Wolf Hound and Dachshund

We interrupt this transmission for some adolescent self-examination.

My high school Swedish teacher – I’ve forgotten her name – played the saxophone and kept an Irish wolf hound. They’re pretty wussy creatures as a rule, but my teacher’s pet was extreme. She explained that though big as a calf, the dog had been brought up by a dachshund bitch, thought it was a dachshund and was afraid of anything larger than a dachshund.

I’m a bit the same. I keep getting these hints that people see me as way meaner, taller, more critical and better-looking than I see myself. To me, anybody above 170 cm looks disproportionately tall. When I think I’m asking a polite question or making a friendly joke at an academic event people often react defensively as if what I’d really said was “You’re full of shit and you know it”. During my brief inter-marriage dating period in the 90s I was surprised when this one fine woman told me “You’re unusual for me, I’ve hardly ever dated handsome men”.

Me and other people are in agreement though that I am loud and confident. And I can kind of perceive that if a person has the mistaken idea that I am mean, tall, critical and good-looking, then this will add up with the loud self-confidence to the image of quite an overbearing person. But in actual fact, of course, I’m a dachshund and I’m afraid of anything larger than a dachshund. Everybody should be able to see that.


  1. #1 Leif
    November 22, 2013

    Martin, my dachshund experience are different than yours. Dachshunds are brave, hard and stubborn, just think of going underground to confront a badger twice your own size on the badgers home turf…..

    So in my oppinion, a wolfhound raised by a dachshund bitch should be a rather selfconfident, cocky and hard individual. Not the traits you want in a huge dog unless you use it for protection.

    There is a Swedish saying dating back to 1908:
    “Kommer kallad men ej strax, ty född till slav är ingen tax”

    I think that kind of describes your rather special academic career.

  2. #2 Kevin
    November 22, 2013

    Forgive the personal reflection but the observation may be relevant: I’ve never been handsome but I’m at least thin. Considered relative to our middle-aged peers that is enough for a promotion of sorts. As I get older I’ve found it necessary to try to counterfeit the graciousness of manner that good-looking people seem to have been born with rather than the rougher manners I learned at the back of the pack, lest I be mistaken for an asshole.

    I’m not sure it’s merely a question of self-confidence since that hasn’t really changed. It’s more likely that a relatively good-looking person’s audience wants and expects to be persuaded by charm rather than the blunter instruments at our disposal. Ultimately (and sadly for philosophes) charm is more effective as it acknowledges and elevates everyone around us even when they disagree or are wrong. It’s also the most difficult virtue to cultivate late in life.

  3. #3 Martin R
    November 22, 2013

    Thank you Leif, that’s very kind! And my grandfather used to recite that couplet about his dachshund Zippo.

  4. #4 Birger Johansson
    November 26, 2013

    I was brought up by hedgehogs. “Self-confidence” is for other people.
    (OT) Archaeological discoveries confirm early date of Buddha’s life http://phys.org/news/2013-11-archaeological-discoveries-early-date-buddha.html
    No artifacts with sinister powers? No swords with scary-looking glyphs or depictions of cephalopods? Religions are better in fiction.

  5. #5 Double Shelix
    November 26, 2013

    Martin, the insights here are astute, and moving. What you describe, i know personally though from the point of view of several other physical attriubutes that are related to stereotypes (blonde, female, overweight). Several of my tall, blonde, Viking (Danish and Swedish mostly) male friends know exactly of what you speak. My tall, thin, blonde, female PhD chemist is sick of being judged based on her looks and not her intellect, as is another beautiful Najavo female PhD biochemist friend. Do not even get me started, as a former educator, about various of my friends who were treated as though they were unintelligent because they were large and muscular, or small and dainty, or otherwise not “brainy” looking. I find that their resultant lack of self esteem is the most heart breaking of all, though it can be the most inspiring to watch them blossom in college later. Once they find their brains and their voice beautiful things happen 🙂

    It would be so nice to be able to better determine what is inside a person’s head, and therefore what actually constitutes their character. Sadly, we all judge based on a person’s outward appearance, not because we’re shallow or uninformed, but simply because it’s group behaviour we’ve all learned from early childhood. You have reminded me to be more attentive to that habit and not fall into complacence anytime soon!

  6. #6 Martin R
    November 26, 2013

    Thank you, Shel!

  7. #7 Martin R
    November 26, 2013

    Aaaw, hedgehogs…

  8. #8 Birger Johansson
    November 27, 2013

    Regarding stereotypes, the concept of “stereotype threat” nicely explains why black people in USA generally perform poorer than other groups on IQ tests. It’s complicated and an explanation will not fit here, but stereotype threat affect other groups too, women in particular.

    Shelix, here is a recent gem from Fox News (unintentional comedy): “Why women still need husbands” http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/11/22/why-women-still-need-husbands/

  9. #9 Birger Johansson
    November 27, 2013

    Example: “Stereotype Threat and Women’s Math Performance” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103198913737
    Myself, I am lucky to be a white nominally Christian penis-haver without attributes associated with bad stuff.

  10. #10 Birger Johansson
    November 28, 2013

    I confess to judging Pope Francis because of his funny hat, but look at what he just said:
    “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

    An establishment figure who cares about the poor?!!! (swoons)

  11. #11 Jakob Øhlenschlæger
    November 28, 2013

    OT: This danish detector find might interest you: https://www.randers.dk/FrontEnd.aspx?id=139726

  12. #13 Birger Johansson
    November 29, 2013

    (OT) “China to recover ancient shipwreck’s treasures” http://phys.org/news/2013-11-china-recover-ancient-shipwreck-treasures.html

  13. #14 Birger Johansson
    November 29, 2013

    Why scepticism is important: “Owner of alleged Satanic sex abuse daycare released as case against her falls apart” http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/11/27/owner-of-alleged-satanic-sex-abuse-daycare-released-as-case-against-her-falls-apart/
    On the bright side, it took only 21 years for justice to triumph. Texas is great.

  14. #15 Birger Johansson
    November 29, 2013

    The clever poodle might be a fox:
    ” Investigation reveals black market in China for research paper authoring” http://phys.org/news/2013-11-reveals-black-china-paper-authoring.html
    Hvistendahl notes that such a black market has arisen in China due to the enormous pressure Chinese researchers are feeling to publish something. In that country, it appears having one’s name attached to a research paper, matters more than actually conducting research.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.