Saturday, August 25, 2012

3603 We get what we ask for

Saturday, August 25, 2012

We teach people how to treat us.
-- Me --


This is one time that the post content is directly related to the (not-so-random-this-time) green quote.  We do teach others how to treat us.  Sometimes it's very subtle.

The last few months with Jay, he was blind, and the left side of the world had disappeared because of the damage to the right side of his brain, so when his many friends and coworkers came to visit, I told them to sit on the right side of the bed, and to put their hand firmly on his right forearm so he could locate them in space.

Almost without exception, guest after guest widened their eyes, and said, "Touch him?  You don't touch Jay.  Are you sure it's ok?"

In an office where it was normal to put your hand on someone's shoulder when leaning over to look at something on their terminal screen, to shake hands when you come to an agreement, to high-five when celebrating, or to pat an upper arm when passing, no one, ever, touched Jay.  He and I were best of friends for seven years, the last two of which he worked every afternoon in my office, hiding out from people looking for advice so he could get his own work done.  Eventually I transferred out of that office to the litigation lab, without, in all those years, ever having so much as touched his back when I passed behind his chair. 

Yes, you didn't touch Jay.

No one was able to say how they knew that.  It's not like he flinched from contact, or stiffened, or anything like that.  He was charming and relaxed, the master of fast puns and wordplay.  But somehow people just knew.  Somehow they sensed, "you don't touch Jay".  Even I, who knew him so well, knew that, but even now I can't tell you why.

At 6'3", 220 lbs, with 24" wide shoulders and a big black beard, he could be intimidating, but he wasn't.  He came across as a bunny rabbit.  A large bunny, but a bunny.

It turns out that he really WAS extremely sensitive to touch.  After we finally got together, I discovered that you could touch him firmly, tightly, but not lightly.  He didn't physically react to a light touch, didn't flinch or frown, but he was extremely conscious of it, like his mind stopped in its tracks and concentrated on that spot.  I discovered that he couldn't wear certain fabrics next to his skin.  Sweaters drove him crazy, even over a shirt.  Sweatshirts were torture.  I got him silky pajama bottoms to wear inside his suit pants, and he was pathetically grateful. 

In his last year we found out why.  During some brain function testing, he was diagnosed as high-functioning autistic, probably Asperger's Syndrome.  Autism often involves extreme sensitivity to touch.

No one had ever before mentioned autism to him (at that time Asperger's was not well known), but it explained so much about him.  Not going to get into that now, that's not the topic.

Back to the topic - everyone knew not to touch Jay --- but how did they know?  No one could say.  But somehow, in some extremely subtle but subconscious way, he taught people not to touch.

We teach people how to treat us.

If you are ignored all the time, somehow you are signalling to people that you don't want to be part of the group.

If you are taken advantage of all the time, somehow you are telling people that you don't mind being the giver.

If you aren't in on the office gossip, somehow you've given the impression that you don't like gossips.

If people never listen to you, somehow you telegraph that you think you have nothing important to say.

On and on.  Pick something.  

Somehow you are teaching people how to relate to you.  What you have taught them may or may not be true of you (but I'll bet it is true, even if you don't want to admit it).  It's likely that, as with Jay, they couldn't tell you what specific signals they are picking up, they just know how to react.  It's likely that no amount of self examination will uncover what you are doing to get that reaction.

Maybe, if you don't like the way you are treated, you just have to internally change the way you expect to be treated, and your external signals will change, too.

(I still don't know how I knew not to touch Jay during those first many years as coworkers.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

3602 Who votes Republican? And why?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Too many people don’t know the difference between “possible” and “probable”.
--  Me  --

(...especially where gossip is concerned....)


I was thinking about Rocky's comment on my previous post (go read it, I'll wait).  I know quite a few people who vote Republican all the time, and most of them are normally reasonable and intelligent people. If they are friends, it's understood that we never never ever talk politics.  Or religion.

Piper took a long time to learn that.  He kept trying to "educate" me.  He couldn't understand how I could be so invested in stock and real estate, and not vote my self-interest.  He finally gave up, but he will still rail in front of me at people who make stupid financial decisions, who don't work, who use "the system", and he fumes at the "socialist" government that forces him to pay for those people's mistakes.  There's a large "I made it, why can't they" component to his rants.

So, anyway, I was thinking about my politically conservative/Republican friends.  How would I define them, what are their characteristics? 

They seem to fall into two very different groups.

One group is Rocky's rich white men, some rich white women, and women who live off the rich white men.  This group is not as large as the second group, but  they have the money to contribute to candidates, and money counts heavily. Money wins elections.  These people see government as a good investment that can help them acquire more money.

The second group is much larger.  These are people who make just a little bit too much to qualify for social programs and financial aid.  They work hard.  They aspire to the good life they see on TV.  They are less well educated, tend to distrust "book-smarts", and are the target audience for Madison Avenue advertisers.  They fall for buzz words and sound bites.  They tend to be patriotic and love their cars and their guns.   This is a very large group.  They vote.  Votes win elections.  They fiercely resent that the government is taking money from them and giving it to people they see as less deserving. 

Think about the conservative political rhetoric.  It's tailored to appeal to the second group.  But the first group knows the real agenda (nudge nudge wink wink).

I said that the second group falls for buzz words.  Here's an example.  Say "socialism" to a member of that group and you get an immediate spittingly negative reaction.  Now ask that person what socialism is.  Dollars to donuts you won't get an answer beyond that it's bad.  They seem to equate it to the perverted form of communism practiced in Russia.  (I wonder if they are aware that the Israeli kibbutz is pure communism?)  If you want to get punched out, point out to them that their local fire department and police force are socialistic.  And how about bridges and the highway system?  Socialism.  Streetlights?  State colleges?  Utility rate regulation?  Socialism.  Ask them if they really want every road to be a toll road, including the street they live on.

Pure unadulterated capitalism puts profit above everything else.  The first group loves capitalism. 

Socialism puts profit secondary to the social good.  Pure unadulterated socialism discourages innovation.  

The ideal is a mix of the two - capitalism dominating for non-necessities, socialism dominating for necessities.  The first group, the group with all the money and ability to control "the message", hates being restricted in their quest for profit, so they want to ensure that the second group, with all those votes, rejects socialism.

It seems to me that the only argument should be in defining what is a necessity and what is not.

Shall we discuss health care?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

3601 Legitimate?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Before you fall for the newest thing to come along, ask yourself,
“Is it better than the old?”
--  Me --


Ok.  We all know about Rep. Akin's stupid theory that women don't get pregnant from "legitimate" rape.  And the Republican Party has castigated and repudiated him.  He has apologized for saying it.

HOWEVER!  Note that he's in trouble not for believing it, and not for operating on it, but for having been so stupid as to have actually said it out loud, in public, where those pesky female-type people could hear him.

In fact, his attitude (if not his biological theory) is right in line with the Conservative/Republican party.  Check out their platform.  No exception for rape or incest.  After all, I guess, most rape is consensual, and any incest after the first incident is consensual, right?  I mean, if you didn't want to be raped, you wouldn't be out without a blood relative escort, you wouldn't wear such revealing clothes, you wouldn't be on birth control unless you were expecting sex all the time, you wouldn't ever be alone with a man, right?  (Oops - sorry.  That's Taliban thinking.)  And incest, well, of course you would report it to someone the first time it happened, and we all know no one gets pregnant the first time they have sex, right?  So if you got pregnant and hadn't reported it, you enjoyed it, and therefore it wasn't rape, right?

Sigh.  It's really true.  There are Neanderthals who do think like that.  They are legion.  And they vote.  They seldom come out and say it (it's not politically correct, and that's what Akin forgot) but it influences their thinking - or lack thereof.

Akin's statement took me back to a time, in my young adulthood, when the first question asked of a raped woman was, "Did you enjoy it?"  To a time when, in Missouri and many other states, a woman claiming rape had to have TWO MALE witnesses to bring charges.  (Two!  Male!  A woman's testimony cannot be believed, you know.)  To a time when law enforcement would not believe a woman was raped unless there was a weapon involved, or the woman was beaten severely, since, "A woman can run faster with her skirt up than a man can with his pants down."  To a time when "She asked for it" was the usual verdict.  Remember then?

Akin is still there.  That's where the "legitimate" came from.  (I wonder if his idea of "legitimate" rape is limited to miscegenation.)

Yeah, there are still women who will scream "rape" falsely, just to make trouble for some guy.  They are traitors to their sex.  Because they exist, many people take rape claims with very large grains of salt, and that's why people still hang on to the theories above.  That's where "legitimate" comes from.

It's easy to get the impression that Conservatives, and especially those infesting the Republican party, hate women.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

3600 Poor little things X 2

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted
was once eccentric.
--  Bertrand Russell  --


Today's "Sunday Morning" wasn't all people selling something and seeking attention. It was actually pretty good.   Think they heard me?


The following video turned up by chance.  I figured it was one of those waste-of-time isn't-my-pet-wonderful things.  I watched the first few seconds and couldn't stop.  That poor hamster.  He just can't get the idea of the wheel.  It's hilarious.  I rarely laugh out loud at videos, but I did at this one, at about 1:40.  (Don't skip ahead to 1:40 - you kind of need the buildup.)

Poor little guy.  I know people like that.  I think it's at a pet shop, and you just want to pick him up and hug him and tell him "It's ok, I'll take you home and love you anyway even if you are stupid. I'll protect you from the world."  (Hmmmm.  Maybe he's not so stupid after all.  Maybe that's his PLAN!)



Old folks' memories.
I've been idly looking for moth balls to drop down the chipmunk holes to get them to move out before filling the holes.  They aren't easy to find.  Looking for them reminded me of something from my childhood.

In my youth, off-season clothes were always stored away in mothballs.  Almost every late spring, someone would set up a lawn sprinkler or suggest a trip to the lake, and every late spring, as if we couldn't remember the year before, we'd pester Mom to get our bathing suits out of storage.

How many folks remember putting a bathing suit on straight out of the moth balls?  Remember what happened?