Why Gifted?

As Sarah ranted last week, the idea of calling those of us who are somewhat to the right of the intellectual bell curve “gifted” isn’t really the best. And I’ve done 3/4 or thereabouts of a Masters degree in the topic. Heck, at one point I had a ton of academic texts from the various researchers in the field – the ones who look at more than just an IQ number and who know damn well that being that far from what humanity calls normal is not a good thing.

Frankly, I like the classification that was starting to be accepted in the academic world when I was doing the Masters coursework. It pretty much mirrored the classifications that get used for disabilities – and deliberately so. The idea was that the wording would give an indication of just how far from average someone happens to be.

So there was mildly gifted – noticeably more intelligent than the average, but not so much so that it’s difficult to live with. This is more or less equivalent to mildly disabled: it’s something that a person can live with in the normal world without having to make too many adjustments. Then moderately gifted, highly gifted, extremely or severely gifted, and profoundly gifted.

Of course, the disability analogy starts to break down the further from the norm it gets, but it does make it rather obvious that being a beastie of excessively high brainpower is not in any way an advantage. I’m not even going to caveat that comment, because… Well, practically everyone here knows all about it.

The more over-powered the gray (and white, and whatever other color your mental equipment happens to be) matter, the further a person’s thought patterns get from those of the average (or worse, the median or mode) person. Someone who fits the profoundly gifted classification has to run a kind of internal translation routine to communicate effectively with someone who falls in the normal range – and more often than not won’t bother because of the interesting distortions that come from being that far from the norm.

Aside from anything else, we humans are social animals. We build groups, tribes, bands, whatever based on common traits – historically and throughout all but the last few hundred years or thereabouts, mostly “we are related and we can tell you just how closely”. As such, we develop a very keen sense of “what belongs” and we can tell within a very short time of meeting someone if they are one of “us” or something else.

And there is where pretty much every reader here has fallen: among general humanity, we all tend to set off the “other” alarms, the ones that tell people that this person is not one of us. I think the last time the topic came up some ridiculously high percentage of readers here were victimized by bullying – this is what happens when kids are trying to figure out how to interact with not-family and don’t have enough in the way of sensible adult guidance (and sometimes despite the sensible adult guidance. I don’t know enough sensible adults to say whether there were any of them around when I was a school kid – but I do know I was at best excluded and at worst bullied). Kids form tribes, and they exclude kids that don’t fit in.

The internet has been one of those blessings hiding as a curse or curse hiding as a blessing, because it’s allowed us Odds (and trust me, all of you folk are somewhere high on the gifted spectrum because it shows in the way you all write and speak) to find ourselves a place where we can form our own community – but by doing this we necessarily interact less with our not so Odd fellow humans, something that is sadly necessary and at least on my side of the keyboard something that was damned hard to learn. Much as I hate it, I need to stay in practice because otherwise I ping the “other” alarms so hard they fall apart.

Yes, it means I’m constantly guarding what I say and trying not to go off on weird tangents (as you can tell from my posts here, weird tangents are Kate-normal. The topic shifts and logic make perfect sense to me. I just skipped about ten steps and half a dozen connection points along the way.) Being Aussie-raised, I’m also usually trying to avoid descending into my native dialect.

Apparently it disturbs people when I start inserting bloody between syllables and earnestly inform people that “crap” and “shit” are not swear words. They’re just… blunt. When you grew up talking about “carking it” rather than “dying” (usually referring to technology although the phrase does get applied to people), and – as I’ve mentioned here a time or two – calling it the “toilet” when you’re being polite, the US version of politeness can seem a bit stuffy sometimes.

Anyway, to offset this bit of a ramble posing as a rant, have some sleepy Westley. Buttercup has been too busy pestering the Husband for me to get any good pictures of her lately, and Midnight has taken to sleeping upstairs in the fancy new kitty condo the Husband got them to try to keep them off his desk (he was only partially successful. They are kitties).

103 thoughts on “Why Gifted?

  1. dwead piwate kitteh.

    so yeah

    house expert on the disads necessary for high iq. but a house full of em… (me, roomate, his wife)

    possibly shows signs of why me and my ex was a reeeealllyyy bad match.

    1. Very much a dwead piwate kitteh. The rare moments when he is sleeping and being cute are usually the ones when he gets photographed, as opposed to when he’s hanging off the curtains or bouncing off the walls.

      A house full of profoundly gifted folks is a very, very unusual house. It can be fun, though.

      1. The rare moments when he is sleeping and being cute are usually the ones when he gets photographed, as opposed to when he’s hanging off the curtains or bouncing off the walls.

        *looks at sons with a speculative expression*

  2. My Dragonette was telling me about the conversation she was having with herself this morning (mostly internal, so she’s better than I at keeping the voices in her head). She discussed the books she had purchased at the used bookstore yesterday (all on Arthurian legend) and moved on to how the copy of Aristotle’s Poetics that I purchased will help her her (imaginary because not assigned) paper on how The Once and Future King is a way better tragedy for high school students to study that Romeo and Juliet, which isn’t even a tragedy for Bhob’s sake. And then to the Protestant Reformation and how it re-wrote history, and how peeved she is that it did so.

    Fortunately, she is enrolled in virtual school so that she at least has someone around who can follow these conversations (me) and point her in the next direction.

    1. Someone who can follow the conversation is essential. Someone who can keep up and even help is a godsend.

  3. that was one of the best things about Submarine service. In the words of the cat, “we’re all crazy here”

    1. All crazy does tend to include greater tolerance of the Odd and unusual.

      1. Submarine crews IQ tends to START at about 120: that’s for cooks. It goes up from there.

            1. Nope, it’s the tritium effect, which is caused by radiation, right?

              BTW, if you want to get a feel for nuke sub life, Spy Sub by Roger Dunham is pretty realistic (as it should be; it’s a slightly fictionalized accounts of real events). And from what I’ve read and heard, nuke sub life is a cake walk compared to diesel-electric sub life.

  4. “Someone who fits the profoundly gifted classification has to run a kind of internal translation routine to communicate effectively with someone who falls in the normal range – and more often than not won’t bother because of the interesting distortions that come from being that far from the norm.”

    Sort of like a manual transmission, there are different “gears” for different levels of convo, I think. The higher up the range, the longer and larger jumps between concepts (that *are* connected, even if you’ve got to think a bit, to be honest). And the gifted pay a price for their ability in that they seem to lose, or never gain when young enough, that simple and easy form of communication and understanding that normal folk seem to get with mother’s milk.

    And translation, as any good translator will tell you, involves a bit of lying, too. A shortcut that I used involves lots and lots of embarrassing testing to discover what verbal responses don’t ping the “other” meter. Also what settings are appropriate for said responses, but this is, again, simple memorization. Anyone can do that. And once you have, most conversations encountered in daily life can be reduced to a couple hundred (at best) rote responses. An internal flow chart/decision tree to manage everyday social interaction.

    It’s a pain to set up, but once mastered it makes things much, much easier. And the internal river of semi-conscious meandering gets upset much less as rote responses require little if any conscious thought.

    1. This is where I really miss the days when there were manners books and basic forms of social pattern that everyone was expected to be aware of and to follow as appropriate.You walk into X situation. The senior person does This, so you respond with That. Or you are at a social function and are introduced to someone. If it is a cocktail party, you are only expected to talk for Y minutes or so, then you may excuse yourself or the other party my end the conversation without hard feelings or other social difficulties. Yes, it could be stilted, and sorted the ins from the outs pretty quickly, but at least there was a basic format everyone could follow.

          1. Yes! This! Also, I read, this is one reason people like the SCA and related groups – there are accepted “this is courteous behavior, that is not” standards that can be studied.

        1. Most detailed sets of manners are actually class signifiers. As such, if the book was ever written the rules would need to change anyway.

          1. Cultural, rather. It indicates what culture, and sub culture, you are part of.

            One of the variables is “class”– but “class” is a very bad indicator for which manners one would use.

      1. I kind of grew up in a society like that, but my parents were …. chaotic and my whole family was sideways to normal. Chaotic — they never taught me the forms, because they wanted me to be “free” as they hadn’t been, but then they expected me to know the forms. And all the books were WAY outdated.

        1. Your family is more of an obvious example, but all off the “remove the rules, so we’re all free” groups turn into this. There are Things they expect you to Just Know.

          I default back to my grandma’s idea of “proper behavior” and roll from there, I ain’t warm but I’m noted as formal and “so polite.”

        2. Example, because it’s the kind of rule that I do use– “don’t be an a-hole.”
          It is obviously very easy to abuse!
          But the abuse is a-hole-ery, as well.
          I’d probably do a standing-on-one-foot summary of it as “try to see if you’re causing someone pain; if you are, try to see if there is a reasonable way to avoid it.” So, I know that Joe just lost a kid; I don’t post “look at my cute baby” pictures for a while, but I don’t pretend I don’t HAVE kids. One, that’s not reasonable, and two, that can cause harm as well because Joe feels like folks are always hiding stuff from him and walking on egg shells, thus isolating him more than the loss of his child already has.

      2. There exists a place in this world where there is still such a pattern. At least one, but likely a few more like it in the rural areas, not just the South. And not just professional interactions where both parties make polite sounding noises for a brief few minutes. That place may be the feed store (where there are rituals as sacred and honored as any), the hole-in-the-wall pub or bar, that last truck stop a hundred miles from nowhere (where the same four truckers occupy the same four seats in the diner, same time every week).

        The folks likely to respect such traditions are, by and large, humble folk. You would hardly notice them, most cases. Mostly older folk, but some young. They are often the only ones not glued to their mobile phones. *grin* While it ain’t the Cotillion, I’d argue that some few social rituals still exist. They just aren’t often found in academia and the corporate world. And they’re not the coming-of-age sort of thing, nor the mixing of the sexes sort of thing either. And they don’t connect with each other either, at least not most of them.


        I wonder if there is enough pattern there to extract from social media to define at least a rudimentary set of guidelines… Every small community eventually forms a pattern, sometimes impenetrable sometimes open and welcoming. Even the community of writers/readers/Odds at MGC/ATH has a pattern. Regarding places like Twitter, large as it is, I wouldn’t say it is precisely a *good* pattern, but a pattern nonetheless.

        … Now I have in my head something like a cyberpunk set of social rules for interaction in meatspace and interaction on the net. Gah!

      3. I like clearly stated rules. I can understand them and make a conscious choice to follow (or not).
        It’s when the rules are unstated and you just have to magically know, that I have real problems.
        I never know. Everyone around me knows, but I don’t.
        Give me clearly stated, even if stilted behavioral standards, dress codes, social manners, whatever.

      4. THIS.

        Although the mundane are starting to figure put that not having arbitrary social norms and rules that everyone agrees this for non-intimates is beginning to bite them in the backside as well.

        1. Yep. Those norms and rules are effectively “ways to interact with people you hate without starting a war/blood-thirsty feud/crime scene”. Without them things get a lot closer to the bone and may even break it.

        2. The problem is that it’s like knocking a dam down: it does a lot of damage that makes it harder to put it back.

    2. I think and son agrees above a certain IQ you lose “instincts”. It’s not that they’re not there, but we don’t listen to them. Just like we don’t listen to our bodies.

      1. The thing that gets me is we’re born little tiny savages, and have to be civilized into proper humans. Too many folks running about these days never did get that proper civilizing taught to them, and painful as it was, I believe I’m a better person for it. Those “instincts” don’t develop ex nihilo, they’ve got to be taught (sometimes, as in my case, repeatedly and explained in exacting detail, when I was lucky).

        Alternatively, perhaps our little plastic brains develop as they do because some of us (normies) focus on social interaction and end up gathering the needed parts to build a functioning social framework at a certain point in their development, and some of us get… distracted? Lord knows I could be easily distracted in the middle of a sentence when I was young. Okay, I still do, but not to the same extent (everything was so bloody *new* back then). But there was also the kind of focus where I’d forget to eat for most of the day (as you said, not listening to our bodies, yep), so it wasn’t all cookies and milk. If a child does not “get” the social interaction framework by a certain age, I don’t they ever will naturally. From there, you have to artificially construct a public persona that doesn’t make folks go “Eek!” or you are forever doomed to be the weird one.

        Even the simple, rudimentary tools we get from being babies and mimicking facial expressions and the like are useful, but far from the effortless seeming way that normal people swim through life. They just don’t see the complexity that exists in the social world.

        It makes me wonder, though, a bit. If we sort of slept through the developmental stage where the social niceties were given out, are there folks out there that didn’t, and still kept their Oddness locked up inside? Or is Oddness so incongruous with ease of social discourse that the latter always loses out? Or am I barking up the wrong tree, in the wrong forest again?

        1. It’s darned annoying when you have that set of rules, but then the subculture is killed off by remorseless outside forces.

          In a way, it’s much easier now that I’ve moved away, and aren’t running into other cultural refugees all the time.
          I don’t keep being surprised by “the old ways” failing to work.

      2. More like we override them because half the time they’re useless. I don’t want to go into how long it took me to realize that no, everyone else is not stupid. I just operate at abolished angles to reality and leave people wondering what the heck is going on. That it all makes perfect sense to _me_ is irrelevant to how well (or otherwise) other people can follow my ramblings.

        It’s remarkably pleasant to be able to hang around a group of people that really are like me. If you’re one in a million, that’s not a good thing. It means you’ve got to search through at least a million people before you can find one that’s enough like you that you can understand each other.

      3. “Sya, just what does THIS red blinking light really mean, anyway?”\
        “Uh.. RED.. BLINKING?… RUN YIOU FOOL!”


      4. Like when you’re trying to do something, and you think about it and can’t do it– but you can do it if you’re not thinking.

        After being pretty much constantly exhausted, I found out that I can hit the trashcan dead center 9 times out of ten, from across the room. If I am not trying, and just kind of chuck it.

        …I think I’ve made TWO shots from the freethrow line, in my life, with HOURS of sitting in the barn at granny’s trying to manage it.

        Similar pattern for tripping over feet.

        There actually is over-thinking a thing…..

          1. Trying to get that subconscious flow running deliberately is a much chancier thing, alas.

      5. This is not my experience, even with very smart people. There are actually people who are extra sensitive to the unwritten rules, and they can typically tell you what is happening. They do have a tendency to wind up as group leaders, because they have the ability to turn the results of individual interactions. Such people are rare, however. I think they may be extra rare among the more deeply gifted, in part because there seems to be a correlation with autism and intelligence. I find the autism spectrum concept useful in dealing with many fully functioning but extremely smart people.

  5. “… we develop a very keen sense of “what belongs” and we can tell within a very short time of meeting someone if they are one of “us” or something else.”

    I can fool that sense for about 10 minutes, the length of one job interview. After that, my control starts to slip. The older I get, the less I care to exert the effort. I don’t act weird or say weird things on purpose, I just -am- weird. Like the picture frame that’s maybe 2 degrees off square, everybody keeps coming over to straighten it. It’s a thing.

    On the bright side, the oddness performs as a peculiarly effective sorting hat. Most Normies drift off, vaguely touched by the notion that “he is not our kind”, but some are not bothered by it, and these are the interesting people.

    1. Before Hypothyroidism, and apnea, because I grew up in a far more regimented society, and because I studied how to live in the US like a subject in school, I had developed my imitation of normal (I first typed human. Take it as you will) to a high degree of perfection. I could even, for periods of not more than a day, pretend to be an extrover. Hypothyroidism and apnea for years, and their effects on the brain stopped the “automatic translation program” on the back of my head, which I didn’t even notice, and now it’s an effort again and the problem is after the covidiocy and mass imprisonment I’m too angry and upset and TIRED to giveadamn.
      I’m not sure what this will do to me, except perhaps shorten my life expectancy in an explosive way.

    2. Yep. Quarantine and lockdowns have been very bad for this. I’ve been able to be myself 24/7 for a whole year and change. Going back to interacting with the normals is going to be _hard_. And going back to having to pass as normal is going to be harder.

      1. Even extroverts are finding interactions interesting as they come out of quarantine.

  6. One of the problems I had with both the boys in school — and we had them both tested out of necessity, because the school insisted they were either mentally retarded or insane, and if we let them they were going to destroy them (trust them, I’ve seen it.) — is that the school expected them to just be “smarter” and “better.”
    Like Kate, this is in a way one of my specialties. I never took the subject formally — I couldn’t because it didn’t exist in Portugal at the time — and the reading I did on it might have been in search of “pathways to fix self” but–
    While I was in college, I tutored, sometimes by school referral, and often by parents “we can’t do anything with him/her” what was then called “Gifted and maladjusted.” Btw, that’s a better description, though it is also…. not quite right. Look, if you’re a sufficiency above the norm (people in low to mid 130s seem to do best, if test properly administered, no impairment present, etc.) you’re going to be maladjusted.
    Not so much because you are “maladjusted” but because the band of apes you’re trying to integrate in is not your band. These are not your people. They can’t understand you. As shown above, sufficiently high intelligence rings as insanity or retardation (the retardation being because we often reinvent the wheel in a way that’s sideways and upside down from any normal process. Or in other words, if one of us had invented fire, we’d have skipped rubbing sticks and matches, gone directly to trying to create a bic lighter with all the wrong materials, and if we managed to make it work probably gotten killed as witches.) You’ll never fit in. Whether you’re a mutation or an unfortunate concatenation of genes from an extinct human sub species (looks at 23 and me. Remembers things her doctors have said over the years. Raises hand in Neanderthal. Tall Neanderthal, but still) you ping “threat” to normal people, because in the relatively recent evolutionary past the scariest things on the planet were “almost like us, but not.” Which is why there USED TO BE other human subspecies. And if you stumbled into a tribe of them your best hope would be rape, because the stew pot waited. Which I think is why we’re so good at identifying “not of the body.”
    Okay, all this to say that the schools had no way of knowing what to do with the boys. Older son is Profoundly Gifted. Younger is “at least two standard deviations above that, but it gets hard to measure.”
    As someone one deviation below older son, well, imitating normal human was a hard earned skill that age, illness and anger has stolen from me. We’re about to go on a house hunting trip and I’m hoping the agent doesn’t decide I’m alien. After a year of lockdown I don’t even know what to wear.
    Here’s the thing: from teaching our people, and being our people, and raising the boys? We’re not quantitavely different. We’re qualitatively different. We’re not better than standard run of the mill homo sap (which is why I object to “gifted” and keep shouting from the rooftops “high IQ is not a measure of ability to succeed” (I mean if this is a gift it’s probably from Crampus) ) We’re DIFFERENT. We might think faster, but we think different too. (Older son and I have a routine on why Neanderthals did in fact go extinct, in which we assume they are like us but more so. “Come on, Gorrr, it’s time to go hunting.” “You’re not the boss of me. I am busy developing my clay spear. I must find a new way to bake it.” Or “Hey, Mgum, wanna make baby?” “Later, I’m working on this basket that we can use to catch fish in the high seas, as soon as someone invents way to sail the high seas.”) We often seem to move by obsession, and ignore everything not interesting enough, for instance. Most of us either eat too much because we happen to come across it, or we forget to eat, sometimes for days. I’ve gone into the hospital with serious dehydration because I forgot to drink water. My husband, who imitates normal to a higher degree of perfection, unless you lock him down and worry him, in which case he spends days chasing numbers and arranging them in charts, and then gets upset no one else sees them clearly, realized early on that when I’m really “away” on a book, he needs to make sure I do things that normal people do. Eat. Sleep. Go to the bathroom. Take a shower. Because I will genuinely tune all that out.
    As if this were not enough, a lot of us have handicaps in other areas, related to the way normal human beings work. For instance, most of us have some degree of sensory derangement. I didn’t realize it when I was little, and just found myself furious at myself for not being able to do what other kids did. Often coordination is wonky. (Not always.) Our palates work differently. We have a list of drug allergies that makes new doctors think we’re crazy. We have side effects that fall into that 1 in a 1000 range. Sometimes — me. Oh, also older son. Younger fortunately hasn’t needed it — we react weirdly to anesthesia, not responding AT ALL to most of it, and then, for no reason, taking a normal dosage and deciding it’s lethal of another type of anesthesia (Both older son and I have had what I think (THINK. It’s early and I’m not fully awake, as I slept very badly) is called the Crash Cart called on us after/during surgery.)
    But schools kept telling me they don’t need help. They’ll figure it out on their own because they’re so smart.
    Which as you can tell hits a nerve.
    Their being so smart actually means you have to watch and be ready to help every step of the way. And keeping in mind this is me blowing my top: I JUST wish younger son knew when and how to send up the “help” flag before he tries to muddle through it and the situation becomes a hopeless tangle.
    We’re as Odd as the kids, if not as smart (apparently brother was right about my marrying a guy who could understand me being a genetic disaster in the making) but we have fifty CONSCIOUS year of experience of navigating the world, so we know tips, tricks and short cuts, which we stand ready to deploy.
    IF ONLY we were allowed.

    1. > why Neanderthals did in fact go extinct

      I’m leaning toward “corrupted the Neanderthal genome by boinking too many easy Sapiens bints.”

    2. We’re qualitatively different. We’re not better than standard run of the mill homo sap (which is why I object to “gifted” and keep shouting from the rooftops “high IQ is not a measure of ability to succeed” (I mean if this is a gift it’s probably from Crampus) ) We’re DIFFERENT.

      This. So much this it hurts.

      We do not think like normal people only faster. We think in different ways and come up with different conclusions because of it. And that’s before you factor in the tendency to ignore taboos (at least while playing with ideas) and look into the reasons behind certain things being seen as unacceptable.

      Like hell we’re going to be fine without intervention. We might be able to fake it pretty well, but that doesn’t mean the fake is truth.

      1. Sarah said: “We’re not quantitatively different. We’re qualitatively different.”
        Then Kate said: “We do not think like normal people only faster. We think in different ways and come up with different conclusions because of it.”

        Yes. We think of things that other people can’t think of. We imagine things that don’t exist, sometimes things that can’t exist. We find and solve problems that other people can’t see. All the time. We’re really not like them at all.

        1. Thing is, look at one flavor of odd or extremely intelligent in isolation. If society were running purely on that strain, it would be bad.

          There’s a value to aggregate mixtures of mindsets, it averages away some of the blind spot issues.

          There are huge variations among the set defined by not-retarded, not-gifted, and not-odd. Very different sorts of people.

          At the aggregate scale, lots of different types of minds are useful. At the individual scale, it is very easy to be happy by minding one’s own business and interests, and ignoring people getting excited about mental qualities that don’t feed one’s interests. Trying to be ‘a really useful tank engine’, laboring truly, has nothing to do with meeting the criteria of others.

          Anyway, this raving rant may be a complete waste of everyone’s time.

          1. Oh, no arguments here. I’m sufficiently bad at being normal (aka not-retarded, not-gifted, and not-odd) that I have bugger-all practical use – and I gather I’m one of the more practical specimens around.

            Average people are average because it works. Generations of humans have gone through life with about that level of smarts and more or less that much ability to fit in, and done well enough to have kids. We weirdos tend not to have kids (or to have them later with all the medical issues that can follow), and tend not to be the greatest when it comes to matters of keeping our mouths shut in order to have a roof and food.

            A society of Odds would be… probably not horrible, but probably not very long-lasting, either.

          1. (I blame the half-line horror WP antgi-editor for the lack of ‘you’ in that. a PROPER text-entry box would NOT have that problem…. as often, anyway.

          2. I’ve lost track of the number of developers who have said something like “Why did you do it THAT way?” and been more than a little freaked out by my reply of “You mean that’s not the usual way to do it?”

      2. How I think
        1. PAY ATTENTION I tend to see things most people miss, and if I share them, then I’m obviously nutzo.
        2, EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED if one pays attention. Sharing these insights earns me the “magical thinking” prize. Thanks!
        3. I have always had the ability to SEE CLEARLY (“clairvoyance” –can’t control it). Yesterday, after I learned that my friend of 20 years (ex-student) had also been the drum major at her high school (1958 for me), I “knew” my friend played flute in the band. A few times I’ve seen snow through the window that didn’t fall for hours later. I hesitate to share this, but I wonder if any readers have also had this experience: For a few months in 2008 I was seeing “inside” people — “their souls.” Superempathy. After I “saw” inside a panhandler on the street, it was so awful I “asked” that I not do this any more — and I don’t.

        In the summer of 1964. walking down a back street in Paris, my brother came walking towards me! Neither knew that the other was in Europe. I also met my future Rnglish wife on a boat to Norway. In the morning a clear voice in my head announced, “You will marry that girl.” Four years later in the US she asked me and I did.

        In 1968, Laurie and I were Walking down a deserted beach in Mazatlan when Ann, my San Diego girlfriend from 4 years back, came walking towards us. Later that summer I had to inform Laurie that I couldn’t see her any more as I was getting married. Ann was in Berkeley when it happened.

        Yup — I’m crazy, or so concluded a psychiatrist who pronounced me schizophrenic in 1966 but was blocked by law from committing me to an institution. It’s well known that highly intelligent/creative people share similarities with schizophrenics. Without the delusional part. Well, mostly without it considering that what is “illusion” is usually socially constructed (the election was not rigged).

        1. I do believe you. The unseen world is much closer than we would like to admit. Also much more real.
          But! It doesn’t fit at all into a secular, atheistic, enlightened, “rational reason” world view.
          Thus, for most of us, our ability to see past the veil has been damaged since births.
          Some devout people can see angels as well as demons.

        2. I believe you. Interestingly enough there is a long-term study that concluded that yes, extremely high intelligence is rather strongly correlated with various forms of mental illness. And that those who do have some flavor of mental illness should not be not be committed to mental institutions if at all possible (nor should they be medicated into mindless stupor) because if they can function well enough to get by, you wind up with some spectacularly good results.

          If I recall correctly, one family had a whole lot of issues with depression, manic depression, and schizophrenia – but also produced several inventors, US Presidents, top-rank military folks, artists (in the generic sense of “the arts” as opposed to the more specific “art”), and assorted other notables.

          I’m not even going to touch the theory that mental illness is just being noticeably difference from the norm and unable to function with normal. (I don’t know if it fits all observable facts or not, and don’t much care. The workings of the mind are still very much unknown territory science-wise).

          1. Yeah, mental institutions should be limited to “danger to others” type situations, with various levels of “Group Homes” for those who aren’t a danger.

            The brother of a friend, who several times a year chases his mother and grandmother around with a butcher knife and malice in mind? Committed.

            The guy who forgets to eat to the point of collapse? If his family isn’t up for it? Group home.

            The guy who is quite sure that his ex is spying on him from cameras in his house lights, but is fully functional? Leave him alone.

            Basically, just a recognition that some folks are broken and behave as criminal but don’t have the criminal desire.

          2. I don’t know if it fits all observable facts

            It doesn’t. It is possible that someone is so ill that they cannot prevent themselves from doing stuff likely to set a building on fire. (‘cooking’) Maybe the other elements of behavior were only really a problem because of others being too picky. That person was not competent to care for themselves, because of their level of awareness of stuff that they should not be doing with stovetops, especially portable ones.

        3. Truthinations.
          Just made up the word from true and hallucination, but I’m familiar with it– I don’t visually see anything, just suddenly ‘know’ something and when checked it’s verified.
          Like uncontrolled super-Sherlock. “Oh, you have this stitch, and that fabric, and walk funny, you’re a sailor homebased at Tibet.”

          Figured out my mom had cancer (she’s fine), and my sister was being abused (I ignored that one, because she couldn’t possibly be that stupid, could she? … she was that scared of being “alone.”) and randomly “get” crazy social stuff off of way too little information.

          Not very useful, because without checking, it’s no more solid than a flight of fancy.

          That said, makes me wonder about my grandmother’s tea leaf reading. She did it as a party trick– obviously, it couldn’t be true, right? She was a scientific minded lady, it’s just cloud-shapes for fun– but she was accurate enough to scare her out of allowing even fairy tales in her house, 50 years later.

          Maybe she was just making those leaps in the back of the mind where you can’t really point out A B C unless you’re looking, and then it might be justification.

          Scottish! (throws hands in air and marches off in a mock huff)
          But seriously, a possible coping mechanism is to look for heavily Scottish areas and see what you can hijack; there are a lot of really, really weird Scots, in our way weird.

          1. I don’t do anything divination related, even for fun. It all makes my skin crawl. Guided visualizations and meditations that are not 100% Christian or Jewish? Oh heck no. Precognition? Happens often enough that I accept it and move on.

            I’m still not sure what to make of Matthias Corvenus appearing in the back seat of my pickup that day, though. I’ll hope it was seriously overactive imagination and leave it there.

            1. There’s just no justification for going for it– you have to check it to trust it, anyways, and it can jack you up on the way there.

              If it just happens, well, that’s different. Put on your sunglasses and deal with it. 😀

            2. I hear you. And I seriously hope that Matthias Corvinus is NOT hanging around you when we meet in person because I swear Vlad the Impaler lives in my subconscious and he is not fond of Matthias (to put it mildly).

              The things my mind does… I do not go looking for divination-type things. There are buildings I avoid without knowing why only to find out later that something horrible happened there.

              I also found out the hard way that I need to keep my hands to myself if I’m touring an old battlefield (Devil’s Den at Gettysburg. That was… not pleasant).

              And this from the person who would say I’m the last one to credit with any kind of woo-woo supernatural belief.

              Not that I’m going to poo-poo anyone else’s experience: if it’s real to you, that’s all that matters. Whether I believe it or not, I’m going to respect your experiences thank you very much.

              1. No, he won’t bother either of us again, I hope. I wrote his book. I’d planned to stop the Colplatschki book with three, then four. Except Corvinus showed up in the back seat and informed me that I was writing his story. That was that. I have not had anything like that happen since, and it was the first time that it transpired. *shakes head*

                I make a nod to the little, ahem, philosophical difference between Vlad and Matthias in the Familiars books.

      3. A night or two ago I was accused of growing up in an alternate dimension just because of an improbable, but REAL, road name…. (Yes, in Lincoln Co. WI there really *IS* a ‘Joe Snow Road’.)

        1. Australia probably is an alternate dimension. I’m not sure what else explains the place.

    3. The testing thing, about all I’m going to say (because this is the Internet and vindictive assholes lurk this comments section) is I’ve seen that show and got that t-shirt. Two more words: HOME SCHOOLING. It’ll save the kid’s life, and that’s not overstating the case. It is not a good thing operating at a 16-year-old level when you are 8, let’s just say. Protect your smart kid by getting him out of the clutches of Marxists.

      My own testing was interesting. Apparently I suck at recognizing expressions. Under 25th percentile on that, 50th being “normal”. (Bell curve, right?) Other things like vocabulary, 3D shape recognition, rotation, picture memory, working memory, order of operations, things like that were over 75th. How far over the nice lady wasn’t sure, because the test didn’t measure that high. Pretty good, anyway.

      So, for things that actually let you get along in life and survive at stuff like school, bureaucracies, big companies, I’m hugely under-equipped. For things that let’s you do and fix and build and invent, I’m set. No jobs in that, but self employment can be quite rewarding.

      Looking back over the wasted years of thrashing uselessly trying to get some traction, it would have been nice to get a welding ticket straight out of highschool and end up being the guy who can tig-weld a razor blade to an iron anvil. (It can be done, but not by most people.) That guy will never starve.

      1. Heh. Deaf to social signals, uncomprehending of subtle facial expressions, yup, got that t-shirt. If I had life to do over again, well, there was no home schooling early on. I’d test out of grades as soon as possible instead and skip most everything I did from age 12 to 28. Also, not date until 28. Go to trade school instead, and buy Bitcoin when it was cheap. *chuckle* Then live happily in my shack in the woods.

        …Oh come on, people. Like most of you wouldn’t take the shack in the woods over cities pack with other people any day. *grin*

        1. My shack has really -long- sight lines so I can see them coming. Deliveries are greeted by the murder-poodle. He looks kinda dorky until he starts barking and charging the door. >:D

          The city drives me nuts, I can’t take it for more than an afternoon. Strangers walking around? Crazy town! I’m always trying to see behind me, using shop windows for mirrors and all that. Its tiring.

          1. My purely hypothetical shack that most definitely does not exist sits below the military crest of a standard Appalachian box hollow (holler, in local parlance), a good mile as the crow flies from the fire road. The only man made noise is the occasional crop duster or Cessna out of the teensy airport about ten miles South.

            I’m know to be rather unfond of cities myself. They just don’t make *sense* on the gut level. Logic, sure. Manufacturing, trade points, ports, et cetera, I get that. But in my heart of hearts I think I was born in the wrong century. Too early, or too late, one. *chuckle*

          2. Full poodle or one of the smaller/toy types?

            Because yeah, they are funny looking dogs… until you pay attention to the TEETH and the MUSCLE…..
            (It’s like…. if your idea of a scary dog is a football player, so you ignore the basketball players. Then start doing the figuring on what six and a half foot tall muscle-bound guy can do, even if he ISN’T five foot across the shoulders.)

            1. Standard poodle. He’s deceptive, built like a greyhound. Speedy, and surprisingly heavy.

              Also has a neck like a giraffe, he can steal things off the middle of the table with all four feet on the floor. ~:D

        2. My shack in the woods doesn’t exist, but I’d want it on top of a cliff looking out over the ocean. Preferably with a reasonably navigable path down to the beach. Because in my world, this (https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/north-coast/lake-macquarie-area/swansea/attractions/redhead-beach) is a proper beach. It can have cliff on only one end or on both ends, but there must be a cliff there somewhere.

          (I lived there from age 5 through 9. It… imprinted).

      2. Local store has some anoying gneric Muzak channel and one tune has a bit about “under there…. I just made you say ‘underwear’…” and EVERY time I hear it I reply, “NO,.you didn;t.” I was maybe *4* when some joke tried to pull that on me… and I, quite logically replied to query of “What are you eating under there?” with :”Under what?” and thereby foiled the joke(r). It hasn;’t worked ven once since.

        I supopose it MIGHT have worked once, but since the ‘joker’ was never never female and of any real interest…

          1. Ah yes, the WP edity window thing. Mine’s been acting weirder than usual lately, it won’t show the cursor or the spelling check underlines unless I first outline some text outside the box. Outline first and then click inside the box, -then- it works. Stupid.

            They really need to hire some engineers to clean up their crufty UI. Or fire whatever managerial genius is keeping this stuck.

        1. *laughs* I understand the annoyance, but BNL still amuses me. 😀

          I never said “under where” either, but not because I could see the joke; more because I don’t say anything unless I’m clear I’m not wasting folks’ time.

    4. After a year of lockdown I don’t even know what to wear.

      Try checking the FB pages of the locals in the areas where you’ll be searching and see what the women wear. You could probably even put in a request to get your local librarian to do it for you and send you the links. I’ve gotten weirder requests.

      Also viz anaesthesia: I had no idea that there were other people like me on that one. I had to stand up off the wossname – surgery slab – to convince a doc not to start carving into me after an epidural.

      The help flag… That’s a tough one. I didn’t start telling my mom about potential help-needing scenarios until I was nearly 30. Godspeed with that one. Getting married he!ped.

      1. THREE epidurals for giving birth to #1 son. THREE. (After three days hard labor. Just the exhaustion was killing me.)
        Then two spinal blocks for caesarean. Because the first didn’t take.

      2. Yes. I’m still looking for a good woman to hand second son to.
        What? Dan’s mom introduced me to him. I introduced DIL to #1 son. It’s almost a tradition!

    5. Whenever I hear someone talking about not reacting to (particularly local) anesthetics I start considering EDS. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome has lots of aspects, but weird anesthesia reactions is apparently a fairly common one. (And sadly, most doctors will assure you that not responding to an anesthetic is not possible. So they are useless when asking questions about such problems.)

      1. Yup. Dentist’s attempts to numb my mouth often fail. I had a root canal under those circumstances; almost ran for the door a few times. But I also have a very high tolerance for pain so it hasn’t been a big problem. Never had a baby, though.
        On a possibly related note — Back in the day I tried coke and smack — unimpressed. Amphetamines were useful for writing papers and long drives but I found the feeling pretty creepy.

  7. Cat’s finaly outaa the bag: Sarah is an alien.
    As far back as I remember I didn’t understand why so many people take an immediate dislike to me and block any attempts I make at friendship. Doesn’t worry me since I don’t much care. Kate’s explanation is the best I’ve seen so far. Thanks Kate!
    I’ve been a hermit now for 12 years. Enjoying it!
    “How to win friends and influence people” (https://thinkr.org/books/how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people) is a great primer on “normal.” There is a paywall so here are the key points:
    Criticism demoralizes people and causes them to resent you, rather than respect you.
    People always respond positively to encouragement and genuine expressions of appreciation.
    If you want to be liked and respected, be a good listener and show genuine interest in others.
    Telling people how wrong they are will turn them against you, so lay down your arms and avoid being argumentative.
    Asking questions is the best way to establish common ground with others.
    Since results matter more than recognition, be willing to let others take the credit.
    When it comes to winning hearts and minds, nothing is more effective than empathy.
    People are motivated by self-interest, so appeal to that when you’re trying to be persuasive.
    You’ll cultivate feelings of loyalty and gratitude if you let others save face when they mess up.
    People will perform better if you verbally acknowledge their potential to be better.

    1. You’re welcome. I went through the better part of 30 years before I figured a lot of this out – and had to do so much mental recalibration as a result of it. The whole “wait, you mean normal people don’t have these issues?” thing and the way I don’t so much think outside the box as never manage to find the bloody box in the first place has not been in any way a good thing. Not when it comes to interacting with the world at large.

      “How to win friends and influence people helps”. I’m still very bad at it, but at least I have a bit more of an idea how normal people work, thanks to reading that book.

  8. There was a tangent? What? Where?

    I hadn’t realized. That’s normal here. Sometimes we sit and try to figure out how we got where we are in topics, that’s always a fun game.

    1. It can be fun when you’ve crossed tracks mid-stream and you’ve got to reverse engineer the subconscious thought process that lead to the mad galloping thread waylaying that goes on here.

      Rather less fun when you’re trying to do it so your math teacher doesn’t mark you down for not showing your work…

      1. It horrifyingly fascinating to see how many times (MORE THAN ONDCE OR TWICE!) that the “Los Alam,os Primer:” had “we were 50% too low here” and “We were 200% here” and it all worked out…. it gave a decided ‘”feel” that *SOMETHING* wanted the Manhattan Project to succeed. It’s rather creepy, really. Coukld give a feller a case of religion or something.

        1. Get too deep into studying that whole war and the last part of ‘god looks after drunks, fools, and the United States of America ‘ looks much, much, MUCH less whimsical

          1. Ever read about the state of the US armed forces in the 1930s? The government tried as hard as they could to lose WWII, even got the Pacific Fleet sunk at anchor, and the country won anyway.

        2. I had a different experience reading that.

          I was amazed at the shrewd guesswork. (Note, I am not super well educated in this stuff.)

          The idea was coming from physicists, and they were trying to set up the basis for engineering design of a really novel device.

          Just guessing the right variables the engineers needed to work with, and having early guesses less than a hundred times off, was really good.

          They had four things that required a new improved understanding to work correctly. 1. Action of the initial explosives. 2. Compression of the metal. 3. Thermal energy generated by the actual nuclear reaction. 4. Vaporization of the system, and fluid mechanic expansion. Identifying the types of expert, and variables you need from them, with guesses as close as ten times to what experiments need to find, is a huge step.

          I don’t know about the history of explosives theory. I’m in the middle of finishing Timoshenko’s History of Strength of Materials, so I can tell that they had some of the theoretical tools for handle the solid mechanics of the compression. The nuclear reaction was obviously new, and everyone knows to be impressed by those theoretical improvements. On the fluid mechanics side, it had been around twenty years since Prandtl had come up with the boundary layer theory. That aspect of fluid mechanics might not be relevant, but it shows some of the maturity issues of the field.

          Anyway, they needed good explosives experts, fluid mechanicists, and solid mechanicists. The subject matter experts needed to be fairly first rate, not people who used a simple model by rote, that they had learned in undergraduate engineering school. I’m not sure if continuum mechanics were good enough, but they at least needed people who could work that out, and apply the better alternative theories. Basically, a doctorate in engineering, math, or physics might mean someone good enough at /one/ of the topics.

          Multi disciplinary thinking, even if purely in the context of the physics specializations, is hard. This was before systems engineering was formalized, but the Los Alamos Primer is partly a systems engineering document.

          We’ve had some very nice work in these fields after the war, including recently. (And during the war.)

          It is maybe disturbing how close they came to not pulling it off. But there is a correct historical context for understanding the good elements of the Los Alamos Primer.

          Anyway, interested amateur, but I haven’t found the time for the basic of the basics when it comes to much of this stuff.

  9. I spent 40 years trying to learn how to make it. When I succeeded, I spent the next 40 years not giving a shit. Now I’m happy. I still make an effort to be nice to people (ie. say “Thank you” and “Please” but that’s more rote functioning than conseous.). But if folks don’t understand what I’m trying to say, I’ve learned to rephrase any reply I make. If they still don’t understand, I generally say “Hell with it.” and shut up.

  10. $BOSSMAN seemed to be creepy (and, I learned, creeped out BY me…) BUT.. after he got a $DREAM-UPGRADE to $OTHER-STATE where he seemd to experience… ENLIGHTENMENT… and then returned, well, he still creeps me out some [Speculation: He’s a *genius*, but NOT at social things..,. so bad that *OX* pick on up ‘processing delay’ as he tried to emulate ‘normal’ and even *OX* gets ‘uncannyh valley’ vibes as it were. Mind you, $BOSSMAN is NOT a pointy-hair. He actually *IS* a genius, in his field, but… DAMN!!!] Now, he knows to leave ox be unless CRITICAL information must be passed one way or the other. Suspicion: Ox *in motion* is a NOT-PROBLEM. And there are MANY more *not* in-motion. Also, last time ox was screwed over, a ***LOT*** of “quiet fixes* -disappeared-. Ox not need to blow horn(s0, but… screwing ox over is… Not Appreciated. Nothing big, but a LOT of subtle things suddenly vaporized. And NOBODY had the the damned nerve to say a freaking *word*.

    1. Also, last time ox was screwed over, a ***LOT*** of “quiet fixes* -disappeared-.

      Keeping faith with those who refuse to keep faith with you is a bad idea.

      Doesn’t even take any MALICE, just…. not breaking yourself to save those who are breaking you.

      1. Amen to that. There comes a time when you need to look after yourself.

        This is something I have to remind myself – for whatever the reason somewhere along the way I picked up “responsible = look after everyone else first no matter what” and have yet to fully train myself out of it.

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