineering as DOD Civil Service. Including the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Had four classmates make Shuttle flights (which is an insanely high proportion of 35 students).

          • 1980. I wanted to settle Mars. By the time I hit college in ’98, it was obvious NASA wasn’t going to Mars in the time-frame I would be young enough to go in. So I dropped the major in physics, since I was still a pretty darn good musician, and my mentors said I could have a good soloist career. Then carpel tunnel, then Army ROTC, then busted disc . . . eh. Careers are over-rated. Or I’m cynical.

            Basically, I wanted to be a pioneer, though, was what it was.

            • Being a pioneer teds to mean lots of adventures! Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things, adventures.

          • Professor of mine tried and missed (iirc it was a timing issue)like buts on two selection committees.

      • For some reason I am now imagining a mash-up of The Beverly Hillbillies and Lost in Space. Self-sustaining ecosystem relying on farm animals (time-tested agricultural phenomena!) and hydroponic gardens.

        • “Lost in Space with the Mortgage Due” is one variation on that– my sister was the little old lady in it for the traveling “hit a school, spend two weeks training the kids and put on a show” thing.

      • And that might not work out so well…..

  31. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I might fit the vocational part of the described range.

    I have Aggie kin, so I considered Texas A&M, but choose not to. Found out later about the 2% thing, and decided my choice was right, as I would’ve stuck to class time. Eventually I realized that activities outside of class are actually really important, and that grades alone won’t bring success.

    • That outside stuff is important, alas the only things ever considered important all utterly and completely failed to interest me at all. So… my time was mine, then. Perhaps not for the best, but likely not the worst either.

      “How come you don’t go out for….?”
      Well, Why be bored and tired too?
      Yeah, the selection was… stereotypical/limited.
      Had there been something of interest… who knows.

      See also: “You’re good at $X, why don’t do $X?”
      I DESPISE $X. I do it only so I. NEVER. HAVE. TO. DO. THAT. AGAIN.

      And then there’s this look like someone is wondering where I parked the saucer… If I’d had a saucer, they think I’d have stayed here?!

      • In my senior year in high school was had mandatory vocational testing. Pages and pages of it.

        By then, I had decided I wanted to be an engineer. Specifically, an automotive engineer. The test results said I would be best suited as a farmer, or perhaps a forest ranger.

        I loathe the outdoors, sunlight, bugs, and dirt, and practicall the whole of the animal and plant kingdoms exude nasty allergens. Farmer or forest ranger would have been at the very bottom of any choice of vocation, down there with “organ donor” or “sewer worker.”

        The counselor got angry when I told her my reaction. I don’t know why she felt she had a personal stake in it, unless she was getting a kickback for job references somehow.

        DO. NOT. WANT.

        Ever since then, I’ve been suspicious of aptitude tests…

        • yup, mine said forestry service , mortician, then stuff like computer programmer and engineer… probably the same test.

          • Forestry service AND DANCER. I hate the outdoors (it’s mutual) and have two left feet. What?

            • Oh i love the outdoors

              in small doses

            • If I was slightly more paranoid, I’d see it as a Deep State program to isolate the Odds and put them out in the woods somewhere where they wouldn’t be as bothersome…

            • Y’know, having thought about it over night, I’m betting the “tests” were merely means to direct incoming students into whatever classes the state university figured would be short of students in the next year or two. They were all part of the same school system, after all.

              Most of us who got directed to forestry/ecology curricula are of the same general age group, and as I remember it, “teh Environmentz” was huuuuge then. Though I didn’t see the point of all the excitement, since we were all going to die in the oncoming ice age. (our textbooks hadn’t been updated to globull wormening yet)

            • Mine said engineer. I had absolutely no idea what that was, and ignored the test. I liked to read and write.
              Later in life, I discovered SF, and – with my background in physics and chemistry teaching – realized that I could actually combine those interests with writing.

        • Yeah, I got “librarian.”

          Took the ASVAP, and got….it was either 93rd, or 95th, because my brother got either 95th or 97th two years later. (He’s the all-star, and welcome to it. 😉 )

          Much, much happier with the test done by people who depend on the results finding people who can do the stuff they need done!

          • I did awesome on the ASVAB as well – on the General knowledge score, well enough to do anything, including mil-intelligence, if I had wanted it.

            • I know you’ve got a few years on me and probably paid better attention to folks coming in– I figure 9/11 drastically changed the sample pool for the ASVAP, but I can’t figure out if it would’ve made it better or worse for a set score, and I can’t talk about it with my brother because– well, he’s still in, and it matters to him that he did “even better than his Really Smart big sister.”

              If we figured that it made it so the same score was worse, because more really suited folks were taking it even though they had other options, it’d hurt him. (And he probably wouldn’t accept that there’d be more folks over-all, or that the respect would make more unsuited folks at least not deliberately screw up the test like half my classmates did.)

              But I am wondering, anyways!

              • Fox, I was about five years retired at 9-11, but it was my intuition that in the mid-1970s, when I did the ASVAB that the military was still pretty demanding. (IIRC, the Texas chapters of MENSA still accepted a high score on it for membership — if the test had been taken before a certain year. I tested before the cut-off date, and sent in the paperwork – bleah, to no avail. They were being buttheads about it, so, never mind…)
                I think my daughter tested with a pretty high score, since she went into service in 1998. But she has always joked about it: she had books in her quarters, and … they didn’t have pages of pictures! And she could read them without moving her lips…
                And she also got assignments to where she had to write and spell correctly …

                • *grin* Hey, I am not dumb enough to say a lady’s “older” than I am, even when I know she’s got adult kids! Even assuming my memory isn’t mistaken, she might hurt me!

                  But if you didn’t get the impression of a lot of change for who was taking it, that probably means it wasn’t a very noticeable one if it existed at all.

                  *******

                  Well, if the “official-asvab” site is correct, he was the last group to take the test they started using in ’80, so that’s another complication off the table.

                  I know there was a big deal about them dropping the lowest scores they’d accept in the mid 90s….

                  Good. If he ever gets to thinking about it and brings it up, I can mention I ran it past “some military friends” and it was the same test, pretty similar sample, he’s still got a better score than I did. ❤

          • When I took the ASVAB the results were that there were only two jobs I did not qualify to select: accountant and disbursement accountant.

            Dammit, if I’d done just a little better in the “admin” category maybe I’d be the one buying a mountain and building a home on it. 😉

            • Sounds like mine. I had 98’s and 96’s across the board except for the test for counting c’s or something, I got a 60. I think that was the “admin” category… so at least they wouldn’t make me a secretary!

              And the funny thing is, admin stuff is still the hardest. the test really did test my real aptitude.

        • I remember taking a vocational test. But the results were never discussed with me. When I took the GCT/ARI, precursor to ASVAB, I could be anything I wanted. I wanted Machinist Mate. The recruiter spent an hour trying to talk me into electronics tech nuke or advanced electronics field or some other field. Finally, in exasperation “Every other person who walks through these doors want to go into electronics and you don’t. Why?” Well, I carefully explained that when steam. oil, or water leak you can see or hear it and can fix it. When electricity leaks there’s a real good chance you find it by big shock or death. And I already knew I didn’t get along well with electrons.

          • The Navy recruiter became annoying, trying to get me to sign up for the nuke program. Which required a six-year enlistment at the time; to a 17-year-old, that’s more than a third of your life to date…

            He finally went away when I asked him what the washout rate was.

            25% Per *class*. And then you had to take whatever field they gave you, and the rest of a six-year hitch.

            My math-fu was weak, I didn’t like water, and I’m mildly claustrophobic. He finally went away when I mentioned I was color blind, though.

        • Birthday Girl

          That’s really interesting … my college career testing pointed me toward 2 careers, depending on the answer to the question “do you prefer to work indoors or outdoors?” The two were engineering or forestry.

        • Remember the HS testing. Mine came back Forestry (yeah) & programming (uh say what is that?). This was 1973. Did do the Forestry, loved it, until a little bird ruined it. Then figured if I can’t do what I want, do what is easy, so looked at Accounting. Advisor suggested I look at programming; after my one & only required programming class for Forestry, heck no, hated, despised that class. Advisor said, well you have to take an intro to computers, plus the basic accounting regardless of which way you go, lets see. Computers 1976 VS 1983. I loved it, spent 35 years programming.

          OTOH if I’d taken computers/programming in college originally, or even how they currently want Computer “Engineering” students to take classes, I would have failed miserably; despite the fact I am extremely good at what I do (did, I’m retired). As it is I ended up with the Forestry & Computer Science Bachelors with an Programming Associate & programming experience between. Entrance qualification wise, I was sneaked into the the Computer Science program, & persevered because I took at most 1 or 2 classes at a time, plus I knew the math portion was total BS, parrot it & ignore. Not that I can’t do the math just the more complicated stuff I have to “relearn” the processes every single time.

          FWIW. My first major programming/design position required BOTH degrees, with experience in both! Was told later, they asked for the moon & figured would have to settle for less, but didn’t. (Would have been there my entire career but the division was sold & shutdown.)

          I’ve had to take those stupid assessment test 4 times. Either they are consistent, or I’m gamed them somehow, because the top 25 career options were always Forestry & Computers.

      • That’s the other problem with Government schools. The sports on offer are all ball sports. Big Yawn. Call me when and if you get a program going in fencing. Karate. Shooting (air rifle and pistol can be done indoors with minimal kit).

        • My high schools (moved after Freshman year) both offered swimming (which was my sport). There are a variety of nonball sports like track, gymnastics, etc. as well in many schools out there when you hit the HS level.

        • The clinching argument for my University Choice was that the school had a really good fencing coach (extra-curricular of course; he was a much older second-career grad student).
          I was then and later a lousy fencer, but all the kids took it up (chanced into another good coach for them), and we all loved it.

          • I took fencing my first semester in college in 1970. Was so-so on a good day, but I really did badly on our first competition. My father had just passed away and I’d gone for the ethanol route of dealing with it. Trying to fence with a massive hangover was not one of those great moments in sports. The instructor said I was lacking the bloodlust to be a decent fencer. We’re both lucky I didn’t lose my breakfast on his shoes.

            By the time I hit “legal”* drinking age, I’d pretty well quit drinking. Nowadays, fencing involves T-posts and a comealong. 🙂 (Note to self: retension that barbed wire near the gate.)

            (*) different era. AFAIK, the powers that be considered drunk students easier to deal with than protestors/rioters. At least then, we seldom combined the two.

        • Any school I went to, the only sports involved balls. Feetball, basketball, and in a couple of cases, baseball. No soccer back then. Cheerleading was officially a sport, but it was only available for girls. The ROTC’s drill and rifle teams were officially NOT sports, even though we had a nice trophy collection.

        • Not that long ago — think fifty, sixty years — many High Schools not only had shooting sports they had gun ranges in their basements.

    • activities outside of class“?

      You mean, networking? Something Odds are notably poor at doing.

  32. John Prigent

    IQ tests? Don’t bother with them. It’s what a person can or can’t do with their brain that matters. Or sometimes, what they can or can’t do with their hands. I aced the British Army test,and was told I had my choice of specialty because they’d never seen such a high score before (something about 99.9% if I remember rightly) and I wanted to learn electronics so that’s what I chose. But in actual electronic traiing I turned out to have the weird ability to make currents flow backwards, even in circuits that I’d been talked through building by an instructor and that performed perfectly for him. So that was the end of my electronic dreams,and is the reason why I’ve never dared to try programing. And I’ve done so-called IQ tests for potential employers and come out with a theoretical IQ somewhat higher than 165, which to be honest I really don’t believe (I can only say ‘somewhat higher because they wouldn’t tell me what my score was, just that they’d never had one over 165 before). But I’m definitely NOT an Einstein, just someone who’s good at doing tests!

    • I liked electronics, at least reading textbooks about it. Actually wiring circuits… the rat bastards who insisted on color coding everything pretty much submarined that idea.

      Nowadays I can cobble together simple circuits because almost everything is digital and most analog components are standard values, and I’m not in a school environment where I have to stare helplessly at indistinguishable stripes because I’m not allowed to use a meter.

      • Not allowed to use a meter?!?

        Sheesh, too many don’t use a/the meter(s) nearly enough as it is.

        • We’re talking about metal-cased instruments the size of a toaster. The school had exactly one, which the teacher demonstrated. Nobody else got to touch it. I had my own at home, but wasn’t allowed to bring it to class.

          After all, the color codes was *important.* It was in the Holy Textbook, and it was a mandatory tickbox. I could recite the color chart, but since I couldn’t *see* the colors (which I only halfway believe in, anyway) I couldn’t do the coursework.

          • There are times I wonder if I have “female” eyes – I see colors beyond the “It’s green. It’s blue” stuff. Peach and orange are different (despite what some people stocking shelve seem to believe…) Now, put them on a (darkish) body resistor and it gets tricky. On the old brown body (the truly cylindrical things found in older stuff) it was much easier. Tan body resistors are wonderful. But I can certainly understand that if color perception is askew in some way, it would be a heinous painus in the anus to deal with color codings.

            • You are one of the four cone people. Take the Pantone test; I bet you do great.

              I bet you see dust a lot, too. My mom is a great one for seeing shades of color and invisible dust.

            • I don’t have four cone eyes but I do have near-perfect color perception. This is largely training in my case; while I’ve always had good color perception, the exactitude is the result of years of color-correction for photography. And *some* of that was a couple of years on monitors that were increasingly uncalibrated (and resistant to calibration; ah, good old CRTs.) So I’ve not only learned to color-correct by eye, I’ve learned to color-correct to incorrect input, or freaking Oompa-Loompas. (This is where having a “Shirley”, or a file that you know is printing correctly, is essential.)

              • I suspect something like this is going on with me as well. Not as formal, or required, whatever, but trying to see faint colors at the eyepiece of a small telescope likely had some influence.

    • Try it– one of the best ATs my first department had couldn’t trouble-shoot to save his life. There’d be someone standing over him, and the tests would just NOT WORK. Switch places, same steps, different result.

      But he could read the diagram, look at the symptoms and tell you waht card it had to be on.

    • We had a fire control technician who could diagnose any electronic problem down to the component on a circuit board- when fixing the problem underway meant finding and swapping the right circuit board, not fixing the circuit board. One day they let him use a soldering iron… a mistake never repeated. He qualified subs in one patrol, the only one he made. Several crew members went to the XO and said he was a great guy, but he didn’t belong on a sub and needed to be somewhere where his skills could be utilized. And to everyone’s amazement- the Navy actually did that and moved him elsewhere. There’s more to the story, but- I’m not putting it in writing.

      • Both my brother and my dad ended up in fitting jobs in the service after an injury. Dad was training for Chem warfare in WW-II (8th Airforce, just before they were getting ready to transfer to Okinawa.) A faulty parachute training fall (collarbone, and a bad reaction to penicillin) put him in the hospital. He ended up being a draftsman on the island. (And very glad the bombs worked. I think he had been nervous he’d be recalled to Chem if we had to invade.)

        My brother developed blood poisoning in basic in 1968. After he got out of that mess, they transferred him to Finance. He studied to be an accountant and has been one since then. (He spent his time in Seoul in 1969). Not sure when he’s going to retire.

  33. > IQ tests might be good predictors of college. Or not.

    They are! Because you’re unlikely to be accepted anywhere unless you do well on tests.

    “See: ‘Reasoning, Circular'”

  34. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Re: US tolerance

    I’ve been thinking about the origins and nature of US culture lately, and suspect this is related.

    US culture seems to have had a heavy founders effect. The cause seems to be that the old country oral history didn’t get effectively passed on in the US, but the local colonist oral history did. The colonists who created that original oral history were heavily alien to each other, and had to make allowances. I suspect that American culture never became really uniform, and that the common elements were a stripped down set of common customs and mores that permitted aliens to live amongst each other without killing each other.

    So us odd goats would be more tolerated in the US, because of greater permissiveness towards aliens who were willing to attempt to fit in.

    So the issue with the Irish and perhaps to a greater degree the modern situation is that mass migration permits greater retention of old country oral history and customs, restricting the adoption of the stripped down common customs. The Irish fit in eventually, but these days we sabotage the forces that made that possible.

    • So us odd goats would be more tolerated in the US

      Britain has long held a reputation for toleration of “harmless” eccentricity, and the Anglo Culture is a major element of our American one.

    • BTW: In Black Rednecks and White Liberals Thomas Sowell addresses the efforts required (and since deleted from History) to acculturate the Irish and Eastern European Jewish immigrants to America. I am sure Amanda will note when we get to those portions.

  35. “Depending on the grade, he or she might also be hiding in a recess somewhere reading.”

    Or he or she is still in the classroom reading, having not heard the bell for recess due to being absorbed in a book. Yep.

  36. I do differently on different IQ tests depending on how they weigh higher math (I failed algebra II twice, but use Trig without knowing it is trig often when i do paying work), spatial relations (i am 99th percentile or higher) and verbal (98th percentile iirc)

    In Kindergarten I had a teacher say i was retarded because i would just stare out the window or get up and wander around grab a book etc.. they had a school counselor observe me and she noticed i was *completing all my work* then sitting around until i got bored and yes i was actually reading the books i got off the shelf. they were totally unprepared for a kid that even knew their alphabet at the start of the year much less a kid that could read and could almost functionally write… (Handwriting is not Draven’s strong suit. I am good at the wordings, not at the writings by hand.)

    Had a real godhonest adult IQ test done in high school which even included the little puzzle with the half red half white blocks. After going though half the test book on that, the shrink administering it flips to the second to last one, and I did it, then the last one, and I did that, too, and his jaw dropped a little and he said ‘I’ve never seen that one done before’. Oh and they didn’t tell me the results for years because they didn’t want me to get a swelled head.

    • Writing requires hand/eye coordination that most little kids simply don’t have.

      Tablets probably are the fastest way to get it to develop, because it gives such easy feedback, but they also top out quickly; I started ours on using a mouse ASAP and it has helped. Their handwriting isn’t AWESOME, but they can hold the pencil correctly without aids.

      • Writing also requires fine-motor muscle control, something which typically develops much more quickly in the female of our species.

  37. I’m reminded of a quote from Pratchett. Seems his description of philosophers equates well to your view of us Odds (we Odds? You’d think I’d have those more obscure bits of grammar down better).

    “That’s why it’s always worth having a few philosophers around the place. One minute it’s all Is Truth Beauty and Is Beauty Truth, and Does A Falling Tree in the Forest Make A Sound if There’s No one There to Hear It, and then just when you think they’re going to start dribbling one of ’em says, Incidentally, putting a thirty-foot parabolic reflector on a high place to shoot the rays of the sun at an enemy’s ships would be a very interesting demonstration of optical principles.”

    • Thing is, to have that sort around, you also need Keepers– or maybe Minders?

      I think it can be co-morbid with being an Odd, but there are non-Odd keepers, too.

      Basically, when you see the guy who is designing the 30 foot tall mirror? The Keeper is occasionally dragging him away from the glass-blower and forcing a sandwich down his throat.

      Sometimes Odds can work as keepers for each other, but I think that requires not totally overlapping obsessions.
      The grandma that married the guy who left home at 17 to go electrify the west with his brother? Probably both odd, but with “beautiful manners” {the brothers could just…when they looked at you, you knew they were fascinated by you, and genuinely interested} and very different focus, so they got along with great success.
      Brother’s first wife I know nothing about, she died when my dad was in college, but his keeper when I was a kid was as normal a person as you could hope for, and just really enjoyed being around that great uncle. Everyone called her his girlfriend, but that mean any gal who was an obvious friend, as well as the popular meaning.
      Other grandfather was “I need a plot device” level smart with building stuff– the same day he saw a printer for the first time, he fixed it– and his wife was very probably not an Odd, just smart and stubborn.

      Both of my parents are definitely Odd, though dad’s got his dad’s knack with being fascinated by people and an additional one where animals like him.

      • My maternal grandfather’s boss. First wife was a brilliant Odd. Disaster. Second wife was blessedly normal, laid out clothes for boss, reminded him to eat and bathe, pointed him in the proper direction for the day’s travel, et al. The lab was a much, much happier place.

  38. It sounds like the people you’re calling “Us” are probably characterized by having most of a list of personality traits (contrarian, open-ended curiosity, and other unrelated traits that are hard to name), but probably correlates strongly with higher IQ (that is, higher IQ doesn’t imply membership in the cohort, but members have an IQ distribution that skews high). Perhaps only because having these traits without the flexibility of a higher IQ is likely to be incapacitating, but having an IQ well above average might be causal to some degree: e.g. having a high IQ and being surrounded by people who mostly don’t may encourage a person to distrust conclusions reached by others, and rely more on their own approach.

    I can’t tell if your approach to IQ is accurate, or a bit off in the sense that IQ tests actually appear to measure (with varied accuracy) an objective, stable cognitive metric “g” (the “general factor” in a factor analysis of mental abilities). The general factor is independent of specific cognitive strengths and weaknesses, not an average of them. IQ places an ordinal scale on this, and there appears to be a single, accurate IQ that could be measured for a given person even if a given test doesn’t yield it (probably due to a failure to give an appropriate test in the proper way, although IQ tests given to young children are substantially less reliable (prone to both underestimates and overestimates), and measuring instruments are normally less accurate toward the limits of their measurment.

    The only reference I’ve found that describes “g” well enough to understand and use properly is “The g Factor” by Arthur Jensen. It’s a summary of IQ research by a researcher, and the math gets a bit dense in places (IQ’s validity rests entirely on factor analysis, so that’s unavoidable), but the author describes the concepts clearly with non-math language as well. The book dedicates a whole chapter explaining that “g” is not “intelligence”, and how to think of it instead.

    Amusing detail: since up until recently IQ researchers entered the field with the hope of disproving existing results, it’s one of the few areas of psychological research that’s been tested repeatedly with proper scepticism, making the results more robust than many others in the field.

    • I’m against IQ tests ADMINISTERED BY SCHOOLS. The kinds my kids had, administered by professionals who are devoted to it, seem to be pretty decent.
      But there’s nothing a school can’t screw up.

      • William O. B'Livion

        > But there’s nothing a school can’t screw up.

        They don’t seem to be screwing up Communism.

        • That’s because it’s a system FOR screwing up, William!

        • That’s only because they haven’t run out of Other People’s Money yet – Other People keep lending more of it to the Feds.

          • I listen to a show called “this morning with Gordon Deal”– it’s a sort of overview of what the narrative is; well, it’s intel gathering as far as I’m concerned….

            Anyways.

            Yesterday they had a bit on how Federal spending was totally unfair, because there’s about 35k/year in spending for each retiree, and only 5k/year for each “child.” (They didn’t define the term, at best it’s number enrolled in school plus the under-5, more likely it’s the under 20 group.)
            They also specifically took aim at Social Security as a redistribution of funds because the money folks paid it was spent pretty much immediately.

            From the point of view that we should vastly increase spending on “children,” of course. Not with an eye to spending less, or smarter, or WHY there is that difference.

            A heads up on what to expect as the seed corn gets scarce.

      • From what I’ve heard, modern public schools aren’t handling the administration of *education* very well. I would argue that before policy at the federal level took hold via the US Department of Education (established in 1979, not sure when it started having an impact), it was pretty typical, depending on where you were, to have moderately effective testing and tracking that addressed the issue of faster and slower kids to some extent There were still horrible teachers who screwed up everything the touched, and still couldn’t be fired, of course. I can think of three examples from my own K-12 experience.

        I think the exceptional ones (at either end) were still handled in rather a hit-or-miss fashion, though. I wouldn’t expect anything but a competitive free market to handle edge cases properly.

      • Been there; done that. I have two sons. The first is like his father — aggressive, impatient, disagreeable. He is also smarter than hell. He describes his current job as being required to think big thoughts. When in elementary school, he couldn’t read until the third grade (it required work and he was too busy to waste time learning to read) … then his teacher figured out that he was too smart to be that stupid … and put him in the highest reading group. The challenge and competition motivated him and he caught up within three months. When DW had him tested for the gifted program, he failed the first time round. His explanation was that the tester was stupid (his ultimate put down) because the answers were obvious. We explained that he just needed to respond with the obvious and he blew through the tests the second time around.

        Younger son is completely different … he is much like my wife in personality. Tests off the chart in math and science, but, although competent, has no interest in language and the arts. He was in various gifted programs and took AP classes, but always was disinterested in language. He too has had problems with tests. During a final exam in a MS program, he decided that the professor had made a mistake in a hydrology question — that the question posed was unanswerable since the background data was incompatible with developing an answer. So, he responded that, given the data provided, the question on the test should have been different, and that he was going to answer the different question. The prof threw out the question — as younger son was correct.

      • But there’s nothing a school can’t screw up.

        Sadly true. Lunch….oh good, pizza. Even they can’t screw up pizza, can they? Oh yes. If you LOOOVED mushrooms or didn’t mind them much, it was probably wonderful. But, for me, that open-faced fungus sandwich masquerading as pizza made fasting look a very good idea.

  39. People with odd interests that flop all over the place would do very well to stick with school through an MLS degree, so they can become public or academic librarians. Join the last of the generalists!

    • This wasn’t an option where I grew up.

      • Well, to be honest, in my youth I’d been conditioned by feminism to reject “pink collar” work out of hand. I stumbled back into the field about seventeen years later – dumb luck and a very perceptive weremate.

  40. And this is why the Diner is HOME ….

  41. Hell for us is having to sit (or stand) and do nothing for more than about five minutes. Purgatory is doing some boring, repetitive physical thing for a day.

    Depending on what it is you’re doing, there are things that can fix this– say,when cutting hay, you try to get precisely the maximum coverage per circuit— which in an odd sized field can actually mean you have to cut off about 1/16th of the cutting size in a few spots, so that you get a smooth slice around the maximum area.

    That said, sitting in a waiting room wearing the paper dress and all the visible signs are in Spanish, which I don’t speak, and are boring PSA stuff that’s only sort of right?
    Oy.

    It was NOT that long….but it felt like it!

    • I’ve got the waiting room bit sketched out for the week…

      #1 is the family practitioner, and I need to talk about AFIB issues, so most likely will lead to the cardiologist I haven’t seen since 2012. Also, obligatory chewing out for weight.
      #2 is teeth scraping/cleaning, with a chance to get any labs the first doctor ordered. The dental part is almost enjoyable. It’s the only dentist office I know of with a world-class view. On a decent day, you can see Mount Shasta clearly, and the city doesn’t look half bad.
      #3 is the retina doc, and I’m going to see if we can schedule my right eye for the festivities. I’m getting floaters that bother me and make driving more interesting than I prefer. From the notes, I think there will be some retina attachment and most likely the membrane peel that started the stuff for the other eye.
      That leaves me (maybe) with one day to get the necessary stuff done around the house. Time to move the new raised bed into the greenhouse.

  42. My two oldest were given an IQ test in their Catholic school in North Chicago (where Great Mistakes is) way back when. Both did well, and we had a discussion with the teachers where we discussed the tests. Apparently they got two questions wrong, both of them, that almost everyone else got right. The first the teachers understood that maybe we did things different. Who makes breakfast in the family? and they both put down the dad. I make much better breakfasts then my wife. And according to my kids and other kids who stayed overnight, much better breakfasts then most anybody. My breakfast philosophy is simple. The more it tastes like dessert, no matter how healthy it is, the more kids are likely to eat it. French toast absolutely needs nutmeg, ginger, allspice and vanilla… also pancake or waffle mix. But the other question they were baffled at. What season do you go swimming? and both kids put down winter. My wife and I started laughing. Because that’s when we went swimming. In the indoor pool that was available to us at no cost. Summer time, what there was of it, was for utilizing the bike paths in the Chicago area.

    Even though IQ can’t be exactly defined, it can be measured, and can be useful. One thing I learned as an adult in the last few years is the idea that communication with someone more then 2 standard deviations above or below you is difficult. All of my kids admit to dumbing down their vocabulary when talking to people outside the family or outside their small group of friends.

    One thing we could do with testing that used to be done but is now verboten- tracking. Putting the brighter kids together, and not so bright together. And if we really wanted to challenge the world- taking the brighter kids and putting them in regional schools in the lower grades, and further culling as the grade levels advanced. Imagine a high school where all the students were on track to score 800/800 on their SATs. You’d have trouble finding teachers for it. And it would have to be a boarding school. Lots of dropouts are dropouts because school has never challenged them. I read all my textbooks the first week of school then never opened them again. Except for math. For that I needed guidance.

    • Oh, yeah — my younger son baffled us because he is two standard deviations above us. “I don’t know if he’s a genius or a moron” we said to each other. Let’s have him tested. 😛
      I was once invited to such a school. I was ten, it was a boarding school in England and mom might not have said “When hell freezes over” but I heard it pretty clearly. And then I’d have to go away from Grandma. So, no.

    • When did you notice that tracking had become a no-no? I’ve heard this before, but when I was in school in the 90s and 00s, my (small town public) schools put us on separate tracks starting in first or second grade. Not that any of us noticed until we where in middle school, but, looking back, it was definitely there.

      • I think it depends on where you’re at. Schools are still under local control of elected school boards in many areas. In large urban areas they’re appointed by politicians, and I think that’s where tracking is seen as elitist and had been largely done away with.

        • Okay, that makes more sense. My hometown was fairly political, but small, not very rich, and ethnically homogeneous. People competed and made distinctions between their mini-tribes, but there was less of a sense that things like tracking were elitist or racist.

      • They might have been doing it in a deniable way, too– which might bypass a lot of the stuff that got “tracking” in trouble, where it’s in the open so it’s a Really Bad Thing if big noisy person’s kid doesn’t get in the “fast” track. If there’s more than just “advanced” and “normal,” with getting one advanced means you’re in all advanced classes, that would be a massive improvement.

    • communication with someone more then 2 standard deviations above or below you is difficult
      But it is much easier to go down than to go up. Until you reach the level where “only highly educated people could be this stupid” – then it reverses.

  43. By any chance, could you be misremembering Robert’s IQ score, and it was 87, not 107? A score of 107 is above average, while 87 is dull-normal.

    One advantage of IQ tests is that the scores are independent of other’s opinions. Sometimes that is important, and good. For example, when I was 9 my mother put me into a class for retarded children. Mind, at this age the local librarians were very familiar with my going into the adult section to get books on cryptography and astronomy. It turns out that administrators are very willing to take the word of a kid’s mother that the kid is stupid. A test can catch that.

    (Later on, my mother tried to prevent my brother from playing with the neighbor kid. Why? Because said kid was smart and wanted to be an engineer, and so my mother didn’t want him influencing my brother. Apparently both this kid and myself reminded my mother of my father.)

    • No, it was 107, which is what made it all the more bizarre. And it wasn’t independent of other’s opinions because they’d given him a “set” for younger kids, which maxed out at 107. So it was obvious trickery.

  44. I was going through the original post and nodding my head at various points – as I’ve traditionally considered myself one of the Odds here. Let’s see –
    1. Reading all the time with the book under the desk while the teacher was talking/teaching something else? Sounds like me.
    2. Feeling not part of the herd, knew way home through back yards to avoid people, was bottom of pile ons for many years in junior high, bullied until I learned some akido, knew the local small woods like back of my hand, etc.
    3. Strong early orientation to fantasy and science fiction.
    4. Computer games/programming/little bit of old school hacking/D&D/AD&D, GM for my friends.
    5. Drawing very strong reactions from people – both positive and negative – and generally being considered one of the smarter ones in the room.
    6. Not very social – historically small circle of close friends at best. Regard self as compensated introvert. (For those into Myers-Briggs: INTP)
    7. Strong mathematics skills. (Participated in Academic Decathalon in HS and enjoyed it, made state level competition.)
    8. Everquest Iksar Necromancer was my favorite MMORPG character of all time. (Started relatively late in the life cycle of that game too … )
    9. At least one daughter who is probably also an Odd as well. (Unique view of the world. For example, her current view is that College is being used by various people to “find themselves” and therefore she should be able to skip that for a professional school as she already has done so. Devastating social critic – very much not part of the crowd and able to comment on the crowd. She’s currently thinking vet school as she’d like to help animals and doesn’t like people as much…)

    Then I noticed a couple of points which radically don’t fit:
    a. Do well at standardized testing generally.
    b. Decent to top notch grades, especially starting sophomore year of HS and beyond – so academic success story. Shocked the coach of my college rowing team (freshman year, walk on) with 4.0 GPA. I actually was courted by my economics prof./mentor to go pick up a Ph.D after doing my senior honors thesis in a topic in Econometrics. Graduated College and B-school with high honors, etc.
    c. Each job I’ve held post grad school, I’ve had for 7-10 years or so – and they were each in nominally related fields – so relatively stable employment situation. (Each of them was in professional services and involve me working like a dog of course.)
    d. Strong work ethic
    e. No clue how I tested on IQ – parents refused to tell me and have subsequently lost/forgotten test results allegedly.

    Then again, I’m here by my own choice, so yes, the evidence generally indicates I too am some type of Odd … 😉

    • No, no. Odds can do well in tests. Older son does. Husband VERY MUCH does. To an extent I do.
      I was just saying that tests aren’t predictive of those who are Us. Sorry if it wasn’t clear.

    • Husband and I do well on tests, if we can figure out what they’re asking– the traditional “overthinking” problem. It can be fixed with either pre-testing or being given a good idea of what they’re trying to get you to do.

      Ditto job stability if you can find something that you fairly well like/are good at.

      • Oh, yes, if our kids flunk a test it’s usually because it’s SO simple they have to make it difficult. Ask them 2+2 and you’ll get long rambling answers about alternate realities. Seriously. Now, ask them something genuinely difficult, and they’re fine.
        Hence Marsh’s grades improve the further he goes in his studies.

        • The @#$#@ trick questions are what get me. They LOVE adding those in, now, and there’s usually only one– but there’s at least four that COULD be trick questions.

          • It became a Standing Joke that one question on a particular ham radio test had an obvious wrong answer. This one was… memorable. We adopted it.
            One choice for “What is the ionosphere?” was “The little ball on the end of an antenna.” After encountering that, we started jokingly calling it the ionosphere. I wonder how fast Kennelly and Heaviside were spinning….

        • All of our family has run into the test questions which assume a level of simplicity that isn’t really true, and so we go crazy looking for the missing RIGHT answer.

          • And then there are the tests where there actually is no correct answer in the list, because the makers flubbed it.

        • My husband and I were given a Mensa test book once. 20-question tests, all for fun. Of course, we got our fun by finding the two errors on each test—some in question formulation, some obvious copy errors, some incorrect drawings, and so on. Remarkably consistent, though—two errors per 20-question test.

          I sometimes wonder if that wasn’t the real test. I’m more apt to blame a lack of copy editing, though.

      • I’m pretty sure I flubbed a scholarship interview partly because the interviewer asked me to name the four bases in DNA and I froze up with stuff going through my head like “is it cytidine or cytosine? Do I say adenine and guanine or adenosine and guanine?” and he finally took pity on me and said… “A, C, G, and T.”

        *buries face in arms*

        …I’m actually much better on standardized tests, but ask me questions out loud and I either forget everything or assume you’re out to get me.

        • ….not deliberately quoting our hostess, but “wait, doesn’t everyone?”

          Words are hard.

        • Old joke about over-thinking answers:
          Second-grader comes in and asks his Parental Unit, “What’s sex?”
          Panicked parent does some version of the Standard Child-friendly Answer, and kid then asks,
          “But do I check the M or the F on this paper?”

          Of course, now it’s more complex.
          I’m sticking with 2 answers — pick the one that fits your plumbing.

        • I’ve had enough of those moments myself that when my kids ask those sorts of things, I ask for context. And then usually end up explaining that it’s the simple answer, and they don’t need to make it more complex than it is.

      • “We have random and re-phrased questions so the test results can’t be ‘guided’ by the taker.”

        “Wow, they ask this same thing so many times over, as if I’d not notice? Sheesh. Well, that makes it obvious which way to push this sucker.”

  45. Reading the upthread comments, I had a slightly different childhood then many. I was never bullied. Never had to avoid or hide from them. Don’t really know why, because from everything I have ever read, I should have been a prime target. A whopping 4 lbs away from being underweight when I enlisted in the Navy. Looking at old class pictures, almost always the smallest male in the class. And the longest I ever lived in one place prior to moving where I’m at now was 4 years.

    I saw others get bullied- and when I saw physical bullying going on stepped in to stop it. But it never happened to me. Maybe I was too weird…

    Was my childhood perfect? Absolutely not. Graduated from high school without ever having been invited but once to anyone’s party, birthday or otherwise, since kindergarten. The once was senior year, by some bible thumper friends from a church I went to once in a while after one of them invited me. But I wasn’t one of them, just friends with them.

    • That middle line, I think, is why they didn’t try it with you– you considered physical action entirely possible, and would do it.

      Same reason that they never got directly violent with me. I would’ve gotten slaughtered, but they would’ve been missing valuable chunks.

      • Funny how a lot of aggressors suddenly chill out when they realize they’re going to get hurt…

        • I didn’t ‘get’ that until far too late. It was years after… reading Ender’s Game where Ender went near-berserker with the idea if he was crazy/vicious enough just this once… he might not have to that ever again.

          • Ender’s reasoning looked sound to me.*
            Another reason that today’s culture finds some of us Odd.
            Or maybe just deplorable.

            *Of course, he did have to do it again, in other contexts, but by then he knew that, in fact, the tactic did work.

      • I was generally the largest boy in my class till I got sick in high school and stopped growing. (On my first birthday I was 36 inches and 36 pounds. By the time we figured out that I hadn’t grown in a few months and that I had somehow managed to acquire a case of ulcerative colitis at age 15, I was 6’3. Never got any taller.) But I had a diagnosis (which Mom hid from the schools since the Navy had moved us five times before I entered first grade) of borderline cerebral palsy because of difficulties when I was delivered. (“We’re sorry about your son,” the corpsman told Dad, “We’ll try to save your wife.” They finished saving Mom, looked in the incubator where they had placed me, and were surprised to find I was still alive.) The result was that I was usually the biggest kid in class, but was slow and clumsy. This was discovered by the entire school shortly after I arrived at a new school in a new city for third grade. Nobody at the school would believe that mean, fast little suckers would attack a big guy like me. Obviously, I was a bully and had somehow gotten what was coming to me.

        Going berserker didn’t help, it just meant that I did much damage, it just meant that I didn’t quit till I couldn’t move or a teacher dragged us apart. Berserk slow, uncoordinated swings just provide something for the spectators to laugh at. I got beaten rather badly for some years till one time I went cold instead of hot. Accepting some damage so that you can grab an ankle and lift the offender high into the air by one leg and then shake him vigorously seemed to alter the balance of calculations and I got physical peace. There was still name calling and taunting, but with my nose in a book, I would miss most of that and only learn about it later when someone asked me why I didn’t react to it.

        • The bullies quickly learned to not physically attack me. I fed off of the adrenaline and I didn’t care whether I got hurt.
          If they just made fun of me, I usually didn’t notice. I was busy in my own world.

  46. The odds of finding other Odds in any group of randomly-selected individuals (for instance, a work place or church) is probably quite low, outside of the “tracked” education that seems, alas, to be a thing of the past.
    The internet does serve the useful function of allowing a geographically-dispersed numerically-small population to aggregate into like-minded communities.
    Long way to say: nice to be among people who understand.

  47. But when the berry bush the band depends on dries up…

    There actually some evidence for this – the population “neck” where we almost died out seems to have been survived by our ancestors who lived in caves near the beach, subsisting on a diet of shellfish.

    Whether it was a big honking volcano eruption or something else that caused all the other proto-hoomans to not make babies that led to the population of modern Zuckerbook users, it was the weird ones who lived at the beach and ate those yucky slimy things that made it through that neck.

    • I did a bunch of reading on primates. Most of them are territorial to the point that they’ll starve rather than leave their particular patch. And they’re mostly locked into a pecking order just like chickens.

      Enough of H.Sapiens managed to escape those traps… and our cousins are still locked into shrinking territorial zones while we occupy almost all of this planet, drive out electric cars around on the Moon, and scheme about going to the stars.

      • I personally will be happy to just drive my electric car on the moon in my extended lifespan retirement, occasionally looking back up at the Earth when Africa is on display, so I can salute both ancestral homelands in one shot.

      • As I understand it, HS are decidedly hierarchical. Which is why social engineering to eliminate hierarchies is foreordained to fail.

        • Yet the socialists and academics are the most rigid hierarchies of all. You have your assigned place, and woe to anyone who doesn’t conform…

  48. Christopher M. Chupik

    I remember my parents being worried about me fitting in. And I had a lot of bullying when I was in high school. But for the most part I was able to do decently enough at school (mostly Language, Drama and Science) though I was hopeless at Math and Music.

    I can’t even remember why my parents thought Music was a good idea for me. It was my worst class and brought my grades down until I finally dropped it.

    • My experience — in college more so than in high school — was that math aptitude often correlated with musical interests. Most extreme case in point was the computer nerd (then a new discipline, in the seventies) who (we all knew) thought in binary and octal, and played a really mean flute. Second was the programmer who built his own harpsichord.
      There was a big overlap among engineers and theater techies (some on stage as well). We didn’t have a formal Theater Department (thank Thespis!) and mingled all majors in the pursuit of dramatic programs.

      • Taking music can help develop math skills, and it also has some virtues in developing teamwork (if it is band or choir). But if a person has no knack, better to have parents have it as a family hobby or church activity.

        • We know now that musicians process music as a language.

          Probay why musicians are so weird-our brains are different. UCBerkely could tell by playing music during an MRI who were musicians and who were not back in the late ’90s early ’00s.

          • It is a matter of sadness to me that I cannot “read” music as language, leaving me forever wandering colour-blind in the Louvre. I take solace in the fact that I can yet enjoy it even as I recognize my inability to distinguish the upbeat from the downbeat even as I miss the offbeat.


            I can hear the differences between Québécois, Zydeco, Norteño and Celtic accordions but cannot explain them to save my life.

      • “There was a big overlap among engineers and theater techies…”

        I’m in a community theatre group that does fully-orchestrated Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. More than half of our orchestra is directly involved in hard science, including genetic engineering and physics.

  49. “Also, no matter what we do, we’ll find that some people inexplicably really hate us” – This. Yes. Relatives, people I’ve worked with? “X hates you. What did you do?”

    Nothing. I didn’t do anything except show up. And try to do a good job, to the best of my understanding of what that was. Grade school was hell. Especially after the IQ tests – I can attest a similar saga of “school says barely average with pushy parents, outside psychologist laughs in their faces.”

    …It turns out grade school principals and teachers deeply resent being told they’re not just wrong, but profoundly wrong. Resent it to the point of, quite frankly, permitting the other little barbarians to wreak whatever havoc they wish, so long as they pick one specific target….

    Geh. Still alive, despite them all. And writing. Hopefully learning to write faster, because go indie!

  50. I’ve learned over the years that I’m too odd for the Normals and too normal for the Odds. It’s probably genetic; the rest of my family is pretty creative, but in weird ways; and most of them have reasonably normal social skills. Makes for an interesting perspective on life.

    And since we’re sharing stories of strange childhoods/schooling experiences, I’ll add my two cents: I’m one of the ones who got silently screwed over by the public school system. There were no fireworks, no incidents of bullying, no suspensions or expulsions. I was a model kid, utterly compliant. Scarily so, now that I think about it. It’s a miracle that my desire to please adults didn’t get me into trouble.

    But I did my homework, aced all my tests, etc. And hated it with as much passion as I was capable of feeling when chronically sleep deprived and- in later years- burned out. I begged to be homeschooled and was shot down. They thought about skipping me up a grade in elementary school but decided not to because I wasn’t socially advanced enough- as if hanging around with a bunch of other little savages would somehow turn me into a social butterfly.

    The school system was too small to have a gifted program, but I did pretty well in the honors classes, was bored out of my mind most of the time, and never learned to study. Still don’t know how, actually, even after a bachelor’s degree. Maybe if I’d been challenged a little more, and learned how to fail, things would be different.

    In retrospect, I think my parents and teachers were trying to help me become a functional adult, in the only way they knew how. Maybe they figured that if I- the nail that stuck up- learned to stay down when I got whacked with the metaphorical hammer, I’d be able to coast through life easily enough. But I’ve always been a little strange, and there’s every indication that any children I have will be the same way, so I don’t think that particular method is the way to go- then, now, and in the future.

    TL;DR version- I detested public school even though I appeared to breeze right through it, and will never put my future kids through the same experience.

    • They thought about skipping me up a grade in elementary school but decided not to because I wasn’t socially advanced enough- as if hanging around with a bunch of other little savages would somehow turn me into a social butterfly.

      *starts making a giant neon sign with this on it*

      Being around adults helped make me too socially advanced– I still have better manners than 90% of folks, when I’m being rude. Because I was taught to be polite by people who actually were superior to me, if only because they were functioning adults. (Going hard for 40, several classmates still haven’t managed that.)

    • I took 4th grade twice. My parents could have kept me from being held back but they thought I’d do better with a different group of kids, and they were right.

  51. 11B-Mailclerk

    I see I am rather late to the party.

    The nation for “us” is of course, the U.S.

    It was even started as “odd” , thirteen colonies after all.

  52. Also I read through my science courses. When the teacher told me near the end of the year that I failed. I finished the entire year of labs in one week. *sigh although my work was impeccable he still gave me a C because I didn’t get the work done in the “time” limits. *sigh

    • Another story– the church I grew up in loved to use the “sheep and goats” sermon and that to stand on the right hand of God, you needed to be a sheep. I secretly knew I was a goat. lol

      • I got a call from a friend yesterday. The VA has offered him an “emotional support animal.” Among the choices was a goat.

        He said his family had goats when he was a kid, and he liked them a lot, and he was going to accept one because he thought his kids would like a pet goat too. But mostly so he could see the VA girl’s face when he tells her, “That goat was WONDERFUL! I haven’t eaten goat since my last tour in Afghanistan!”

      • That has long amused me. People seem to be insulted when called a sheep (and there’s that term ‘sheeple’..) but church gets a pass.

        “You on the right… sheep.. here’s your Heaven.”
        “You on the left…. goats… here’s the controls to a new world. Have fun.”
        “You on the gripping hand… well now…”

        • I think that the origins of the analogy is that the goats and sheep are all mixed up in the herd and that they have to be sorted out regularly for whatever reason (shearing, sale). So it’s a situation that’s going to make sense to most listeners at the time, even if not so much now. Lot’s of agricultural examples going on in the bible.

          And properly applied, I believe that you’re supposed to, um, accept the inevitable diversity and maybe not try so hard to do the sorting yourself. The stories are that the sorting happens at the harvest. I’m trying to remember now if there are any stories about weeding.

          • Yup. The wheat and the tares. Uprooting tares means uprooting wheat, so they have to grow together until harvest.

          • The parable of the tares (Matthew 13:24-30) is another parable about sorting the good from the bad (the wheat from the tares) during Judgement. Like you said, a lot of agricultural references. Even the explanation about spreading the gospel (the parable of the sower – Matthew 13: 1 – 23) is based on agriculture. It always struck me as odd that a lot of things were explained that way to guys that were primarily fishermen. Now that I think about it, you couldn’t do much in that time frame outside of the limited urban areas that didn’t interface with farming in some way.

            • Given the uneven demands of work, I’d guess that most healthy folks took seasonal work doing harvest.

              Never thought about it before, but it would explain why the one about the folks working all day being paid the same as the guys who worked an hour would hit so hard.

            • And considering that your diet varied according to what could be grown locally, even the lowliest hermit would be aware.

        • “You on the gripping hand, get some Purell.”

      • I have been known to remark, when serving in various capacities as a Sunday School teacher in my church, that I’m fairly certain all those comparisons the Lord makes regarding his people and sheep are not, in fact, meant to be flattering… (Better to be a goat who *chooses* to follow, in my book. 😀 )

        • Goats in the Middle East are destructive of fertile pastures. They do not just mow the grass; they eat the roots.

          • hence cattle ranchers versus sheep ranchers.

            • Vs. anyone who runs too many animals on any land.

              • The types of grass that are most common in the American west get torn out of the ground by how sheep graze– contrast with the fields of, say, the UK, with nice deep roots.

                It’s also what makes the feral horses such a destructive menace.

          • Didn’t half of Israel’s miracle of “making the desert bloom” consist of getting the @#$# goats out of the @#$@# trees and practicing proper feeding rotations?

      • Oooh, is that one of the shorthands that bugs me.

        I had to go double-check I remembered right– HE DEFINED HIS TERMS.

        The “sheep”:
        For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ in the person of the “least.”

        And the goats are those who didn’t help anybody unless it gained them.

        But noooooo, they hammer it to death.

        Ditto with the “my sheep hear me; they know the shepherd’s voice” thing that gets simplified down to baaa, baaa, baaa.

        *****

        See also, the obnoxious “dragons are always evil” shtick. (It’s amusing that lions don’t get the same treatment, though they’re also used as a symbol of evil as well as of good.)

        • Yep– and I still hear the “blah, blah, blah”

        • “See also, the obnoxious “dragons are always evil” shtick. (It’s amusing that lions don’t get the same treatment, though they’re also used as a symbol of evil as well as of good.)”

          A lion is a dumb beast. Dragons are presumed intelligent enough to have the choice.

          • Depends on the mythology– for both sides. Satan as a lion wouldn’t be scary if he wasn’t cunning.

            They’re both big, awesome predators who are a real threat of out-smarting normal people.
            ….and now I’m suddenly connecting that with the “clever girl” in Jurassic Park.

            Tea.

            I need more tea.

            (hope your email thing got unscrewed)

  53. GrumpyOldProgrammer

    Odds can be spotted by nerd sniping: https://xkcd.com/356/ . Oblivious to the rest of the world whilst focussed on an interesting problem.

    Or : “We juggle priceless eggs in variable gravity”.

  54. When asked how many books I am reading, I reply “Twenty to thirty”. Because I’m reading 20-30. The response is either (1) he is a braggart or (2) he is lying. I am asked how I keep track. I reply that I see a book with a book marker, pick it up, and begin reading again at that point. I just continue the story or the history or whatever. I don’t think my questioner gets it.

    I am high on Jordan Peterson’s disagreeableness scale. I have no problems telling people what I think and usually don’t care about their reaction. I often have people tell me what I need to read or what projects I need to pursue (usually and transparently activities that will make life more convenient for them). My response is mostly candid, “I don’t want to because I have no interest in whatever you are proposing. So I won’t.” The reactions range from shock to disbelief. Usually, they result in another round of the proposer arguing that I need to do what I don’t want to do.

    I consider my life a series of linked interruptions. I am constantly being interrupted by life. Life takes me away from whatever interests me at the moment. I have decided to apply for a State hermit’s permit, so I can pursue my interests devoid of constant interruption.

    My wild card growing up was athletics. I was a nerd who played every sport and did so successfully. I wasn’t a great athlete, but I could figure out what I needed to do and where I needed to be to. And I would sacrifice my body; old age is reminding me of that daily. So I was always on the team and on the field or pitch or court or diamond in the first string. Athletics was my socially rewarded outlet, my avenue for testosterone fueled aggression, and my way of getting even with those who were dismissive or hostile in the rest of life.

    All in all, it has been and is a good life.

  55. Reading habits appear to be a consistent “tell” for Odds. I grew up with lots of readers and books all over the house (Mom was on the library board for eons; we have a news photo of us kids in the old library, and then another in the new library that she bullied the city into building), and that carried through school, university, and some work experiences (at least with my closest friends).
    That’s why I still remember the odd (heh) shock I felt when talking to the husband of one of my kids’ English teachers, who was (rather proudly) explaining that he had finished his third book of the year.
    I read 3 books a week, in a bad week.
    That’s when I finally really understood that our family was Different.

    • My mom read quickly but not retentively; my dad read slowly but retained what he read. I read quickly and retentively and was known as The Resident Expert for a while on some of Mom’s Usenet groups. (She’d ask me something, I’d find the answer quickly (knowing where to look), and she’d be able to post it.)

  56. I remember my senior English class – apparently, the teacher was working on her Master’s, and surveyed us one day on how many books we had at home.
    She started on the other side of class, so I was able to actually work out how many. I mentally pictured each bookcase, estimated how many on a shelf, added in any tucked away sideways, and multiplied by the number of shelves. Every room had at least 2-4 bookshelves, including bedrooms and the bathroom. My parents were always buying books – new, used, hard and paperback.
    I raised my hand, “Do paperbacks count?” She said yes.
    I re-figured the number. Then, I asked, “How about magazines and comic books?” She said yes, again.
    I had to re-work my total.
    Meanwhile, the kids numbers had ranged from 3-10, all the way to around 75 or so.
    She got to me, and I said, “As near as I can figure, between 20,000 to 25,000 books.”
    Immediately, the other kids started hooting and calling me a liar.
    Then, one student, who had known me for years, said, “No, she’s always reading, and I’d bet she’s right.”
    I used to own many books, but, since getting my first Kindle, I’ve pared that number way down.

    • Penguin Random House had a survey thing a few months back about the size of people’s book collections (print, ebook, and audio). Said survey forced me to lie, since apparently anything over 1000 is “not a number” and would not be accepted as a valid input in the form. 😛

      • I’d be utterly shocked if I didn’t have over 1000 books in paper. That said, I could probably do away with half of them because they’re odd things and like many people I have a compulsion against throwing away a BOOK. But most of them really ought to be because I guarantee that the thrift store doesn’t want them either.

      • I long ago switched to counting my books in terms of running board feet of shelving, piles and stacks. Sadly, I have grown quite remiss in re-shelving items because that takes time away from reading.

        • There’s also “boxes.”

          Co=worker that helped us offload the pod measured it in terms of “there is a six by six by eight pile of boxes, and they’re all books?”

          He didn’t like the answer that they were all the boxes that were only books… (they’re very good framing material, after all, and you can put them between plates or glasses to reduce rattling when you ran out of blankets.)

          • We shipped about $250 worth at the media rate in 2002 or thereabouts. Works out to about 600 pounds IIRC. Since Evil Rob was the son of one of the former mailmen of the small town we were shipping from, they let him load the pallet, so they arrived not only intact, but barely bruised on one outer edge.

            That was only the absolute necessary books, of course. The archival stuff got to stay with the in-laws.

      • BLINK? I used to think I only owned a couple thousand books, until Dan forced me to count the auxiliary/secondary bookcase then in the bedroom. That was 500 and it wasn’t even large.
        We gave away 4k books when we moved last. I estimate that was maybe 1/6th of the collection. I now read fiction on kindle, but we need MORE bookcases.

        • Long ago, before B&N and Borders crowded all such out, a local independent bookstore had a “good customer” discount card — each book bought earned a punch in the card and ten punches got a free book. I tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade them that customers ought be allowed to accumulate cards and with every ten completed cards earn a free bookcase.

        • Yeah, I have a pretty good handle on the number of books I own because I have been cataloging my personal library (haven’t finished yet). The number of bookcases my husband and I own is woefully insufficient, but until we move to a bigger place (or completely gut my library, and *that’s* not happening) there just isn’t space for more shelves.

          The survey was particularly hilarious because the error prompt was something to the effect of “enter a number. If you’re not sure, just make your best guess/estimate” which had me going “I did that, and you aren’t accepting it. I realize that I am not ‘normal’ when it comes to my literary acquisitions, but I would have thought you wanted accuracy”.

      • I probably easily have at least 3-4000 or more books, in the house, on the shelves. That doesn’t count the books that are still packed away in boxes, from the shipping when I migrated to Australia (my husband insisted that I not leave behind my library; I’m glad.) Both the kids like to read too, and my hubby does as well, having his own tastes and own collection. The Housemate brought up what had survived of his Star Trek book collection and there is a standing bookshelf that is more or less filled with just Star Trek books.

        I keep getting told by well meaning relatives that I should go ebook, but I have some and they get read much, much less than physical ones. Physical books are ‘screen break time.’

    • 75?!??!

      MY KIDS have more books (counting only chapter/similar length ones that they read) than that! Heck, they probably have a good 30 of those beeping fairy ones, another ten Hank the Cowdog, six of those dragon books, at least a dozen “Horrible Harry,”another dozen “Black Lagoon” (both inherited from my folks’ neighbor kids….

      If they’re counting magazines and such, that means EACH of the 23 Beatrix Potter Reader’s Collection books would count, and the dozens of National Geographic heavy duty kids’ magazines, and….

      We’ve moved every few years since getting married, so our book selection gets cut down pretty ruthlessly, but there has to be at least a thousand real books. (I do NOT count kids’ picture books.)

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I might have less than 75 in my room. I’ve been aggressive about clearing stuff out and putting in the garage, except for a few essentials. Not counting a bunch of magazine back issues stuffed under the bed, that have mostly accumulated after the last round of throwing stuff out. (The subscriptions came with some memberships, and I haven’t been persuading myself to throw them out sight unseen, but don’t really want to read them either.)

        I mostly read on the computer, and have been less aggressive about tracking down documents in hardcopy.

      • We don’t have anywhere near that even if you count the Dr Seuss, kids Scholastic chapter books, B Potter collection, non-fiction Geographic & Photography How-To, & my eBooks. We gave the National Geographic & Geo magazines to the Library years ago (kept the “important” ones, like Mt St Helen’s eruption given we were 30 air miles away). All my dead tree books went to the local library. Hubby & son are NOT fiction readers, don’t know where I went wrong with kid, read all the time to him, we both did. They read, they just won’t read fiction. My stuff, finally got tired of fighting with hubby on the money spending on something read once (uhhh no, I re-read a lot) why would you need to read fiction more than once (does not get it), so went eBook. Still trying to replace some of my more favorites; it’d help if I knew the author on some of them, sigh. Figured out how to share eBooks, legally. I have multiple devices on the same account. One can download books, but requires password to purchase on that device. Mom keeps it, but occasionally I’ll have a book that one of my sisters wants to read, & mom has to give it up, just like she would a dead tree book I lent her.

        • /sad

          It’s an embroidery project, but “a house without books is like a body without a soul” rings true to me.

          • We have books. Just not a lot of fiction books. Which yes, is sad. OTOH my sister’s husband makes up for our lack. I can’t even come close to guessing how many books & magazines they have.

        • FWIW, I don’t GET not reading fiction, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.

          • “FWIW, I don’t GET not reading fiction, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.”

            Me either. I love them both anyway. It’s not like they can’t read. Son built a computer without my help by doing his own research. They both research & play computer games, which I don’t (& I wrote software). Obviously hubby & I didn’t meet in the Library … 🙂

            • Heh, if they play RPGs, they’re reading fiction! (Sometimes really bad fiction, but sometimes very awesome.)

              • RPG – Yes. You are correct. Son plays fantasy RPG. Hubby does “flight simulators”, or used to. Hubby plays a lot of golf. But that is a form of fantasy too … he says he plays just to be able to walk the coarse. Well if that was true, he’d let me play too, we could walk it together … uh, no, that is not happening.

                Tried it. Learned how to swing a club. Does it count hitting the green from the tee’s if the ball goes straight, but it doesn’t get as far as the green?The only time the ball went straight but … – whistling as I walk away …

                I think it was $100 for the little 3 putt coarse the two times I played nine holes. $80 of it was in lost balls. I don’t play golf.

          • I love good fiction. I recently finished a biography on Ulysses Grant, one of President McKinley, and one of Grover Cleveland and I have one of James Garfield I’m planning to read soon.

            Then there are those marvellous fantasies written by Doris Kearns Goodwin …

    • We would never have been able to count the magazines and comic books. I once started tabulating the books in my childhood home—an accurate count—and stopped after about 5,000, skipping the National Geographic, the religious materials (books and pamphlets both), any and all magazines, and so on. My mom has been making a determined effort to clear the house of unnecessary books—unnecessary meaning she’s not going to read it again, the kids and grandkids won’t want it, or it’s just plain damaged. She doesn’t always succeed at getting more out than in, but I think she’s possibly gotten it down to the 5,000.

      She’s not allowed to get rid of the Time/Life mythology/fantasy series. I get those once the littlest kid is old enough to not destroy them. I suspect my daughter will love them as much as I did.

  57. I’ve never identified with a post more.

  58. “Thinking outside the box.”
    That’s because inside the box is full of cat pee.

  59. My parents badgered the school into administering an IQ test when I was in fifth grade.
    Before then, the PTB had me listed as retarded. Because cerebral palsy (even a case as mild as mine) and mental retardation go hand-in-hand. (I won’t say the school doctor was old-fashioned, even though all his first patients died in an asteroid strike.)

    In first grade, the curriculum called for all good students to start learning to read. So homework the first day was to copy the letter “A” all over both sides of a piece of paper. The second night was “B”, and so on. Family legend says I got to the letter “P” before I got bored and quit, and went back to reading.
    So the PTB decided I had reached the limit of my ability. On the plus side, they pretty much left me alone. On the minus side, they pretty much left me alone.

    So in fifth grade I was summoned to the office and given the Wechsler test. Sure enough, when the numbers came back, the PTB were right — I was, in fact, in the extreme end of the Bell Curve.

    Maybe if there had been one or two Odd teachers at that school, I’d have been recognized sooner.

  60. Electronic Data Processing test in 1987:
    A laser (probably L.A.S.E.R. back then) outputs
    a) light
    b) electromagnetic radiation
    c) rainbows
    d) unicorns

    Complete the series: 3,5,7
    a) 9
    b) 11
    c) 2
    d) 27

    Me: “These two questions have two correct answers.”
    Proctor: “Pick the most correct one.”
    Me: “There is not enough context to know.”
    Proctor: “Just pick one, this is a timed test.”
    Me: “I’m done except for those two questions.”

    Why, yes, that still irritates me over 30 years later.

    I’m very good at standardized tests. I took a prep-GRE when my college roommate was studying for it and I was a sophomore. Aced it. ASVAB was probably the only test I haven’t finished. The sections on adding and subtracting were long for the time alloted!

    Being a good test taker doesn’t really translate into anything useful, though.

    • I think I would have picked “unicorns”…because unicorns 🙂

    • ….I can tell that the number one is supposed to be counting-by-two, but I have no idea which answer is supposed to be the correct one for a laser.

      I’d probably go with the “electro-magnetic” one, just because it sounds more..science…ish… but dang, that’s right up there with the state test ordering us to write a five paragraph essay using no more than three sentences. (English teacher’s conclusion was that a moron had used a term he didn’t actually understand, and had us do a three-sentence outline.)

      • While e-m is correct, I suspect the test was “What does the L stand for?” asked poorly… but then.. R, so…

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I think you want counting by two, not primes, because of the subject and the fourier series. Light is more specific, and Lasers don’t emit everywhere on the full EM spectrum. That said, I understand that lasers mostly emit at either a narrow frequency range or uniform frequency. But I’m not a laser guy, and my memory may not be correct.

        • Uniform frequency, otherwise the light waves won’t be synchronized which is what defines laser light.

        • And, x-ray lasers. So, light could be inadequate. But, yeah, the ‘L’ in LASER.

    • *stares at that second test example*

      *notices I’m snarling. As in actual, growling noise.*

    • You would have hated the ethics part of the bar exam. My recollection is that every question had two technically “right” answers and the trick was to pick the more right answer. Hated that test….

      • The CPA Exams for Law and for Auditing had several questions for which determining the most correct answer required distinguishing between whether “an exception is …” or “the exception is …” was the proper response.

  61. Xavier Basora

    Hi all

    Reading through the comments it’s nice to find other who have had similiar experiences. I was one of those kids who got on better with adults than with my peers. Schoobl until post secondary was tough due to my semi diagnosed dyspraxia. i read a lot and kiked to play even though i was clumsy and uncoordinated 7ntil i was in my late teens Absolutely hated high school. Enjoyed my post secondary studies when i felt at home. Not good at reading people. Dislike the perky extroverted normal types.
    I never took an IQ test so i don’t know my number and don’t care

    In any case, it’s a relief to know i’m not alone