Rereading / (2007-01-07/11)

"There is no great genius without some touch of madness. "--Seneca, Moral Essays. On Tranquility of the Mind, 17, 10
"'Without effective therapy, widely available and used, we wouldn't be able to support the dataflow economy we have today.'"--Greg Bear, / (Slant)

Several science fiction authors explore the relationship between sanity and society. In Xenocide and Children of the Mind, Orson Scott Card imagines a society which regards obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as possession by the gods. In A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge imagines a far-future society which uses hyperfocus--which my society regards as a symptom of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism--for enslavement. In /, Greg Bear imagines a near-future society which stresses its best and brightest into unhappiness--until technological therapy restores them. / adds Tourette syndrome alongside OCD and ADHD to the list of disorders with subplots in science fiction.

I read again my autographed copy of / in Seattle. In this city my programming work and play, in business and hobby projects, have brought me into contact with "neurodiversity." In former subconsultants and friends I have observed these traits: preoccupation with a single subject, repetitive rituals, idiosyncratic speech, inability to express empathy, impaired ability to perceive nonverbal cues, perfectionism, perfect alignment of objects, echolalia, self-injury, social avoidance, fidgeting, poor impulse control, unusual reluctance to take risks, sexual preference uncertainty, substance habits, and a subvocalization behavior I don't know how to classify. One could regard these traits as symptoms of Aspberger syndrome, OCD, high-functioning autism, Tourette syndrome, borderline personality disorder, social anxiety, avoidant personality disorder, ADHD, or a comorbid combination of these.

One could also regard these traits as personality weaknesses associated with expert knowledge, technical thought, humor, helpfulness, attention to detail, organization, problem-solving, cognitive motor control, artistic temperament, or shyness. Hacker culture certainly has some skepticism about Aspberger syndrome and ADHD:
After all, people in authority will always be inconvenienced by schoolchildren or workers or citizens who are prickly, intelligent individualists — thus, any social system that depends on authority relationships will tend to helpfully ostracize and therapize and drug such ‘abnormal’ people until they are properly docile and stupid and ‘well-socialized’.
Whether disorder or personality, I am intrigued by the range of experience, and curious about the requirements of excellence.

Working on D800 in Seattle (2006-12-28/2007-01-11)

Jim waved his hands and said, "Chicken, chicken, chicken," the previous time my laptop refused to turn on. I assume this was because he lacked a dead chicken. Afterward, when he replaced the battery, the laptop turned on. This time (I bring all my hardware problems to Jim) even removing and replacing the battery failed.

I removed the hard drive, shipped the D820 to Dell for repair, and went back to using a D800. The D820 hard drive contains the photographs that I would use to bring this blog up to our 2006-12-04 return flight from Paris to Seattle, instead of leaving the travel diary at Château d'Amboise. I'm disappointed: my Europe blogs posts were my most complete travel diary to date, tripling the 9 handwritten entries in my 1996 European travel diary. I want to finish the trip diary in photos, once the D820 returns and I have easy access to the nearly 2100 photographs Ryan and I took.

In the last half of our Europe trip I traveled and developed software. Now that we've delivered the 0.2 (alpha) version of the user interface, I want to begin blogging books and--when the D820 returns--finish the travel diary.