Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Safe Words


I recently re-read Harry Turtledove's How Few Remain, an alternate U.S. history which posits, among other things, the Confederate States having won the Civil War (which they nearly did in reality), and George Armstrong Custer enjoying a much longer and more successful career than he actually did.

On page 244, Colonel Custer is searching the home of a suspected polygamist in Utah in 1881. Despite the denials of several of the women there, he has found a family picture of the man with all his wives and children together:

"I say that this photograph shows me you have been imperfectly truthful here," he told them, having been too well brought up to call a woman a liar to her face.

That's puzzled me for a little while now. Let's put aside the question of why it's so bad to tell a woman who has lied to you, that you know she has lied.

What could Custer have meant by "imperfectly truthful" if not that the women's pleas that they were not the suspect's wives were untrue? If everyone there, including the women, was expected to understand that Custer now knew that they had, well, lied, just why is "imperfectly truthful" so much better than "lying" when everyone knows that they mean the exact same thing?

What do you think?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Asperger Syndrome and the Workplace

Gwen Parkes has profiled Temple Grandin and me on AOL Jobs in "Asperger's Can Aid The Workplace," in which Ms. Parkes discusses the challenges we face at work, and how we can best contribute.

As of now, it's still the second most popular article on AOL Jobs. It came up on AOL's own front page this morning, and I fielded calls and emails for most of today.

On another note, Emily asked me last night if I'd called a blawger (blogger who writes about the law) demanding he take my name off his blog.

J: I don't know what you're talking about. Who was this blawger?

M: He said you called him....

J: What is his name?

M: I found him by Googling your's one of the first links to come up....

J: What. is. his. name??

M: I don't know - I'm sorry.

So, I run downstairs, fire up Google and eventually find Mark Bennett's post. Mr. Bennett is an interesting defense lawyer - with whom I strongly disagree on certain issues but whom I respect, not least for his willingness to question authority.

I printed it out and ran back upstairs. When Emily stepped out of the bathroom, I showed it to her:

J: Did you scroll down and read the entire post?

M: I did...I'm sorry.

J: Didn't you see the line "No" in there?

M: I read above and below it...I must have missed the "No" itself.

The morals of the story:

(1) Life is so often in the details.

(2) I'm not as unique in all respects as some people might think.

(3) Emily, I love you. You're always a lioness where I'm concerned.