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The Heinlein anti-specialization list, taken as a meme from adpaz and daeron:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

-- Robert Heinlein

So, can you:

1. change a diaper: Disposable, sure. The old-fashioned kind with pins might take me a couple of tries to get right - but I know how to make sure I don't stab the baby.
2. plan an invasion: Absolutely. Gamer plus political science major. I make no guarantees about the chance of success, however. My strengths lie in logistics and delegation, and I would want to be working with a strong leader/tactician.
3. butcher a hog: I'll note, first, that it is butcher, not slaughter. I don't think I could kill it, and hogs are rather nasty, so I wouldn't try without being sure. As far as the butchery - I would have said no, except that I remembered that I have dissected a fetal pig, in high school anatomy class. And not in a girly "ew, you do it" way, either. So, I am better equipped to deal with porcine anatomy than I might have thought. Call this one a possibly.
4. conn a ship: No. I had to look this up even to be sure what it meant.
5. design a building: Layout and concept, sure. Or even a city - in fact, preferably a city. I can't produce plans for the builders.
6. write a sonnet: Yes, although I'd have to look up the form. It wouldn't be a lasting work of literature, though.
7. balance accounts: Yes.
8. build a wall: Yes, although I'd do much better with some sorts of building materials than others. Legos are a personal favorite, if a bit impractical.
9. set a bone: No. I have enough basic knowledge of anatomy that if I were stranded in the wilderness with someone with a broken bone, with no hope of being rescued in less than a week, I might possibly try if the other person asked me to. I don't think I have what it would take to do it for myself, but I would try. Beyond that, I would immobilize it, and leave it to the eventual medical professionals.
10. comfort the dying: I think so? As yet, unknown.
11. take orders: Daily.
12. give orders: Yes. Phrased as requests, they are often even followed.
13. cooperate: Yes.
14. act alone: Yes.
15. solve equations: Yes, depending on the complexity of the equation. My trig is rusty and I never got beyond basic calculus, and don't remember what I did learn. With a quick refresher course, I could probably manage those as well.
16. analyze a new problem: Quoting adpaz, Yes, after my (usual) initial stage of panic.
17. pitch manure: I can, but I just don't want to.
18. program a computer: Not without a serious refresher, and even then, not in any way that would be currently useful. However, I did learn the basics (although not BASIC) in college.
19. cook a tasty meal: Yes.
20. fight efficiently: I am too slow to be effective, so efficient is really irrelevant. I do have some martial arts training in my background, so I at least have the theory.
21. die gallantly: I'd like to think so, but realistically, probably not.

In general, actually, I'm fine in theory, not so much in practice, on quite a wide variety of subjects.

Heinlein misses a few things. He doesn't mention music at all, for one.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 24th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC)
Just FYI, my good friend darkwolf69 is the creator of this particular meme. :)
Aug. 24th, 2005 04:17 am (UTC)
Oh oh! A lego wall!

Yeah, a lot is missing from there.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 24th, 2005 02:23 pm (UTC)
Yes. As noted. But what use is the efficiency without the effectiveness? Short of conserving energy over time and wearing the other person down to a slow enough speed to even matters out, if one is too slow, one is probably going to lose.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 24th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC)
I understand what you're saying about the difference between the two. If I didn't see a difference, I wouldn't have brought it up in the first place - although I suspect Heinlein (or, at least Lazarus Long, who IIRC is the person ostensibly speaking in the quote) assumes effectiveness in fighting. Certainly that seems to be a trend in Heinlein. And it is my point that I would ask a slightly different question.

However, specifically, in my experience, disparity of speed has led directly and consistently to lack of effectiveness, before skill ever comes into play. The studio I used to study at separated the classes and sparring practices for children and adults, for that reason among others.

I would welcome your suggestions of martial arts that can compensate for that, especially outside a studio environment. It would be good to know where I should be looking.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )