I am very, very smart. I'm not putting that out there because I want to impress the internet -- I'm not sure I would even know how to impress a gestalt entity which routinely ends arguments by invoking the ghost of Hitler, and whose main point of comparison for coolness is a picture of a cat with a hollowed-out fruit on its head -- but I because I think it's an important piece of context. When you are the smart kid in your little social arena, it affects how everybody reacts to you, and that in turn affects everything you do. People treat you differently when they think you're smarter than they are, and the amount of different goes up in lockstep with the amount of smart, until you're ten and sitting in the back of a classroom, being (successfully) taught algebra by a volunteer eighth-grader and copping these sidelong looks from the adults, like they're not sure whether you might sprout a second head at any moment. Or at least it did for me.

This does weird things to your social development. Nobody talks to you, because they have no idea what you're talking about. The kids basically think you're speaking Greek, and the adults aren't accustomed to hearing real serious thinking out of grade schoolers, so you're pretty much shouting at a wall the whole time. I coped by learning stuff, as did many of the other smart kids, although this tended to backfire badly. Kids hate it when they're forced to interact with something they just fundamentally don't get. The main reason the other kids throw kickballs at your head when they catch you reading Hawking on the playground is because they can't get torches and pitchforks from the recess monitor.

So instead of learning how to deal with people in the normal way, I had to learn how to deal with them in the smart-person way. Which is a lot like the normal person way, except there's more Latin involved, and less blind subconscious stumbling around.

You know how people say that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail? Well, what I have is a very big brain. Brains are squishy and friable and altogether terrible for driving nails, but they do a bang-up job of locating other things that can be used as hammers. I have accumulated a metric fuckton of ad hoc hammers over the years, and I keep snaffling up more of them whenever I can. I have more hammers than I know what to do with, which is why I write in blogs -- otherwise I would never get a chance to use any of these hammers, and do you really want me sitting here bored to tears with a big pile of facts solid enough to use as an effective bludgeon? I didn't think so.

My favorite hammer of all time is cryptanalysis, which I use constantly on everything else, including people. If you know anything about crypto, you'll see immediately why it was useful when I was learning French (Japanese, German, Spanish, Esperanto, Chinese...), but even codebreakers don't always understand why I think it's useful in sociology. Anything that's made up of overlapping patterns -- so, everything in the universe ever that isn't completely random in the strict mathematical sense -- can be broken with cryptanalytic techniques, as long as you have enough data and can find the right way to arrange it. It turns out that, for whatever reason, I am really really good at sifting through data to find patterns, to the point where someone once linked me to a webpage in Basque, which I do not speak, and I cracked two or three cases knowing only the region of the world the language came from and that it was written in the Roman alphabet.

I have the niggling feeling that all of these various things should somehow cohere into a complete information system, so I keep writing about them in the hopes that if I keep thinking aloud (atype?) I'll accidentally stumble on the linking factor, and get to publish my Theory of Everything and live out the rest of my life as a famous gazillionaire god-figure. Or at least that the effort will keep me out of worse trouble.