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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Suzette Elgin [] had some suggestions about how to keep your cool when someone is talking crazy, or has half a point. It's harder tho via email, when someone can throw three thousand words of rant at you before you can say "That's not what I meant".

    On the other hand, there's something to be said for just snapping and saying "It makes you happy when people agree with what you saying, but I won't this time, because YOU'RE TALKING SHIT. If you want to make people agree with you more and thus make you feel better, you have to STOP TALKING SHIT and start saying things that make sense on their own. Learn to express ideas that can stand on their own, instead of them being just mouth noises that people you like have to nod at."

    A tactful middle ground is sort of Socratic questioning. If done right, it looks really slick, since it puts the other person in the one-up position of providing you with what you both are treating as interesting information. But it puts you in the position of effectively steering the conversation by being the one whose questions set the topic. "So what do you mean by 'rape'?" "Have you looked for exceptions to your assumption that that's the way all relationships work?" Etc. With a little work you can back them into the position of saying "well, it's not ALWAYS rape" "but you said it was ALWAYS. By 'always', you didn't mean 'always'?" "Yes. I mean, no, I didn't." Then you can turn into a really unnerving Freudian analyst: "I wonder, what did you really mean by deciding to use the word 'always'? Do the exceptions to the rule make you... insecure? Anxious? Maybe subconsciously? Is this really about your parents' relationship during your childhood? I can see how that might make you want to believe and convince others of oddly exaggerated ideas."

    Thought of the day: Nobody says "I don't like music" or "I don't like ideas". But when someone only ever likes the same old music or the same old ideas (or, going the other way, only consider the formal aspects of them), something is wrong. Those Womens Studies doofs are just in the same kind of useless mental ghetto as people who insist that if you don't like Phish, then YOU ARE EVIL, WE REBUKE YOU. []

    On the one hand, ideas and music are both hard to separate from the "scene" that surrounds them. On the other hard, it's a good mental exercise to try.

    My current annoyance is people who insist that nothing should ever ever be done to give deaf kids a sense of hearing, because they associate that with the whole agenda of teaching partly-deaf kids no sign language. I say "How about trying to give him a sense of hearing and teach him sign language. If you think your language and culture are worth a damn, you'll stop insisting that it can exist only in the enforced absence of other languages and cultures."

    But regrettably, sane discussion of ideas (rather than just displaying them and prodding people to agree or disagree) is hard -- it has to be taught, and learned, and that's really hard. It's also impossible with bad brain chemistry, like large swathes of the populace are running around with.