Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996 21:05:45 -0600
From: Tushar Samant
Subject: Re: How Strange
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L
My mother, with hindsight and reflection, is turning out to
have been practically a saint. No insistences, guilt trips,
snidenesses, head games. There were several things I used
to find annoying about her, that I have changed my mind
about. Example 1: Inductive generalizations from one case.
E.g. "you liked this yesterday, so I thought you would today".
It shouldn't annoy; traders do that, weather forecasters do
that, it might turn out the human genome people do that, or
that particle physicists fit a curve to one point. Moreover,
my mother was almost always *right*.
Example 2: Mistakes based on weird associations--Frank for
Norman, Neal for Larry. Rio instead of Chicago. But, as it
turns out, that is our big strength. Learn to control this
associative weirdness and you understand the world better.
Demonstration: we were getting our house painted, and we
were talking to the painter dude. In comes the mother and
addresses him by some name, which is not his name. Why did
she do it? It's the name of the guy who painted our place
five years before that. The new guy says it's not his name,
the mother instead of ending the embarrassing situation
asks him whether the old guy is his relative or something.
I am about to die of shame, when it turns out the old guy
IS HIS COUSIN. He's gone back to his village, didn't like
Bombay etc etc, but the new guy came here, got into the
exact same business, but with another contractor, in a
different part of the city, ending up nevertheless in
the same house five years later. Discovering this would
be impossible without weird associative mistakes.
Example 3: The "maybe they/he/she/it has a point" nonsense.
*Everyone* had a possible point. Always, without exception.
Especially from their own "point of view". This was the most
annoying thing I had ever heard. But, what do you know. They
do have a point. Almost without exception. Esp. from their
own point of view.
Example 4: Addressing inanimate objects. "Come ON" to a tube-
light which wouldn't start, "wait" to a kettle about to boil
over. There is no real reason for this to be less annoying
now, but it is less annoying.