The Judy Garland Effect

START LOG: 040411

L-Hemingway Recording

The ship is back on track at the university and the daily attempts at uploading new data continues. Yet another electrolysis session has come and gone and the skin guys pretty much just gripe and suck it up now.

The retrofitting is a lot of hurry up and wait. And those of us in Memory and Interpretation are being asked to do a lot of archive retrieval duty lately. Command is constantly running checks to determine the retrofit status. I don’t think anyone expects us to find something to bring the process to a halt but everyone, in all the departments, wants to be sure we are doing this right and for the right reasons. However the parameters for “doing it right” are staggeringly vague.

This leads to a lot of pressure on us on the memory department. Command asks for confirming evidence for the change around every 3 hours. Really. And we always tell them we cannot confirm, we can only show what the ships historical actions have been and let them do the predicting up front.

See the problem is, if you go into the stacks looking for something to confirm a feeling the Emotion or Logical path, you will find it. Every time. It’s called Hindsight Bias and it’s hard to avoid. The fetcher lizards can quite literally make something out of anything. They are experts at pattern creation and rationalization.

If you look back over your life and think, ‘I should have seen this coming.’ you WILL see things that indicate it was. But that just means you’re good at creating patterns that reinforce your beliefs. It’s part of the Command programming. It has to be or we would go crazy.

.

So the fact that the early HMS DAVID didn’t play with dolls may make the Social Conformity cheer and say “HA! We can’t possibly be a Jill Class ship because we would have!”

Then there are the times that the ship had tried cross-dressing as early as ten years old. “HA!” says the retrofit supporters. “That makes it obvious that we were always going to do this.”

There is one problem with that and it’s a big one.

It is the fact that Memory is not perfect.

Down in the memory warehouse there are long shadowy shelves with boxes and crates full of cards that have stuff written on them. Now the media we store this stuff on is just a white neural poster-board. It’s a 3×5 card but it looks the size of a poster to us. Size and space don’t work for us the way it does for a ship remember? And sometimes the handwriting is sloppy, or gets smeared when its filed. We don’t have the best pens. Sometimes the ink bleeds through onto the next card in the box and they all tend to degrade with time.

There is usually not more than a couple words per card, and a request for a specific memory will call for a series of cards depending on its complexity.Fetcher lizards, little guy with sneakers and really fast reading skills shoot off into the stacks, climbing up, down and sideways over boxes crammed with millions of dog eared old cards. They are something to see. They bring back everything they can find that is thought to be relevant.  Then the Interpretation crew assemble the cards into pictures and  broadcast it on the internal view-screens.

This can also create something we call the Judy Garland effect. Named for a particular fetcher Lizards obsession.

Once while communicating casually with several other ships, a trivia question was sent out. We love those down here in Memory, we get to haul ass all over the warehouse and try to dig up a card that is related. We are pretty good at it usually but sometimes… sometimes things get goofy.

The question that caused this whole thing was “Who was it, y’know… that lady who sang in the Sound of Music? Man I should know this.”

Well this is an easy one, the section on that movie is fairly close and common. We sent out the fetchers and they were homing in on it when…

“JUDY GARLAND!”

We all turned around and this one scrawny fetcher lizard is standing there in front of the communicator panting, holding this Mem-card over his head like a trophy torn from an enemy in battle Now the fetcher lizards are mute. Not sure why but they are. They communicate through basic pantomime or with the memory cards they bring up. Makes them interesting to talk to and flat out deadly at charades.

Well this is wrong. Obviously. We knew that singer did the Wizard of Oz. But when a card is missed it’s usually something close. We turned the triumphant lizard away, he sulked a little and wandered back to hunt.

The search, disrupted by this, was now completely scattered. Luckily for the ship it was one of those moments when none of the gathered ships could figure it out. We knew it was common and probably spelled similarly or sound similar.

We jumped back into the hunt and were sorting rapidly through a huge list of movie and music related searches and *almost* had it.

“JUDY GARLAND!”

Everyone froze and turned to see that little bastard standing there again waving the card over his head like mad and that time the ship broadcast the answer before we could stop him.

We instantly sent up a message that this was NOT in fact correct but the ship had already spoken.

Command deployed embarrassment counter-measures. “Judy Garland. Wait.. no. Duh, I know it’s not Judy Garland, that’s Wizard of Oz.. right.. Man I SO have this on the tip of my tongue.”

It is never on the tip of the tongue. We stopped looking there. There is only food bits and saliva on the tip of the tongue. No words. Ever.

We grab the crazy little fetcher lizard, fling him and his beloved card back into the stacks. Being OCD is practically a job requirement in the M&I. When something like this happens we start getting a bit obsessive down here, especially if we know that we have the info, however every query going into the stacks keeps getting ambushed by the white rectangle of JUDY GARLAND waving from the darkness until we finally hunted the little bugger down.

The worst part is this tends to make a trivial question climb waaaay up the priority workload. Suddenly we are devoting more and more time to this, all background stuff though, not on the conscious level.

So when three hours later the SHELBYsuddenly blurts out “IT’S JULIE FREAKIN’ ANDREWS!!!” in the middle of a restaurant, it scares the hell out of any ship within hailing distance. However this is usually accepted once the reasoning is explained to others and often is accompanied by other ships saying things like “Oh yeah, of course, etc.

Down in M&I we all finally relax. We managed to catch the the crazed fetcher when he wasn’t looking and where was the Julie Andrews card we couldn’t find? It was stuck on the OTHER side of the Judy Garland card. Little dumbass just had to flip it over to show us the side he was looking at.

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