Inductive Identity Disaster

People have a hard time figuring out how to label me. Black or white or brown or mixed? Shorts and sandals in winter? What accent I have is a mish-mash of approximations of too many to be a real one. I speak confidently about subjects people assume I have an advanced degree in education, philosophy, economics, physics, history, political science, law, or computers. I look young enough that in this college town, they think I am a graduate student.

For dinner, I went to a restaurant a friend runs. At the bar, a couple women sat next to me talking about lots of random subjects. I sat there reading. One expressed frustration understanding the interaction of the federal and state governments over who can make a law about what. So I explained a bit about how the enumerated powers are defined, but the reality is the Supreme Court arbitrates and even then states or even local judges may ignore that until legally forced. I went back to reading. Their conversation came around to describing frustration with arguments against gay marriage, in particular that gay marriage would lead to polygamy or worse. Again, I tried to help by pointing out that something would lead to worse things without a mechanism is called a slippery slope logical fallacy and what that is. At this point one asked if I am a lawyer or law student.

When those are your two data points, that is a pretty good guess. Nope, just a computer geek with bookworm tendencies to read about everything.

Then she asked PC or Mac? My reply Linux baffled the other. So I got to explain about operating systems. I even got her to geek out when she asked about how two computers could talk to each other by comparing Internet protocol standards to Esperanto. She is a Classics graduate student and Esperanto is only spoken by a few thousand people. Only just to get her excited to talk about something she knows well.

In retrospect, I should have given her a card. That was fun.


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