06 September, 2017

Ho, Ho, the Rattlin' Blog...

(if you don't know the song)...this is a cumulative song like The Twelve Days of Christmas, except each verse speeds up. A hell of a lot of fun to try and sing.)

"Rattlin'" just means splendid, incidentally. 

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Just had a free-ranging conversation that had me all over the emotional map, from pissing my pants laughing to just pissed to introspective, with everything in between. 

It started with another appearance of one of the more common Facebook memes. A mutual friend of ours posted it this morning: a picture of a dilapidated house in the woods, with a caption saying "no internet, no cellphone, no human contact. 365 days. $365,000. Could you do it?"

Previously, whenever something like this came up -- I've been seeing it for years -- I would say something like "hell, yeah, sign me up". Now? Now I'm not sure I could do it, and I KNOW I wouldn't want to.

The lack of internet would hit first, and immediately. Yes, I know, it's an addiction. But it's not the internet itself I'm addicted to. It's the human contact. The thought of a year without human contact causes something inside me to shrivel up in fear. 

It makes me think of The Shining. That book is never far from my mind. Could I last a winter in a haunted hotel? Let's update it to the present day and stipulate satellite internet that doesn't go down. Umm...it'd be tough, even with functional internet, and that's completely ignoring anything psychic. I'm not psychically aware, so the ghosts and ghoulies can parade around at will...then again, get me in a state of anxious depression and who knows what would be lurking in the tub or on the playground...

That kind of isolation is definitely not something I would choose. 

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From there the conversation meandered around until we landed on petty annoyances. I have a mittful of them: it's my literalist streak.

I've always been a literal person, dating back to early childhood. It makes for some sticks in the mud of my moral development. 

Lawrence Kohlberg, in 1958, devised a theory of moral development that is still widely cited today. He presented children of various ages with moral dilemmas and track their responses. The most famous of his dilemmas concerns Heinz, a man whose wife is dying of a rare cancer. A chemist synthesizes an experimental drug that might cure her, but charges an exorbitant amount of money for it. Heinz manages to raise half the demanded sum (which happens to cover the chemist's costs of development) but no more. In desperation, Heinz breaks into the chemist's shop and steals the drug.

  • should Heinz have stolen the drug?
  • would it change anything if Heinz did not love his wife?
  • what if the woman wasn't his wife but a total stranger, would that make a difference?
  • should the police arrest the chemist for murder if the woman dies? 
The answers don't matter as much as the reasoning behind them. What Kohlberg found is that there are three levels of moral reasoning, each with two stages. Very few people reach the highest level; in fact, Kohlberg has in recent years relegated it to the theoretical, a sort of "what would Jesus do?" stage that ISN'T about "what I would do if I were Jesus".
 Likewise, very few stay at the lowest. Most of us settle somewhere around the middle.

I won't get into the whole breakdown of the stages...if you're interested, go here and see where you fall. Suffice it to say I took this in first year Psychology, and it stuck with me, both because of the epiphany I had during class ("different people do chart their own moral courses!") and because I've always liked to evaluate myself.

What I've found, evaluating myself, is a bit troublesome. Intellectually, I am drawn towards the higher levels. They resonate with my empathy and my sense of rightness: what's right for me is what is right for as many others as possible. Yet...

 Literal Ken likes rules. Literal Ken thinks rules have a purpose and that all things being equal, they should be obeyed. Even the most trivial of rules...such as the IN door being for people going IN and the OUT door being for people going OUT. Further, when literal Ken is upset, he finds himself fantasizing about punishing the miscreant in-the-out-door people.

This is not higher stage thinking. 

If you're facing my store, the entrance doors are on the left and the exit doors are on the right. This does not stop hundreds of people each day from coming in the exit doors. Shooting them is maybe a little harsh; Eva suggested a giant puff of air that would blow everybody over to the correct side. I like the way she thinks. 

At least once a day, a manager is summoned to the McDonald's that's nested within our store because some idiot has ignored the sign that says "DO NOT OPEN - ALARM WILL SOUND and opened and sounded. The sound pulverizes my ear, a kind of high-pitched warbling whistle I find actively painful, and I do wish that particular combination of laziness and contempt could be similarly painful. Eva to the rescue: she imagines a door that's hooked up slightly differently to the fire alarm, thus:

  • idiot decides to go out the fire door
  • fire door checks with fire alarm to see if there is an actual fire
  • if not, the door does open...just long enough for idiot to start to exit
  • door then slams shut and Samuel L. Jackson's voice says "do you smell smoke, motherfucker?"
I like the way she thinks. I don't care what moral level that is, it's so richly satisfying.

These are the kinds of conversations we have around here of a morning...




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