Why are the ideas of things scarier than the reality?

This entry is part 23 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

And here we are on Monday, and the Mythology of the Modern World is happily open for business.

Today, our question comes from an old friend not only of Banter Latte and Websnark but even random noodlings and writings for the In Nomine role playing game over at Steve Jackson Games. Moe Lane — an excellent writer of regard on matters idyllic and profane alike (including many matters political, for those who can’t bear to have their assumptions challenged. Be prepared — Moe plays streetball) asked all the way back in the original myth call:

Why is the idea of a ten-foot bug scarier than the reality of one?

Now, I know a number of you just clenched your muscles and thought “what, is he crazy? A real ten foot bug would be terrifying.” And that’s fair enough — but I’d remind you that you’re reacting, once again, to the idea. Even the situations where people have shown terrifying pictures of gigantic spiders climbing up barn walls are expressions of the idea, since those pictures are inevitably created via photoshop or camera angles. If one wanted to listen to the boring scientific explanations done by experts who went to schools and learned facts, they’d explain that ten foot bugs of either the arachnoid or insectoid varieties wouldn’t look like their smaller brethren and would work very differently. It has to do with square-cube laws and the way exoskeletons and hydraulic muscles work and… well, that’s not why you’re here, is it?

Nor is this to claim that ‘bugs’ aren’t scary. I’m a confirmed arachnophobe. A spider the size of a quarter can get me shrieking in a most unrefined manner. No, what we’re really discussing is the fantastic, versus the mundane. In our minds, we can conceive of the most horrific things. Confronted with the reality… well, sure they may still be scary, but at least a small part of our brains thinks “wait — this is what the fuss is all about?”

Which brings us to our core question, distilled to its essence: why are the ideas of things scarier than the reality?

One note? This is kind of a dark one. Just be warned. I blame Moe.

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The Fruit Fly and the Nymph of Time

This entry is part 22 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

Another Monday, and another explanation of how the world works, behind the scenes. And, as with so many of these ‘things,’ we’re clearing out the backlog of topics from… well, 2007. I feel like I should be tracking things with Gantt charts.

Today, thankfully, we have a twofer. Two separate questions can be merged together into one tale. The first question was asked by… um… ‘burning.’ Which… makes me hope someone extinguished him and/or her between then and now, or else we’ll have to answer this question for ‘ash.’ The second question comes to us via old friend of many of our endeavors hight Goblinpaladin.

burning’s question is:

Why do we all get so annoyed when another driver drives below the posted speed limit? How does “maximum legal speed” get transformed into “minimum polite speed?”

and Goblinpaladin’s is:

I don’t have a specific question formulated, but: Tell us a story about Procrastination. The Lord of the realm. Why it is tied to stress and also relaxation. Something. Anything.

Two questions. Procrastination and speed. Politeness in the moment being determined by rulebreaking, versus putting things off until everything becomes stressful.

As it turns out, these are related concepts, as you’ll see after the break. It’s a long one, so hunker down.

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Why is there a disconnect between Art and Industry?

This entry is part 15 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

Man, I love autumn. I just do, and you can’t stop me. And hand in hand with loving autumn please enjoy this myth. It comes to us from reader teckstphyle, who asks:

Why is there a disconnect between Art and Industry? Why can art not be “useful?” Why can’t industry “inspire?”

More correctly, why are few cases where they overlap the exception and not the rule?

It’s a good question, and one I’m happy to answer. It also leads us to our first myth callback, because we actually touched on this, at least briefly, back on July 9, when we answered the question Why can we walk past beautiful artwork without noticing it?.

The answer, as you’ll recall, involved a union dispute.

And that brings us to today’s myth.

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Why does alcohol produce hangovers, and why doesn’t it produce hangovers consistently?

This entry is part 11 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

Hello and welcome to Yet Another Week on Banter Latte. It’s Monday, and that’s Myth day! Huzzah! And today the myth comes from enthusiastic friend of Banter Latte Goblinpaladin, who asks:

What *really* causes hangovers? It can’t be just drinking, because plenty of people drink them and don’t get them, or throw up the alcohol and do. It can’t just be dehydration because even folk who drink lots of water get them.

Which, you know, is a fair question. I mean, think about it. There’s lots of scientific basis and explanation given, but nothing’s been definitive. They talk about hypoglycemia or B-12 deficencies or God punishing them for sin.

And where there is question, there is a ripe field for myth. Which is, after all, what we do here.

So, let’s do this thing.

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What’s the real deal with gasoline prices?

This entry is part 6 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

Today, we have a myth as suggested by a fellow who goes by Channing, who I know by a couple of other names but “Channing” works as well as any.

Channing asks:

What really is the deal with gasoline prices? Half the time there’s some kind of patent price-jacking going on to coincide with major travel weekends, but the other half it’s like they’ve got trained chickens selecting the price and then the media submits some kind of half-hearted unconvincing post hoc reason as to why they are what they are, either up or down. Who’s really at the switch? And what do they want?

Which is a pretty elaborate ‘question,’ but one I’m going to distill down to the following: what is the real deal with gasoline prices?

More as always after the break, but first, a note on the writing. The first couple of myths were fusions of essays (with digressions) and immediate stories (with digressions). These had their fans, but a number of people thought the combination made them too long and too uneven. And in the end, I am an entertainer, and if my spastic movements look more like a seizure than a dance, it’s time to go back to the soft shoe.

Last week’s myth was entirely story (with digressions), and it went over rather well indeed. This week’s is entirely essay (with digressions), and we’ll see how it does.

Please note, there will continue to be some essays and some fusions, as that’s how my brain works and some myths will require it.

Let me know what you think!

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Why can we walk past beautiful artwork without noticing it?

This entry is part 3 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

This was one of those nice, simple myths that would be fun to write that turned into seventy five hundred words. Still, I had fun doing it, and that’s a cool thing. If nothing else, it proves that yes, I am still a writer, and that’s always good.

Wednesday, when I described the premise to her, said this might be one of the most elaborate and apocalyptic solicitations to donate to public television she’d ever heard. “The world could end tomorrow if you don’t pledge now — and you get this beautiful tote bag….”

Please enjoy.

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