Re:

1

Title!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:40 AM
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I couldn't think of anything.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:41 AM
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heebie couldn't afford a title, neb. She spent all her big foam hats and Budweiser and other things Texans buy a lot of.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:42 AM
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^money on


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:43 AM
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I spent all my big foam hats and Budweiser and other things Texans buy a lot of money on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:44 AM
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Looks to be almost entirely driven by transportation costs.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:45 AM
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Those numbers seem pretty high to me. And I live in the SE of England, not exactly world renowned for being cheap. Although maybe I'm not figuring the exchange rate into it correctly.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:46 AM
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How could it be driven by transportation costs? Even if these households are making car payments on two moderately expensive cars and using far above-average amounts gasoline, I don't see how it can come close to explaining a $30k/yr deviation from the national average.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:49 AM
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The numbers seem high to me too. I pretty much do what I want without regard to cost, and I don't spend that much. I suppose "what I want" is limited. Or maybe if I had children I would suddenly understand.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:50 AM
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The lack of title leads to a pleasing "[X] comments on" in the sidebar. Yes! Comment on! Keep fighting that good fight, neighbor!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:50 AM
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Boise was part of the recent real estate boom, not the long-running sadness boom.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:51 AM
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X comments on "Y comments on".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:52 AM
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Comment on, Wayne.


Posted by: Garth | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:52 AM
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Comment on, Garth.


Posted by: Wayne | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:52 AM
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I'm surprised to see both Raleigh and Durham in the top 10. We're rich, bitch!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:53 AM
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Or house-poor.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:55 AM
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Well, okay, maybe not "almost entirely." Scottsdale, for instance, is definitely there because it's an extremely wealthy suburb. Ditto for Arlington. Something similar is presumably behind the big difference between Manhattan and NYC as a whole.

For the medium-sized sunbelt cities that dominate the top of the list, though, I can't see what other explanation there is. The way those places differ from other places is that they're huge, sprawling, and auto-dependent. They also have very low housing costs, but because they're so sprawling that gets largely counteracted by high transportation costs. Since this data excludes housing costs, I'm figuring it's those transportation costs that are sending them to the top of the list.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:55 AM
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Go Irvine!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:56 AM
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This data's actually really hard to interpret because the populations of these places vary so widely. They're really not comparable units at all.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 10:56 AM
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But $67k/yr is almost $200 per day. That seems like a lot. If some rich person gave me $200/day and demanded that I spend it all, I wouldn't be able to.

Expensive vacations, maybe? Medical costs? There just aren't so many things an average person could do that seem like that order of magnitude. Maybe daycare is a lot of it, but that shouldn't average out to a large amount, since the expense should go away once children are past a certain age.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:00 AM
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Private schools, maybe? Tuitions?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:01 AM
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But $67k/yr is almost $200 per day. That seems like a lot.

But it's averaged over the entire population. So it's not the average household spending $200 per day, it's a few rich people spending thousands of dollars per day and everyone else spending just a few dollars more per day on gas than the national average.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:04 AM
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19: But if the spending is broken down by household, that should compensate for differences in population.

I suppose there might be something coming from household size, but I'm not seeing it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:04 AM
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22: Could be. Stupid "average". They should quote medians.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:06 AM
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But if the spending is broken down by household, that should compensate for differences in population.

Hm, yeah, good point. Hang on, I need to think about this.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:06 AM
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On further reflection, rob's right. The numbers themselves aren't really affected by population differences. I do still think it's hard to tell what they mean, because a lot of variation in demographics is being covered up by the averaging and that's going to play out differently in different types of communities.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:08 AM
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Austin? Irvine? Raleigh?

I am not ready to explain it, but looks like a distortion in college towns.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:23 AM
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They let you look at things by type of spending and various demographic categories here. Haven't had time to play with it enough to see if it illuminates things, but if this is right that Austin median household income is $73,300, that seems tough to reconcile with $67k average non-housing spending.

They're pretty vague about where their data comes from on the FAQ page. One of their specified sources is "anonymous and aggregated spending transactions from Citi", which I would not expect to be representative (though there might be ways of dealing with that I suppose).


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:26 AM
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For instance, if students aren't counted in the population, but bus revenues and bar tabs are, that would distort drunken commuter numbers a ton.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:27 AM
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Irvine is not a college town by any stretch of the imagination, despite having a college in it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:28 AM
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I couldn't think of anything.

Then the assignment isn't complete.

F.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:30 AM
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Is it usually part of the assignment that the paper (if a paper be assigned) have a title?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:33 AM
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30 applies to Raleigh and Durham as well. Definitely not college towns in the way Chapel Hill is. However, the relationships between all the universities here and RTP and the big biotech/pharma/hospital industries drive median incomes upwards, I guess.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:34 AM
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I think potchkeh's observation about Austin's median household income in 28.1 is strong circumstantial evidence that teo has it right in 22 and the average spending is driven by the rich. In which case reasoning about general trends or demographics might not get you very far in explaining these numbers.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:38 AM
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On the other hand, "driven by the rich" probably means something like "driven by the upper 25%" or "upper 10%" or something. It's not as if, say, ten people spending tens of million of dollars each would bias the mean spending of Austin all that much.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:41 AM
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One of their specified sources is "anonymous and aggregated spending transactions from Citi", which I would not expect to be representative (though there might be ways of dealing with that I suppose).

That would be credit card transaction information for cards issued by Citi, which issues a lot of cards. Probably not totally representative; higher-income consumers use credit cards more and would be overrepresented.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:48 AM
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Is it only credit-card data? That would certainly exclude important numbers about recreational-narcotics spending.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:51 AM
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Although, I guess one could get a cash advance to compensate one's dealer for products and services.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:51 AM
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If the Bundle Report gets data from Citi, that might have more of the super-rich than normal surveys; and a few of them in a few places could really skew the data.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:53 AM
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I pulled some average vs. median numbers for Austin from their data:

General shopping
Avg $887/mo / Median $414/mo
Gas
630 / 437
Auto Expenses
634 / 178
Insurance
468 / 231
School
243 / 69
Charity
233 / 76
Healthcare
237 / 92
Personal Care
179 / 89
Home Improvement
467 / 129
Dining Out
651 / 334
Groceries
615 / 377


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 11:56 AM
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Is it only credit-card data?

No, that's just one of the data sources they mention. I bet they rely on it really heavily, though. That kind of fine-grained consumption data is hard to get.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 12:00 PM
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40 seem to show conclusively that the super-rich are strongly skewing the data.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 12:01 PM
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42: In another part of the site I saw where New Canaan, Connecticut averaged $25K in Dining Out costs per year (> 3x Austin's), which supports that hypothesis as well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 12:20 PM
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I don't know if the distortions are coming from the credit card data or somewhere else (probably most from the credit cards, I would guess), but I think they make the mean numbers effectively worthless. The medians are probably more reliable for comparisons, although there's likely to be some distortion in them too.

What I do find interesting about the site is that it makes any of this data available to the general public at all, even just in summary form. Businesses have long had access to it, but it's very expensive.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 12:27 PM
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Until I clicked on the link I thought that it would be very easy to spend 67K a year if you had that sort of money. Then I saw it excluded housing costs. Still doable - lots of high end travel, nice wine, expensive bars and restaurants, regular theater going... add it up and you can certainly get there, but we're talking a very high end lifestyle.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 12:45 PM
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We're talking a very high end lifestyle

Two kids in a mid-level daycare gets you to 24K all by itself. Throw in two car payments and insurance and you're already over 30K.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:05 PM
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Further to 46: Then buy me 37K songs on iTunes, and boom, Bob's your uncle.


No, I'm serious. Go do that. I'll be really grateful.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:12 PM
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32: Yes.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:21 PM
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45: You could blow a really ridiculous amount on clothes, quite easily.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:25 PM
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Yeah, but the point isn't how much you _could_ spend, it's how much people _do_ spend; given median incomes, housing costs, and so on.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:30 PM
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Really? Like explicitly stated and everything? I hate titles.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:35 PM
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I hate titles.

I'm fine with just being called, "Sir", if it bothers you ..


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:37 PM
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46 True. I'd misread it as individual rather than household and then tried to imagine how I'd get to 67K after housing.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:39 PM
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Yeah, this is one context in which the distinction between individual and household matters a lot.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:44 PM
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The numbers in 40 blow my mind. The median is $437/mo on gas? $414/mo on "general shopping" after excluding groceries and "personal care"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:48 PM
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On the other hand, where are things like phone and cable bills?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:50 PM
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$414/mo on "general shopping" after excluding groceries and "personal care"?

Wealthy academics. Have you seen the price of UP books?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:53 PM
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Again, the whole dataset is probably skewed toward the high end, since people poor enough to not use credit cards at all are probably not going to show up, so even the medians are going to be higher than the true values in the population. Within that context, I don't think the numbers sound that outrageous, assuming that the data consists mostly of two-income households with above average income.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:53 PM
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But, of course, all of those factors mean that this data is not really very useful for drawing any general conclusions about anything.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:54 PM
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Further numbers for Austin, TX not listed in 40:

travel $313
cable/satellite $100
entertainment $136
phone $194
utilities $238

Also I find it surprising that on average people spend much more on "home improvement" than on "home maintenance". Really? $467/mo on "home improvement"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:56 PM
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60.last: We built some rather shitty houses in this country during that housing-bubble thing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 1:59 PM
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Really? $467/mo on "home improvement"?

If you think of it as one $5K project per year, it's not as odd-sounding. More than I spend, certainly, but I can see how you could do it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:01 PM
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"General shopping" is the weirdest category. It isn't groceries, clothing, hobbies, electronics, or office supplies. Yet people spend more money on it than all of those combined. What the hell is it? (I suspect it's actually a mix of those things that the credit card statement doesn't clearly specify.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:03 PM
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We built some rather shitty houses in this country during that housing-bubble thing.

During which, it's important to note, Austin in particular grew a lot.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:05 PM
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Ah, I see. Under "get stats": at least for my county, "general shopping" includes money spent at Wal-Mart, Target, Sam's Club, BJ's Wholesale Club, Macy's, Sears Roebuck....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:06 PM
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If you think of it as one $5K project per year, it's not as odd-sounding.

I guess. But I suspect it's not really "home improvement" -- it includes spending at places like Home Depot or Bloodbath & Beyond, apparently, which might or might not actually be going to "home improvement".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:09 PM
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$437/mo. for gas does seem high, but if like good Americans your family has 2 SUVs getting 16 mpg, and you pay $3/gallon, that's ~1200 miles of monthly driving for each car, so maybe not outlandish.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:09 PM
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67: Plus if they buy some Doritos and a Shmiscuit at the Sheetz, that counts, too, right?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:12 PM
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The spending on gas is surely including the all the Slushies and the beef jerky that were rung up on credit cards inside the gas stations. Plus packs of cigarettes and twelve-packs of beer.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:14 PM
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I will never start to preview, no matter how many more times that happens.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:15 PM
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Some of these numbers just aren't plausible. Single, childless males in my age and income bracket in my location spend $118/mo on schools & childcare? Really?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:16 PM
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66: Yeah, I see your point. It's a weird dataset.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:17 PM
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71: Perhaps paying a woman to dress up as a nanny and spank you counts as a childcare expense.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:19 PM
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What I do find interesting about the site is that it makes any of this data available to the general public at all, even just in summary form. Businesses have long had access to it, but it's very expensive.

If you pay money, do you get access to a less shitty version of the dataset?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:19 PM
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$437/mo. for gas does seem high,

We're probably around here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:20 PM
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Well, i don't find it at all difficult to think how i'd spend quite a lot of money, if i had it.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:24 PM
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Heebie, that's basically $100/wk. Are you serious?

We spend about $60-70/mo, for two cars.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:24 PM
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Two adult MTA monthly passes $188 vs. gas $437, insuring two cars $300, plus maintenance and deprecation for two cars at say another $300. Extra local transportation costs for cheap suburban housing vs. NYC c. $800/mo? Yikes.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:40 PM
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If you pay money, do you get access to a less shitty version of the dataset?

Not as far as I know, but there may be companies that clean up the data and sell it for even more money. Measuring consumption patterns at this fine-grained a level is just really difficult to do. The government doesn't even bother.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:43 PM
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78: Yep. This is why housing costs alone are very misleading indicators of the overall cost of living in different areas.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:46 PM
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The government doesn't even bother.

Or so the Censatullahs would have you believe.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:56 PM
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But $437 is for "auto expenses," which would include car payments, insurance, gas and maintenance.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 2:58 PM
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$437 is for gas. Auto expenses are the next item, $178.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 3:01 PM
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Heebie, that's basically $100/wk. Are you serious?

For a household that seems easily doable. If I recall correctly both Heebie and Jammies have medium distance commutes so that is about one tank a gas each a week or less.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 3:07 PM
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At the moment I probably spend $300-400 USD a month on petrol, but I live in a country where petrol is extraordinarily expensive and I'm driving 100 miles+ per day. I can't think how poor your petrol consumption would have to be, or how high your mileage, to spend more than that at US prices.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 3:10 PM
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I googled average car insurance costs and got an answer of c. $1800 per car, per year, so $178 per month seems rather low for average household total car insurance and maintenance, and that's not even getting into the issue of tolls and parking.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 3:16 PM
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Car insurance is actually in the insurance number, but that's only $238 and also includes health insurance.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 3:23 PM
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Austin ranks first, with the average household spending 67K per year. . . . Austinites must make a combined household income of what, $140K/year?

Spending ≠ income. Average U.S. consumer debt is what, like 8 gazillion dollars a person? I was talking to someone recently about the relatively modest income on which they support a family of five and was told that they run a $20K/year deficit.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 4:06 PM
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Heebie, that's basically $100/wk. Are you serious?

CJB is right. We commute opposite directions and live in the middle. I carpool 1-3 times a week, but Jammies doesn't have anyone to carpool with. Plus soccer and hockey are both up in Austin. It's something that I dislike but can't think of any concession I'm willing to make to address it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 4:19 PM
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Also 88 is a good point.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-10 4:19 PM
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comments like 20 confuse me. I could scale up to spend a more or less infinite amount of money. I remember reading that elton john was going bankrupt because he had a 30K per house per month floral budget and everyone was all, "inconceivable!" whereas I thought, if I had the money, and the houses, and wanted them to look great all the time, and knew some amazing florist...


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 4:53 AM
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comments like 20 confuse me.

Indeed. I certainly could spend $200 a day, and a good deal more, if someone handed it to me, with ease. If invited to, one could easily spend all that just on, say, maintaining a nice and even fairly modest garden.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:47 AM
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Also, aren't you a physicist, essear? Surely you can come up with a way to spend $200 a day if you put your mind to it!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:50 AM
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You could buy a supercollider!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:38 AM
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I don't even own a regular collider.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:47 AM
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Supercolitis would probably be spendy. At the very least, you'd rack up a hefty water bill due to the need to stay hydrated.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:29 AM
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Also, aren't you a physicist, essear? Surely you can come up with a way to spend $200 a day if you put your mind to it!

I could come up with a way to spend, say, a million dollars a day. But not $200.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:32 PM
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You could spend a million dollars one day, then not spend anything at all for the next 14 years.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:37 PM
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That wouldn't build a new collider.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:39 PM
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You could spread it out over a longer timespan.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:40 PM
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I suppose.

Is it weird that I came home completely exhausted from a long (and I do mean long) day of social interaction and immediately started trying to interact socially on the internet? People only wear me out if they're not imaginary, I guess.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:43 PM
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I could spend $200 a day pretty easily. Just rent a $200 hotel room and not use it. That it it won't count as housing costs.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:43 PM
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101: people on the internet are much less demanding. Plus, you can insult them and it doesn't matter, you puffy gasbag.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:44 PM
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Is it weird that I came home completely exhausted from a long (and I do mean long) day of social interaction and immediately started trying to interact socially on the internet?

Nah. Totally normal. Of course, I'm hardly an authority on normal social interaction.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:44 PM
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I find that the din of highly social environments (loud bars, restaurants, parties etc.) bothers me much more than social interaction. Social interaction, among friends in quieter environments doesn't really wear me out at all. [obligatory "ladeez" omitted]


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:46 PM
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There is a certain degree of control in (this kind of) online social interaction that is missing in face-to-face interaction, which I for one definitely find more comfortable. Here I can always walk away and do something else if I choose. That's hard to do in person.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:46 PM
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103: And here I thought the whole point of the internet is that on the internet, no one knows you're a puffy gasbag.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:49 PM
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I have a huge problem with noisy social environments, because I'm deaf in one ear: it makes the cocktail party problem much more difficult. I suspect this is part of why I liked raves so much -- you didn't have to talk to people, you could just dance.

On the other hand, I find actual mingl-y small talk-y cocktail parties completely exhausting, because I feel the need to be "on".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:50 PM
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107: They don't know, but there's nothing stopping them from guessing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:50 PM
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Here I can always walk away and do something else if I choose.

Yeah. That helps.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:55 PM
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On the other hand, I find actual mingl-y small talk-y cocktail parties completely exhausting, because I feel the need to be "on".

This is true for me (although I'm not sure what qualifies as a cocktail party, so lets just say small party) if I spend most of the time not interacting. Which usually happens if I don't know enough people there.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 7:56 PM
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108: Didn't read the warning on the Q-Tips?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:06 PM
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I'm not sure what qualifies as a cocktail party

Sifu Tweety: none more WASPy.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:09 PM
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I'm not blind, Moby.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:09 PM
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Yeah, having to be "on" is the problem. Being around people I know well enough is usually okay. Although anytime I see someone I haven't seen in ages and have to catch up, it can be pretty tiring.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:10 PM
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112 was offered as the kind of thing I can't say in real life. At least not when sober.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:11 PM
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113: I... what? Why, in this case, specifically? I would define a cocktail party as a party held relatively early in the evening, where people often don't know each other well, and there's a certain expectation of (1) mingling, and (2) relative sobriety. Is that very WASPy of me?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:12 PM
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I apparently have a deep ascetic streak, for alameida's fresh daily flower display makes me tremble in anticipated shame at such self-indulgence.

I have a pair of hand-me-down shoes for winter, and a pair of sandals for summer. Do I need new shoes? No these work, so I don't want new shoes. Give me a million dollars, I still don't need new shoes.

It is actually kinda horrible to want so little.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:14 PM
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Comments like 20 confuse me

I certainly could spend $200 a day

Not to speak for essear, but when I hear that kind of thing I have an instinctual emotional response which is not rational. I find the process of shopping -- considering, selecting, weighing, etc. -- itself pretty wearing. I often avoid shopping even when it's for things that I generally like and enjoy (groceries, books, office supplies, linens).

I have no doubt that if my disposable income suddenly increased by $200 a day, I could eventually find good/fun uses for the money. I'd probably adjust to a "new normal" pretty quickly and end up spending even more in my usual categories.

But psychologically, when I hear somebody say that, it feels like a burden. I imagine $200 worth of small, niggling little purchases (the kind of thing I actually do have to buy every day -- tissues at the drugstore) and it feels annoying and intrusive.

Silly and irrational, but there it is.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:15 PM
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117: You're just not our kind of people, you know? Pity.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:15 PM
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Often there's quiche, and the ladies wear little black dresses.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:16 PM
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For chrissakes, you small spending thinkers, buy a rad car. Don't feel comfortable with that? Buy a Tesla, and photovoltaics to charge it! That'll set you back pretty well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:18 PM
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Is that very WASPy of me?

Yes, especially if there are literal cocktails involved.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:19 PM
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Really? I'm so confused. Other people never have social obligations of this nature?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:20 PM
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I can't recall ever having attended an event fitting that description. I'm presuming it's WASPy because your background is, in fact, very WASPy, and it sounds like the sort of thing WASPs would do, but I don't know for sure that it is.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:22 PM
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Anyhow, the first cocktail party was held in St. Louis.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:22 PM
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124: I do. Or used to before everybody got sick of me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:23 PM
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Sifu:WASP::Ogged:Mexican

Although I don't remember ogged denying he was Mexican.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:24 PM
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your background is, in fact, very WASPy

I have no idea how you might have gotten this impression (hah hah!), but it isn't, particularly, in the way that you probably think.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:24 PM
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I dunno, cocktail parties seem very generational and class-linked to me.

Of course, I still give dinner parties, and I am the only person of my generation and acquaintance who does so. No, I take that back -- about five years ago I was invited to a young couple's first-ever dinner party. It was quite a lot of work, as nice as they were.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:25 PM
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Also, 119 was me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:25 PM
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125: We had graduate school functions that were cocktail parties (though always called receptions). Are you avoiding necessary networking stuff?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:26 PM
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I think that private cocktail parties may be rarer, but there are cocktail parties that people go to for business or school-reunion type events.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:26 PM
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Credit (or blame, depending on your point of view) for the first "cocktail party" ever thrown can be assigned to Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis.
The principal antecedent for the cocktail party comes from September 1890, when Mrs. Richard S. Dana introduced the concept of an "egg-nog party" in the society resort of Lenox, Mass., parties she would throw every autumn for years, when the goldenrod was in blossom.

Sounds pretty WASPy to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:27 PM
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For god's sake, I don't give cocktail parties! I am obligated to attend them, on occasion. You people are so strange.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:27 PM
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Moby Hick is sane, thank goodness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:27 PM
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Also also, Laura at 11D linked to this handwringing ain't-it-awful report on American college students' performance on a so-called "civics" quiz.

The quiz is pretty silly and slanted, being funded by a right-wing organization, but the topic itself is somewhat interesting: What do we wish our fellow citizens could be reliably counted upon to know about our system of government, and why?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:28 PM
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I have no idea how you might have gotten this impression (hah hah!), but it isn't, particularly, in the way that you probably think.

Now that I think about it, I don't actually know how I got that impression. You certainly seem WASPier than me, but that's not saying much.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:28 PM
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136: Careful. Any lower and the bar will hit the floor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:29 PM
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Are you avoiding necessary networking stuff?

Probably, but none of the events I have avoided (or attended) has borne any resemblance to a cocktail party.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:29 PM
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135: So who's giving them, and insisting that you attend? This whole concept is pretty foreign to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:30 PM
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As I tried to say above, there is a thread somewhere in the archives where people made fun of Sifu for being WASPy because of some event, but at least I thought it was clear that the allegations of WASPiness were not really accurate. It got turned into (what I thought was) a running joke, the origins of which have mostly been forgotten. I blame Emerson.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:31 PM
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124: Used to. Not much any more. But yes, people sometimes threw parties that might not necessarily be called cocktail parties, but they were in the 5-7 or 6-8 pm time range, end of the day kind of thing, pretty mellow, not heavy on the drinking, just talking and light gaiety. I've provided quiche myself for one or two of those.

They can be pleasant. An alternative version is the outdoor early dinner pot-luck thing. Beers and various salads in the back yard before sundown, everybody gone by 8 or 9.

I was joking about the little black dresses.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:31 PM
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I join the rest in thinking that the term "cocktail party" is about as dated as the term "cocktail waitress", and describes something that only happens in fiction, and in fact not really in fiction anymore, just in cliches when people say things like "Here's something you can tell people at a cocktail party".

Dinner parties exist, though.

Maybe it is as suggested upthread, that the word "reception" has replaced "cocktail party".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:32 PM
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I understand that you don't give them, Sifu. Still and all, the ones I've been obliged to attend are:

1. Connected to a wedding (WASPy)
2. Connected to a nonprofit fundraiser (mostly arts -- WASPy)
3. Connected to a book release (literary, cultured-taste-ish)
4. Connected to a conference (professional, made up of mostly non-WASPs, but often with aspirations to a higher social class than the one in which they were raised)

YMMV, of course.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:32 PM
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there is a thread somewhere in the archives where people made fun of Sifu for being WASPy because of some event, but at least I thought it was clear that the allegations of WASPiness were not really accurate

I don't recall that thread specifically, but it's presumably where I got my (apparently erroneous) impression.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:32 PM
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I've been to grad school events like that. I kind of hate them, unless enough people I know are there too. And the food almost invariably is not what I'd like to eat. But "reception" is what I think of, not "cocktail party" which I associate with non-institutional gatherings.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:33 PM
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An alternative version is the outdoor early dinner pot-luck thing. Beers and various salads in the back yard before sundown, everybody gone by 8 or 9.

See, I've been to plenty of events like this. Cocktail parties, no.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:34 PM
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145: High-end WASP weddings are very different. I've only been to a few, but sitting at a reception with sober people and light food is very strange to me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:35 PM
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138: I'm not that guy! I went to public school! I played Dungeons and Dragons! The only yacht club I ever joined is 200 miles from water! I swear! ToS and Emerson are convinced otherwise, which might have been where the impression came from.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:35 PM
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The quiz is pretty silly and slanted, being funded by a right-wing organization, but the topic itself is somewhat interesting: What do we wish our fellow citizens could be reliably counted upon to know about our system of government, and why?

Mostly that the Senate should be abolished. Everything else people know is pretty accurate.


Posted by: Cryptic n ed | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:37 PM
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148: You don't consider a BBQ with beers to be a cocktail party?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:38 PM
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152: No. Should I?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:38 PM
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Alternate names for what I'd call a "cocktail party": "faculty mixer", "holiday party", "reception", "engagement party". Nobody ever has to do any of these things? I get that they skew UMC professional, but come on, we're not talking about tennis whites and gin on the lawn, here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:38 PM
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Nobody ever has to do any of these things?

Personally, no, but that probably has more to do with age than class or background.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:40 PM
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"engagement party"

I've never been to one of those. That must be WASPy or regional.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:40 PM
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What about confabs? I have confabs all the time and I hope I';m not alone.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:40 PM
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150: It's probably a sign of my near-total lack of experience with actual WASPs that I don't necessarily see any of those things as being incompatible with WASP status. If you say they are, though, I'm willing to believe you.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:42 PM
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What do you think the term means? If you're referring purely to ethnic/religious background, then sure, I'm a WASP, but so is most of the white population of Appalachia.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:44 PM
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I'm not sure I've ever been to a cocktail party per se. Wine or wine & cheese receptions, yes. But no cocktails were involved. Shouldn't a cocktail party involve cocktails? I like cocktails.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:45 PM
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I think cocktail party is a general term that includes wine & cheese receptions.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:46 PM
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Sifu's expanded definition of "cocktail party" to include things that are not parties and don't involve cocktails seems to be the sticking point here.


Posted by: Cryptic n ed | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:47 PM
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Bah. I mean, wine is nice, but I'm a big advocate of increased consumption of liquor in the afternoon.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:47 PM
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I could come up with a way to spend, say, a million dollars a day. But not $200.

Seriously? I could spend $200 a night just on dinner and not eat at the same place twice in the same month.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:48 PM
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I'm feeling a bit confused here, because not only have I attended numerous cocktail parties, but I have given them, and I would never have imagined it wasn't a reasonably widely-shared experience. Maybe it's that you all just need to get off my lawn, so we can play croquet, but I'm not in fact all that old.

I would note that cocktail parties don't necessarily involve "relative sobriety", at least in terms of drinking at the event, although I guess the fact that a party starts at 5 or 6 means people are less likely to show up already half in the bag.

I have confabs all the time and I hope I';m not alone.
If you're alone, it's not technically a confab.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:49 PM
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162: "cocktail parties" are never parties. At least not if you define "parties" as things that are fun.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:49 PM
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If you're referring purely to ethnic/religious background

Not purely, but yeah, I had thought it referred primarily to descent from wealthy people of English descent in Northeastern cities, without regard for current behavior or economic status. From this discussion, though, it sounds like actually having personal wealth and using it in certain ways is necessary. In that case, I stand corrected.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:49 PM
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152: You don't consider a BBQ with beers to be a cocktail party?

Did I say BBQ? I said "salads." I mean vegetarian and vegan salads, black bean salad and tabbouli and so on, plus brie and crackers. This is not some slop-fest kind of party, and don't you forget it. There's a decent Chardonnay as well as the beer.

"Cocktail party" evokes something more formal, and I've been to a very few of those, but they're invariably professional: for networking, ultimately.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:50 PM
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166: Not cocktails like chemotherapy, Sifu.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:53 PM
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165.1, .2: thank god, more sanity.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:54 PM
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thank god, more sanity WASPs.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:55 PM
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Don't confuse WASPs with their country cousins. That's the kind of thing that causes pearls to be clutched and monocles to fall into cocktail glasses.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:56 PM
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Bear in mind here that I have met vanishingly few actual WASPs; the only examples I can remember were people at Cornell who were third or fourth generation legacies and had buildings named after them and stuff.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:57 PM
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Maybe I should spend $200 a day throwing cocktail parties.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 8:59 PM
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You are all mad. Like Mr Blandings, I have given many cocktail parties. helpy-chalk and Molly have attended them, even! CA is, theoretically, a WASP I guess, even if he is first gen. Amero-Canuck Scottish, but I am like BizzaroWASP so opposite of WASP am I. (All right, I'm white kind of.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:00 PM
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Not so much with the WASP.

100% Irish. Recovering Catholic.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:00 PM
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169: you say that, but I'm not convinced.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:01 PM
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Seriously? I could spend $200 a night just on dinner and not eat at the same place twice in the same month.

I guess I could see this if wine is involved. But would you really eat out every night if you had that kind of disposable income? I don't like to eat at restaurants too often. More relaxing to eat at home. And the same wine can be had for less that way.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:01 PM
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The event was discussed in this thread Sifu is a connected, wealthy, member of old Boston society? SOMEBODY EXPLAIN! (also I think at least one previous one). I believe the Sifumaster had to go white tie.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:03 PM
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174: I once won an essay prize for $500. I spent it all at a supermarket and a liquor store, buying things to throw a party. Whoop! Whoop!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:03 PM
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178: Then you're running into $200 a day for the servants.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:05 PM
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179: Huh. I'm pretty sure I didn't read that thread at the time. I must have seen later references to it or something.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:07 PM
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I don't think it has to do with WASP or not. I do think that it has something to do with being urban. A cocktail party is a city thing to do; a backyard BBQ with beers is a suburban/rural thing to do. (I am sure that there is overlap, just describing trend). I would also guess that there is a bit of an East Coast/West Coast divide (with the Midwest counting as east coast for my purposes and the southwest as solidly west coast).

I've never been invited to something that was labeled as a cocktail party in the US, and I've spent most of my life in the suburban or rural West.

(Also, before I refreshed and saw that oudemia had commented, I knew, knew that she would agree with Mr. Blandings and Sifu. Why is this? This is because I think of all three as people who know their liquor. Coincidence that they also attend cocktail parties? I think not!)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:09 PM
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Spending $200 a day would require the paying of servants and attendants upon the property, yeah, or going out to eat, well, every night (which would become exhausting).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:10 PM
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I don't think that was the thread, though that was probably the event. However, a search of the archives for the phrase "you wasp motherfucker" doesn't turn up anything, so maybe I can't blame Emerson.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:12 PM
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I would pay the servants to dine out every night. Actually, no. I would have my financial advisor pay the servants. I don't touch money.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:13 PM
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183: Makes sense.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:13 PM
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186: See, essear, if you had $200 a day to spend you would have no difficulty finding all sorts of middlemen who would be more than willing to help you spend it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:14 PM
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Also, a pork stew involving prunes (among other things)? Excellent on the first day, but past that the prunes turn into these weird super soggy bags of goop and you can't quite tell if you accidentally got a piece of pork fat. Gross.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:15 PM
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183.last: I think I subconsciously assume that Mr. Blandings has actually written a bartending book. It's the pseud, presumably.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:18 PM
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189: That's actually useful information. Or at least, something I might want to remember, thought fall would be a better time for stew advice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:22 PM
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191: Yes, I think this is my last stew for awhile, but I admit to loving that sort of dish so much that I'll make them during the summer and just turn the a/c up. I'm a bad environmentalist.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:25 PM
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183: I dunno, most of the cocktail parties held in a private residence that I've been invited to were definitely suburban. In fact, I'd go to a lot more cocktail parties if I drove, since basically all of them are out in the burbs.

Now receptions, on the other hand, are much more urban. I just went to an open bar reception 2 weeks ago, and I'm going to another one in 3 weeks. And I'm talking about TOP SHELF LIQUOR here, people.

I'm just that WASPy.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:26 PM
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you can't quite tell if you accidentally got a piece of pork fat

Think upon the normal color of prunes, and then on the normal color of pork fat.

I have been to plenty of grad-school receptionish events, but not one of them has involved a cocktail.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:28 PM
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I'm a bad environmentalist.

That's okay. Soon enough the inexorably rising cost of resources will force on you a grim austerity without any effort required on your part.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:28 PM
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194.1: This would work if one of those other things in the stew hadn't been red wine that first made the pork a lurid shade of magenta that then darkened everything into a general brownish sort of color. Really not the most visually appealing dish I've made.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:31 PM
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I am convinced that I have met Mr Blandings. OK, maybe not. But it is possible!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:33 PM
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You weren't both at the same meetup?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:33 PM
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Nope! I didn't go, because I am a wimpy sick person.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:35 PM
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Perhaps he visited you in a fever-induced delirium.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:35 PM
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You know how to tell if you're at a truly WASPy function? It's not the liquor. It's the hors d'oeurves. If you show up at a reception/party/gathering and they're serving some kind of chicken skewered on little wooden skewers, it's probably WASPy. Deduct points if it is BBQ chicken, add points if there's other things besides just honest chicken on the skewer. The deal I went to 2 weeks ago had amazing chicken skewers with like olives and feta and some other stuff. Plus there were teensy-tiny spanakopita triangles that were about 98% pastry and only 2% spanak.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:36 PM
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Spanakopita is WASPy?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:37 PM
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Soooo... WASPy is now the preferred term where we previously said SWPL?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:38 PM
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WASPy is a social term; SWPL is a matter of individual character.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:40 PM
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I'm drinking far too much lovely, affordably priced Spanish wine to understand what the hell is going on with this thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:41 PM
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(), don't put your dutch oven away yet. Pick up Michael Roberts's Parisian Home Cooking and make the parsleyed veal for a great combination of braising and spring.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:42 PM
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Spanakopita is WASPy?

Duh, Sifu, if only you had the last six editions of Joy of Cooking you could track the evolution of various types of ethnic cuisine into WASP standbys. Time was, 'yoghurt' was an exotic dish.

Per natilo, I'm waiting for satay to get there. We're getting closer.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:43 PM
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Spanakopita is WASPy?

In canapé form.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:43 PM
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Dude, Spanakopita is WASPy? No! It doesn't work that way! Seriously, we are diluting "WASPy" beyond all meaning here. "Oh yeah, she was such a WASP: she was really into NASCAR and burritos."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:44 PM
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I'm drinking far too much lovely, affordably priced Spanish wine many gin and tonics with Muffy and Chet to understand what the hell is going on with this thread.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:45 PM
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Donuts are still ethnic food, though. Huh, I wonder if there's time for me to catch the bus that goes by Tim Horton's before they close. Maybe I'll just get pizza.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:46 PM
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203, 204: Hm, I identify as SWPL but not WASP. Definitely two different things.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:46 PM
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210: I want to hang with Blume.

200: Dude. Like Bob on Twin Peaks.

201: In NYC lots of people have their parties catered -- so even if they don't have cater-waiters in serving, they may well have purchased trays of apps for re-heating, and we are not all WASPS!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:47 PM
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Oh, and 206: Sounds fantastic.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:48 PM
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I could speak informedly on the varieties of catered parties, but god knows what kind of conclusions you people would draw from that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:49 PM
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so even if they don't have cater-waiters in serving, they may well have purchased trays of apps for re-heating all the frozen stuff at Trader Joe's.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:50 PM
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Trader Joe's s/b Cater Joe's


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:51 PM
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they may well have purchased trays of apps for re-heating

It took me about 10 seconds to realize that 'apps' could be something other than something you pay to put on the iPod.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:52 PM
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216: Right! Exactly! Or the trays of frozen apps from FreshDirect! Feeding people small foodz whilst serving them cocktails does not mean you are a Colonial Dame!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:53 PM
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I kind of love that people are taking accusations of engaging in WASPy activity so seriously. Anyway, cocktail parties: tiring social interactions.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:57 PM
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I have to say that pork and prunes does not sound appealing in any way.

On the question of the WASPy-ness of functions. Jesus, I don't know. I haven't been to one of those in a while. I associate them with failures of imagination where the hors d'ouevres are concerned. It may be that the complaint about spanakopita is just that it

on refresh:

that it's probably a tray reheated from Trader Joe's. And that's okay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 9:58 PM
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Anyway, cocktail parties: tiring social interactions.

Alternatively, parties -- with booze.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:00 PM
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I don't think it's so much that people are taking it seriously as that some of the conceptions of WASPiness are so, so odd as to merit comment.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:01 PM
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As the one who initially introduced all this highly confused WASP stuff into the thread, I would like to emphasize that I definitely do not consider WASP to be in any sense equivalent or even comparable to SWPL. Category error! SWPL is about lifestyle, WASP is about identity. I was wrong about what that identity consisted of, exactly, but not that wrong.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:02 PM
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If you show up at a reception/party/gathering and they're serving some kind of chicken skewered on little wooden skewers, it's probably WASPy.

Chicken satay is WASPy?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:09 PM
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I could speak informedly on the varieties of catered parties, too, but that's because my mom and brother have put in many years in food service occupations bitching about their clients at said parties. Most famously, the hostess who couldn't be bothered by the fact that her hired bartender had dropped dead of a heart attack mid-party, my mom's CPR not sufficing.

(But I'm also pretty clearly WASP by most of my heritage, SWPL by my behavior, and descended from multiple generations of preps. Yikes.)


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:11 PM
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||

I am highly amused by the title of this article.

|>


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:12 PM
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I see Witt and I think alike.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:12 PM
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Chicken satay is WASPy?

That's the comment that prompted my SWPL comparison. As in, it's clearly just being used to mean whatever you want it to mean.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:12 PM
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221: You don't eat meat, though, right? Is it just prunes in a savory context that sounds bad? It is definitely on the medieval side of the flavor spectrum - a long cooked stew with red wine (have you ever had prunes stewed in red wine? so good) and savory spices with a hint of cinnamon, and glazed carrots and pearl onions and the pork breaking down from long cooking into a sticky jammy tastiness. I would think a vegetable root stew - with say, sunchokes - might be good with prunes as well (but only on the first day! It's like pasta in that regard).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:14 PM
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I'm also pretty clearly WASP by most of my heritage, SWPL by my behavior, and descended from multiple generations of preps. Yikes.

See, that's the kind of background I thought Sifu had, but it seems he doesn't.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:16 PM
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My tsimmis contains prunes and is vegetarian and excellent, although it does run into the second-day soggy-prune issue. It's WASP food, though, I know.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:17 PM
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I recently had some pizza - a couple of nights ago, not the pizza I'm about to get because no other place on campus is open - that had prunes and sausage. I was not expecting it to be as good as it was, but I must admit that I pulled the remaining prunes off after the first few bites and ate them individually before going back to the pizza.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:17 PM
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No more masturbating to Dixie Carter, WASPs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:20 PM
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||

And there it is.

|>


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:21 PM
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If they'd only listened to me, there'd be more WASPs in America today.


Posted by: theodore roosevelt | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:23 PM
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231: eh I mean, it's not that that's wrong, exactly, it's just that it isn't usefully informative about anything. Now, if I had continued a proud tradition of going to prep school, and I had family money, and I had grown up around other people who had family money, then it might be meaningful. But that wasn't the case.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:26 PM
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200: Dude. Like Bob on Twin Peaks.

This is how I imagine Mr. McManus.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:26 PM
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237: Okay, so it's not you that I was mistaken about, it's the definition of "WASP." Fair enough.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 10:41 PM
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Really, the only thing that can be said about WASPS and food is that WASPs don't care much about food and view foodie-ism as slightly vulgar. Beyond that, it doesn't matter much, as long as it's not too weird and there's sufficient booze.

I'm speaking, of course, of the old-school WASPs who still exist but who mostly died out in my parents generation. The kids of the same people are as obsessed over food as the rest of the SWPL world. Indeed, I think for anyone under 40, WASP is a pretty meaningless term -- "rich preppy" or "swpl" covers the the remaining territory much more accurately, and 30 years of the new gilded age have pretty much killed off folks thinking of the beneficiaries of the original gilded age as some kind of special elite.

I haven't really read the thread, so who knows if this comment is relevant!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 11:08 PM
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Indeed, I think for anyone under 40, WASP is a pretty meaningless term -- "rich preppy" or "swpl" covers the the remaining territory much more accurately, and 30 years of the new gilded age have pretty much killed off folks thinking of the beneficiaries of the original gilded age as some kind of special elite.

Not really a special elite, just a group distinguished by its abundance of cocktail parties.


Posted by: comments on | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 11:36 PM
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What I really like is when the acronym SWPL is made into the adjective "swipple". It saddens me that it seems so deprecated in this thread.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 04-10-10 11:42 PM
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Truly we are, like the artist and truth, three removes from cocktail parties.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:02 AM
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We're just done cleaning up after a dinner party. We don't really do cocktail parties -- someone comes all the way to our place, we're going to feed them. I guess our Hallowe'en parties of years past didn't involve dinner, though. Drinks and snacks. But kids too, and therefore not cocktail parties.

And I think this is a big factor in the demise of the cocktail party. People my age and younger have social lives much more defined by their kids than people in my parents' generation did. As a young, and then middle-aged, professional in a transient workaholic city, it was not at all uncommon, ime, to have most social relationships derive from kids' friendships or activities. In any given month over the past 10 years, I've paid more attention to my kids' homework that my father did over my whole education.

I think teo had allowed himself to be talked into a much too narrow definition of WASP. I certainly identify WASP, although both my grandfathers, and all four great grandfathers worked for a living. Two of the latter went to college, and the other two ran businesses (one a costume jewelry manufacturing company, the other a cotton brokerage). All four of my grandparents went to college (grandmothers to Smith, grandfathers to Dartmouth and West Point respectively). None has any university buildings named after them, none ever made that kind of money.

SWPL has elements that I don't particularly identify with: foodie, hipster, trendy.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:51 AM
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205: What's the name of the wine?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:21 AM
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209: I met somebody at an Episcopal church in DC who was there for some kind of executive committee for the Colonial Dames. Now, and it was weird, because though she was technically a WASP, being from the South she didn't seem like one, and she's very different from the ones I've known in the Northeast--"ones" there referring to both WASPs and Colonial Dames in particular.

OUDEMIA--Come to Boston for a meetup!


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:28 AM
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cocktail parties are perfectly normal and plenty of non WASPy types have them. I have hosted many cocktail parties with, say, grad school friends, or the other moms in my mom-with-little-babies group.

my granddad used to have cocktails before dinner every single night, with hors d'oeuvres. could be a simple as cheese and crackers, and vegetable crudités and dip, or could be lots of clams on the half-shell, or caviar and cream cheese on endives. otoh I am the WASPiest WASP that ever had a cousin named "shep" and aunts named "coco" and "mitten", so, whatever. in fact when I got the notice of my g-dad's will probation I had to look at the name An/drew Shep/heard Wain/wright a few times thinking, who the fuck is Andrew? and then I realized, duh, Sheppy.

nonetheless sifu is right and going to cocktail parties is normal. it's for when people don't want to host a dinner party but want to have people over. the venn diagram of cocktail parties overlaps with both swipple and WASP but with the latter being a subset of the former.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:38 AM
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246: there are plenty of southern WASPs. many of them are also members not only of the D.A.R. but also of the daughters of the confederacy which, well...


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:40 AM
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248: I know, but I guess that I think of WASPs as a subset of New England Yankees with knicker bocker types thrown in to the mix to let in all the New Yorkers. I mean, there are more people from Southern States in the Junior League (impressionistically speaking) than in New England.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:45 AM
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there's all manner of pinckney's and calhouns and draytons around. my brother was friends with a charl/es pinckney at st. alban's in DC and his family had a house not for from ours in SC.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:52 AM
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There's a street in Boston called Pinckney, named after, I think, someone by that name. And, of course, the Union club in Boston was founded because some of the members of other clubs, mainly the Somerset, were a little bit too sympathetic to the slave-holding confederates.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:57 AM
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I didn't know that, is the NYC union club the same?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:24 AM
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Lots of Pinckney-named stuff in Annapolis, MD as well.

It's interesting that Boston's Union League club might have a slightly different history from the rest, because in Chicago, at least, and I think NY as well, it wasn't founded to separate themselves from other "clubmen" who were fans of the Confederacy -- as if! -- but rather to keep away from the Irish hordes (you know, the mayor and the aldermen and the teeming rabble) who weren't terribly keen on the Union. Oh ha -- wikipedia tells me that the NY Draft Riots were held in the Union League's backyard.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:49 AM
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some of the most coveted-by-the-cousins things are my granddad's vast collection of silver cups and trophies that are like "union club bridge tournament 1968" or "maidstone mixed doubles paddle tennis 1975". they are hella cool.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:52 AM
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dude, the maidstone club is so racist they wouldn't let diana ross come eat there while she was married to a member. in the eighties.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:56 AM
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the 80s!! wtf^1000000000


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:58 AM
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WASPs don't care much about food and view foodie-ism as slightly vulgar.

The WASPiest WASP ever to wander into my purview is the aged Chairman of the Board of a company where I once worked. He'd come to the company cafeteria and the chef would make a hot dog especially for him. His clothes are a little too big because he's shrunk quite a bit since they were made for him and he has the air of being a harmless elderly boy.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:59 AM
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255/56: That is amazing.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:02 AM
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252: Don't know. Oliver Wendell Holmes was one of the founders. So, it's kind of looked down upon now, because it's become more commercial; it has a website and computers and actively solicits members. There are people who complain that there are too many lawyers and too much business is done there--that it's not an oasis from commerce.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:10 AM
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253: Probably that was also a part of it in Boston. I will say that my great grandfather, who was a member, as was his son, founded one of the first major law firms which hired Irish lawyers.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:13 AM
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WASPs don't care much about food and view foodie-ism as slightly vulgar.
my grandmother was a legendarily bad cook. turkey followed turkey tetrazzini, the carcass re-boiled twice for another soup--I don't want to go into it. she made about 4 things that were ok to eat: leg of lamb with roasted potatoes, tomato aspic, cheese soufflé, and "dobosh torte", which was composed of store-bought pound cake, thinly sliced on the horizontal, and iced with an icing made in the blender with hot coffee, rum, and chocolate chips. oh, and cucumber sandwiches with mint in them.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:17 AM
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Oh my.

Still, there's a historic smugness about Maidstone (African-American members: reputed to be zero and holding) that cries out for Caddyshack-style treatment. In the eighties, the club made Diana Ross feel so unwelcome after she married a Maidstone member that he promptly resigned, and during the summer of Monica, Bill Clinton was denied a tee time. In Philistines at the Hedgerow, which contains an index listing "Maidstone Club (East Hampton): bigotry of," author Steven Gaines reports that after Jewish senator Jacob Javits played there, members claimed the grass he stepped on turned brown, and describes how members threw a fit after a nearly drowned South American housekeeper had the gall to drag herself ashore on their beach.

Oh, hey, I've met the guy who wrote this at a party like 8 years ago. We talked about Procopius and he asked me out.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:18 AM
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d'oy, that was me. though it would be funny if the oll-tray of orrow-say and I had similar grandmothers.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:19 AM
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My WASPiest friend has a story about a party going on at his grandmother's house -- everyone was very, very drunk and he (then a little kid) went into the kitchen to find his grandmother bulking up a salad with torn up pieces of paper towel. What?! he asked. His grandmother replied: "These people are not going to notice." And they didn't.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:26 AM
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my great-great grandmother is reputed to have done the same, with bits of rubber tire masquerading as whole truffles! apparently as a decorative aside, but still, the mind reels.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:32 AM
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The article in 262 is pretty charming. The writer is playing a guerilla 18-holes and is fairly certain the grounds crew have determined he is not a member:

On the thirteenth hole, another worker approaches on his tractor. He's in his early twenties with a fade haircut and baggy shorts. As he rattles by, he raises his index finger and pinkie in the international sign of rock-and-roll solidarity. Would he risk such a greeting to a bona fide Maidstoner? I doubt it. The thought that he might have deduced I'm an interloper and, better yet, that he approves--it almost brings a tear to my eye. I considered many scenarios for this day but never imagined my uninvited visit to Maidstone could make me feel less lonely.

Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:34 AM
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Here's the thing with WASP vs. SWPL: The people in The Ice Storm are mostly WASPs, right? Not absurdly rich ones, but what else would you call their cultural background? Some of their kids would probably be swipple, but they would also have a WASP background. Some of them would also be preppies, but not all of them. And the preppies would overlap with a lot of ethnics-made-good. When I use 'WASP', I'm not automatically thinking UHB (urban haute-bourgeoisie), even though the core of UHBs are certainly WASPs. I reject the assertion that 'WASP' should only refer to upper-class, preppy, mainline Protestant, Mainline-dwelling, inherited money bluebloods and Brahmins. That's defining it waaay too narrowly.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:12 AM
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Today, via Facebook, I am reminded that a chunk of relatives on my mother's side are attending the races of the hunt club, of which my grandfather was once a member (and my grandmother is still a "life member", not that she likely remembers that any more). I'm not sure how to work that in to the mix - it's a flavor of faux aristocracy that doesn't obviously fit in to the other elements in my background.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:31 AM
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SWPL is what's being sold by the media conglomeration of what your life ought to look like. It's more into recycling and NPR and Whole Foods than WASPs are.

For example, I recently had a conversation with someone who said 1) coyly, "I'm a bit of a "foodie"." (air quotes) and 2) "It's what I like to call "a tipping point"." (air quotes, describing a critical mass of peope at their school doing something.)

SWPL but not WASPy!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:51 AM
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A nice little write-up on Cocktail Parties including some history.

In my experience the concept of a "cocktail party" was certainly more widespread among professionals in the '50s and '60s and could be said to have been at least "aspirationally WASPy" as were so many white middle class leisure activities back then. So it does retain an loose air of WASPishness for me (and my wife). It has survived (and revived) in a more niche role. For instance if I were to throw, or describe an event I was attending, as a "cocktail party" it would be regarded as quite la-di-da by my co-workers (and have no doubt, they and I are Boetians). But it would be have been a much more standard thing among a similar group of people in 1962.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:56 AM
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Surely you have people over for drinks, sometimes lots of people. What's the difference between that and a cocktail party (apart from the less formal label)?


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:18 AM
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Whether they're sitting or standing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:33 AM
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243 is like a little shibboleth for the old-timers.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 10:02 AM
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Surely you have people over for drinks, sometimes lots of people.

I speak only for myself, but having people over for drinks is out of fashion. Most of the reasons have been enumerated, I think: people have kids, people are more interested in food than they might once have been; I'd also venture that fewer people drink (at 5 o'clock in the afternoon).

Most of the parties-at-someone's-home I've been to in the last several years have been either holiday parties, or food-oriented -- I threw one featuring fresh produce, particularly tomatoes and fresh herbs, and people milled around noshing on a huge bowl of homemade pico de gallo and putting together small black bean burritos. It all revolved around the kitchen/dining room/porch. There was drinking, but it wasn't the feature.

Actually. For previous generations, the private home was cordoned off a fair bit more than it is today: the kitchen, for example, was a private space,* and visitors were somewhat more formally escorted into the public space, the living room and/or dining room (or parlor). That invites more of the actual serving of drinks or food. These days we are a great deal more informal.

(Where's JRoth? Some of the shifts in the perceived formality of various spaces in the home are paralleled by changes in architectural arrangements. You'd never have had an 'open floor plan' exposing the kitchen to full view of the relaxation area -- living room/dining room -- fifty years ago.)

* Which is why grandma could get away with shredding paper towels into the salad


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 10:52 AM
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I've certainly never been involved in someone "having people over for drinks". Food is always involved. And the drinks that come with that food...are almost never cocktails.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 10:57 AM
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Which is why grandma could get away with shredding paper towels into the salad

What!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 11:03 AM
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Bave and I have had people over for cocktails. I wouldn't call any of them "cocktail parties" in the sense of getting dressed up, but drinking gin on the roof and listening to music should count for something.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 11:06 AM
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269.2 is exactly what I'd need to hear to walk out on a date. "I have to go. I'm sorry."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 11:11 AM
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276, see 264.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 11:14 AM
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278: Yes. But it's weird because he very sincerely believed that perhaps I hadn't heard of these things, or at least I wasn't familiar enough with them to keep it from tripping up the conversation if he just said it like a normal person.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 11:20 AM
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280: I've told the story about grumbling about an ex while at the Baths and some guy appearing out of the steam and explaining his idea that men, you see, are, as it were, "from Mars," while women, on the other hand...

I just sent a note to my alumni magazine that made a joke taking for granted that the reader knows something about Da/vid Bro/oks. The professor editing it told me she cut the line because no one knows who that is.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 11:24 AM
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281.last. Heh. Then again, why would you if you don't read the NYT, don't listen to NPR, and don't watch any Sunday talking head shows? A number of people here had never heard of Glenn Greenwald (who's admittedly not as public a figure as Broo/ks), so remarking that something is, say, "Greenwaldian" would lose half your audience.

Witt's talked about this kind of thing some, about what you can and can't (or shouldn't) take for granted in discussion with relative strangers. I've always assumed that her awareness of this is one reason her own written voice, here anyway, is so determinedly neutral and non-allusive. The other end of the spectrum is to make a large number of assumptions about your audience, which is potentially alienating.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 11:39 AM
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It's one of the reasons I prefer giving papers on panels with a really narrow appeal; I can make jokes that these specific people, perhaps more than any other people, will get.

The DB thing might just be a weird blind spot of hers; she had to look him up and then said that he seems like "some kind of smug journalist"? Like, it wasn't that she couldn't remember off the top of her head who he is and what we know about his style and positions. She didn't know who he was. This sort of thing happens all the time, but I wouldn't presume that a general audience of graduates from the alma mater wouldn't know who he is.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 11:47 AM
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283: This is reminding me of a recent similar incident, but I'm damned if I can remember what it was. A friend was recounting an exchange in which someone assumed that because he didn't know who someone was, presumably no one did.

In any case, it's all a good reminder of one of the reasons for the appeal of a Sarah Palin: she doesn't know who anyone is either, and her fans identify with that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 11:58 AM
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Two adult MTA monthly passes $188 vs. gas $437, insuring two cars $300, plus maintenance and deprecation for two cars at say another $300. Extra
local transportation costs for cheap suburban housing vs. NYC c. $800/mo? Yikes.

Austin is also tops on this list:
http://dc.streetsblog.org/2010/03/24/feds-begin-redefining-affordable-housing-to-include-transport-costs/


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:21 PM
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re: 284

Sometimes those of us who are voracious media consumers forget, though. I've had conversations with friends where I've used names I've assumed they'd know and been surprised when they didn't. Bright, well-informed people, too. So I sometimes err on the side of caution.

"Obama, the man who is President of the USA, you know? Well, he ... "


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:36 PM
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No one wants to end up sounding like early Dennis Miller stand-up, which is why I'm shamed by interactions like these. I ended up responding that maybe making DB jokes is more of a NYC thing, which is... um, also assholish? But I didn't know what else to say. I've been hating DB since long before I moved to NY. It's like hating Malcolm Gladwell. He's part of the air we breathe.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:42 PM
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(In fact, the earliest draft of my response email said, "Ah, sure, take it out. In NYC, DB is as famous as Malcolm Gladwell, if not more so." but I feared getting, "So I Googled Malcolm Gladwell...")


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:44 PM
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I sometimes err on the side of caution

So do I. It sometimes gets me in trouble, with people impatiently saying "Yeah, yeah, I know, so anyway ...".

I honestly find myself less and less able to tell when people must surely know things and when they might not. The health care reform issue in this country was a nightmare in that regard.

New questions to ask preliminary to any discussion: "Have you been following the [blah blah] issue at all?"


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:45 PM
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It's a tricky issue, figuring out how much background your audience has and where you need to start. I used to run into this problem all the time at Chaco, where the visitors would have really enormous variations in prior knowledge. I think in general I would err on the side of assuming too much prior information, which was kind of problematic in that I know I would lose a lot of people very quickly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:50 PM
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It's the worst when I'm talking about some really major text in my field to someone who also works in my field. I figure I can make offhanded references to, say, Clarissa and my 18c friends will take them for granted. This led to an impromptu game of Humiliation with a good friend this weekend.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:50 PM
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I think the other guides at Chaco tended to err in the other direction, which was probably better, but they were better-equipped to do that since they had all had the experience of coming to Chaco for the first time and learning about it, and they could draw on their memories of that to understand where people were coming from. I was in a different and very unusual position in that I had always known about Chaco and didn't really have a sense of what it was like to discover it. It took me a while to realize that it was my perspective that was odd and that Chaco is actually pretty obscure.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 12:55 PM
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287, 288: Dude (imaginary friend AWB), are you engaging in self-parody? Malcolm Gladwell is, I suspect, a pretty marginal figure for the vast majority of humankind, as well as for a large swath of the culturally upper middle class, which I guess is the more relevant group.

Plus, who's Dennis Miller? (kidding)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:10 PM
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Really? AFAIAC, there is a slate of people who are present enough in print journalism and TV, who also have books, that they should be pretty instantly recognized by anyone who pays even a tiny bit of attention to the media. George Will, David Gergen, Donna Brazile, Paul Krugman, Thomas Friedman, James Carville, Christopher Hitchens, DB, MG... All of these people are famous enough that I would expect that someone at least a tiny bit aware of what's happening outside their own houses would get a joke about them.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:23 PM
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IDEHA TV or a subscription to a newspaper or major magazine and I know who these people are.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:25 PM
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Who's Donna Brazile? I know I've seen Gergen's name before but that's about it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:27 PM
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All of these people are famous enough that I would expect that someone at least a tiny bit aware of what's happening outside their own houses would get a joke about them.

I believe you will be frustrated in your expectation.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:27 PM
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I suspect that Will, Krugman, Friedman, and Brooks are much better known by the populace at large than the other people listed in 294, including Gladwell. Having a regular column in a major national newspaper or magazine gives someone a very high public profile compared to writing articles or books.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:27 PM
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IOW, thanks for being a bitch, AWB.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:27 PM
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I know I've seen Gergen's name before but that's about it.

He used to have a regular segment on the McNeil/Lehrer Newshour with Mark Shields. He was later replaced by Paul Gigot, then by David Brooks. I don't know if they still do the segment or who's on it if they do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:29 PM
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299: Where's that coming from? I'm assuming that AWB just hasn't realized that people don't pay attention to the same things.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:34 PM
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I'm only assuming that, because I don't pay any attention at all and know these people, other adults know more than I do. Even my college students, of the age that is notorious for not having any idea what's going on in the world, hassle me about whether I've kept up with this or that Hitchens or Gladwell idea. I can't be bothered, but I'm glad they do.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:38 PM
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I had absolutely no idea who Donna Brazile was, until googling the name just now. The rest of the names in 294 I knew, but I'd be surprised if 15% of the population could correctly place all nine of those names.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:39 PM
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I'm only assuming that, because I don't pay any attention at all and know these people, other adults know more than I do.

Not a bad assumption in general, but I think in this case living in New York and reading blogs has probably given you more exposure to this particular type of public figure than is typical.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:44 PM
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This reminds me that on Thursday, I was talking about some nerdy thing I repeat all the time and saying (self-mockingly) I should write a book and it'll be my The Tipping Point. My students chuckled and one of them said, "Sadly, it will be your Eat, Pray, Love."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:48 PM
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I know who Brazile is, but have never seen or read any of her commentary. I can easily imagine someone who keeps up with the news, but doesn't read the NYT op-ed page, the liberal blogs that mock and/or debate him, or watch the News Hourhaving at best only a vague impression of who he is and thus being unable to get a joke about him.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:48 PM
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Gergen served in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton administrations. And he's from Durham.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:55 PM
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307: Yeah, I think of him mostly as a political figure rather than a public intellectual, but familiarity with him is still pretty arcane knowledge in the scheme of things. Now, Glenn Beck, there's a public figure!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 1:59 PM
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If I didn't read the blog attacks on him and occasionally watch Jon Stewart online, I'd only have a vague knowledge of who Beck is.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:00 PM
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George Will, David Gergen, Donna Brazile, Paul Krugman, Thomas Friedman, James Carville, Christopher Hitchens, DB, MG

If I weren't online much and getting most of my news from NPR and TV and magazines, I'd only know James Carville, Malcolm Gladwell, and possibly Thomas Friedman if someone gave me a context.

I'm pretty sure nearly all my friends, excluding online, would only know Carville and Gladwell.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:03 PM
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I wouldn't put Gladwell or Brazile on that list. Gergen is really a man of another decade. I don't suppose all that many of you recall when he joined the Clinton Administration. (I didn't say "know that" he joined . . .) Hitchens I know mostly from reading the Nation in 1981-82 -- and I think it's been pretty easy to avoid him (not that I've been trying) for most of time since. Right, he spouted a bit on Iraq. No small club.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:03 PM
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309: Me too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:03 PM
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309: But you know who, um, Paula Abdul is, right? She's a judge on American Idol!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:05 PM
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He came on a white horse. To prevent "another failed presidency." Thanks, Dave


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:06 PM
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"Have you been following the [blah blah] issue at all?"

Tangential, but I was out with a couple last night, and the conversation was kind of lulling, and I wasn't feeling really talky but always feel an obligation to keep conversation going because I hate awkward pauses. So I found myself cycling through news stories I'd read that day, asking if either had heard about this or that story.

It's a mode of conversation that (1) I really find annoying to myself, because it seems formulaic and not at all engaging and (2) I fall into very easily, especially when there's no obvious topic of conversation floating around.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:06 PM
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Now I'm wondering if people know who Ross Valory is.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:07 PM
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Nope, all I know about American Idol is that it's a hugely popular program where folks get up and do karaoke and then get judged.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:08 PM
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309, 312: In the counterfactual world where you didn't read blogs or watch Jon Stewart, you'd probably get all your news from Glenn Beck.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:10 PM
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I don't know who David Gergen is.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:11 PM
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I don't suppose all that many of you recall when he joined the Clinton Administration.

I do actually remember that. I knew who he was from watching him on the NewsHour. But then, I was a precocious little scamp.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:11 PM
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I don't know who Ross Valory is, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:12 PM
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271: Surely you have people over for drinks, sometimes lots of people. What's the difference between that and a cocktail party (apart from the less formal label)?

Assumes some facts not in evidence. But more generally,as heebie says, sitting vs. standing and further: degree of formality*, presence of actual cocktails rather than just beer and/or wine, type of food, location and sometimes yes, just the name. I certainly have friends and acquaintances who attend and/or host them with some regularity.

*We are extremely informal people.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:14 PM
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Ross Valory, no. You all know who ...

Nevermind. See, this is silly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:16 PM
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320: I was a precocious little scamp.

So maybe fortunately not Catholic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:17 PM
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324: Definitely.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:18 PM
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I knew who David Gergen was without googling, but all I had filed away for Malcolm Gladwell was "some sort of journalist or something; possibly with eccentric hairstyle".


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:21 PM
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possibly with eccentric hairstyle

You got what's important, anyway.

Hairwise, Gladwell is our Perec.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:25 PM
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RV was the most famous grad of my high school, but I suppose he's been overtaken by Will Forte. I'm not supporting either for the Supreme Court vacancy.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:25 PM
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As long as we're talking about Ross Valory again, my son went to see a production of 101 Dalmatians yesterday that turned out to feature music and lyrics by Dennis DeYoung (anyone?). I had prepped him by playing the Replacements' "Cruella Deville", assuming it would have the Disney songs, but no. Words cannot express how happy I am not to have accompanied him.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:25 PM
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Speaking of Brooks, I loved this line from the Bobblespeak translation of Meet the Press today:

Brooks: We should undermine the Iranian regime by going on talk shows and mumbling stupid shit


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:42 PM
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Often I find myself mentioning books or music or movies that people I'm talking to have never heard of, which can be awkward. But erring in the other direction is bad too; there's a point at which assuming the person you're talking to hasn't heard of something becomes insulting. I encounter a lot of patronizing assumptions of ignorance from non-Americans. Yes, I am aware that there is a city in France called Marseilles. No, John Woo is not the only Chinese film director I've ever heard of. No, Bulgakov is not an obscure writer.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:49 PM
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Is it WASP, SWPL, or something else to offer free summer housing to a Mandarin speaker so they can try to teach your kids the language?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 2:54 PM
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Is the Mandarin speaker a priest?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:00 PM
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I'm always surprised by how much non-Americans seem to know about cities and states in the US. I was just reading some article someone linked to about variations in fast-food menus around the world, and it turns out Japan has a pizza called the Idaho special, with potatoes and bacon. Aside from the fact that potatoes on pizza is something that would never happen anywhere in the US, I was like, really? "Idaho" is a familiar place name?

It seems most states have some quality or idea associated with it in the global imagination. Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, Montana--it seems odd to me that these names call up ideas for people from other countries.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:13 PM
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OK, apparently if you Google potato pizza, there are a lot of hits. Who knew?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:14 PM
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Aside from the fact that potatoes on pizza is something that would never happen anywhere in the US

This is 100% false. There's more than one pizza place in SF that puts potatoes on pizza, and they aren't fancy, either.

However! They are good!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:16 PM
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The pizzeria on the corner of my street has a delicious potato pizza.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:17 PM
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334: Pizza Luce's Garlic Mashed Potato Pizza is my favorite pizza ever! And we're in flyover land!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:26 PM
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Mashed potato pizza sounds incredibly decadent.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:30 PM
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It is so good! I wish I had some right now. Sigh. It's been on their menu for at least 10 years, maybe from the start.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:32 PM
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Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, Montana--it seems odd to me that these names call up ideas for people from other countries.

For most Chinese, Colonel Sanders probably ranks just below Washington and Eisenhower in the proud tradition of American fighting men. (Similarly, the Qing dynasty may have frittered away military power in Asia, but I'll be tied if I hear anyone disparage General Tso's sense for poultry sauces.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:42 PM
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The thing Japanese people put on their pizza that is truly rare in the US (in my experience, anyway!) is mayonnaise.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:44 PM
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CA and I use a mandoline to super thinly slice potatoes and put them on a thin crust pizza with gruyere and green onions. NOMNOMNOM.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:49 PM
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Several Chinese people of my acquaintance are under the impression that KFC stands for "Kentucky Family Chicken". I guess the frying is downplayed there.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 3:51 PM
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344 - What, the Chinese don't know that KFC had to change the name because their genetically altered frycreatures are no longer legally chickens? Thomas Friedman should be able to get three columns out of this!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:08 PM
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"Kentucky Fried Animal 57" has a nice ring to it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:11 PM
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I encounter a lot of patronizing assumptions of ignorance from non-Americans. Yes, I am aware that there is a city in France called Marseilles. No, John Woo is not the only Chinese film director I've ever heard of. No, Bulgakov is not an obscure writer.

I'm trying to decide which of these would most likely trip me up, and it's Marseilles. Cities I can name in France off the top of my head: Paris, Marseilles, Nice, Lyons. Cannes, but although I know where Cannes is, I'm not sure how big it is. After that, I start reaching. (How big is Nancy?)

Rfts and I were violating the analogy ban by inventing regional Austrian food prejudices, and the only Austrian city I could think of other than Vienna was Linz. (It worked perfectly for the analogy, though. Have you tasted the mud pies Viennese call linzertorten? Ptui!)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:17 PM
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Salzburg. Graz. Um... I feel like there should be at least one other pretty recognizable one.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:20 PM
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"Kentucky Fried Flesh Globules".


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:20 PM
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Innsbruck.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:22 PM
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333: No, most likely a student.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:23 PM
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But you're under 100K population past that


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:26 PM
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I was also going to say Innsbruck. I think you may need to be old enough to remember the 1976 Winter Olympics to come up with that one, though.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:26 PM
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Ah, forgot about that, I was remembering the 1964 Olympics!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:30 PM
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354: Does that work better than thinking about baseball?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:35 PM
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I thought David Gergen was that guy who tried to do some sort of principled anti-tax thing in the Reagan administration and then resigned in frustration at Reagan's left-wingery, to hosannas from everyone in the media.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:36 PM
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You know how hot the nights can get in New York in August, when everybody suffers—like the vagrants in the doorways along Third Avenue without any ice for their muscatel? Or all the needy, underprivileged call girls with no fresh-air fund to get them away from the city streets for the summer?

I'd taken a cold shower at one o'clock. Since then I'd recited the line-ups of six out of the eight National League baseball teams from the early thirties, I'd tried twice to make a mental list of every woman I'd ever known carnally, and now I was running through parts and nomenclature of common American hand weapons. I'd even had the light on and read for half an hour, but it was no good. It was still steaming. I was still awake. I was still thinking about her.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:38 PM
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Klagenfurt@! Klagenfurt! Klagenfurt!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:39 PM
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No, Furzenklang.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:40 PM
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357: I have central air.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:41 PM
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The lungs and nostrils lie on either side of the sagittal plane, while the anus and esophagus lie directly on it. This suggests that to "have central air" is to fart and belch frequently.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:45 PM
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In 357, neb gives an excellent example of "erring on the side of thinking your interlocutor has more knowledge than they actually do". Or maybe it's just me. But Google helps make up for these things in online conversation, helping you to appreciate them like your first swift hobnail boot in the shins.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:49 PM
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In small countries with dominant capital cities there are no other towns worth mentioning except for touristy or historical reasons. Quick, name five cities in Hungary or Slovakia.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:50 PM
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But the stomach is off-center and a fart starts in the intestines, which are a bit more out of the center than the lungs. However, I can't really dispute my own personal case unless I deviate from my high standards of personal honesty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:51 PM
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I actually have the reissue of those books, Essear.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:51 PM
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You don't need to know much about it. Moby asked "does that work better than thinking about baseball?" and that reminded me of those sentences (which open a novel) in which thinking about baseball doesn't work very well.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 4:51 PM
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re: 363

Depends on the country, I suppose. Some small countries have a couple of dominant cities, or one major one plus a bunch of mid-sized cities with prominent universities, or some major business headquartered there, or whatever. But as a general rule, yeah, probably right.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:02 PM
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The thing Japanese people put on their pizza that is truly rare in the US (in my experience, anyway!) is mayonnaise.

And canned corn!

Up there where people were talking about how to spend an extra $200 a day, I'm surprised no one mentioned books. Between books, food and drink, I could easily blow through $1400 a week. Give it to me and I'll show you.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:06 PM
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In small countries with dominant capital cities there are no other towns worth mentioning except for touristy or historical reasons. Quick, name five cities in Hungary or Slovakia.

Wrong, there are also UEFA-related reasons.

Debrecen
Zilina
Kosice
Pecs
and...Ostrava?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:08 PM
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Ned is an anorak.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:10 PM
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Neb wouldn't know Metalist Kharkiv from Metalurg Donetsk.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:11 PM
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True!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:12 PM
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My experience has been that people from outside the US know very little about American geography, actually, even if they know place names (or know names that also serve as place names). Nor should anyone expect them to, really, except maybe for the most famous/large places. If they did, I'd worry they were planning an invasion.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:14 PM
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Buda, Óbuda, Pest... what do you mean, I'm cheating?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:15 PM
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I'm proud to say I can name exactly two cities in most European countries. No more, no less. Ostrava turns out to be the second one in thbe Czech Republic.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:16 PM
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Everyone knows Ostrava is in the Czech Republic, ned. There's a track meet there, and everyone watches athletics, right? I think that may be where Alan Webb ran one of his best times.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:18 PM
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It's important to not confuse Ostrava and Onhava.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:20 PM
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I wonder if I could recognize five town names in Slovakia from a map.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:23 PM
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Looks like just four.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:25 PM
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I'd be surprised if 15% 4% of the population could correctly place all nine of those names.

Fixed. FTR, I did not remember who David Gergen was.

You guys should try working in a public library. I am eternally amazed at both the depth and the narrowness of the American public's knowledge. Often some guy can tell you in remarkable detail about the life of a relatively obscure architect; that doesn't mean either that he knows who Donna Brazile is or that he's politically ignorant.

I haven't quite gotten to ttaM's joke level in 286, but I despise in-jokes so much* and I talk with so many different kinds of people that I am constantly recalibrating what an appropriate level of shared knowledge looks like. Last week it was a group of elite college students, which sped up all of my tech references. A few months ago I was talking to some med students and misjudged their grasp of local city knowledge to the extent that I had to stop entirely and start over.

It's funny/telling what other people think is common knowledge, too. I recently got ridiculed for not recognizing [the Alicia Keys/Jay-Z song] "Empire State of Mind," and I often have no idea (within a 50-cent range) what the current price of gas is.

*This is not true. I love in-jokes in the right context, which generally means "Not being used to humiliate or shut out other people."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:27 PM
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but I despise in-jokes so much*

[joke about gladwell related to the unfogged archives redacted]


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:33 PM
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377 makes me realize I can name more cities in Zembla than in most real countries in Eastern Europe.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:35 PM
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374 Or you could go the Bratislava, Pressburg, Poszony route.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:36 PM
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Quick, name five cities in Hungary

Nagykanizsa...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:41 PM
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No, see, the archives are publicly accessible. This is why context matters.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:44 PM
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Lviv, Lvov, Lwow, Lemberg

Except, I probably could get 5 different Ukrainian cities. (Kiev, Lviv, Donetsk, Odessa, Sevastopol.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 5:45 PM
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Speaking of people that most of the American public couldn't place, Matt Taibbi is on fire:

Most of the work in this world completely sucks balls and the only reward most people get for their work is just barely enough money to survive, if that. The 95% of people out there who spend all day long shoveling the dogshit of life for subsistence wages are basically keeping things running just well enough so that David Brooks, me and the rest of that lucky 5% of mostly college-educated yuppies can live embarrassingly rewarding and interesting lives in which society throws gobs of money at us for pushing ideas around on paper (frequently, not even good ideas) and taking mutual-admiration-society business lunches in London and Paris and Las Vegas with our overpaid peers.
Brooks is right that most of the people in that 5% bracket log heavy hours, but where he's wrong is in failing to recognize that most of us have enough shame to know that what we do for a living isn't really working. I pull absolutely insane hours in my current profession, to the point of having almost no social life at all, but I know better than to call what I do for a living work. I was on a demolition crew when I was much younger, the kind of job where you have to wear a dust mask all day long, carry buckets full of concrete, and then spend all night picking fiberglass shards out of your forearms from ripping insulation out of the wall.
If I had to do even five hours of that work today I'd bawl my fucking eyes out for a month straight. I'm not complaining about my current good luck at all, but I would wet myself with shame if I ever heard it said that I work even half as hard as the average diner waitress.

The aside about ideas alone is enough to make me want to hug him.

(N.B. This post does not constitute an endorsement of everything MT has ever written.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:10 PM
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386: Kharkiv! Home of Constructivist architecture!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:13 PM
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Don't hate the players, hate the school they represent.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:15 PM
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That Brooks column is even worse than Taibbi lets on.

Brooks was rooting for Duke; also, Duke won. Even if you assent to the (absurd) proposition that all victories in sports (even team sports) derive from the greater skill and training of the victorious team, that Duke actually won, thereby on this assent for the sake of argument demonstrating their athletic superiority, wouldn't explain why Brooks was rooting for them. You root for a team before it wins. It's almost as if Brooks must have assumed that the better-off team would just have to be the more skilled team. But he couldn't think that they'd be more skilled because better off, say because they can devote more time to training, with better facilities and coaches, because then it would no longer be the case that their success didn't derive from privilege. So … ? (Maybe it was their record; I know nothing about their record.)

Nor, obviously, need one think that the Duke team is the paragon of privilege. Probably not! Who cares?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:16 PM
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387: God, I should read Taibbi more often.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:20 PM
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DB confuses his own behavior for eternal truths. Remember that one where some fool let DB attend some mega-fancy underground dinner party in New Orleans? They'd been serving insanely rich foods all night and finished with some showstopping coffee presentation. DB interrupts the proceedings to inquire, wryly, if they have any decaf. He explains that this was funny because his own behavior was a metaphor for political blah blah or how bad people are or something. Dude, you can't be a bitch about a group of people you invented to feel not so alone as the dick at a dinner party.

I hates him. I hates him.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:26 PM
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I would really like to clout DB on the snout to establish superiority.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:29 PM
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That coffee column might be the last one of his I read without the link being provided. It might be the last time I regularly read the NYT Op-Ed page from the (web) page itself. On the other hand, David Brooks is the common man, therefore, what he does must be what "we" do and an analysis of what he does stands as an analysis of all America.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:30 PM
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I have often promised to do just that. Someone who looked almost exactly like DB nearly got a fist to the teeth about a year ago before I realized it wasn't actually him.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:31 PM
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My dissertation, and the deleted DB joke, are about the disingenuous use of the word "we."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:32 PM
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I think his point was something like, "we used to enjoy decadence unapologetically, but now we have lost our nerve and the wimpy social forces of nagging losers have insinuated themselves into what had been the bastions of the old ways. Example: I, David Brooks, am an enormous asshole and loser. QED."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:32 PM
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397 yes yes yes. That's right. We are such wusses.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:34 PM
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One of DB's glory moments: In a reprehensible column on "Natalists" he quotes Steve Sailer,

You can see surprising political correlations. As Steve Sailer pointed out in The American Conservative, George Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility rates, and 25 of the top 26. John Kerry won the 16 states with the lowest rates.

He finishes with a bang as well, What they cherish, like most Americans, is the self-sacrificial love shown by parents. People who have enough kids for a basketball team are too busy to fight a culture war.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 6:56 PM
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Kobe!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:03 PM
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Talking about right wing assholes, there's that Will Wilkinson vs Kling and somebody thing going on. While I sympathize more with Wilkinson, he still has a big blind spot going when he refers to freedom for white men. Even in the 'economic freedom' sphere, there was no freedom of contract in employment even for white men. When one small group has the right to use violence to impose wages and working conditions on the rest, that's not 'freedom'.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:10 PM
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OT: I just found out that one of my Facebook friends killed a guy in 2006. He was never convicted of murder as he argued self-defense. The DA either could not prove otherwise or didn't feel it was worth trying. (News reports are sketchy, but they were both stealing quite a bit and it was a plea bargain.) He served a couple of years based on related issues (mostly where he put the body).

Should I unfriend? I've known him forever (since kindergarten), but we didn't keep in touch. He's got a girl friend and kids now.

(If it matters, he is the only person I know who does Farmville.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:18 PM
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Are you friends?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:21 PM
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Not anymore, but we were. I've been friending everybody I actually knew from the past if they contact me. I was raised in a very small town. My mom gave him an old couch for his first piece of furniture when he moved out of his parent's place. (My sister ordered me to unfriend somebody else who she knows to be an active meth user. But that's different as we were never friends.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:27 PM
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What if you need somebody killed some day?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:29 PM
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Then I'd want somebody who could cover their tracks a bit better, wouldn't I?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:32 PM
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Crowdsource it, like in the Agatha Christie novel.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:32 PM
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As I said here before, my super methed up hs friend was actively posting pix of his meth-making (pretty! crystals!) on FB. Since I knew him to be on parole, I sent him a message suggesting he take them down immediately, and he did.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:34 PM
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What, the Chinese don't know that KFC had to change the name because their genetically altered frycreatures are no longer legally chickens?

This can't possibly be true. I thought it was just to downplay the word fried.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:35 PM
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Oh, heebie.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:37 PM
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Believe it or not, from two different schools, I had two -- I wouldn't exactly call them friends, but I knew them well enough and we hung out enough so that in a different universe they could definitely be Facebook friends -- who committed murder, in well publicized cases. One of the two murdered his girlfriend and slashed the faces of multiple prostitutes, the other got involved in a murder for hire scheme.

This really weirds me out, when I let myself think about it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:39 PM
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Should I unfriend? I've known him forever (since kindergarten), but we didn't keep in touch. He's got a girl friend and kids now.

I wouldn't. I don't have to ethically approve my friends on facebook, and maybe something interesting will happen and you'll be all front and center.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:39 PM
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411.2: you know, the murder for hire, hey, bad news, but it happens. The other one, though. Wow. I would defriend.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:43 PM
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I'm not sure I understand the logic behind unfriending. In 402 or 404.last.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:43 PM
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404.last has more to it, but I don't want to get into it. Also, as I said, unlike 402, 404.last was never a friend of mine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 7:50 PM
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A friend of mine from college, who is also a FB friend, was charged with attempted murder. It was . . . bullshit top to bottom (without going too much into it) and he ultimately pled to a far lesser, but still semi-serious offense (really, still bullshit). I suppose if someone just heard about it they could be moved to unfriend him, but he is a great guy and the whole thing was a travesty.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:01 PM
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I don't have to ethically approve my friends on facebook

Huh, maybe this spotlights an unconscious assumption I was making. I certainly would view that I was ethically approving my 'friends' on Facebook, just as I do in real life.

I guess I've been interpreting the word a lot more narrowly than they intend their users to do. It sounds like it means more like "Person with whom I am mutally agreed to acknowledge at least a passing acquaintance, past or current."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:07 PM
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I just think of it as "People who I don't care if their statuses show up in my feed." If their statuses start to annoy me, they go bye-bye.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:17 PM
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Actually I have a couple students who will post tidbits from calculus class and see if I respond, (I try to), but they are also some of my most irritatingly Republican status updaters. So I'd like to hide them and I certainly don't ethically approve, but whatever.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:18 PM
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I'm with you, Witt. But everyone has his or her own standards for "friend" -- on FB and IRL.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:23 PM
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Would you stop being friends with someone in real life because they had killed someone? For me, it would depend very much on the details of the crime. I wouldn't necessarily drop them on principle, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:26 PM
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If it matters, he is the only person I know who does Farmville.

A warning sign if ever there was one.


Posted by: kth | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:28 PM
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Would you stop being friends with someone in real life because they had killed someone?

It depends. It's only come up for me in a semi-professional context, and there I had no interest in maintaining any kind of connection with the probable murderer, and I withdrew my business from him.

For me, it would depend very much on the details of the crime.

Right.

I wouldn't necessarily drop them on principle, though.

Agreed. Although I suspect I have a lot more preemptive not-interested-in-being-friends-with-this-person principles than average. A person doesn't have to rise to the level of murder to do something that I don't want to appear to be condoning.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:31 PM
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Unless the person my friend killed was another friend of mine, or a family member of mine, and the killing was intentional, I can't imagine why I'd de-friend them. I have friends who have done bad things. They know I don't approve, but that doesn't (generally) strike me as a reason to disassociate.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:31 PM
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A person doesn't have to rise to the level of murder to do something that I don't want to appear to be condoning.

I guess I don't even come close to approaching the idea that one necessarily condones the activities of one's friends.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:32 PM
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I guess I wasn't worried about condoning or not, or at least not only that. I'm more worried about who his other friends are. He was very clearly involved with very dangerous people as recently as four years ago. Maybe I'll just to re-check my privacy settings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:37 PM
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The only person with whom I've ever disassociated for "bad behavior" (at least that I'm recalling right now) was a guy I knew in college who tied up and raped another guy. But that event was really just a pretext for the disassociation; in truth, I'd strongly disliked the guy since I'd first met him, and had more or less been looking for an opportunity to never see him again. (He wasn't a friend of mine, but was a friend of several friends.)

I'm not exactly sure how I'd have dealt with that same situation if the perpetrator had been an actual friend of mine, who I genuinely liked.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:38 PM
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Speaking of Facebook, apparently someone used this rug as a model for her crop layout in some Farmville-type Facebook game (I think it's some knockoff rather than the original Farmville), then e-mailed me to thank me for posting the picture. I thought it was kind of adorable.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:40 PM
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Is she single?

--->channeling my late mother


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:42 PM
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427: That would be a tough call? Really? Murder (or at least homicide) is something that I can see reasons for. As does the law. I'm not any plausible argument for "tied-up and raped."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:43 PM
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s/b "I'm not seeing any plausible"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:43 PM
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That's funny. I'm wrangling with a friend over what loyalty means and what I'd drop someone for. I'm coming to the conclusion that I guard my life and value my association differently than most people do about their lives and their association.

Am I unusual in deliberately managing the people I keep in my life? Fun people are precious, collect them when you find them. She's a sociopath; drop her and avoid even though she seems to approve of me. That person's a flake; third strike and out. Do other people not do this? I suppose the fear is that over-rigorous selection means you run out of people. But I don't, and I like the people around me. But I make real conscious decisions about who I'm going to try to bring in and who I think is likely to bring my life down, and killing someone would bump someone to the second category.

Then, I feel like my association is the only thing I have that could matter to anyone anyway. I mean, what else can I do besides hang out with people or not? I mean, I'm sure lots of people wouldn't value it at all, but if people like me, what else is there besides keeping company? What, secretly they just like my cooking? And if I don't like who they are, I don't have any other real recourse except going somewhere else. So yeah, were I on Facebook, I'd not associate with people I don't think well of.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:45 PM
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I'm finding myself totally amazed by Witt's and Di's statement about ethically approving your friends. That would put me in such a crazy pickle in so many places, starting with Jammies' family and their horrible, despicable politics, or other members of my family who behave in ways I totally disapprove of. Or anyone who believes in hell. I make the split so often between people who are nice in person and people who are actually ethically consistent and I can't imagine limiting myself to the second group, although they're the only ones I'd be good friends with.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:47 PM
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If your main current connection to someone is that they are your Facebook friend, you can treat them like Obama treated Bill Ayers. "He was a guy in my neighborhood." You definitely don't have to approve of their decisions--past, or even present.

People who make catastrophically bad moral decisions are sometimes very interesting at the right distance.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:48 PM
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But then, I also assess my quality of life fairly often, and try to make tweaks that will improve it. The people I spend time with are a major component of that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:49 PM
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People who make catastrophically bad moral decisions are sometimes very interesting at the right distance.

Exactly. This is a better point than the one I was trying to make.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:51 PM
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430: I guess it probably would depend on the circumstances, now that I think about it. I mean, he'd have to at least admit it was a terrible thing to do. That was the model I had in my mind in writing the comment--I have two friends (with whom I'm still friends) who've been charged with rape (although both in very different circumstances from the "tie up and rape" guy), and both were remorseful. I'm not sure I could be friends with someone who thought something like that was just a grand time. But it's hard to say--I've never been in that situation.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:51 PM
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432 isn't about grudge-holding per se, but I think it's related. Needless to say, I approve.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:53 PM
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437: Yes, if I could buy the remorse. But it might take a guilty plea to do that for me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:54 PM
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But then, I also assess my quality of life fairly often, and try to make tweaks that will improve it.

Me too. Now I have a rear spoiler. I'll let you know if it help keep my feet on the ground when I corner.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:55 PM
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I could definitely understand disassociating with friends who abuse drugs or alcohol, if those are things you struggle with yourself. But that's not disassociating in judgment, that's just doing what you need to do to keep yourself healthy. Other than that, I don't really know. I don't think I'd disassociate from a good friend any sooner than I'd disassociate from a family member.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:57 PM
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? Fun people are precious, collect them when you find them. She's a sociopath; drop her and avoid even though she seems to approve of me. That person's a flake; third strike and out.

If he's a flake and I still enjoy his company, I'll treat him like a flaky person. I'm not going to invite him if I'm going to be annoyed that he flakes out. But why would I no longer stop by his office and say "Want to grab lunch at the student union?"

If she's totally a sociopath, I can't imagine that I'd actually enjoy her company. But if somehow I did, I'd keep our contact to situations where I don't care that she's a sociopath.

I just don't think about this very much. You invite people that fit the activity, and that's that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:57 PM
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436:

I'm glad we're on the same wavelength, but I gotta say there is a big difference between the moral flaws of believing in hell and rape, or murder, or even lying or stealing. People can believe in hell because it is an abstract possibility. The ones to worry about are the one who would personally inflect hell.

Also, when you are friends with someone who can cause a lot of harm, you first obligation is to stop them from doing that and to warn people away from your friend. This might seem obvious, and doesn't really apply to facebook friends, but it is worth stating explicitly.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:59 PM
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Is she single?

Her profile seems to have virtually no publicly available information, so I don't know.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 8:59 PM
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but I gotta say there is a big difference between the moral flaws of believing in hell and rape, or murder, or even lying or stealing.

I just couldn't think of anything worse that people I currently know let me know that they do. I couldn't figure out who I'd drop based on disapproval.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:02 PM
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433: Maybe this is again a difference in terminology? I'm certainly friendly with a few hundred people that I don't share many values with. Some of these people are related to me. That doesn't mean I'd call them "friends" in any real sense of the word.

To me a friend is someone who you can raise concerns with, and who may actually respond. A big part of my reaction has to do with whether we have a shared worldview. If someone announces that they are paying criminally low wages to their nanny and you react with distaste, do they respond by justifying what a great deal they're getting and how grateful the nanny should be? Or do they wince and say "Yeah, I wasn't really thinking about it from her perspective"?

Semi-related: Brock's comments in these threads always make me feel like the most Old Testament-y judging kind of person in comparison. It's an odd feeling, because offline I'm often accused of trying too hard to understand someone else's perspective.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:03 PM
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One thing that makes this easy in practice is that a lot of ethically dubious behavior is completely annoying in person, so you're not actually confronted with cognitive dissonance very often. Racist jokes? I generally don't enjoy them. Asshole to your significant other? Usually makes you unpleasant to be around.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:04 PM
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It depends. It's only come up for me in a semi-professional context, and there I had no interest in maintaining any kind of connection with the probable murderer, and I withdrew my business from him.

This just adds to the mystery of what Witt does for a living.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:04 PM
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441 is, actually, consistent with what I mean. It's just that I have much narrower boundaries on what is necessary for keeping myself healthy, maybe.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:07 PM
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Maybe this is again a difference in terminology? ...
To me a friend is someone who you can raise concerns with, and who may actually respond.

Yes, I'd call this a close friend. Friends are folks on the soccer team or colleagues that go to happy hour together, etc.

For close friends, I have this level of filter but I probably wouldn't have phrased it this way. I think of it as "Well, we wouldn't have hit it off if we didn't share worldviews, so it's a necessary condition to be good friends."

Facebook friends are definitely not close friends, so it still strikes me as bizarre to hold that line there.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:09 PM
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447: Wait, I'm confused. What does your discomfort have to do with how often you have to put up with this kind of behavior?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:10 PM
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I just couldn't think of anything worse that people I currently know let me know that they do.

There's a difference between do and have done. The original question had to do with something that had happened in the past. Also, I assume, Moby has no idea if the person regrets their actions or is currently likely to do them again. These things make a difference.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:12 PM
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What does your discomfort have to do with how often you have to put up with this kind of behavior?

I mean that my usual rule of thumb, "do I enjoy their company?", tends to exclude people whose behavior is unethical. So it's hard for me to think of any specific people who are very fun but also flaunt odious ethical behavior.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:14 PM
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I'm Old Testament and judge-y too, Witt! Don't back down! Also, I'm wonder whether I'm more risk averse them others here.

Hey Heebie, in soccer, do you guys get the players I call Danger Players? Mean well, would never hurt anyone, but somehow, whenever there's a collision, they were in the play. If two people go down, you just know that same player was in the mix? There was a friendly guy at Ultimate, just loved us. Never meant to foul anyone. But I saw three people blow out knees because of him.

He isn't even morally wrong about anything. But I'd exclude one of them, too. I won't take the field with a Danger Player. I don't need it that bad. I have too much to lose.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:16 PM
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452: Also, I assume, Moby has no idea if the person regrets their actions or is currently likely to do them again.

No clue at all. His status updates don't get into that kind of detail.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:16 PM
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453: It doesn't sound like we're expressing a different standard.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:17 PM
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I mean that my usual rule of thumb, "do I enjoy their company?", tends to exclude people whose behavior is unethical.

People who steal credit cards are often very enjoyable in bars.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:18 PM
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453: Ah, okay, got it. That makes sense.

I was thinking of it the other way around -- someone you know casually through work or whatever, who reveals him/herself to be unpleasant. This has happened to me a couple of times in foreign language conversation groups -- you go out to lunch with people, you think you have some shared assumptions, and then it comes crashing down to earth when they start making creepy "jokes" about black people/women/FITB.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:20 PM
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457: I'll say.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:20 PM
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Hey Heebie, in soccer, do you guys get the players I call Danger Players?

Yes, but somehow it doesn't result in blown-out knees the way you're describing. Knees blow out but it doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason.

There are players who are invariably spending the game getting someone on the other team more and more riled up, and the plays get dirtier and dirtier as the game goes on. It's not my favorite, but whatever.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:20 PM
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People who steal credit cards are often very enjoyable in bars.

That might be too close a level of contact for me. I think of facebook as a more distant level of contact.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:21 PM
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Facebook friends are definitely not close friends

Not necessarily close friends, and in some cases not necessarily even non-close friends. Some of them are just people I knew in highschool or something like that, and it can be interesting to see what they're up to these days, but we don't actually interact all that much even on Facebook, much less meet up in the real world.

I have no sense or expectation at all that the mere fact that two people are FB friends implies any sort of approval whatsoever of what the other does or says, or even an particularly close relationship at all. It's pretty common for people to have hundreds of FB friends, and I don't think anyone has the time to monitor all of them to make sure they're meeting the proper moral standards.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:21 PM
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Also I'm officially professional on Facebook, so I'll accept a friend friend request from pretty much anyone I know, including lots of students, and I moniter my own behavior fairly strictly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:23 PM
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461: There is no way somebody can buy a round over Facebook.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:23 PM
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Oh, we get blown out knees for other reasons, too.

Anyway, my way of thinking is, you don't play soccer with those people, you don't end up around that scenario. Since I have enough other people to play soccer with (metaphorically), I don't let them on my team.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:27 PM
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Oh. Moby was being more literal than I was. All the people I've known who stole credit cards were terrific fun to party with, but not necessarily because they bought me drinks.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:27 PM
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I'm wondering whether I'm more risk averse them others here.

Yeah, I wonder if part of this is about risk assessment. I've passed up my share of opportunities because they looked like disasters in the making, and indeed some of them turned out to be. (Others not, of course.)

One of the comments upthread made me remember that I got quoted "You get judged by the company you keep" more than once growing up. And I did/do have a keen sense that I'm (loosely) responsible for and endorsing the behavior of my friends when we're together. I've certainly gone back and apologized/re-tipped the waitstaff on occasion when someone I was with was being obnoxious.

On preview, to 462: Yes, this is what I was trying to get at with 417.2. I have (unconsciously) been making an assumption that Facebook's definition of "friend" is similar to mine. But I'm mistaken.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:28 PM
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Anyway, my way of thinking is, you don't play soccer with those people, you don't end up around that scenario. Since I have enough other people to play soccer with (metaphorically), I don't let them on my team.

Somehow this feels tiring though. Why not just hang out with people you cherish and it tends to work out for all those mutual compatibility reasons that they never end up being Dangerous Players?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:30 PM
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469

Also everything feels tiring. Why must you all have interesting conversations when I'm tired and have to get up early in the morning?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:31 PM
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Yeah, I wonder if part of this is about risk assessment. I've passed up my share of opportunities because they looked like disasters in the making,

My working assumption is that disasters are interesting and you can deal with nearly all of them much more easily than you would have guessed ahead of time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:33 PM
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And I did/do have a keen sense that I'm (loosely) responsible for and endorsing the behavior of my friends when we're together.

Right, me too. But as you said, Facebook is quite different, or at least it is for me.

468: Sigh. You'll never make it as an engineer, heebie.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:33 PM
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I just remembered I have a facebook friend who got convicted of [ violent crime not quite rising to the level of attempted murder ]! I'm not going to unfriend him, though. He's great. Couldn't make the wedding because of court costs, which was a bummer. That said, he was totally guilty, totally doesn't understand why what he did was bad bad bad, and totally should have been convicted. I have mixed feelings that he didn't serve jail time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:33 PM
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473

That's it. I'm totally unfriending Sifu on Facebook.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:35 PM
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Ach, this is too much. I go bed.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:41 PM
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473: You didn't already unfriend him for saying I smelled like a tree?

474: Probably a good idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 9:44 PM
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I think without violating the sanctity of off-blog socializing I can say that I met ogged today. That was cool.

He remains powerful as long as people still believe in him.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-11-10 10:22 PM
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476.1: But have you friended him on Facebook? Of those who have met him, only a smaller number have learned his real name.

In other news, it's kind of weird to realize that I first went to an unfogged related meetup four years ago. That's a long time.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:17 AM
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W00t ogged! I myself, sadly, have never met him because he pussied out on unfoggeDCon 1 due to alleged illness...


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:59 AM
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OT: I just found out that one of my Facebook friends killed a guy in 2006. He was never convicted of murder as he argued self-defense. The DA either could not prove otherwise or didn't feel it was worth trying. (News reports are sketchy, but they were both stealing quite a bit and it was a plea bargain.) He served a couple of years based on related issues (mostly where he put the body).

If it was self-defense, it would be horrible if all of your friends abandoned you.

Given the huge advantage that police and prosecutors have over defendants, I would assume that it really was self-defense.

People never really accept the presumption of innocence. ("They wouldnt have charged him if he wasnt guilty!")


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 6:04 AM
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People never really accept the presumption of innocence.

I suppose, but he did hide the body. I've decided not to do anything about defriending, mostly because he did his time and he lives in another state.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 6:49 AM
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mostly because he did his time and he lives in another state and defriending might really piss him off.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 6:55 AM
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I suppose, but he did hide the body.

But wow. Another inappropriate conversation where I'd love to sit down and pick his brain. This guy moved and handled a big, heavy, lifeless body that he'd just killed. It was turning cold. Maybe it smelled. Holy fucking crap. I am so curious as to what that out-of-body experience was like.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:39 AM
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This guy moved and handled a big, heavy, lifeless body that he'd just killed.

He had help. Given that the deceased was 500 pounds, he needed it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:41 AM
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Maybe I should friend this guy. This keeps getting more interesting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:57 AM
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Was it self defense, or was he defending others? And what did he do with the trolley?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:04 AM
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It doesn't seem like a hand truck would be much help in that circumstance.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:04 AM
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486: Some pulleys, rope, and a pick-up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:10 AM
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This really is fascinating. How did the 500-lb person threaten him?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:12 AM
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Huh. I thought that was a 'fat man and trolley' joke, rather than a description of the actual crime (or, non-crime given the self-defense thing. Killing.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:15 AM
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488: With a gnu.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:17 AM
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I wonder whether the 500 lb man stays 500 lbs or does he get lighter after he dies?

I work with a forensic pathologist. I'm going to ask him at lunch.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:18 AM
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But according to the only other witness, the gnu wasn't loaded.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:19 AM
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does he get lighter after he dies?

How much time are we talking about? Anything over a day or two, certainly yes. Just think about dessication, let alone decomposition.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:19 AM
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492: Given their body weight, it's hard to get a gnu loaded.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:20 AM
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does he get lighter after he dies?

Does a 500-pound person's soul weigh more than a 200-pound person's soul?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:21 AM
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I'm fascinated by the talk about friends. I've never understood how one can be friends with someone who is a liar, a thief, or prone to violence, but it seems that a lot of people manage some sort of mental trick that evades the adage about the company you keep. Certainly I'd be less likely to befriend someone who I knew to be tolerant of immoral behavior on the part of their friends. Part of that is self defence - I don't want their friends stealing from me, cheating me, or attacking me. Much more of it is a desire to avoid the kind of moral quandaries immoral people regularly put others in.

Perhaps this squeamishness is at the root of my odd pattern of friendships: Either sibling close or mere acquaintance, with nearly nobody in between.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:54 AM
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496 is weird.

I mean, if somebody is a habitual liar, or habitual thief, or habitually violent, then yes, that seems like a bad person to hang out with. But if somebody (say) had a bad breakup that involved deceit, or went to jail for shoplifting, or got in a fight when drunk and not-wholly-intentionally hurt somebody badly enough to go to jail, it hardly means they're likely to do the same to you.

I mean, I feel like the judgment of whether or not somebody is a good person (or a fun person) depends on a lot more than whether or not they've ever had legal trouble, or ever lied to somebody. The judgment of whether somebody is fun to hang out with is an even lower bar to clear. I have lots of friends to whom I'm not going to be confessing my innermost secrets and with whom I am vanishingly unlikely to get into a business relationship, but so? What's with the binary categories?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:24 AM
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497: Everybody fucks up, fails to live up to their own ideals, falls short of the glory of God and so forth. I'm referring to people who rationalize their bad choices in such a way as to make it likely they'll continue to engage in bad behavior. That's a huge warning sign - those are the ones who will involve you in bad things. I have an intense dislike of morally elastic people. They are the ones who make the world a shitty place far more than the tiny number of outright evil people. I would like to live in a world where the ethically flexible are lonely, isolated, and miserable.

As far as binary categories go - I have a limited amount of mental bandwidth to expend on anything, and I'd rather not have it sucked dealing with people I can't trust. People with more skill at social interaction can navigate those waters with an ease I simply cannot manage. My moral rigidity isn't a manifestation of a sense of superiority as much as it's a defensive mechanism against being forced by assholes into a situation I lack the requisite skills to get out of with my self respect intact.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:41 AM
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498.1: ah. Well, I don't particularly have any friends like that -- in fact, I'm trying to flesh out your characterization by mental reference to movie characters, which indicates to me that I don't really get what kind of person you're talking about.

Certainly, I've had friends who have shown themselves to be vastly unreliable. I generally try not to rely on them for anything.

But somebody can be vastly unreliable and a fuck-up and not to be trusted with anything important and still tremendously fun in limited doses. And people who've done dubious things have such interesting stories.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:46 AM
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I agree completely with 499.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:50 AM
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I generally just avoid people entirely.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:52 AM
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I suspect I'm closer to togolosh than others on this one. I've certainly had some morally dubious friends in the past, but some of the comments in the thread above do seem to tread rather closer to an amoral world view than I'd go myself.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:58 AM
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501: That seems to be where I've wound up too, but I'm not sure it was a choice.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:03 AM
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At some point not too long ago, I realized that, while my male friends have always included morally questionable people, my female friends seem to have been put to a far more rigorous test of suitability. I come to breaking points with women over pretty morally insignificant issues, like being poor listeners, or having short attention spans. Plenty of my male friends are poor listeners, or flaky. I know I've put up with a few guys who cancel plans on me at the last second on a regular basis (which I hate), but I'd never tolerate that in a woman.

Since coming to this realization, I've started having a lot better relationships with women. I'm sure this double standard emerged from my own misogyny, but I think it also has to do with (unfairly) expecting women to be somewhat more thoughtful than men.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:04 AM
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499: It's the rationalization of bad acts that's a warning sign to me. People who manage to find reasons that it's either OK or not that big of a deal to do unto others what they'd prefer not done to themselves. I'm not talking about murder but about the much smaller acts like dine and dash, vandalism, that sort of thing.

People who have done bad things do tend to have interesting stories, but if they aren't reformed they are worth avoiding, IMO. My sister knows some folks who claim to be reformed after having done things like smuggle blood diamonds, serve in the Apartheid era South African commandos, work as mercenaries, and the like. Fascinating to talk to, but well worth keeping at a bit of a distance.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:28 AM
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505.1: ah. Well, I think of most of that as pretty childish, certainly, and don't have many friends likely to do any of those things today. Even "back in the day" most of the bad acts my friends were entertained by were things like non-destructive computer intrustion, which still doesn't much bother me, or accumulation of banned substances and/or devices, which likewise still doesn't really bother me. There was quite a fad for credit card fraud back years and years ago, but it was a more innocent time in a lot of ways. The one guy with the one violent thing, well, that's really an aberration. I'm by-and-large talking about computer nerds and ravers, neither of which populations is generally much prone to violence.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:38 AM
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I'm having a little difficulty with credit card fraud as "more innocent." Probably due to the fact that I'm in the middle of defensive action to protect myself from whoever stole my personal information from the company administering my student loans. It'll cost me a few hundred dollars and maybe ten hours, but I'd still like to see those assholes do hard time making big rocks into little rocks.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:01 AM
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507: "it was a more innocent time", I said, which mostly means that the people doing it were under the impression that little to no harm would come to the consumer (because of fraud protections). Which may have been more true then that it is today -- the scale of fraud was so much smaller that the responsiveness of the ratings agencies was presumably better, and the banks were much less likely to shift costs (explicit or implicit) onto their customers. By the time the people I knew who did it smartened (and grew) up (which predates the concept of "identity theft" and the involvement of e.g. actual criminals) it was a very different world. But mostly what I meant is that the people doing it were kids. Like, high school kids doing something that was (judging by the legal remedies pursued at the time) hardly even illegal. A different time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:05 PM
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I know 334 is a long way upthread, but "Idaho" probably just = potato to the Japanese. It used to be very common on menus in Ireland to specify that baked potatoes were Idaho potatoes (which were usually a particular largish size).

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-idaho-potato.htm


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:07 PM
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So time is a river, rolling on to nowhere.
I charge who I can,
I will send the bill on after.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:08 PM
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509: Yes, and I am impressed by even this much knowledge of states. If one thinks Iowa = corn, Kansas = wheat, Detroit = cars, etc., that's a lot more than I know about some Chinese provinces.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:26 PM
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I do know that Detroit is in Michigan, but I bet that state name might be harder for foreigners to place.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:26 PM
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The potatoes described in the link in 509 are generally called "russets" in the US.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:29 PM
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It's right, though, that if you say "Idaho potato", that's what you think of. (I do, anyway.) Idaho = russet in my mind.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:31 PM
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Yeah, me too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:33 PM
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