Philosophies and WTF?

So what do you stand for?

     R.A.T. (the Reality Avoidance Therapists) came to realize one summer day in '92 that there are a lot of rediculous people and practices in the world. Our goal is to point them out, have a good snicker, and get back to whatever we were doing. There are two varieties of R.A.T. in the world, see below. Further details about how we came into being and what we seek to do are found in What is a R.A.T.?. Everything in life has hidden beauty and humor; everyone in life has a hidden agenda; are you looking close enough to see? Computers also play heavily into our beliefs, and we try to remind people of Delmar F. Bice III's oft-repeated dictum: A computer is just a sandbox.
     Since #1 and #2 are both old-school hacker geeks (#1 from the Commodore camp, #2 from the Apple // camp), we've watched the world progress from the DOS 3.3 prompt (both the IBM C:\ and the Apple ] varieties) and BASIC's READY to people using iconic GUIs on PC's and Macs. The bright ones have gone back to the prompt, but that's another story and a different operating system. Most of what we've written was done in the BBS-into-Windows 3.1 era, ergo plenty of references to sysops and other classic stuff; the new generation of philes deals with the Internet, while there's a lot that carries over because some things never really change. Sysops are now sysadmins, for instance, and the folks spoken of in Computer Relationships are now found on a global scale. #3 joined the loose collaboration known as R.A.T. on its eighth birthday, though the boys had known her the entire time (and a relative of hers had contributed to one of the tagline files), to bring some new perspective into the writing process. R.A.T. was formed back when people who owned computers knew how to assemble one, and pretty much had to because there were not many package deals as you see nowadays, and #1 and #2 write in that vein. The two most scary phrases you can hear, according to poster to, are "Let's buy Grandma a computer" and "Let's build a BestBuy in Alabama," and #3 does a good job of capturing that spirit.
     The best illustration we have of our faith, which you may see here despite any copyright issues :), is a cartoon by Gahan Wilson from National Lampoon showing a boy in a park, holding the string of a balloon which is taking him aloft, and he's grinning madly -- with a beat cop at his feet, growling and pointing to a sign in the grass which reads "Stay On The Path." Two-dimensional thinking is a cureable illness.

So what beliefs underpin your lives?

     We figure that most people are basically good, though a majority are ignorant about something that they're knee-deep in; most of those people will admit it but there are those who will not and these are the ones to avoid, along with the few who are not in any way benevolent (which can be difficult since they often get management positions). We do not equate shiny to beautiful, new to better, high-ranking to knowledgeable, or busy to alive. Cold cookies and warm soda will always be there for you, and never underestimate the power of a bottle of soap bubbles -- the kind with the wand inside -- as a muscle relaxant. Letting a smile be your umbrella is a major cause of drowning. The best solution to most problems is to reboot, though this doesn't work well enough with humans; no one was ever fixed by being slapped silly but it can be pretty cathartic to the slapper! Find someone to elevate you from yourself. "Press no bursting elephants and cause no pain; the way to be sweet is to be humble and to be present" -- Gertrude Stein, who also said, "The kindness in a circle and the use of a blue-green tear makes a picture so vast there is no astonishment." The following people died for our sins: Lenny Bruce, Ernie Kovacs, Ambrose Bierce, Catullus, Phil Katz. And... Scream once in awhile so people don't have to wonder.

So what are these two types of R.A.T. anyway?

     Good -- Whatever gets you through the night. The lies we tell ourselves, knowing all along that they are lies, which make life bearable. Self-affirmations are good R.A.T. behavior, as are saying "I only have to get through ___ more hours/days/years of this sh!t before I am free" or "She loves me for who I am." The followers of the temporary truths are good R.A.T.s and we don't give them much flak. #1 had a former roomie who walked around in that sort of fog, and he was a very pleasant person. Granted, he was also avoiding the reality in general (stayed in the basement, slept all day and RPG'd all night, didn't make an effort to get educated or employed) but he was allowed that priviledge.
     Bad -- The only one who believes the story is the person telling it; everyone else can see through it and laughs behind the person's back, or in their face but usually to no avail. We all know someone who lives in their own blather, under the heading of "She thinks she's pretty hot but she's a heiffer" or "Why does he think people like him?". These are folks who are amusing and all, but it's not nice to laugh at people with mental illnesses (even the self-instituted ones). #2 worked with a guy who would change his personality as often as he'd change his underwear; one week he was a Tai Chi master, next week he was a master herbal gardener, and no matter what personna he was carrying that day he always believed that girls wanted his phone number within 10 minutes of meeting him. It was painful watching him operate; the only people who should make asses of themselves in public should already have established themselves as pricks, not hapless hopeless individuals whose only crime is self-delusion.

So what's the purpose of this place?

     The raîson d'être of the site is to share our wisdom, or whatever R.A.T. has that could possibly pass as wisdom. It's the official organ of R.A.T., and (realize the joy of irony) while R.A.T. has long insisted that most people who have a website don't need one, we didn't have a location people could pick up the philes from since all the BBS's we frequented passed into the Big Bit Bucket In The Sky. A website is a local call to everyone on the planet. To make this more than just a repository of things written in a different lifetime by two boys who couldn't find themselves with a map, a flashlight, and directions from the service station -- and don't claim to be that much wiser a decade later -- we've added regular features: the weekly Daybook and the monthly Rant. One of the other gripes R.A.T. has about most websites (the first being lack of need or use) is that the content doesn't change, and so in this site along with the moments captured in past time there are moments captured in the present. And if you somehow deduce that in this project R.A.T. is attempting to attain something akin to immortality, world renown, or the seeking of attention, we can't prove you wrong -- "everyone needs a rock and a piece of string to wind around it." Ego gratification is the raîson d'être of human life.
     As a side effect (or defect) of this being the Reality Avoidance Therapists' site and the self-imposed requirement to post something weekly (or weakly), you will get the full spectrum: stuff to laugh at, stuff to ponder and shed a tear over, stuff to piss you off or get you to wonder why the hell anyone would speak about such things in public. Whatever makes your synapses fire, we say, be they deep thoughts or fuzzy memories. #2 summed up why being so frank makes him feel good in the Daybook once: "I'm ahead of the game if I tell two happy stories to others for every bad memory I keep to myself."

And where'd this site get that stupid name?

     IroningBoard PongBBS is the online setup we started with -- see the system description. If you've never seen a BBS, you won't understand some of our philes. The site's name comes from the last item in Reality Avoidance Therapy for the Beginner, which states:

Whenever and wherever possible, take the smug down a notch. Should they be so
unwise as to rebut you, say something cryptic and leave snickering.