Re: Let's Bro-down.

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I guess it's sort of a punk-rock "Fuck You!" sort of thing. But I can't make sense of it.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 10:05 PM
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Yeah, drummers are stupid.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 10:13 PM
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2: He's not a drummer, neb. Or are you calling me stupid? I'll cop to that.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 10:15 PM
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This was inspired by the other thread's mention of Anal Cunt, wasn't it?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 10:42 PM
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Q: How many armadillos does it take to rape a Polish drummer's brother?

A: It depends. Has he delivered the pizza yet?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 10:58 PM
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Is he funny? Does he get a rise out of people? If the answer to these questions is yes, I say lean back, enjoy, and disavow as necessary.

If he's not funny, then tell him he's not funny enough to be that offensive.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 11:22 PM
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it's extra weird because he's politically pretty liberal. He just likes pushing peoples' buttons, just 'cause.

I had no idea you were related to ogged.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 11:31 PM
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Also, jokes are no excuse for being a cunt.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 11:31 PM
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Getting a rise out of people is not necessarily to be encouraged.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 11:32 PM
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No dissent here, I write merely to set down a Dylan lyric, in hope of passing on the earworm (like virginity?):

The businessmen from Taos want you to go down,
So they've hired mister Garrett, he'll force you to slow down,
Billy, don't let it make you feel so low down
To be hunted by the man who was your friend.

OK, another:


There's always another stranger sneaking glances,
Some trigger-happy fool willing to take chances,
Some old whore from San Pedro'll make advances,
Advances on your spirit and your soul.

Anyone got the earworm yet?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 6-10 11:43 PM
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I initially read the first sentence as "My (eighteen-month-old) brother is fond of being offensive, to an excessive extent" which rather confused me. "Lay off him, Stanley, he'll get toilet trained eventually."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:10 AM
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So did I. I was thinking that it would be a YouTube hit of epic proportions. Racist Baby Is Racist!


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 3:01 AM
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he's politically pretty liberal

Doesn't actually sound like it.

Do you mean the votes-Dem-when-he-bothers-to-vote, appreciates the availability of Plan B and abortion, thinks gay marriage should be legal and recreational pot is OK, kind of liberal?

Because my experience is that there is usually a rubber-meets-the-road moment for those folks, when someone points out that what they're espousing is a value system that doesn't ask anything of them -- loosening social obligations without imposing any in return -- and in fact can have painful consequences for unsuspecting bystanders. ("Dude, when I hear you talk about rape like that, it makes me wonder how you'd react if I ever got raped.")

At that point, they either become outright libertarians* or begin to grasp that hey, maybe part of participating in society is thinking about the unintended impact of your words and actions.

*I am not going to get into a One True Scotsman argument about libertarians here. I'm talking about the garden variety libertarian jerk, not the exception to the rule (one of whom I am related to and love dearly -- and who does not make racist comments).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:02 AM
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I wish I had the balls to do it, but never quite have: Arrange for a friend to freak the fuck out at something he says, complete with elaborate story of personal suffering. I was tempted a while back to do something like this in response to a rape joke, but it really fucks up the whole rest of the evening if you start screaming and crying about how when you were seven years old you hid in a closet while an escaped convict raped your mother just on the other side of the door.

Alternatively, since he's being a dick, arrange for someone to punch him in the mouth and tell him to stop being a dick. Sooner or later he will experience condign personal consequences from being a dick, and they may be far worse than a tap on the chin.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:18 AM
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||
Charley, earworms are usually contagious by link, not by lyric.
|>


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:19 AM
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I have two lines " _______ is so unAmerican" or "________ is so unattractive", delivered in a chirpy, background voice, with a shake of my head, for situations when I know I'll be totally discounted. I find being confrontational in those situations very, very stressful. I'm interested in this thread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:20 AM
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14.last is tongue in cheek, if it's not obvious. Actually, even if it is obvious.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:27 AM
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I find being confrontational in those situations very, very stressful.

For me the stress comes from two things: Going against the deeply ingrained training that it is my job to be pro-social and consensus-building, and my desire not to alienate the people I'm talking to.

As I've gotten older, #2 has sharply diminished in importance. It's not so much that I'm happy to alienate people as that I'm confident that my raised eyebrows and shimmering waves of disapproval will in fact make them feel something. I have more moral weight, so I'm less worried they're going to walk away untouched.

And now I'm off! To figure out how to tell racist people that they're being a racist. In a constructive way that doesn't jeopardize our group project.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:28 AM
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Thanks, mcmc.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:31 AM
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Do you mean the votes-Dem-when-he-bothers-to-vote, appreciates the availability of Plan B and abortion, thinks gay marriage should be legal and recreational pot is OK, kind of liberal?

Exactly. I worry, as your comment suggests, that he's fertile ground for a later libertarian conversion, but for the moment he's highly suspicious of people with gobs of money and Republicans. He's not really all that political, to be fair. I doubt he voted in the recent off-year governor's race, for instance.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:32 AM
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...but for the moment he's highly suspicious of people with gobs of money and Republicans.

Right now, nearly everybody I know, including actual Republicans, are highly suspicious of people with gobs of money and Republicans.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:37 AM
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Who even has Republicans anymore?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:40 AM
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The current list of things and people I find suspicious can be found here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:41 AM
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On the OP, the world needs laughter. I mean, assuming he's actually funny. If he's not, set togolosh on 'im.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:45 AM
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Is he funny? Does he get a rise out of people?

I'd say not funny. Surprising or shocking, at times. Most people that know him roll their eyes. "Oh, Joe! Always with the way-over-the-line comment!"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:48 AM
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I'd say not funny.

Then you should get him a hat. Everything you say is funnier if you wear a hat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:50 AM
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26: I'm envisioning a big foam cowboy hat. Those are always funny, right?

Anyhow, I was, as much as anything, curious how others deal with their comparably jerky loved ones.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:53 AM
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27.last: Yes, I don't have any useful advice so I went with that hat. I'm kind of hoping hats catch on again. (I've dealt with loved ones who say inappropriate things, but they were elderly and I think that is a different circumstance.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:57 AM
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(Fuck you fucking strongly typed fucking languages, fuck you you stupid pieces of shit.)

Sorry. Um, to the OP: I have friends like that. Basically they are funny until they aren't, and it's just like o god, you didn't say that, did you. Actually, I lie. I had friends who'd make utterly ludicrously bad taste jokes, -- you know, and then we bought a pregnancy test and a wire coat hanger as the punch line, or measuring the local river's pollutedness in dead prostitutes parts per million . Which is bad, but really, the odds of meeting anyone who's personally offended are reasonably slim.

And then I have friends who'll talk in seeming seriousness about how all female rugby players are gay, or that gay people are all evolutionarily defective (so not nearly as absolutely offensive) but in front of other friends with gay parents. Which is partly small town hickness, but also v. v. annoying.

And yeah. Not much concrete advice to add tho' if you come up with any I'd be pleased to hear it.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:59 AM
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I had friends who would basically constantly make offensive jokes, but they were pretty good about gauging it, and it was generally funny (in a Sarah Silverman kind of way). I knew another guy who was constantly making offensive jokes, and he clearly wanted people to think that he was just being cleverly transgressive and hilarious but actually his heart was in the right place, but it was totally obvious that he was a sociopathic dickhead deep down. So, yeah, context matters a lot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:01 AM
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I have a close relative like this, too. There's no point in calling him out on being offensive because, of course, his goal is to be offensive and everyone knows it. Pretty much any reaction at all "rewards" his offensiveness -- oh, what joy to see how I can make people really uncomfortable!

The casual racists/misogynists/etc are a different challenge. When someone says something deeply offensive expecting the room to agree, it might actually make a difference to say something.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:18 AM
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The casual racists/misogynists/etc are a different challenge.

It was better when the racists wore coats and ties.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:23 AM
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Sexist.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:30 AM
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I blame my business casual clothing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:31 AM
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Keir gets to the important point: strongly typed languages suck.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:31 AM
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10: Yes, Charley.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:50 AM
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Sometimes I'll faux-earnestly explain someone's jokes back to him, as if I were explaining a Marmaduke cartoon. "Oh, that's funny, because all Asians are Chinese, work too hard and their men are emasculated."

You could say back to him the horrible thing the joke hinges on, Standpipe-style. You don't have to confront, but he should own the full implication of what he said.

Or, as k-sky says, if he's funny, watch and enjoy.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:54 AM
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Keir gets to the important point: strongly typed languages suck.

I DISAGREE


Posted by: FORCEFULLY TYPING GRANDMOTHER | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:08 AM
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I'd mostly be with the chorus of not-much-you-can-do, but this is your brother (and not a teenager), which gives you a little more scope for admonishment.

Not that I know exactly what to say, but sometime when the two of you are talking under fairly relaxed circumstances, maybe ask what the point is of that shit? It's embarrassing for you, and it hurts people's feelings -- is the point to hurt people's feelings, and if so why is it important to him that those people's feelings be hurt? What's the payoff? Get shrinky at him.

This is really obnoxious and dull, but hopefully not rewarding in the "Wow, you're really outrageous!" kind of way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:00 AM
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(I'm sort of assuming he's not actually funny -- if he were, this wouldn't be bothering you.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:01 AM
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Maybe instead of helping him become less offensive, you could help him become funnier?


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:05 AM
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25 to 40. He's not funny when he wanders into "HA! I'm offensive!" territory. Otherwise, he is actually quite funny and cracks my shit up routinely.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:05 AM
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AWB had a post about this last week at my place. One thing that came out in comments was the efficacy of simply not laughing or otherwise responding. As a bonus, it's easier to simply not laugh than to call someone out for making an offensive joke.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:16 AM
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Then you should get him a hat fedora.

One of my in-laws made a few vaguely sort-of-racist, vaguely sort-of-homophobic "jokes" Easter afternoon. I was less embarrassed by their offensiveness than I was by how deadly, stupidly, unfunny they were. Like, they wouldn't have been funny thirty years ago in an audience inclined to laugh at those kind of jokes. And at that point I suddenly felt a little sorry for him. We just silently rolled our eyes and passed the plates around.

I'm even more likely to totally ignore someone who's only trying to get a rise out of me. Just between the two of us, I'd probably say nothing at all when he's trying to be a dick. Presumably, he doesn't believe what he's saying, so it's pretty pointless to admonish him even. Among others who might not be familiar with Joe's sense of humor, I'd probably just say something like "My brother has this thing he likes to do. He thinks he's gonna be the next Howard Stern/Glenn Beck, etc."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:23 AM
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It's embarrassing for you, and it hurts people's feelings -- is the point to hurt people's feelings, and if so why is it important to him that those people's feelings be hurt?

Maybe the right response is to grimace and say something like "Ooh, that's embarrassing for you."

Although I also like Megan's 37.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:28 AM
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44.1: I was thinking fedora also. But the actual hat choice can be left to the individual.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:32 AM
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I doubt he voted in the recent off-year governor's race, for instance.

Which has turned out as you might expect. (Has this already been covered here somewhere?)


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:36 AM
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47: I don't think it has, but let me be the first to say that it's heartening to see the GOP making an effort to appeal to black voters.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:41 AM
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48: Hey, tt's their heritage too!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:43 AM
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it's


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:44 AM
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47: Christ, what an asshole.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:54 AM
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Let's not forget that the GOP hasn't canned Michael Steele (yet). If black voters could only recognize their true interests, wouldn't that be a powerful enough appeal on its own?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:57 AM
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52: Heh. I heard on some NPRish program (can't remember which) some pundit opining that the GOP was in a real bind, because if they dump Steele they'll look racist.

Right. Only then will they look racist.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 10:02 AM
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The Michael Steele affair has been so very enjoyable.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 10:04 AM
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I heard on some NPRish program (can't remember which) some pundit opining that the GOP was in a real bind, because if they dump Steele they'll look racist.

If they were really worried purely about this aspect of the optics (and, as you suggest, I'm don't think that's all they should be worried about), surely they could just replace him with another African-American, to nullify this potential line of criticism. Right?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 10:05 AM
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54: Agreed. I may have hit a high point of personal glee yesterday when All Things Considered interviewed CO GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams about the whole shebang, if only because ha! Dick Wadhams!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 10:16 AM
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I think over the top offensive jokes are hilarious, as long as you're among close friends and at least one member of the targeted group (Jews, teh gays, etc) is present and actively, genuinely entertained. This isn't the normal scenario, though, or what it sounds like Stanley's describing.

I think "transgressive" jokes are usually made (a) with the intention of shocking everyone present into realizing how much you don't play by the rules and are a Rebel with an Independent Spirit, and (b) with the assumption that no one is present who is actually a member of the targeted group.

(I'm really curious if this is true with your brother, S- does he make the black people jokes in the presence of black people? Does he make gay jokes when actual gay people are there?)

Anyway, this happens to me all the time, in which people I don't know well don't realize I'm deaf and start making very horrible, sexist, audist, ablist Helen Keller jokes. The normal reception is nervous laughter (much lighter than they are obviously used to) and then someone pulling the joker aside for a little talk.

I don't really like this scene, because it actually does hurt my feelings, but it also seems to be a pretty effective teaching tool. Maybe I should start hiring myself out to teach people's jerky brothers some lessons. Stanley: call me!


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 10:17 AM
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I wish I could find a reference to the study, but I recall reading a while back that there is a statistically significant trend of women and minorities being made CEO of companies and organizations that have serious problems. In other words, none of the white male candidates want the job because it's almost certain to lead to failure. Steele's position seems to fit this pattern well. When he fails it will not only demonstrate what most Republicans already believe, he'll also be sparing a white guy.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:21 AM
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It's all in the archives.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:23 AM
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Everything is in the archives!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:25 AM
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Except "nosflow" spelled backward.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:26 AM
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(b) with the assumption that no one is present who is actually a member of the targeted group.

Or that no one who is present feels any allegiance to the targeted group. People make "Wimmen are crazy bitches!" jokes around women all the time, with the presumption that present women know and agree about those crazy bitches women.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:37 AM
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hm. that's true. Does it imply that there's a subgroup of women who are not crazy bitches, or that the women who are present would admit to being crazy bitches and are therefore okay with the jokes?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:41 AM
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strongly typed languages suck

I'm sure it's possible for this to be more wrong, but at the moment I'm not seeing how.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:42 AM
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Unfortunately, this strategy is not available to Stanley, but it works with people you don't know quite as well as your own brother. It also does not work for racist jokes, but it is great for horrible comments. When they utter the racist or homophobic or just horrible sentiment, you, joshingly hit them on the arm, and say, "oh, you jokester! I know you would NEVER espouse such horrible ideas because (and here you explain why what they said is so horrible)! You're such a kidder!"

Alternately, you can take them aside quietly later and say, "Well, I know you so well that I know you were only joking when you said ______, because you would never be racist or homophobic, but other people might get the wrong impression."

This way they can't get mad at you because you are giving the impression that you think they are great, but you have still conveyed the fact that you really don't agree with what they have said.


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:42 AM
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62: I make lawyer jokes around lawyers all the time. I find it works much better than saying, "While I am curious about the broad outlines of the U.S. legal system, one giant-ass corporation suing another giant-ass corporation is rarely the grounding for a good story."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:44 AM
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Does it imply that there's a subgroup of women who are not crazy bitches, or that the women who are present would admit to being crazy bitches and are therefore okay with the jokes?

I think either. Most women are typecast as either sensible prudes or crazy party girls. Both groups are expected to knowingly appreciate jokes which play off of either group.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:45 AM
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I also vaguely feel that broad gender-based stereotyping jokes (women are crazy bitches, girls are catty and superficial, men are unfeeling bastards, boys hate feelings and love football, etc) are slightly different. Maybe because they're so culturally ingrained that you can say them regardless of who else is in the room?

Anyway I think they're less transgressive and more common than the racist/rapist/homophobic jokes.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:47 AM
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Or I guess I think "women are crazy bitches" is less transgressive and has a different set of rules than "women are actually much less intelligent than men" would be. Where the former is allowed, and the basis for many hilarious sitcoms and movie plots, but the latter is deprecated and only the source of Rebellious Transgressive Humor, probably not with any actual women in the room, at least in the enlightened circles in which I travel.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:50 AM
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(not that, I mean, I AGREE with the women are crazy trope. It's still very offensive and irritating. Just that it has a different role in how culturally allowed it is, in general.)


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:51 AM
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I dunno, E Mess. I guess it feels to me that, if you're having a conversation in which someone seriously espouses the conviction that women are dumb, you can, you know, have a conversation. If someone is "just" making jokes about women being crazy bitches, or sluts, or morons, or punching bags, you laugh or you don't. And if you don't, or if you try to turn it into a conversation, somehow you're the asshole who has to go and bring feelings and PC shit up where we dudes were all having fun.

I grew up with misogynistic jokes around me all the time, like every day, so maybe they feel particularly intense. If your dad just says racist/sexist shit, you can discount it, but when it's the thing that always forces a laugh, I don't know if I had the wherewithal to figure out I was being indoctrinated at the time. With adults, maybe it's different.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:56 AM
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Or I guess I think "women are crazy bitches" is less transgressive and has a different set of rules than "women are actually much less intelligent than men" would be. Where the former is allowed, and the basis for many hilarious sitcoms and movie plots, but the latter is deprecated and only the source of Rebellious Transgressive Humor, probably not with any actual women in the room, at least in the enlightened circles in which I travel.

"Men are actually much less intelligent than women" is the basis for many hilarious sitcoms and movie plots, though.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:57 AM
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"Men are actually much less intelligent than women" is the basis for many hilarious sitcoms and movie plots, though.

Cleaning product ads, too.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:59 AM
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No, I'm saying, people DO make jokes about women being crazy bitches with women in the room but (in my experience) men do not make jokes about women being stupider than men, with women in the room.

The former is still really deeply ingrained in our society, which doesn't make it any less awful, it just means that it has a different role in being a Super Transgressive Joke, because, sadly, it is not that transgressive and general expectations are for you to laugh it off.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 11:59 AM
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72: What I really love is how this is basically what some men think feminism means. See, women have "won" because on sitcoms, men are dumb assholes!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:00 PM
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74 to 71


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:00 PM
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Has anyone suggested introducing the brother and Jesurgislac to each other?

(That's a bad idea, but I have sometimes seen positive results when the person telling the jokes encounters someone who is willing to be more self righteous about their feeling that, "not only is that joke not funny telling it is an actively bad thing to do" than the joke teller is self righteous about their right to tell whatever jokes they want. That is, however, no fun for anybody involved and not guaranteed to work.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:04 PM
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74: Huh. I get those too. I don't know why, but I'm not sure there's any kind of joke about women that men won't tell to my face. Stupid, slutty, rape-able, murder-able, bitchy, crazy, whatever. I get 'em all.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:04 PM
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Is Stanley bigger than Joe? Because if so, he should consider punching him in the face, quite hard. Probably only have to do it once.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:05 PM
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"Men are actually much less intelligent than women" is the basis for many hilarious sitcoms and movie plots, though.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:05 PM
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78: probably because they can tell that YOU aren't one of THOSE women. See, it's a compliment! Everyone else thought it was funny! Lighten up already!


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:06 PM
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78: I would advise being more vicious, but that's what I tell everybody these days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:19 PM
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[X] is too dumb to realize [Y] which results in [Z] is the basis of a huge percentage of humor generally.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:19 PM
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Listen, I think everyone should be a lot less self-censoring in a lot of ways. I hate how abstract and limited communication often is. But it's not like someone's offensive oppressive thoughts are the ones they're ashamed of. Hell, we practically invent things to make fun of just so we can have something to say to one another. What bothers me is that one isn't actually supposed to talk earnestly. So every time I'm like, "Oh, good, another joke about how you want to rape and murder me at the same time. That's just... really rad, man," and I get accused of censoring, I don't know what the fuck is going on. I think it would be really neat if people said what they meant like once a day. So when I interpret a joke as if the person telling it is interested in supporting the viewpoint of the joke, I like to consider it my little part of being the change I want to see in the world.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:28 PM
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79,82: Thank you for making me feel like less of a dick for telling Stanley to punch his brother. Don't listen to them Stanley! Instead, every time he says something offensive kiss him deeply on the lips. When he asks WTF you are doing, reply "I am sucking the poison from your soul."


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:35 PM
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I just made a truly delicious strawberry cake.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:38 PM
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87

How did you do that in April?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:40 PM
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They're really good strawberries, actually, and surprisingly flavorful. I bought 2 qts. of them them because they were on sale and smelled wonderful. But then I woke up and realized I'm moving to a friend's apartment for the next four days to dog-sit for her, and I can't see bringing these strawberries. So I baked them in a cake, which is easier to transport and force on friends.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:43 PM
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If they were really worried purely about this aspect of the optics (and, as you suggest, I'm don't think that's all they should be worried about), surely they could just replace him with another African-American, to nullify this potential line of criticism. Right?

Assumes facts not in evidence.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:44 PM
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I ♥ 85.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:49 PM
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The accusation of censorship is the worst part of it. Like this stand-up comic I mentioned.

It's often a good idea to give people a straightforward refresher in Civility 101. If they're a little bit smart -- for example, Stanley's brother's "punk-rock" sensibility may have keyed him into the complex notion that in certain circumstances, civility is used to repress controversial speech -- that opens the door for a conversation in Advanced Civility, wherein you may debate whether or not it serves a political purpose to go all Lenny Bruce on mom's friend Mrs. Bumberson.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 12:55 PM
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In my early college days, I made an off-hand joke based on the concept that schoolchildren from Los Angeles (one of whom I'd never met) must either be Crips or Bloods. Har de fucking har.

Then one of my classmates said, "Hey, we're a bunch of middle-class white guys here, let's pay attention to how we speak. (Good job, Hank.)

Then I proudly said, "I reserve my right to say 'fuck you' to anyone, regardless of race, color or creed." (Including, it would seem, schoolchildren. Fuck you, schoolchildren! And to think, I'd never even read the Dartmouth Review)

Then I thought about what I'd just said, and realized that I should grow up and not be an asshole anymore.

Just like that! A whole snotty libertarian phase cut short by a welcome intervention.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:02 PM
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AWB, is it possible that part of your problem lies in caring about his response to your objecting to his humor, and even more broadly, caring what he thinks? In my version of events, it would go:

Other person: offensive joke.
Me: Making the offensive part of the joke explicit.

And then... nothing! Then, an eagle flies by and I run to look at it. Or I see something shiny and wander away. Once I'm done with some asshole, I'm over the whole scenario. That person gets no more of my attention. (This may also apply to people whom I offend when they look through my windows. Can't care what they think!)

Remember when I was telling you to avoid someone or other because of drama, and I said that when you get advanced, you won't have to leave the building and you'll be able to ignore your sniveling officemate in person. That would come in handy now.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:06 PM
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64: I'm just tellin' it like it is, something none of you PC people are willing to do.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:11 PM
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93: You could be Dear Abby, but with more tips on drip irrigation systems.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:13 PM
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93- It sounds like AWB gets pushed for more interaction, though, even (especially?) when she doesn't react the way he wants. It's not usually practicable to flat-out ignore your coworkers without causing even more drama later for being so difficult and lacking in team spirit.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:13 PM
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The most shocking revelation on this thread is that there are adults in this world who make Helen Keller jokes.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:14 PM
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93: Mmm. Not caring isn't always an option -- you do sometimes get stuck with people with the ability to actually affect your life. A partner at my last law firm harassed an associate (in an entirely non-actionable kind of way) out of the legal profession. While she could have handled it better than she did, she didn't have the option of simply removing him from her attention.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:17 PM
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97. I know! Multiple ones. This has happened to me more than once. The jokes are really dumb, too, and not funny at all (except the one that turns it back into standard terrible over-the-top misogyny, which is surprising enough to be mildly amusing).


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:19 PM
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The jokes are really dumb, too, and not funny at all (except the one that turns it back into standard terrible over-the-top misogyny, which is surprising enough to be mildly amusing).

Kobe and I love that joke too!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:20 PM
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I once got confused and told a joke about Helen Hunt and parachuting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:23 PM
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I must agree with Megan -- explaining somebody else's joke is killer.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:27 PM
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97: I made a joke the other day about how ironic it was that the Alabama quarter honored an avowed socialist.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:29 PM
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Not enough people write in for advice. I am yearning to give advice, but people don't ask me.

Yeah, I'm pretty lucky to be content in my low-level staff position. If I wanted anything different out of my employment, I'd have to care what my co-workers think. But I don't know. Maybe I intimidate people or maybe I just miss a whole lot of interaction. But I'm pretty nonchalant about others' discomfort once I've decided they're in the wrong.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:29 PM
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Helen Hunt doesn't need a parachute. She's invincible.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:31 PM
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Not enough people write in for advice. I am yearning to give advice, but people don't ask me.

That's why you add the drip irrigation stuff. I know that if I ever decide to care about either my water usage or whether my outdoor plants live, you're the first person I'll ask.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:31 PM
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Listen, I think everyone should be a lot less self-censoring in a lot of ways. I hate how abstract and limited communication often is.

This seems like another application for one of the lessons that I credit to reading unfogged -- the route to people being less self-censoring involves people being less sensitive about occasionally being called out for saying something offensive.

If people worry that anytime someone makes a point of mentioned that something was offensive that implies that the offended person is so deeply frustrated that they will carry around some resentment or frustration for the speaker for months, then they will inevitably feel defensive when called out.

Unfortunately, due to existing social norms, that's frequently a reasonable inference to make. The solution has to involve lowering the threshold for both saying and receiving comments about how something was inappropriate.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:32 PM
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I don't think it's my fault that people really get huffy about wanting my approval. At least, that's what it seems like to me. If they didn't care what I think about their sexism and queer-bashing, they wouldn't get so violent at me. I promise I'm not engaging--I'm not some uppity lady; I'm just not laughing, and I'm someone who has a reputation for laughing when things are actually funny.

I consider their huffiness to be proof of how universally respected my good taste is.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:33 PM
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But you notice their huffiness and care, right? I'm sure your reasoning is correct about their wanting your approval. But I wouldn't interact with them while they flounder about; I'd have already gone back to my screen or my book.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:36 PM
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Also, as someone who tells unfunny jokes a great deal of the time (my first boyfriend liked to say that his favorite thing about our relationship was that we both batted around .500, joke-wise), I don't have a lot of sympathy for someone who can't take having told a joke that no one laughs at. If you're not willing to risk the humiliation of a silent response, you shouldn't be in the business.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:37 PM
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109: As I wrote in that post Bave linked to above, just not-laughing is often what produces the violent pursuit. If it's something I feel the need (or feel safe enough) to speak up about, I will, if I can do it gracefully. But no, I promise I'm not being uppity or belligerent. Not-laughing is fightin' words in some relationships.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:40 PM
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I'm not saying I'm right about this, but I'm sure that's how my sister and I act. My sister told me about ending a dispute on the field with the words "Now you can look at my back." and walking away. I totally do that too. In the middle of a (dumb) argument (with someone who is not a friend or someone I need), I'll lose interest and walk away in the middle of their sentence. I have no attention span for assholes.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:40 PM
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Oh, I work in a large room with no cubicle walls, so I'm a sitting duck. I've walked out of work so often this year, doing exactly that, that I've barely gone to my job at all. Thank God it's not an hourly wage.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:42 PM
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But you're training him wrong. He's getting your attention by squeaking louder. Violent pursuit shouldn't reward him.

He should get liver treats for actually funny caring behavior, and have to do push-ups or wall sits for violation jokes.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:43 PM
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That sucks that you're driven from your room, by the way. The ideal solution would be for him to fly right.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:46 PM
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114.2: Now I know why men with defined abs tend to be assholes. The worse you are, the more exercise you get.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:47 PM
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I repeat that I don't think I'm doing anything wrong.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:48 PM
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(Sorry if I'm sensitive about this, but work-related anxiety is an actual mental health problem for me these days, and I'm a little sick of being told that I'm to blame for my incredibly hostile work environment that I can barely stand to go to.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:50 PM
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AWB, I think you just turn around and ignore Megan. She'll stop harassing you eventually.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:50 PM
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+should


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:51 PM
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Of course I haven't watched and shouldn't make guesses through the internet. I'd bet a lot of how we act would be the same. If I were to guess one place where we'd do something different, it is that I wouldn't give a rat's ass how he takes my reaction. I probably wouldn't notice if he were fuming or distraught or something, because I dismiss annoying people from my mind pretty fast.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:52 PM
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I wouldn't give a rat's ass how he takes my reaction

Great! For me, physical threats, threats of being fired, threats that "someday [I'll] learn how life is--the hard way" are pretty unpleasant. I think it's neat that it's not that way for you. But I don't think I'm a bad or weak person because I don't like being joke-threatened every day. Once you're being bullied, you're being bullied. You can't tell people to stop or walk away from it, because it follows you. It does not help that he's one of about five different people at my workplace who act this way toward me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:56 PM
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batted around .500, joke-wise

I have a good friend and former roommate who explained the reason some people perceive me as funny is that, while I bat only .100 joke-wise, and while the failures are majorly bad groany failures, I take far more at bats than the other average person.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:58 PM
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I dismiss annoying people from my mind pretty fast.

Megan, I thought you were the grudge-holding, never-forget-a-slight kind of person. I'm not getting how this is compatible.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 1:59 PM
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Then I hope one of the jobs you've applied for comes through for you, and you get to go somewhere spectacular away from that dynamic. It sounds horrible.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:01 PM
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Oh, those people never rise to the level of a real grude. Shit, they barely exist.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:01 PM
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I'm fully willing to buy that another person in my situation would just say "la la la" and ignore what's happening. But that's just not how I work, and never has been. It's not a choice. I'm extremely sensitive, and unable to disguise feeling. My mom's been telling me my whole life that I'd be happier if I could invent a neutral facial expression and stick to it, because people get really excited by the feeling that they've made someone react strongly, and can't seem to help themselves. I know that. If I could be someone else, I would, gladly, and would have started a long time ago.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:02 PM
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drip irrigation

If he's being a drip, throw cold water on him!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:02 PM
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Heh. My mom told me that people would stop pushing so hard if they could just get a reaction from me. But, you know. Fuck 'em.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:04 PM
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127 - it's not just personality and history, physical appearance is in the mix, too. If you look like you're unable to physically fight back effectively you're much more likely to be targeted, even when physical confrontation isn't anywhere on the map.

I hope your situation improves.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:07 PM
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130: I'm a big strong girl, fer shure, even if not as strong as our Megan. In my case, I feel like I get less shit when I dress more feminine, but maybe that's because fewer people at one time are trying to tell gay jokes to force me to out myself.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:10 PM
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127: Yeah, I'm naturally stonefaced, and this kind of thing is a context where it's very useful (the horrible partner I mentioned above made a couple of desultory stabs at harassing me, and lost interest quickly). But it's not a skill or anything -- I'm reacting to being poked at, it's just that my reaction involves total facial paralysis.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:10 PM
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130: togolosh, are you trying to prod Megan to start nagging AWB that she needs to start weightlifting?

From AWB's description her work situation sounds objectively terrible. I'm sure someone could just ignore it and whistle happily to themselves, but I'm sure I couldn't.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:16 PM
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130: togolosh, are you trying to prod Megan to start nagging AWB that she needs to start weightlifting?

Surely carrying weaponry would be quicker and easier. Maybe a hunting knife you could ostentatiously sharpen, while whistling tunelessly to yourself.

Naming it, and referring to it by name as your best friend, would probably help too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:19 PM
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I'm not that easy to bait. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I try not to say my predictable lines.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:19 PM
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From AWB's description her work situation sounds objectively terrible. I'm sure someone could just ignore it and whistle happily to themselves, but I'm sure I couldn't.

I also couldn't. People like that would drive me to quit very quickly.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:21 PM
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133.1 Not a bad idea! Actually just musing.

133.2 Same here.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:24 PM
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There's a difference between ignoring it externally and ignoring it internally.

I am quite able to display that I'm ignoring the behavior. But it would depend on the context whether or not I could keep it from actually getting to me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:24 PM
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I'm incredibly stoic and once I've set a target, I trudge implacably. Those don't necessarily work out well. I should probably evaluate whether I still want the goal more often, since I'll let conditions get really miserable while I'm working towards something I chose years ago. But I outlast people.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:25 PM
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You would think this would apply to sports, but it clearly doesn't, since I hate running any distance at all. For running I give up, whimpering, after a couple minutes, and return to my blissful short sets of heavy weights.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:27 PM
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I should probably evaluate whether I still want the goal more often, since I'll let conditions get really miserable while I'm working towards something I chose years ago.

It's like a flash back to my graduate school years.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:28 PM
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Yep. And my last three years of tkd.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:31 PM
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I'm incredibly stoic and once I've set a target, I trudge implacably. Those don't necessarily work out well. I should probably evaluate whether I still want the goal more often, since I'll let conditions get really miserable while I'm working towards something I chose years ago. But I outlast people.

I can see why you would have such affection for Disciplined Minds (which I did enjoy).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:33 PM
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tkd

Taking kid's donuts?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:33 PM
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Megan is a Duracell bunny.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:34 PM
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What an effective ad campaign.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:35 PM
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146: Did you hear that bunny eventually got arrested?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:36 PM
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You guys remember those Trident commercials from when I was in middle school that went:
"Who wants Trident?"
"I do! I do!"
"Whooooo?"
"I do! I do!"
"Cinnamon freshness!"
"I do! I do!"
all set to the most ear-wormy rhythm ever? I do, I do. Those always struck me as incredibly effective. They're still all too present in my brain.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:37 PM
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147: Why did the bunny get arrested, Stanley?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:37 PM
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149: He was charged with battery!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:38 PM
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150: Also, in what universe is cinnamon "refreshing"? Cinnamon is hot. Hot breath is not refreshing breath.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:38 PM
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151 not actually to 150. Don't know how that got in there.

I mean, I'm always addressing Stanley. Just not his dumb old punchline in this particular case.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:39 PM
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No way, guys, that was the Energizer bunny that died in Vietnam.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:41 PM
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Oh, you're right. In that case, I guess it was an ineffective ad campaign.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:43 PM
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I thought it was an ad for a rabbit incontinence medication or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 2:50 PM
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AWB's situation is truly terrible, and I'm very sorry. I wish I could suggest a way out of it, but bullies in the workplace are a terrible problem (see here and here), and unless someone with even greater authority steps in and removes the offensive person, they're just such bad apples that they spoil the whole bin. I'm so conflict-averse that I don't know how I would respond other than to quit. Law school was socially that kind of environment for me--some people in my section, noticing I was doing the civil rights track and involved in mostly ethnic student groups, journals, and volunteer law clinics, kept asking me, in a "joking" way, why I was being so insular and when did I stop liking white people. My response was to just retreat even farther and spend as little time as possible at school, avoiding even the library. Then I started skipping classes too. Can't say I recommend that path. When my co-externs started saying offensive racist statements (do all Asians know martial arts? why are you Asians so uptight?) I complained to the managing clerk, who then spoke to the judge, who then talked to the co-externs to knock it off.

I'm more direct now, but it's taken a long time of me learning to be more assertive and stony-faced. Not being at home with my abusive, misogynist dad helped a lot for making me stand taller, as did shoring up my self-esteem and confidence by surrounding myself with basically a cheer leading squad comprised of my boyfriend and best friends. Still, I'm working on being assertive and telling people when they're being dicks. I have that typical abuse-survivor mentality of wanting to avoid conflict, please and placate everyone, and run scared away from anything upsetting. This will take a long time to figure out, but I'm hopeful.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 3:04 PM
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Okay, I didn't want to step on the discussion of AWB's experience (which sounds very unplesent) but I have a question relating to the original post.

What are the factors that make on more or less likely to put up with offensive comments?

I ask because I have an ongoing dispute with a friend about Phillip K. Dick. After reading his anti-abortion story ("The Pre-Persons") she won't read anything else by him and practically spits when his name is mentioned. I think that, while I disagree with the sentiment I'm inclined to think of it as forgivable. (Worth mentioning, in the notes for the story Dick says that it made Joanna Rush say that she wished she could punch him in the nose, and he describes the story as "special pleading." (IIRC) so my friend is not the only person to react this way to that story.)

The two main defenses that I offer, in this circumstance are

(1) I don't think the story carries any particular power. Phillip K. Dick didn't have any ability personally to affect the availability of abortion, and I don't feel like he has much common ground or allegiance with the anti-abortion right wing. He isn't providing intellectual cover for a political movement.

(2) It is common for him to write stories that take an initial emotional reaction and exaggerate it. I feel like if I enjoy his rants about the soul-crushing nature of consumer culture, salespeople, or commutes that I should be willing to accept a rant on a topic where I am not in agreement with him.

My question is this. I realize that neither of us are likely to change the mind of the other, but should arguments like the ones I have made carry any weight. Are those appropriately mitigating factors for offensive speech (conceding for the sake of argument that the premise of the story is offensive) or are the excuses?

Or am I over thinking the whole thing? (answer: probably, yes, but what is unfogged good at if not helping somebody to over think a discussion).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 3:12 PM
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157: I wouldn't think of reading a published work as at all comparable to face-to-face (or at least real-time) interaction, largely because you're not giving feedback to the speaker. I feel responsible interacting with people not letting them believe that I'm fine with it when they say offensive stuff (oh, I don't always live up to the responsibility, but I accept that it exists). But I don't feel that way at all about reading offensive published material. I suppose there's stuff I wouldn't pay for, out of not wanting to support the author, but not much I wouldn't read.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 3:19 PM
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158: Oh, I would agree with you. At the same time there are plenty of people that I have negative association with based strictly on their published work, so I don't think it's a category error to have a reaction, just a different standard.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 3:33 PM
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For what it's worth, here are the comments by Dick on the story that I was thinking of (and my memory was pretty close).

In this ... I incurred the absolute hate of Joanna Russ who wrote me the nastiest letter I've ever received; at one point she said she usually offered to beat up people (she didn't use the word 'people') who expressed opinions such as this. I admit that this story amounts to special pleading, and I'm sorry to offend those who disagree with me about abortion on demand. I also got some unsigned hate mail, some of it not from individuals but from organizations promoting abortion on demand. Well, I have always managed to offend people by what I write. Drugs, communism, and now an anti-abortion stand; I really know how to get myself in hot water. Sorry, people. But for the pre-persons' sake I am not sorry. I stand where I stand: "Hier steh Ich; Ich kann nicht anders," ["Here I stand, I can do no other"] as Martin Luther is supposed to have said.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 3:36 PM
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says that it made Joanna Rush say that she wished she could punch him in the nose

Joanna Russ.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 3:37 PM
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160: Abortion is different. As a man the worst accusation is that you support the right of others to murder. As a woman it's that you arrogate to yourself the right to commit murder, if you haven't already.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 3:46 PM
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Apparently abortion breaks the blog.

I'm sorry.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:01 PM
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Your friend is obviously insane. It's not like anti-abortion looms large in Dick's oeuvre.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:09 PM
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My friend has not read Dick's oeuvre and does not plan to do so. That is the nature of our disagreement.

And, yes, my friend is being arbitrarily strict, but that's fine, I have made similarly arbitrary decisions myself (I could give examples if you want). I just think that, in this case, it is the wrong decision.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:18 PM
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If you cannot read and appreciate the work of someone you disagree with, even on very important issues, you being completely unreasonable.

I love and teach the works of Plato, yet strangely I do not advocate a tyranny of carefully educated guardians.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:26 PM
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Also, Dick's anti-abortion stance has a lot to do with his fixation on his still-born twin sister, no? This was a theme in A Scanner Darkly IIRC.

He wasn't a political writer, really. He was an extremely neurotic man who channeled his neuroses through various streams of contemporary culture, as well as odd metaphysical tropes of his own invention.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:29 PM
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I love and teach the works of Plato, yet strangely I do not advocate a tyranny of carefully educated guardians.

That's because you are only seeing the shadows on the wall of the cave.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:33 PM
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164, 165: Well, if she doesn't think she'd enjoy them, why should she read them? A reaction that "that one story made me angry enough that I don't want to read anything else by the same guy" is a matter of taste, and conceptually completely distinct from "Because this story is offensive, I think it would be wrong to read anything else by Dick."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:35 PM
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"I'd like to read War and Peace, but I disagree with Tolstoy's bitter view of marriage (held late in life as a result of his own failed marriage) so I can't read it."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:35 PM
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If you cannot read and appreciate the work of someone you disagree with, even on very important issues, you being completely unreasonable.

Damn, I guess I have to give Jonah Goldberg another chance.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:36 PM
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My only regret about Plato is that I didn't think to make a "That's not a stalagmite" joke when we did the allegory in class.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:37 PM
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Hello, Stanley:

There are a few categories of people in the world who can pull off being funny in an offensive, over-the-line way.

1. People who have a feel for gallows humor, most often because they have earned one (e.g. they make their living in a profession that regularly exposes them to extreme horror). So, for example, anyone who knows a lot of social workers will get to know, back to front, all of the most offensive, horrific jokes and anecdotes you can possibly collect and store in a single human brain about child abuse and domestic violence*, jokes that will make you feel horrible about yourself for laughing. And that's fine, as far as it goes. Gallows humor has a function. If such people have a way of getting insensitive to when, exactly, they should and shouldn't make such jokes... well, unless they're trying to make a go of a career in party planning, fuck it. You either hang out with them or don't. If they're a family member you can pretty much say "deal with it."

* And sudden infant death, too. No, seriously!

2. People who have so much cred on a particular issue that they can make jokes about it that would be offensive coming from other people. This can be just the old phenomenon of "[some] people can get away with jokes about their own ethnicity but not the other guy's." Or it can go deeper than that; for example, if you have a circle of friends with whom you've stood shoulder-to-shoulder at Aryan Guard counter-demonstrations, it may be commonplace within that circle to make jokes about race that you couldn't get away with elsewhere and would sound horrifying to the ears of people who don't know you. (This category overlaps a lot with category 1, but it's not always exactly the same. "Gallows humour" may not always apply; also, in this category, you should feel worse about not knowing when to keep the joking private.)

3. People who are crossing a line of etiquette in the service of offering an original thought or viewpoint, doing something more interesting than just reiterating or repackaging a commonplace prejudice. This is simultaneously the very rarest category of comedian to find, and the category the largest number of crypto-bigoted douchebags think they belong to.

I personally have a friend who falls into categories 1 and 2 except when he's trying to "joke" about women (he's been hard up for some time), whereupon he usually tries and spectacularly fails to fall into category 3. I still have to call him on it now and again, though he's improved. If your brother falls into none of these categories, he really needs your help.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:38 PM
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If you cannot read and appreciate the work of someone you disagree with, even on very important issues, you being completely unreasonable.

There are a lot of people whose books are worth reading. The opportunity cost of not reading any one specific author is pretty low. Especially Dick whose books are interesting but poorly written.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:38 PM
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Especially Dick whose books are interesting but poorly written.

Not so. Dick's writing is perfectly fine, that's not what makes his books uninteresting.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:40 PM
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174: Yeah, that too. "I disagree with his beliefs" is an insufficient reason not to read something that you have a responsibility to read, but it seems like a perfectly good reason not to read Dick.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:40 PM
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174 and 176 are both correct and a good explanation for why my situation is not, in fact, parallel to the op. The costs of choosing to not read a particular random author is usually much lower than those of not being willing to deal with a particular random person.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:45 PM
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173

4:Extreme & brilliant ironists; but that may include 1,2,3

Dostoevsky? Conrad?

Darconville's Cat

At one point I thought the Dick story was ironic.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:51 PM
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174-176:I am not a real Dick fan, but his books are not so long or difficult. Everybody literate or informed about pop culture should probably read 1 or 2.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:55 PM
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NickS's original comment talked about "forgiving" Dick. But that's really the wrong word, and it brings out another way the interpersonal situation is different than the literary one. No one needs to forgive Dick for anything. He's dead now anyway. The issue is whether you can get anything from reading his books. Personally, I got a lot. Other people here disagree about his literary merits.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 4:59 PM
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I know I say it's childish when people make jokes about be being a Johnson scholar, but reading a bunch of comments about how much you guys love Dick is... I love it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:01 PM
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me being.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:01 PM
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181: I personally prefer Cox.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:04 PM
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182: If Neb were here he'd say "my being."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:08 PM
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I like to give Neb messes to complain about.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:09 PM
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I realize that neither of us are likely to change the mind of the other, but should arguments like the ones I have made carry any weight? Are those appropriately mitigating factors for offensive speech (conceding for the sake of argument that the premise of the story is offensive) or are the excuses?

Well, it depends. Should they carry any weight, meaning, Do they offer a plausible explanation for why you continue to read Philip K. Dick? Sure.

Should they carry any weight, meaning, They represent an empirical truth such that your friend is honor-bound to reconsider reading someone she finds repulsively offensive? Nope.

You are free to go on reading him, and your friend is free to judge (or not) you for doing so. She is free to go on not reading him, and you are free to judge (or not) her.

A caution, though -- you may not be in a good position to assess whether your claim #1 is actually true:

(1) I don't think the story carries any particular power. Phillip K. Dick didn't have any ability personally to affect the availability of abortion, and I don't feel like he has much common ground or allegiance with the anti-abortion right wing. He isn't providing intellectual cover for a political movement.

You don't think the story carries any power, but (IIRC) you don't have a uterus. You're not necessarily attuned to the cover that certain kinds of rhetoric* can provide to hatefulness. So you might want to consider incorporating that "known unknown" into your analysis.

*N.b. I have not read the story and am expressing no opinion on it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:14 PM
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173: That's interesting, DS. I'd say my brother's in group 3.

I was trying to think of examples while driving home, and the one I though of was this: He had a recent FB update or tweet that was something like, "Rape, rape, rape. Raping away the day!"

I'm not even sure what the joke is there, other than "Look at me! I'm way over the line! Tee hee!"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:15 PM
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Also, I remembered this morning on the train that a common warning in my childhood was "That which is said in jest..." said with a meaningful look.

It was supposed to chastise us, implying that if we made jokes about something, people would think we meant it in truth. And it was pretty effective.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:18 PM
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With my students, I often talk about dead baby jokes. The instant I mention dead babies, they start laughing. It's already funny just because babies are dead. So then I ask them to imagine their mom, sister, girlfriend, or self having a baby they love so much, and wanted so terribly badly, and then the baby dies, tragically and suddenly. Now let's talk about how funny dead babies are, or how funny a dead baby joke would be told to a group that included someone who lost a baby, especially when everyone else is laughing. Humorless? Yes, of course! I just wanted to stop getting papers from freshman boys along the lines of 187.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:21 PM
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but reading a bunch of comments about how much you guys love Dick is... I love it.

WHILE I'VE BEEN TRYING TO FIND AN EXCUSE TO USE THIS HANDLE. . .

PS. THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED


Posted by: OPINIONATED DICK | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:26 PM
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Stanley, any other examples? The FB update or tweet is just strange: there's no context to make it a joke. Is the imagined reader supposed to go, "Oh, I know, right?" Is it supposed to be a sort of Beavis-and-Butthead non sequitur? Heh heh heh.

Nonsensical. Any other examples? Maybe he's going through a, um, phase.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:33 PM
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Stanley, any other examples?

The other one I thought of was another rape thing. He kept getting kicked off Myspace awhile back, because people kept complaining about his name there, which was something like RAPE-O-MATIC.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:35 PM
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"Hey bro, what's with the rape shit? What is up with that? I mean, huh?"


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:37 PM
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189: So then I ask them to imagine their mom, sister, girlfriend, or self having a baby they love so much, and wanted so terribly badly, and then the baby dies, tragically and suddenly.

Now, the ones who were still laughing understand gallows humor. Probably none of them, the callow little pricks.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:45 PM
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South Park: gallows humor for gallows fans.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:46 PM
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That's interesting, DS. I'd say my brother's in group 3.

DS's taxonomy is useful, but based on the examples you give, Stanley, it's not apparent that your brother really falls into group 3.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:54 PM
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it's not apparent that your brother really falls into group 3.

Sorry, I didn't type out my full thought there. He probably thinks he's in group 3 but fails miserably, is what I meant. The last sentence in DS's 3, basically.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:57 PM
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192: Yeah, frequent context-free rape stuff would get too old too quickly to fit in category 3 for me, but diff'rent strokes. 187 actually does remind me a bit of an old, very funny Emerson post that I can't find.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:59 PM
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Ah. Pwned by 197.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 5:59 PM
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Kobe!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:00 PM
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On a related topic, anybody else remember "Garbage Pail Kids?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:04 PM
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Now that I'm thinking of them as "Gallows Kids" they seem less funny.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:05 PM
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201: I'm pretty sure the movie is in my Netflix queue.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:07 PM
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I did not know they made a movie. I guess I mention it as a way to say "At least your brother isn't trying to monetize acontextual cruelty."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:11 PM
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202: "Gallows Kids" would be totes funny. I am totally laughing right now.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:13 PM
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n old, very funny Emerson post that I can't find.

Aw.

Context-free rape stuff doesn't really make it out of the gate for me; it would be old the first time. I don't get it at all.

There's enough of an established canon of, say, gay or racist jokes, or women-are-stupid jokes, that a well-told one can be funny in context, and a failed one can be humored with a shrug and a pass (nice try there, but fail). Not so much with the rape jokes: they're in a territory of violence. Racist or homophobic jokes aren't necessarily in the realm of violence (I'm thinking particularly of Dave Chapelle, having seen a "best of" recently that was hilarious).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:15 PM
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I don't get it at all.

I had the same reaction to "According to Jim," though probably for different reasons.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:33 PM
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A bonafide type 3. Not so sure how I fell about this, however.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:43 PM
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Okay, I'm not at all caught up on this thread, but... 122 is absolutely fucking right. You know what's good for getting bullies to knock it the fuck off? No, not the person being bullied getting "a thicker skin," "just ignor[ing]" the bully, or whatever. What actually sometimes does a tiny bit of good is when people who are around for the bullying actually stick up for the person being bullied and drop the whole "oh, that's just how he is" bullshit. Of course, the best bullies learn how to bully without witnesses which is pretty hopeless.

Or, shorter, I feel your pain AWB.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 6:46 PM
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I wish to amend the last sentence of 206 to read: Racial or homosexual jokes aren't necessarily in the realm of violence.

Thanks, that's better now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:24 PM
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What's funnier than a dead baby?
A dead baby in a clown costume!

What's funnier than a dead baby?
A dead baby sitting next to a kid with down syndrome.

How do you make a dead baby float?
Take your foot off of it's head.

What's the difference between a dead baby and a trampoline?
When you jump on a trampoline, you take your boots off.

What do you get when you dislocate a dead baby's jaw?
Deep Throat.

Why do you stick a baby in the blender feet first?
So you can see the expression on its face!


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:40 PM
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Blaine Capatch is a stand-up comedian who is ectomorph-skinny, and proposed that he not be expected to walk women to their cars because "why should we both get raped?"



Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:44 PM
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Those are funny because usually we think of babies as being a precious expression of life, and dead babies as being a horrific nightmares. But in each of these examples, we are being invited to imagine that the baby's death is part of a larger, unexpectedly more disrespectful scenario, which is humorous.

Megan, did I do it right?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:46 PM
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Hey k-sky, who is the commedienne who tells that Joan Rivers joke that I love?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:47 PM
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Whitney Cummings.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:50 PM
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Oh, that depends. Are you looking to get Brock to stop? Then I'd go with, "Oh yeah, because a baby's face would really show the pain as the blades bit into her feet. And then his legs would be mutilated until he bled to death and he would shriek in pain. I get it." Straight face, lots of eye contact. Because that was the inside of the joke, right?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:55 PM
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Exactly! The joke at :45 of that clip. Which I've spoiled elsewhere but will let stand unsullied this time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:55 PM
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I do like Megan's 37 ("I'm a bit slow, let me make sure I'm getting the humor here.")

I have a Sometimes Charming But Other Times Willfully Ignorant older relative who got going on a particularly offensive tangent one holiday. His son and I spent the rest of the day referring to "The [SCBOTWI's full name] Institute for Enlightened Racial Relations". ("Time for Scrabble at The SCBOTWI Institute for Enlightened Racial Relations" ad nauseum.) Not sure if it really worked, but we at least felt better about not letting it just hang out there unanswered (which isn't nothing) and he did shut-up about it eventually.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 7:56 PM
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The joke in 215 (which is funny!) could be uncharitable outside the context of a roast, though, right? I can envision it being delivered word-for-word but mean-spirited.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:00 PM
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Huh... it's more difficult than I would have expected to find a compendium of rape jokes on the web.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:01 PM
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212 is good: class 3 joke. Not all rape jokes are violent! Only misogynistic ones. Thanks, k-sky.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:04 PM
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"I think I get it, while I was writing a long comment, several people explicitly followed a suggestion made in an hours-old comment that I was unwittingly referencing in my comment."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:05 PM
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219: Yes. Plus they'd be plagiarizing. But it's still so awesomely actually shocking. At least to me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:14 PM
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Kind of waiting for the compendium of rape jokes here, Brock. I can't formulate a decent theory without data, dammit.

Seriously, I don't hear a lot of yuk-yuk racist/homophobic/misogynistic kinds of jokes in real life; on TV, in print, yes. Not really in person. But I don't work with the public or in a remotely large office setting, and apparently screen these people out otherwise. I'm more likely to hear, in person, political jokes about liberals. Even then they're not of the yuk-yuk hahaha variety, but are more vicious. Does everybody else routinely encounter frat boys?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:45 PM
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Does everybody else routinely encounter frat boys?

Daily!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:47 PM
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But my students are generally sensible enough to keep a lid on it around me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:48 PM
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Does everybody else routinely encounter frat boys?

I live in one of the frattiest college towns in the country. Yes. Yes. Yes. It seems there's even honorary members due to attitude spillover.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:58 PM
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Well, at least I can say that I had my first Facebook encounter with a flaming Tea Partier recently. Out of her senses! Another friend finally ended the exchange with "Whaaaa?"


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 8:59 PM
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228: I'm having a boring battle with people on my brother's facebook wall (broham posted something about McDonnell being white trash for honoring Confederate History Month; chaos ensued). It's...lame.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:02 PM
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Does everybody else routinely encounter frat boys?

I suppose I must, but most of my conversations with undergrad age people involve me ordering a sandwich or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:02 PM
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Speaking of which, at Quizno's you can now get either one biggish sandwich or two little sandwiches for $5. At Subway, you can only get one biggish sandwich, but it is a bigger sandwich.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:05 PM
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231: I'm angry at the Quizno's by my work. (1) They operate on super flaky hours and (2) why is there no vegetarian Torpedo™? My lunch could be all pew-pew-pew, mais non.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:10 PM
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McDonnell being white trash for honoring Confederate History Month

White trash, eh? Well, that's one approach to taking issue with the matter.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:10 PM
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233: I thought it another example of Brother I Love stirring the pot, which you requsted.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:12 PM
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232: Don't blame me. I just like to picture the little sandwich fighting for its life against the conveyor belt of doom drawing it slowly into the over.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:14 PM
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232: Don't blame me. I just like to picture the little sandwich fighting for its life against the conveyor belt of doom drawing it slowly into the over.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:14 PM
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And hit buttons twice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:14 PM
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Anyone know if there's any hope of getting airfare refunded if one is too sick to fly? I'm starting to get concerned that this will turn into a very expensive virus if I haven't recovered by Monday.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:17 PM
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234: Adding it to the data pool; your brother's style is puzzling, isn't it. I still put the rape joke examples in a different category, but I'm forced to work out more clearly why. Those who are more familiar with the rape joke genre may understand it better than I do; I might be an outlier.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:20 PM
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I think I won the FB-wall asking a question like "Do you believe the South winning would have been the better outcome, and if so, why?"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:26 PM
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I feel like mcmanus, documenting my fights elsewhere. I should watch a movie.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:27 PM
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"Do you believe the South winning would have been the better outcome, and if so, why?"

They would be our impoverished Southern neighbor and we would live in Happy Socialist Utopian Dreamworld!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:28 PM
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Anyone know if there's any hope of getting airfare refunded if one is too sick to fly?

You mean like a doctor's note stating: This man is too sick to fly. If he boards your plane, all passengers and crew will become infected! Better refund his fare; you really don't want to go there.

The frequent flyers will know more. I know that there are obscure (not widely advertised) rules for reduced rates on an immediate flight if a close family member has died -- which is very nice of the airlines -- so it's conceivable that there are considerations for other kinds of contingencies. Otherwise I'd say: reschedule the flight if that works.

Sorry you're felling that unwell.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:41 PM
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Thanks, I guess I'll call the airline if necessary. I'm not feeling that unwell, just mildly ill. I was quite a bit sicker on Friday, so likely I'll be completely better in time for my flight. But even if I'm only mildly sick, getting in a crowded metal box for 8 hours doesn't seem like the best idea, from my point of view or that of my fellow passengers.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:48 PM
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I think you might probably have to be really pretty sick to get a refund. Plus the doctor's note (I seemed to jest, but the family death thing, for example, requires confirmation from a funeral home). I'm not sure this will work, essear. No harm in asking them, though.

Lemon tea, lots of rest, whatever seems to not to drag you down.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-10 9:59 PM
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167: Dick not a political writer? Pull the other one, it got bells on. It's hard to think of a more political sf writer of his generation (post-war, pre-New Wave).


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 12:03 AM
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246: Dick not a political writer? Pull the other one, it got bells on.

Jingle for me, Martin. Jingle, say I!

I can see where helpy-chalk is coming from on this one. Dick wrote on plenty of issues that were and are politically explosive -- drug war, police state, fascism, et cetera -- but the actual content of that writing was much more personal and metaphysical than it was particularly "political." At least one could so argue, and with some justice.

I would actually argue that a great many SF writers of his generation were more political. It's just that being brutally whacked over the head with capitalism-cheerleading Cold War politics was such a norm for American SF of the period that the writers doing so quickly ceased to register as "political," a term which instead got applied to people departing from that norm. That, however, is not an especially useful usage of the term "political" IMO.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 12:49 AM
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Generally in those cases tho' the politics got slipped in behind the plot, whereas Dick uses politics as the plot a lot more, I think.

(That's the argument I'd go for.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 1:19 AM
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I'm with Martin and Keir (I think). Dick understood and above all incorporated the political consequences of his hypotheticals. That was sadly uncommon in his era.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 2:14 AM
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being brutally whacked over the head with capitalism-cheerleading Cold War politics was such a norm for American SF of the period

This is really not a very good description of Asimov. Or Heinlein. Or Pohl. Or Bradbury. Or Simak. Or... well, I can't actually think of many leading American SF authors that it is a good description of.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 3:12 AM
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This is really not a very good description of . . . Heinlein.

O RLY.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 3:39 AM
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||

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/06/election-2010-wives-party-leaders

British election.

>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 4:35 AM
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Yes, RLY.

"Capitalism-cheerleading" is not a good description of Heinlein. While I grant that he tended to brutally whack you over the head with whatever the particular message of that book was, the message was rarely if ever YAY CAPITALISM.
YAY MILITARY CULTURE, yes. YAY FREEDOM. YAY FREE LOVE. YAY THE WEST AND AMERICA IN PARTICULAR. BOO TOTALITARIANISM. BOO RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY. YAY REBELLION AGAINST TYRANNY. Often, in fact, BOO UNBRIDLED PROFITEERING.
I haven't read all of his stuff - not even close - maybe I've missed the ones that are blatant cheerleading for capitalism?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 4:41 AM
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The worst damn part is that I can already feel the tribalism kicking in. It's irrational; I don't live in the UK, I don't much like the current British Labour Party (Stoke) & to be honest I wish the whole lot of them to perdition[1], but I fucking want Labour to win, the Tories to get their comeuppance, and the Liberal Democrats to be exposed for the waffly centrists they really are under it all.

([1] Except Gordon Brown. I have an even more irrational affection for him, mainly through a far more literal Fife tribalism.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 4:55 AM
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252. We spent a night in a hotel earlier this week, and they asked us, as is SOP, whether we wanted a paper in the morning. Mrs OFE replied that we'd given up newspapers until May 7th, and the receptionist said, "You know, everyone's saying that."


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 5:00 AM
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re: 254

I no longer feel the tribal support for Labour. The Iraq war and their relentless Dacre-ism over the past decade did for that. But yeah, I still feel the old visceral hatred of the Tories.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 5:01 AM
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I no longer feel the tribal support for Labour.

And yet, despite the fact that I regard him as a war criminal, an enemy of the workers and a weak kneed compromiser with racism, I still believe that Brown would be a less worse Prim Monster than either Cameron or Clegg. Such are the times.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 5:14 AM
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re: 257

That might be true, yeah, but it's a terrible position to be in.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 5:24 AM
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And on paper (I've said this before) he looked so good.

However he turned out so horribly horribly bad. (I reckon it's bad luck for any Labour leader to have written a biography of an older respected left-wing Labour figure.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 5:39 AM
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253:well, I can't actually think of many leading American SF authors that it is a good description of.

Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll" like 1940 is an exmple of the complexity A strike by "Functionalists" "...greatest economic rewards should go to the people with the most vital jobs" (Clute) "Man Who Sold the Moon."

Poul Anderson & Keth Laumer were among the most right-econo-political of SF authors in the 50-60s. Blish, Lafferty, many others were social conservatives.

Speculative political economy, especially if trying to work in a longer timeframe, is obviously very difficult stuff. Easier to fall back on cyclic feudalism or mercantilism. It might be very very interesting to understand why, why we have no faith in capitalism nor can readily project a far future socialism.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 6:02 AM
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And on paper (I've said this before) he looked so good.

As chancellor, he had been writing open cheques for the Iraq war since 2003, without a murmur. Not that good.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 6:02 AM
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Re:GB elections

I no longer feel the tribal support for Labour. The Iraq war and their relentless Dacre-ism over the past decade did for that. But yeah, I still feel the old visceral hatred of the Tories.

Why do I have this feeling that GB is a leading indicator for US politics, a mere couple years ahead of us?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 6:04 AM
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Bob, you may be right. Apparently intelligent people are now suggesting that the Republicans will really pick Palin for 2012, in which case BHO will presumably be re-elected relatively comfortably. but we may be treated to the first case of a less than 50% turnout for a presidential election.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 6:08 AM
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I had an acquaintance from the Youth Wing of Large Left-Wing Party who ended up going to Oxford. He started to write nasty screeds against Blairism occasionally. I thought, well, that's nice, you've finally caught up with the rest of us a decade ago, until I realised that this was actually a factional thing in favour of Brownism, and then I went off and thanked fuck that I am not competent enough to be a party apparatchik.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 6:23 AM
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Youth Wing of Large Left-Wing Party

Youth wing of a WHAT!!!!????


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 6:30 AM
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Well, not really left wing.

Social democrat/centrist left -- the N/Z L/a/b/o/u/r Party.

(Sorry to get your hopes up.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 6:34 AM
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Also, stuff this for a game of soldiers.

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Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:01 AM
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Bob, have you read Iain M. Banks? He's created a plausible far-future socialism. In Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books, the Martian society seems to evolve towards a kind of socialism.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:09 AM
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268:Haven't read Banks, but have heard a lot about him, and intend to read him.

Left SF of course has always had dystopias and critiques (Pohl-Kornbluth, W Gibson) but most of the projections are either banal (SoS) or very vague. Does Picard draw a salary? Is he heavily taxed to build Enterprises?

Reading discussions of Greece vs EU and China vs Alles, we don't have much understanding of economics in real time, so imagining has balance-of-payments among planets will work in the Galactic Federation would be beyond us.

But my original idea was that the hegemony makes alternative economies unimaginable. Should go look up Banks I assume he has discussed the epistemological problem.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:31 AM
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Does Picard draw a salary?

Have you ever considered writing fan fiction?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:36 AM
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Does Picard draw a salary?

Officially all capitalism and money have been replaced by a "philosophy of self improvement." This comes up in arguments with Ferengi sometimes.

It is almost as much of a cop out as giving your utopian society a free energy machine.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:43 AM
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And further, there are a fuck load of professional party members in waiting floating around the youth wing; the annual conference is coming and dear god the fucking stench of careerism is starting to get to me. There are far too many people who've an LLB/BA(Hons), have served on the executive of the youth branch & the electorate committee, the students' association, various local government youth councilly type bits of nonsense, and appear to have no appreciable interests outside politics.

(And worst of all you can hardly come out and say anything, because they are all reasonably decent people but o god. so. damn. many. middle. class. liberals. Srsly. The yth exec has various se/ctor represen/tatives -- women's, gay, union, maori, PI, etc. Someone proposed an amendment forcing the rep to be from the sector. Except they fucking forget to specify that the union rep be a member of a damn union! They went through and came up with intricate little wordings about `a person who identifies as female' and such like, and forget to make sure, in a what's supposedly a damn labour party, that the worker's rep be a worker.

And it just annoys me, because they have all these little `how can we get more women' & such like discussions, wouldn't it also be nice to have some members who weren't university students studying law/pols/maybe-english-lit-at-best?

And argh. argh. This had best be prime ministerial I think & I apologise for the rant, but yeah.


Posted by: Julius Vogel | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:43 AM
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Does Picard draw a salary?

Nah, he survives on rations while on active service and sets aside his Admiral's eighths for his retirement.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:44 AM
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I prefer Ken MacLeod for lefty SF.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:50 AM
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260, 269: I've just been reading a bunch of 50's and 60's pulp SF because it's free on Feedbooks, and man that's some rightwing stuff I didn't notice when I was fourteen, the last time I read a lot of it. Every union member is a moronic gangster.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:50 AM
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They went through and came up with intricate little wordings about `a person who identifies as female' and such like, and forget to make sure, in a what's supposedly a damn labour party, that the worker's rep be a worker.

Isn't it enough to have a "person who identifies as a worker" for the worker's rep?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:50 AM
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271: Dude, when I invent a free-energy machine, you're getting none.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:55 AM
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Regarding the original post: Stuff White People Do might be of interest. Stuff White People Do tends to describe your brother's actions, Stanley, as "hipster racism". Most of the people of color who post say that they find it preferable for white people to confront hipster racists.

I tend to feel that people who say racist/misogynist/homophobic shit to push people's buttons are either sociopathic (and can't be expected to improve their behavior) or representations of that negative part of the dialectic that Deleuze so memorably recommended we destroy. Either way, I believe in foregrounding what they're doing in order to build a consensus against them--or at least in order to show the rest of the white/male/straight people in the room that they can't rely on white/male/straight solidarity.

"It's weird and creepy that you act racist to get attention" would be my main approach if I had equal status with the person and didn't need to fear for my job or have serious fears for my physical safety. The SWPD comments talk (admittedly I've only read the first 50) about getting over your automatic sense that something terrible will happen if you challenge a casual racist--in general, they will not hit you or do anything worse than call names, which they're already doing.

269: Actually, there's quite a lot of science fiction which takes this up. (Samuel Delany has a very interesting essay in that Shorter Versions book which talks both about the need to suggest plausible economic underpinnings for a society and the impossibility of providing a complete economic map ("the map is not the territory" etc).

My perennial favorite SF writer, L Timmel DuChamp, writes books and short stories that are pretty much about near future economics and their political implications. I am particularly fond of/depressed by The Red Rose Rages, Bleeding, her novella narrated by a low-status doctor in a near-future private women's prison in which (as is often proposed now) prisoners are required to pay for their stay and "rehabilitation".


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:56 AM
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near-future private women's prison in which (as is often proposed now) prisoners are required to pay for their stay and "rehabilitation".

Not really an SF theme, that, though, since it used to be the norm and continues to be the norm in some countries.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:59 AM
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274. I love Ken MacLeod, but I find him a bit depressing to be honest, what I've read. Not really leading us to the promised land. (I was a member of the same ultra-left groupuscule as him at the same time, so I entirely sympathise, just not sure it's what Bob's after.)


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 7:59 AM
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276: Well, technically it's the affiliated unions' rep, and to be honest the unions in question couldn't give a fuck what a collection of uni students mucking around with some red stationery do. So yeah, that'd be the best solution if it mattered, which it doesn't because we have no damn links with the broader movement.

It's just hugely frustrating, because it's very hard to bring up these issues without coming across as the kind of guy that whinges about things being too PC, and I really can't be fucked trying to do any of the hard organising work myself, so I really can't expect much. But oh it grates sometimes.


Posted by: Julius Vogel | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:07 AM
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279: I don't think that makes sense, both from a basic "but science fiction is always about humans/the now because that's what influences people to write" standpoint but also consider how many classics of science fiction write about things that have happened in the past or are still happening somewhere for estrangement purposes--Sherri Tepper's awful epics spring immediately to mind, but Gene Wolf's Book of the New Sun derives pretty substantially (by his own account) from his desire to write about his experience of the Korean War (and seems to describe quite a lot of the jungle warfare during WWII as well). Or any SF novel about totalitarianism, or about most alternate economic systems...does an SF novel of the 50s or 60s that postulates drone warfare cease to be SF now that drone warfare is achievable?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:08 AM
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But oh it grates sometimes.

That's why I limit my political activity to voting and mocking things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:12 AM
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re: 280

I've found his more recent ones really interesting, as they are much more of the 'very near future' vein that Gibson has been mining recently. It's interesting that it takes an SF writer to really capture a lot of things that seem to me to already be given facts about the modern world but which literary fiction of the Booker prize-winning* variety has completely missed.

* i.e. shit London-centric tales of the bourgeoisie


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:14 AM
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284. Oh, agreed. But I thought the request was for people who did thought out, successful socialist societies, a la Banks. Not necessarily the market for Execution Channel, fine though it is (except the last few pages).


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:19 AM
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Not necessarily the market for Execution Channel, fine though it is (except the last few pages).

Heh, yes, re: the last few pages.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:22 AM
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thought out, successful socialist societies, a la Banks.

I enjoy banks, but does "Assume free energy and superintelligent planners" count as a thought out socialist society? In terms of talking about socialism, that's not much past Star Trek.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:24 AM
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Banks, that is. I don't particularly enjoy banks, although I suppose something like them is necessary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:26 AM
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There's always The Dispossessed which is a perennial classic, I suppose.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:27 AM
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but does "Assume free energy and superintelligent planners"

There's a sense in which you can make it so, in that technology to provide extremely cheap energy is probably possible even now, if anybody had any incentive to invest in it; and if people weren't under the cosh of shit jobs all day, every day, they'd likely develop intellectually more than they tend to now (Marx explicitly believed this).

But that said, it doesn't really work for me, because I don't actually want my Utopia to be too well oiled. I'm actually convinced that even if democratic planning was optimal (which I doubt), we'd still need nooks and crannies of inefficiency to go off line in.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:36 AM
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...if people weren't under the cosh of shit jobs all day, every day, they'd likely develop intellectually more than they tend to now (Marx explicitly believed this).

Based on the behavior of most people who do not need to work, I find this very hard to believe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:43 AM
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Political SF

How would you classify Medal of Honor by Mack Reynolds? It isn't exactly left-wing (I don't remember what Reynolds politics were generally) but its definitely anti-plutocrat.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:45 AM
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286: Yes, the last few pages made me clutch my head and scream silently. It was all going so well up to that point! "The Night Sessions" was a lot better. The world needs more books about Covenanting Terminators.

Officially all capitalism and money have been replaced by a "philosophy of self improvement." This comes up in arguments with Ferengi sometimes.
It is almost as much of a cop out as giving your utopian society a free energy machine.

Actually, that sort of rings true - not every culture needs to have the pursuit of money as its highest goal. Academia doesn't. People still become scholars even if they're perfectly well-off financially; Darwin, for example. Same with the military. Wellington didn't become a soldier because he needed the money; up to quite recently it was considered a qualification for an army officer that he didn't need the money.
So you're just talking about a society where everyone is, basically, a 19th-century gentleman, and, as was the case with 19th-century gentlemen, a lot of them are probably just idle slobs, but some of them still go out into the universe and work at hard, dangerous jobs because of the honour and the status and the glory and the sense of achievement.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 8:59 AM
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Looking it up, it seems like Mack Reynolds was a well known socialist. People seem to recomend Lagrange Five, which I haven't read, as a good example of his political SF.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:04 AM
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294. Well, there you go. Never heard of him. I wonder if anything's in print.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:09 AM
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So you're just talking about a society where everyone is, basically, a 19th-century gentleman, and, as was the case with 19th-century gentlemen, a lot of them are probably just idle slobs, but some of them still go out into the universe and work at hard, dangerous jobs because of the honour and the status and the glory and the sense of achievement.

Just so. And what I suspect Marx (a nineteenth century gentleman, albeit in reduced circumstances) had in mind.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:11 AM
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I'm halfway through reading my first-ever SF novel that isn't set in an alternate-universe United States, and I'm already becoming terrified by the very notion of religion and befuddled by the idea that "religion" and "cult" could mean different things.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:12 AM
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i.e. shit London-centric tales of the bourgeoisie

Hey, How Late It Was, How Late won the Booker.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:13 AM
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297. What that?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:13 AM
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287: If we're talking a far-future socialism, we're almost inevitably talking about a post-scarcity society.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:15 AM
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300: Post-material-scarcity. Something is always scarce.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:18 AM
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I would put up a new post, but post material is scarce.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:25 AM
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294. Well, there you go. Never heard of him. I wonder if anything's in print.

It looks like his books are out of print, but that he was sufficiently prolific that it should be possible to find at least some of his books floating around used.

Be warned, however, that he isn't exactly a good writer. I went through a stretch of five or six of his books in a row precisely because I was amused at how much his writing showed the seams.

They aren't bad, just clearly pulp in which keeping the pace up and getting the ideas down are more important than graceful prose.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:30 AM
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Here is Medal Of Honor as an audio book. The post says that it just has the first section, but clicking on the first link it looks like the rest of the book was eventually added.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:33 AM
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In the future only Kobe will be scarce. That's why he's not mentioned in comment 300.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:37 AM
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I'm actually convinced that even if democratic planning was optimal (which I doubt), we'd still need nooks and crannies of inefficiency to go off line in.

This is why almost all the Culture novels are set in Special Circumstances.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 9:59 AM
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LB, if you like fantasy, I see that Feedbooks has Martha Wells' The Element of Fire which is pretty good (she said biscuitly).


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 10:23 AM
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I'd just like to note that Roy Edroso has spotted the best typo evar.
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Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 10:42 AM
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There was a joke around say 1975-85 about an informal SF competition that started (? No, obviously Ringworld, but kicked into high gear after Rama) with Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama and was called:"My Alien Artifact is Bigger Than Your Alien Artifact"

Orbitsville (Dyson Sphere), Varley's Gaea series and Greg Bear's Eon are included. Benford's 1st. It was a joke, because the ever increasing size, weirdness, and complexity (for their own sake) of the imagined creations became boring.

Without having read Banks or Stross, they feel like part of that sub-genre.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 11:13 AM
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hey i read a quarter of 'consider phlebas', and it seems to be all "novelization of the low-budget action movie/video game" lots of 'and then he pulled out the reverse-wave supergun!' and characters that only seem different in the randomization of letters in their names.

does it ever get better? descriptions sounded better


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 12:14 PM
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310.2 to everything.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 12:17 PM
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310: In some ways, yes. Although I think Matter is much better written and more disturbing than Consider Phlebas, and The Player of Games does the superweapons and depressing authoritarianism much better. And The Algebraist is both funnier and sadder and has much better aliens--if you're looking for a space opera, that's your book.

Consider Phlebas is pretty much the long way round to "gee, war is horrible, depressing and uncontrollable once it gets going, plus the many many actors all have competing interests even when they're on the same side".


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 2:48 PM
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I did like The Algebraist a lot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 2:52 PM
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So you're just talking about a society where everyone is, basically, a 19th-century gentleman

I agree that it is psychologically realistic (even thought the psychological realism is probably the hardest part for someone who knows a 21st century capitalist society to swallow.)

It just seems to leave open so many practical questions. How do they decide where stuff goes? Sure they could have some sort of socialist command economy, but they seemed to be going out of there way to avoid that. Star Fleet was neither the US nor the USSR.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 8-10 3:03 PM
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Without having read Banks or Stross, they feel like part of that sub-genre.

Banks a bit, Stross not really. And the trend you're talking about is called "sense of wonder" when done well...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:40 AM
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Suppose you've read next to no Banks (The State of the Art and that's it). Where should I start?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 8:03 AM
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I don't know, I've never really enjoyed his SF stuff. However, I can recommend some of his non 'M. Banks' literary fiction.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 8:08 AM
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Use of Weapons is probably still his best SF book. Player of Games and Against a Dark Background are less innovative but still interesting, and Matter was pretty good.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 8:15 AM
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Player of Games is probably the best one to start with. Excession is also very good.

I think that Use of Weapons is formally the best work, but it is very very heavy.

(That's the Culture SF. In terms of not SF I think you'd enjoy The Business & in terms of not Culture Feersum Enjin is quite good, and kind of hilarious if you've read much post-Gray Scots fiction.)

Generally Banks is amazingly talented in terms of putting words next to each other. (I mean, not Kelman or Agnes Owen talented, but still.) It's just that he can fall over when it comes to stringing paragraphs and pages into novels.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 8:16 AM
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I read The Player of Games as my first Banks novel a couple of months ago and was immediately impressed as hell. Then I followed up with The Use of Weapons, which was better, and sadder, and, frankly, a bit more confusing. I endorse this order of entry into Banks-world.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 9:00 AM
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re: 319

For me, The Business is well into his late-not-so-good period, for literary fiction. Don't get me wrong, it's fun, and I liked the concept a great deal, but it wasn't as good, for me, as The Wasp Factory, or The Crow Road, or even Espedair Street.

I have a lot of affection for the The Crow Road as it's a book about a guy in his late teens/early twenties, in Glasgow, living somewhere in the West End near the Crow Road, who grew up in a more rural part of Scotland. And at the time I read it, I was a guy in his early twenties, in Glasgow, living somewhere just off the Crow Road, who grew up ... etc


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 9:03 AM
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||
Could any of y'all translate a short Russian phrase for me if I send you an image of it?

Spasiba.
|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 9:09 AM
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Well, you know that line in The Business about how, if Our Hero (a wee girl from Coatbridge) hadn't ended up in the Business, she'd be a high-levelish civil servant or something?

My mum's a wee girl from Coatbridge who ended up a high-levelish civil servant.

Less parochially, I liked parts of that novel from a set-piece point of view; I don't think as a whole it's very good, but I like it a lot. I also think that it's quite good to compare and contrast with the Laundry books. I dunno -- I find with Banks that the novels that are formally amazingly brilliant aren't always the ones I like the most.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 9:13 AM
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The Crow Road is excellent, even if it's not stylistically very innovative - and the BBC did a very good adaptation about ten years ago.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 9:17 AM
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