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I mean, gee.

I got this new computer, which is great, and a lot faster than my computer.  I can actually write this blog on the blog site, which I couldn’t do on my home computer before.  I’m in love with the thing.

But I’m also me.  I react to change in minor routines with a kind of belligerent panic.  So I’m doing a little of that.  What the hell.

Right now, I’ve got to major problems, which are connected–the space bar tends to stick, which I’m not used to, so I’m not correcting for it yet.   But I will get used to it. 

And the related thing is that the back space key on this keyboard is the size of an ordinary letter key, instead of being really long like it was on my old keyboard.

And I touch type.

So, I write merrily along, realize the space hasn’t happened, blindly put my pink up to hit the back space and get slash marks more often than not.

I’ll work it out.  I had keys on my old keyboard where the letters had worn right off, making them blank.  Which was fine for me, because I do touch type, but it drove the boys nuts because they hunt and peck.

I’m keeping the keyboard.  I’ll learn to remember to really smash the hell out of the space bar eventually.

As for anything else that might be going on:

Sitting around yesterday, waiting for the computer to go in and to leave for a really ridiculous, unnecessary meeting that I had in the evening, I realized something about myself.  It’s one of those things that surprise me, but that I don’t know what to do with.

When it comes to “entertainment,” both the fictional kind and the reality-TV kind, what I’m most drawn to is one of two things:  the extremely competent, or the extremely screwed up.

Take,  for instance, Apollo 13.  I don’t think I ever remember to put it down when somebody asks me for my favorite movie, but I’ll watch it whenever it comes on television, I own it, and there’s never a time when I don’t want to see it.

What is that, really, but a movie about a world of extremely competent people handling a very big problem?  I think I like the idea of it, a world full of people who honestly bone-deep know how to do very hard things, and do them every day, without–I don’t know what I want here.  “Prancing around about it” are the words that come to mind, but that’s not quite it.   Maybe “making a big deal about how important they are” comes closer to it.

It occurs to me that this is why I like the Ocean movies, too, even though I’m not usually a good audience for caper stories.  There’s always something in the back of mymind going, “they’re stealing stuff.  They’re stealing stuff, for God’s sake.

I think with the Ocean movies, the focus is not on the stealing but on the skill, planning and intelligence of the operation, so that the nature of the operation sort of drifts into the background.

On the other end is the extremely screwed up, which includes things like Intervention and a fair number of the various Lockup and Women Behind Bars sorts of things.  It also includes all those movies about alocholics (Days of Wine and Roses, 28 Days, Clean and Sober) that I sometimes wonder might have been made by people as part of a sentence after a drug or alcohol charge.

Part of what fascinates me with these is the money.  There you’ll have Our Guy, hasn’t had a job in ten years, starts shooting up at eight in the morning…and then the information that, last year, he spent $30,000 on drugs.

I mean–what?  Getting that much out of mugging people would make mugging a full time job that would leave him practically no time to get high.  Where is all this money coming from?  And there’s tons of it.  It’s everywhere.

And although there are certainly plenty of bums on the street because of alcohol and drugs, it’s astounding how many people with full-blown addictions manage to have really nice places to live. 

I know that the reality shows are skewed to middle class anomalies, but still–there do seem to be an awful lot of them. 

Part of what fascinates me about all this is that I can’t really imagine it.  I seem to have some kind of internal program that makes me run around doing stuff, teaching, writing, whatever.  I don’t even need a boss or a supervisor to do it.  I just do it. 

Obviously, some people don’t.  I always wonder why they don’t, what it is in them that makes it possible to just let themselves go.


This keyboard is getting easier to use, and I found my copy of Edmund Burke, which I’d been looking for.

And, just a note, the new copy of  Free Inquiry has yet another column by Shadia Drury full of howlers, and this time without even the excuse that it’s all from the Middle Ages and she doesn’t read Latin anyway.

My favorite was her definition of “oligarchy” as “rule by the rich.”  It means “rule by a small group,” which is hardly the same thing. 

Ah, well.  She was doing her usual thing of dumping a bunch of cliches about the US as if she’d thought of them herself and they were brand new, coupled with indulging her nostalgia for a “conservatism” that, if she actually knew anything about it, would make her run like hell in the opposite direction.

I’m going to go do something practical.  Maybe I can get back to the two Enlightenments tomorrow.

Written by janeh

June 29th, 2010 at 6:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'Scattershot'

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  1. Congrats on the new ‘puter, Jane. Don’t forget that when all else fails you can always read the RTFM. Oh, wait… :-)


    29 Jun 10 at 7:57 am

  2. See, I only like the extremely competent. Probably my favorite scene in any movie, ever, is in Apollo 13 when they dump all the random stuff on the table and say OK–we need to use these materials to make a CO2 filter–go! And it’s to save people’s lives and they just do it.

    The messed up people–I just can’t even stand to be in the room when the show is on. Our housemate watches something called, I think, 48 hours, where they are real life cops solving real life cases. The ones where you get the guy in the interrogation room and he’s an actual criminal, IQ of 80 and all…. Yuck. I’ll read another Gregor story, thanks.



    29 Jun 10 at 9:35 am

  3. I’m with you, Cathy – I like the extremely competent a lot – that’s one of my favorite scenes in Apollo 13 too. But watching these shows with criminals who do things for really, really stupid reasons – no. I keep wanting to just sit them down and reason with them, which of course wouldn’t work anyway.

    Jane, you know, keyboards are about $19 these days. Even if you don’t need a new computer you can get a different keyboard. I had our IT people give me a new one recently – they keep a shelf full of ’em and Doug had it over here inside about ten minutes.

    Of course, that doesn’t work at home, but Amazon’s got ’em.


    29 Jun 10 at 9:55 am

  4. I’m with the majority. Competency rates highly, stupidity and self-destruction not at all–which might be the only way to wind up with full sets of both Georgette Heyer and H. Beam Piper.

    For comedy, obviously, cultural clashes, with personality clashes a distant second.

    But the emotional button to push–the one that brings tears to my eyes in the last reel or the last chapter–is persistence in a good cause, regardless of outcome.

    “Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose
    More proud the spirit, as our strength lessens.
    Mind shall not falter nor mood waver
    Though doom come and darkness conquer.”


    29 Jun 10 at 4:04 pm

  5. Well, if by ‘stupidity’ we mean the incompetent and useless, I agree, but only partly. If I never read another mystery novel about the barely-functioning alcoholic detective who also can’t maintain a friendship, much less a romantic relationship with another human being, it’ll be too soon.

    But look at Bertie Wooster and Lord Emsworth! They are both totally incompetent,and at the same time among the funniest characters in fiction.

    I think I like clever more than brilliant. It’s more interesting to read about people who work their way out of tight corners than about people who are too bright to get in the tight corners in the first place. Of course, some characters (like some real people) have flashes of brilliance, cleverness and downright stupidity – Miles Vorkosigan is like that – basically brilliant, got enough mental blocks to inspire him to do stupid things for believable reasons, and is clever enough to work his way out of the resulting messes. Eventually.


    30 Jun 10 at 6:09 am

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