Seasonal Science

I happened to run across this cartoon the other day, [Link]

and it put me in mind of part of the stressfulness of the season. I would ask you to consider the hierarchy, which is not quite simple, of:


neighbors; and


Family are easy to obtain [1] in that they are your family by act of birth, either your own if the family members are older than you but their’s if younger. Family is difficult to impossible to rid oneself of unless one waits for them to discorporate – a stochastic process of some complexity – or becomes a black sheep or prodigal – something approximating artificial orphan. In-law family is similar in that one obtains such by marriage or similar ritualism in a situation that is a non-linear combination of friend and family.

Neighbors are somewhat similar in that one obtains them by accident. You decide, by whatever process to live at some location and they decide to live next to you by some equally indecipherable process but approximating a stochastic draw in the proximity. Thus whether a neighbor is an acute rectal pain, a sociopath, or an incipient friend is a matter of sampling. And based on all of our experience, the sample population is dominated by fiends and degenerates.

A subset of neighbors is the class of co-workers who are slightly more bearable because of a singular difference from neighbors. Whereas neighbors have no survival interests in common, co-workers do. Simply put co-workers do not wish to be unemployed. This does not prevent them from trying to get you unemployed but it does prevent petty thermonuclear war for its own dear sake. But a commonality is that you and your co-workers select that place to work in a process that may bear some resemblance to the residential location decision process.[2]

Hence the chief difference between family and neighbors on the one and friends on the other, whatever the one and the other may be – a hand perhaps? Friends are usually not easy to obtain, unless in the accidental juxtaposition of sharing an enemy, usually a family member or neighbor. This alternation of proximities is an important binding force in both families and neighborhoods and has no little benefit in precluding distasteful interactions with justicers. But if friends are hard to obtain, they are easy to be rid of. Friends, with the exception of that class of sharing a common enemy, are usually bound by some commonality of interest. Regardless there is some personal aspect of fundamental value in friendship that is absent in family and neighbors.

Herein lies the connection with the cartoon and the season. One may not usually appraise family or neighbors of their blatant and egregious inaccuracies. In the first case one becomes “Old Weird Uncle/Aunt” whoever and in the second either litigated or battered. Friends told of this either cease to be friends or the bond is strengthened, a beneficial result in either case. The connection with the season is that because of its moralistic, superstitious overtones, one spends more time with family and neighbors and hence has more opportunity to be exposed to their faults, especially their blatant and egregious inaccuracies. And invariably, forgetting for a moment that they are not friends one constructively informs them of their fault and instant stress is generated. Neighbors resort to fisticuffs and depart, or evict you from their premises, but family cannot do so if civility is to be maintained. If not, fisticuffs or eviction also prevails, but otherwise one just instantly becomes “Old Weird Uncle/Aunt” whoever and the environment stutters on until the next instance.[3]

Of course this difficulty is more pronounced when the family or neighbors are bogs and you are a nerd (or geek), or visa versa. Bogs are oblivious so they aren’t really conscious[4] of the inaccuracies and hence react at most emotionally or endocrinally, which explains the prevalence of egg nog and fruit cake. Nerds (and to a lesser extent, geeks) are not only aware but analytical, and, unfortunately, helpful, although that helpfulness is, as always, misplaced among bogs. Hence these unhelpful attempts at help serve only to create friction and stress.

The lesson for this is that families and neighborhoods should be required, under pain of action by government, either (modern) republican-fascist or (modern) democrat-communist, to be either purely boggish or purely nerdish with no intermixing. Happily this does not run afoul of any existing anti-discrimination legalities since politicians are almost all bogs.

[1] This is qualified by the situation of orphans who have no family and often work very hard to obtain family. This obtained family is more like friends than ‘true’ family, however.

[2] This process relationship is purely hypothetical in that since we have no idea what the processes are we can make no nerdish comparison, only a geekish observation that the end states are similar and hence in the twilight zone between boggish obliviousness and nerdish analysis may be related. Hey!, it works for religious and government organizations, doesn’t it?

[3] This incidentally, is the primary reason that the airline industry is failing. Since Gen Y is much more tightly bound to friends than neighbors or family, trips home to these family gatherings have been sharply decreased by the Gen Y’s and hence the airlines have their holiday take reduced markedly.

[4] One of my colleagues, who is also a friend and so in the interest of not frackulating him with his family and neighbors will remain anonymous, has suggested that bogs retain bicameral minds. This simple hypothesis is astounding powerful as that one concept explains Ivory soap (0.9944) of all boggish behavior.