Friday, August 15, 2014


Sadly, I grew up in a house that quibbled.  There are a lot of parents that will correct a child's grammar, but this went way beyond that.  In my home, everything was corrected.  If I said that amethyst were purple, my father would quickly correct me that some were pink, red or blue.  If I called the nearby road Brisebois, "bris-boy," my mother was quick to correct me that it was "bris-bwa."  If I told a friend we were going to the mall and then the grocery, either parent would be quick to point out that we were going to the grocery first.  This sort of thing was constant and unrelenting - not only between my parents and I - they did it between themselves, also.  And as I was youngest in the family, both my sister and brother had picked up the habit long before I'd reached the age of eight.

So, quibbling is a deeply entrenched habit with me.  I carried it forward through school, through university and through my daughter's upraising, and right here onto the internet.  It is one of my worst habits, one that I hardly realize I'm following.  I see something that's, quote, 'wrong,' and I leap to correct it.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, there are a bunch of gentle readers saying, "I told you so."  But don't pretend that a lot of you don't do exactly the same thing - the internet is full of it, as the cartoon on the left clearly
indicates.  I was not the only one raised with this habit - else I wouldn't have people rushing to point out to me that not every government in ancient Greece was a democracy, or that a video isn't 'skype,' it's a G+ hangout video.  Pointing out that things are wrong is a national sport.

I know I have to give it up.  I know that my resistance against giving it up has nothing whatsoever to do with me, it has to do with my parents and having developed the habit so deeply in my psyche.  The worst thing about habits like this is that for years and years it is possible to hang onto the certainty that things should not be wrong.  They should be right.

See, that is the worst of it.  There is a lot of confusion about wrongness and rightness - particularly in people who don't care about either.  All my life I've had people say of me, "You need to be right; you can't bear to be wrong" - which is, at best, a half-truth.  I don't 'need' to be right - I've done the research and the source material says I am right.  Other source material may indicate something else, but then it's a debate between other people, not me.  The argument that I 'have to be' right would suggest that even when I'm wrong, and I know I'm wrong, I'm still insistent that the listener acknowledge it.  This is flat out something I do not do.  My peculiar attitude towards rightness doesn't allow for deception - either towards others or myself.

In the past few months, several times, I've been wrong.  My response to being wrong has been to admit it.  I find that hard and unpleasant, but I can bear it.  Correct, Greece was not entirely a democratic culture.  Correct, it is a G+ hangout video.  Satisfied?

Since I rarely hear anyone admit they're wrong, I've been able to identify the value of people all my life by their ability to accept their errors and change their minds.  People who do neither have little value for me.  People who do not do the research have even less.  And people who argue resolutely that doing the research is bullshit and unnecessary, for whatever justification . . . well, hell, I don't see people like that as even human.  Deeply, I feel the world would be a much better place without those people.

Firing off a missive about someone's inaccuracy is a way of testing to see what sort of person they are.  At least, that's a lie I've been telling myself for years.

I realize I have to change.  I have to let go.  More and more, I have struggled to just let other people be wrong in more ordinary, daily life, and it has been noticed by friends and family.  They have remarked on it - particularly in situations where they know from their experience that something inaccurate was said, and where I didn't respond.  That is very, very unlike my parents.  That is not the way they raised me.

Here and there, in posts for the next month or longer, I'm going to be talking about a series of military figures, all from the old Civ IV game:  spearman, galley, archer, cavalry, missionary, axeman, swordsman, explorer and so on - and there's going to be a lot of quibbling about those.  There is so much misinformation and half-information manifesting in lies and errors and dogma that no matter what I write about those things, someone will rush forward to say, "No, it's this" or "You've got it wrong about that."  The source material - even that deriving from universities and academia - is so full of bullshit, fostered by children who grew up on bad films and bad documentaries, that what's real and isn't real has completely degraded.  The Katana is just a sword.  And not even that good a sword.

I'm going to write those posts anyway.  I'll do my research and put in the hours and carefully choose every word that's written down, constructing passages and arguments in an effort to get across the more important themes of game-play and design.  Then someone who hasn't done any research, who hasn't read a single book on weaponry, who will take no time whatsoever to think about their language or about themes, will rush - like my parents - to tell me that a Katana was magically folded over ten billion times or whatever the hell else they learned from the great god Tarentino.

Because this is the internet.  This is where we quibble.  This is the arena my parents unwittingly raised me to correct.  This is the battleground between bullshit and blunder.

I'd like to take a step back and just be referee for a while.  I wish - I really wish - my blood wouldn't boil when some idiot says something stupid.  After all, in reality, that idiot is already surrounded by a lot of people who already know the value that person really has - and karma is doing my work better than I ever could.  I have to stop letting it bother me.  I have to accept that people have always gotten it wrong - that this will never, ever change, no matter how much effort I give.  Stupidity flourishes.  It is what stupidity does.


Barrow said...

I find it extremely annoying when commenters quibble about details completely unrelated to the goals or a text. I envision people happily digesting the concepts and information in a text, and then, like an alarm bell sounding, they see a minor misspelling or generalization. All the information that they were originally happily conceptualizing is gone because a single small detail has consumed their mind. They rush to comment. Its like the person is not listening to the material they sat down to read. If a stranger did this to me in person I would find a lot of reasons not to speak with that person again.

I do ENJOY reading commentors debating you, Alexis, on topical concepts with sound reasoning. However, too often the debates boil down and become exhaustive. Detractors demand universal laws that can never be wrong, no mater how extreme the "for instance" or variables are that they present. I get frustrated reading through the lines platitudes of online debating necessary to accommodate tangential arguments. I imagine others share in my frustration because its dry and boring. It would be more entertaining if someone where to say "F U Alexis, your ideas are trash and you can't make me do anything. Na-na-boo-boo." It would not bother me if these comments were screened all together.

Alexis Smolensk said...

With no real arguments, Barrow, people are trained to tear things down based upon their components - like breaking a shopping cart by destroying one wheel. Without that wheel for a lot of people, the whole rest of the argument is crap.

Remember, though, that this post is really me saying that I do this - that I need to stop - and that most of us do this because we are TRAINED to do it by others. Consciously accepting that others will be wrong is hard because the parallel argument, that they are ENTITLED to be wrong, is hard to swallow.

I don't think people are entitled to be wrong - too much evil results from the entitlement of stupid, wrong and abusive people. At the same time, there's no real solution for it.

Quibbling is a 'wrong' also. One that I have indulged in far too often - so today I don't feel much resentment for others who have done the same. Let's hope that a message can be gotten and that we can all try to make ourselves stop.

Jomo Rising said...

Through my exhaustive search of the internet, You-tube especially, I've come to the conclusion that the katana is a good sword, not a great sword.
But there you go. I have never done an in-depth study, with proper use of references, of the blade. I have never even touched a real katana. So much information at my fingertips, so I want to be part of the discussion, some kind of expert. But, for the love of God, WHY? I don't have katanas in my game, nor in my life.

Alexis Smolensk said...


I inserted that line about the Katana because both the Katana and the campaign against it have become internet memes - divided between those who are fans of Tarentino (in Kill Bill, for instance, the Katana is treated as a holy item) and those who strongly disagree. See this for more information.

More to the point, I used this particular example because it is an argument that will probably NEVER die - because nostalgically there are always people who will want to believe what they did when they were little children, no matter what comes to light. 12-14 year old boys who were able to find copies of Kill Bill will love the Katana all the rest of their lives. And they will be the first to demand to know why my 'swordsman' post does not include a significant section on how the Katana changed all of human history.

Eaterofkittens said...

I was once an irascible quibbler. It was not enough to be smug andpedantic, i needed to make sure everyone who tried to express themselves had all facts correct and pronounced all words accurately acocording to the rules of pronunciation of the language of origin (tomahto is wrong) and realized that people would argue and refuse my rightness and even be angry. The truth isn't true because of anything i did, being angry with me is inappropriate.
Later i read How to win friends and influence people in which the author advises against correcting people unless the matter is vital or free of emotional charge.

Now i more selective about who and what draws my keen contradiction. If someone must be corrected be sure you are doing so out of love for the correctee or the love of truth and not as a meas to erode somones face and elevate yourself.

Dave said...

I thought I made a mistake once, but it turned out THAT was my only error.

- Capt Pedantic

Issara Booncharoen said...

I hold my hand up to the not all Greece cities are democracies statement being wrong.

Howerver, you gave an answer that implied a question much more useful than the statement I made. So I'm glad I made the quibble, you gave me an understanding of the argument I could not have had without it. I now understand that the importance of categorising Greece as democratic in this context is the expectation of individuals to pay for their own equipment.

In future I will attempt to make quibbles valid attempts to understand the whys and wherefores of your argument rather than relying you to make them so.

Any actual comment on chariots in relation democracy will follow after at least a semester's worth of lectures.