Morning Ed: Society {2017.05.10.W}

It’s racist to avoid eye contract, but ableist to say that. But seriously, though, eye contact norms vary a great deal from country to country. No place that purports to be multiculturalist can really dictate them.

Noah Smith takes issue with the notion that homogeneity breeds harmony and cooperation.

Tor Bair makes a really good point: Chess teaches you patience and strategy, but when it comes to life, Tetris is more helpful.

It honestly never would have occurred to me to assume that any era of science fiction was generally optimistic about the future. Optimism lacks tension that drives plot!

Tips on sleeping with other people. Like sleeping sleeping.

An interesting look at the history of subtitles.

So maybe anime isn’t stylistic so much as futuristic. Also, a look at the sausage-making of anime.

The true story of a fake accent.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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22 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Society {2017.05.10.W}

  1. In some areas of the world/country, it’s a good idea NOT to eyeball someone. They take it as a threat. Then again, if you DON’T eyeball someone, they may take it as indication that you’re “a potential victim”. I’d rather be called a racist than get mugged.

    Noah Smith: I stopped reading when he stated that “I’m only talking about the ethnic/racial type. I’m not talking about linguistic, religious, or other dimensions of homogeneity/diversity” Gee, ya think that MIGHT be important too?

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    • You can definitely have trouble for “eying” someone, which is rather different from brief eye contact followed by a smile or nod (depending). Certainly I’ve gotten in trouble for the former, mostly during my first few months riding mass transit in Boston, which was at the time very unfamiliar to me.

      The microaggression aspect is probably real, which is to say, I can sense the ways I get treated slightly different from cis women, just so many little things. It adds up to a feeling of alienation.

      Well, at least it used to. These days — I kinda don’t fucking care, because I kinda fucking gave up on fitting in. Trying to fit in was emotionally draining. I simply quit.

      Eye contact, along with the corresponding body language cues, are a basic part of how we acknowledge strangers. It’s subtle. You’re probably not really aware of the specific mechanics, particularly if you are neurotypical and perform this stuff unconsciously.

      That said, have you ever been to a party where a conversational group has formed, and where you are interested in joining the group, but nevertheless you feel excluded? Now, I’m not talking about when you are explicitly excluded, where they say, “Hey so and so, go away!” Instead, I’m talking about where people somehow arrange their bodies and focus so that you cannot easily get anyone’s attention without being outright rude. This experience is common, right?

      That said, can you name the specific body language and so forth that causes this? Moreover, from the other direction, can you be sure you are always aware if you are doing it to others? When you do it, do you always intend to do it?

      On a crowded subway car, everyone pretty much ignores each other, which is probably best. We mostly all want to get where we’re going with zero fistfights or homicides. However, in other social settings, if you give “open” body language and expression to other white people, but are “closed off” from black people, then some black people will notice. They perhaps cannot articulate what is happening, any more than you can. But they will feel it. You, however, will likely be oblivious. You are simply “acting naturally.” The white people in the room mostly “gel,” whereas black people have to deal with the choice between “sucking it up” or “saying something.” Both are shitty options.

      For the white people reading this, do you do this? Are you sure? How would you know?

      Honestly, you probably do, at least in some contexts. Does that make you a “racist”?

      Well, there is system 1 versus system 2 thinking. Even if you do not want to be racist, are you so sure your system 1 always matches your expressed values?

      Microaggressions are normal. You probably do them. You probably don’t notice. You should want to do them less. However, noticing and correcting flaws in your system 1 thinking takes active cognitive effort. Are you willing to make that effort?

      So it goes.

      Neurodiverse people are an additional complication. Our “system 1” social circuits are wonky, so we’re going to make people feel uncomfortable regardless of race. Which sucks for us and sucks for everyone and fuckitall. That’s life if you have a weird brain.

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      • v,
        Don’t give neurodiverse people such a free pass.
        They can learn every single thing the hard way — and because it’s learnt, it’s stuff that they can control a lot better than your general person.
        … neurodiverse people are a HELL of a lot better agents and spies.

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        • — I’m neurodiverse and indeed I learned these things. But it took me longer. Likewise, it takes effort. It can be draining. Furthermore, different people have different potential. I’m more on the ADHD side than the ASD side. My challenge is unique to me.

          It’s fun sometimes to just turn it off and let myself be weird. Stop making eye contact, openly stim.

          Or not. I choose when and where. Like, I’ll be at rock shows or dance clubs and I’ll go into “autism mode,” where I stare at the floor and stim by playing with my hair. I don’t give a fuck if people thing I’m weird. I am weird, so fuckem. On the other hand, I can snap out of it when I go outside to chat with people. Getting eye contact right is an interesting challenge.

          I’ve discovered that when I use my occular units to look into other people’s occular units, it helps to wait a couple heartbeats and then arrange my facial muscles into (what the normies call) a “smile.” Then, depending on what social dominance game we’re playing, I look down or they look down.

          It’s fun. Sometimes I get power-ups in the form of kisses.

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  2. The proper eye contact etiquette in any given situation is the one that will lead to the most bad faith accusations.

    People are going to spill endless ink on the subject of homogeneity and trust.

    Life isn’t like Tetris or chess, its like a Kafka novel.

    The anime look is creepy when applied to flesh and blood humans.

    There have been lots of stories on the Mid-Atlantic accent in the past few years.

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  3. That Tetris article is depressing but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

    Another way life is like Tetris: successes are fleeting and mistakes tend to build up and snowball.

    The “sleeping” link takes you to a page of neverending thumbnail ads of clickbait stories; no actual story there. Don’t know if that’s intentional, a mistake, or the website being a butt.

    And so now “Midatlantic” accents are ‘deeply offensive’ to those who live in the Mid-Atlantic region? Let me talk to you about some of the “Upper Midwest” accents we hear in movies when you’re someone who grew up with UP Michigan relatives….not to mention, where I live now, the “southern Plains” accents that sound straight outta Alabama…

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      • My mom always did the code-switching thing, which first amused me and then made me slightly sad. (She came from a working class family and climbed into the middle class with marriage and education….)

        I used to be able to do a UP accent but I haven’t been back there in years since my last relative there died, and I don’t know if I could still slip back into it. I am slowly acquiring a bit of a southern OK accent….

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  4. To take this Dan Nosowitz guy at his word, he gets offended very easily. He also has this weird thing going where he seems genuinely horrified that linguists and language coaches of yesterday would dare to be so unenlightened as the linguists of today, when both positions are fairly subjective.

    Personally, I love the Mid Atlantic accent. Without it, Trading Places would be nowehere near as funny.

    “… and she stepped on the ball.”

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  5. In Noah Smith’s essay, in one section, he opens with “Note: When I talk about “homogeneity” in this post, I’m only talking about the ethnic/racial type. I’m not talking about linguistic, religious, or other dimensions of homogeneity/diversity”

    I find myself wondering about what if he were talking about linguistic, religious, or other dimensions.

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  6. Subititles are superior to dubbing (which I think the article agrees with). What’s also nice is closed captioning has gotten a lot better & widespread, so its easier to watch TV with multigenerational living room audience.

    Looking Backward to the go-to example of optimistic science fiction, and was quite famous in its day, but now is eclipsed by Verne and Wells, and especially all the dystopian stories that followed a generation or so later.

    I always thought there was much more of a New York accent tendency in movies from the 30s to the mid 50s, than afterwards when everyone was from all over and living in California – and for that matter more a New York accent than the typical mid-period Law and Order episode guest star.

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    • Subtitles are superior to dubbing when you’re getting crappy voices to dub. I’ve heard Patrick Stewart doing voice acting, and I think I prefer him to most subtitles. Your mileage may vary.

      Likewise, Simpsons dubbed in Japanese is hilarious.

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  7. The sleeping with other people link appears to be acting up (I can’t get to the article) but I can say, for myself, the best “sleeping with other people” advice I have involves “have a staggered schedule”.

    Going to sleep a couple of hours before the other person goes to sleep?

    Works like a charm.

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