Re: All alone

1

You'd think at some point he could have borrowed a newspaper from somebody.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:38 AM
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Newspapers! Why didn't I think to ask him about that? Would it be too weird if I e-mailed him?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:40 AM
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Columbo-type questioning, though, is OK.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:42 AM
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Just one more thing...


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:43 AM
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That's pretty damn scary. I mean, you occasionally get to see some world class ignorance on display (usually via Big Brother, it seems), but that beats anything I've seen. I mean, those were pretty much the two most salient political facts/events/movements at the time. And it's not like it was abstract politics, either.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:46 AM
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When I get too old to get by on my looks, I'm going to tell all kinds of interesting lies to young women.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:48 AM
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I think, though, that someone was pulling heebie's leg. No one in this fellow's high school was concerned about his lottery number, much less ended up going? No one?

I'll buy that it hadn't registered with him that the war was controversial. Which also fits with his unawareness of civil rights.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:49 AM
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Kidding. Not about the lying to women. I haven't been able to get my on my looks since 1974.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:50 AM
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there was one TV on campus (which he never watched?) and one phone in their dorm (on which he never spoke to anybody?)

I mean, that would have been the same for a lot of people at that date, but somehow they mostly managed to catch the news every few months...


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:51 AM
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No one in this fellow's high school was concerned about his lottery number, much less ended up going? No one?

Well, he would have graduated high school in '65. So, no.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:55 AM
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10: But they were drafting people (without a lottery) in 1965. I don't think they stopped between WWII and the end of Vietnam.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:01 AM
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Right, the lottery was at the end of the year. But still, no one from his family, no one from his home town either went or thought about going? Put me down for interesting lies to cute young women.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:01 AM
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Put me down for interesting lies to cute young women.

There isn't a formal membership or anything.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:04 AM
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Well, this says that student deferments weren't ended until 1971. Still, if that means that college students could look forward to a draft after graduation in 1969, I concur in finding this story unlikely.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:05 AM
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Maybe. It wasn't told directly to me, though, it was to a whole group. And this guy was a very earnest slow talker. I could believe that he just didn't realize the Vietnam War was a thing, and that the story has morphed over the years. But I definitely believe he believes what he was saying.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:05 AM
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13: sure there is! The membership fee is very reasonable, and you can just pay me right now and I'll start your paperwork. Laydeez.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:06 AM
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Maybe it's more reflective of him personally than of his cohort.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:10 AM
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I suppose it's just possible that none of his classmates were 21 by November 5, 1968.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:11 AM
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Yeah, the first lottery wasn't until 1969. (My mother believes that the lottery, as more difficult for the influential to discreetly evade, was influential in ending the war.) I suppose I could vaguely conceive of someone who knew there was a draft, but didn't realize that the consequences of being drafted had changed seriously since the early 60s.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:13 AM
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Student deferments expired at age 21?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:13 AM
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So, did he wind up fighting in Vietnam?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:13 AM
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Yes, I think so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:14 AM
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(My mother believes that the lottery, as more difficult for the influential to discreetly evade, was influential in ending the war.)

I agree with your mother on this.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:14 AM
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19 -- 1965!

20 -- If 20 was related to 18, no, I was going for something else.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:16 AM
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24.1: 1969.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:17 AM
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Put me down for interesting lies to cute young women with great asses.

It occurs to me that we haven't talked about heebie's ass in quite some time. No wonder Unfogged is going downhill.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:18 AM
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25 -- No, what I meant was, 1965 =/= 1962.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:20 AM
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My mother believes that the lottery, as more difficult for the influential to discreetly evade, was influential in ending the war.

This is common wisdom, no?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:22 AM
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we haven't talked about heebie's ass in quite some time

Sanctity of off-blog communications. The lurkers objectify her in email.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:22 AM
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Well, I'm imagining that he had never known there were black people until he met his drill sergeant, and that his first encounter with Asian people was when he landed in Vietnam. I think there's potential here for a terrible but possibly commercially successful movie.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:24 AM
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If anyone understands and can explain the meaning of 27 to me, I'm very curious.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:24 AM
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27: I had just figured out what you meant, and was coming back to apologize for correcting you when you hadn't been wrong.

To make it work, I need an isolated small town with a small high school population, and some luck. Imagine a graduating class of forty, so twenty boys. In the 62-65 classes, we're talking less than sixty boys here. Some go to college, so don't get drafted, some are 4-F, some are the sole support of their younger siblings. If all the remaining draftees (or at least all the ones this guy was in social contact with) ended up in non-Vietnam parts of the army, which seems possible, I could see heebie's acquaintance not really getting what was going on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:25 AM
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31: I didn't say anything because I thought I was the only one confused.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:25 AM
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Well, I'm imagining that he had never known there were black people until he met his drill sergeant

On the other hand he probably though RFK was president.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:27 AM
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31: In 1962, a reasonably aware person might know that we had some minor military involvement in Vietnam, but wouldn't think of it as a major issue for a boy getting drafted -- any Vietnam involvement would be low odds. In 1965, getting drafted would, to most people, clearly involve a risk of getting sent to combat in Vietnam.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:27 AM
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But, what does "=/=" mean? Is it ≠?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:29 AM
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36: Yes. I've also seen "!=" for the same thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:29 AM
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Just after I hit post, it seemed obvious. != works in some programing languages.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:30 AM
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On the other hand he probably though RFK was president

No! He had only heard vague rumors about the existence of a central government.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:31 AM
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This guy would be the same age as my dad.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:33 AM
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What was your dad's Vietnam experience? Student deferments, or did he end up getting drafted?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:34 AM
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How much of this could be explained if he were from one of the very rural Appalachian communities? I'm not sure how he would have ended up in college then. But some of those places lagged behind the rest of the country by 100 years. The college in question is this one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:34 AM
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What was your dad's Vietnam experience?

Student deferments for a while, I think, but he ultimately avoided being drafted for being underweight.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:36 AM
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43: Which seems kind of ironic given how skinny your average Vietnamese guy must of have been.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:39 AM
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I'm not sure how he would have ended up in college then.

Bright kid, good grades in school, but just not aware of anything at all that he didn't get in the classroom? Doesn't seem implausible to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:40 AM
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Roughly the same age as my dad too. He graduated from Auburn in '68 as prime drafting material, which I believe is most of the reason he ended up in seminary that fall.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:40 AM
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His official status was 1-Y, which was apparently eliminated in 1971. I don't know what he did between then and the end of the draft itself, but that would only have been about a year.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:40 AM
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Bright kid, good grades in school, but just not aware of anything at all that he didn't get in the classroom?

Highly consistent with being a math major.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:47 AM
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If all the remaining draftees (or at least all the ones this guy was in social contact with) ended up in non-Vietnam parts of the army, which seems possible, I could see heebie's acquaintance not really getting what was going on.

If his only possible way of knowing "what was going on" was through knowing draftees. I mean, this assumes no TV, no radio, no newspapers, no conversations with friends in which anyone brought it up, no discussions with his parents about the election or politics in general...


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:52 AM
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36 -- Huh. Well, I suppose I should have looked up the code for the signal.

35 -- It's certainly possible that none of the other boys in the class of 1965 went. But didn't even think about going? All those things happened without reference to the war?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:53 AM
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51

50.1: No, it was my bad. I'm programming today and my brain is forced to be very literal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:54 AM
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51 -- And I'm ready to switch over to interesting lies to cute young women. If you end up confused, that's collateral damage I'm willing to live with.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:57 AM
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no conversations with friends in which anyone brought it up, no discussions with his parents about the election or politics in general...

These last two happen all the time with our current students.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:59 AM
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49, 50.2: I think there were parts of rural Appalachia in the 60s that were still pretty darn rural and isolated. Not that people wouldn't have had radios and TV, but that national news would really feel, particularly for a teenager, like not something there was any reason to pay attention to. If he didn't have any personal connection to flag that the war was an issue that could affect him, I could see not getting it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 8:59 AM
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Also, I remember, my first semester in college, Fall 1995, in some class, the professor said "How many of you guys know the federal government has been shut down for the past few weeks?" and almost no one raised their hand. I went back to my dormroom and told my roommate and she said, "Really? It's shut down? For how long?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:01 AM
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43: Underweight! One of my older brothers was about that age and very worried about getting drafted. I remember him talking about trying to make his feet flat. I believe they wound up ending the draft the year he graduated from college, so he was very lucky.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:01 AM
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re: 55

Bit different from a war that had been running for years, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:03 AM
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Yeah, I can see this guy having been sufficiently isolated by a combination of rural Appalachia (parts of which were very isolated even then) and general young-person lack of interest in world affairs that he didn't know about this stuff, but I think it would have to make him unusually sheltered even for the time and place.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:03 AM
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Bit different from a war that had been running for years, though.

Yes, but I'm just underscoring the degree to which college students can ignore the news, even when there's a TV in every room and newspapers available. This place did not have TVs anywhere, and so if you and your nerdy math friends didn't work hard to seek out the news, it didn't make it onto your radar.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:05 AM
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Underweight!

He didn't put any effort into it, either; he was just naturally really remarkably skinny. I always found this hard to imagine, since he had gained a lot of weight by the time I was old enough to notice, but looking back at pictures of him when he was younger it's really striking.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:05 AM
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57: Yes. I was aware of the federal government shut down, but I cannot recall that it directly affected me or anyone I knew. If it wasn't for a certain blow job, I don't think many people would remember it at all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:06 AM
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On the other hand, everyone knew all the details of OJ's trial.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:07 AM
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57, 58: Oh, unusually sheltered and clueless, certainly, but if you put it all together I think it makes it to just unusual, not terribly implausible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:08 AM
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I don't think many people would remember it at all.

Not remembering it is very different from not hearing about it at all, at the time. Not hearing about it at the time required an absolute media blitz from all non-OJ news.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:08 AM
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65

My Farsi professor said that in the late 60s, she was accepted into Berkeley from her all-girls Islamic school in Tehran. She said that was quite a culture shock.

Also, Heebie, you could start out by saying that his situation is fascinating, and would he mind if you ask about a million questions. I do that sometimes. Then every few questions, I ask if I should keep asking.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:09 AM
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64: I watched the "low speed chase" live. It was much more interesting than Newt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:10 AM
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interesting lies to cute young women

Does this actually work? IME, women indicate interest with eye contact, attentiveness and either humor or something interesting to say while getting briefly acquainted seem best. Buying expensive clothes and especially shoes would be a way to get the ball rolling-- maybe almost as demeaning as lying, but less likely to backfire.

Maybe claiming celebrity acquaintance would work-- I've had people who were clearly indifferent respond differently after I mentioned a past acquaintance with a movie star. But really, which lies to tell? Pretending to optimism maybe, but is that really lying?

Again IME, young women feign interest they don't actually have more often. Maybe they don't know what they want, or they view men as fashion accesories, especially if there's a pack of girls out together. Either way, avoid the young ones.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:12 AM
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Also, Heebie, you could start out by saying that his situation is fascinating, and would he mind if you ask about a million questions.

I would have. There were compounding problems, like a really loud terrible jazz band that was somewhat inescapable.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:12 AM
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a really loud terrible jazz band that was somewhat inescapable

I'm becoming increasingly curious about the context of this interaction.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:13 AM
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Again IME, young women feign interest they don't actually have more often.

Is this specific to young women? I thought it was just part of polite small talk. Also, feign it until you make it. Somewhere in there the person must have something interesting to say, if you keep questioning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:14 AM
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69: At a math conference pre-banquet non-alcoholic cocktail hour.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:15 AM
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Somewhere in there the person must have something interesting to say, if you keep questioning.

Really? I suppose this could be true in general, but maybe some people are just boring.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:15 AM
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71: Were there WASPs?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:16 AM
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74

Again IME, young women feign interest they don't actually have more often.

Physically or otherwise appealing guy who is nonetheless droning on at great length about something dull... what does one do other than feign interest until you get to a point in the conversation where you can plausibly say "Shut up and kiss me"? (Which can take weeks.)

The mature solution is that if the guy is droning on at great length about something dull, you probably don't want him anyway, but that takes a while to get to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:16 AM
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On the draft thing, my dad has vivid memories of having "just barely missed" the draft (he was born in '55, so he would've been 18 in '73). I gather that he saw a fair number of older kids in the neighborhood ship out and not make it back, hence the anxiety. But the funny part is, my dad has only one arm; always has. And I'm pretty sure they were never gonna send the already-one-armed guy over there, but he's got the anxiety nonetheless. It's odd.

everyone knew all the details of OJ's trial.

I still recall when they broke in over the PA system in middle school to announce the verdict. What the hell?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:17 AM
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Somewhere in there the person must have something interesting to say, if you keep questioning.

"Arent I attractive?"

"Do you think I am handsome or just cute?"

"Isnt my ex-wife a bitch?"

"Seriouslu, my ex-wife is a bitch, dont you agree?"

"My boss is such a jerk, don't you agree?"

"Could the weather be any worse??!?"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:18 AM
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Really? I suppose this could be true in general, but maybe some people are just boring.

It's certainly true that there are some people where I can never find that interesting nugget. But I suspect them of being unwilling to play along. More often people get really into sharing about something totally boring.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:18 AM
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I suppose everyone has seen Sergeant York (Gary Cooper)? That scene, at the beginning, with the rural Appalachian townsfolk completely unaware that WWI was being fought? I knew a guy in college who grew up in an isolated small town in rural Kentucky (a "hollar" is the common term, used by residents and not meant deprecatingly), whose home town was exactly like that. (That was his description, but I visited the town with him one time, and the description struck me as appropriate.) Newspapers were available, but no one read them. Televisions were around (though that wouldn't generally have been true in the 60s), but not often tuned to news. Most people received most of their news orally from other townsfolk, mostly either at church or the general store.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:19 AM
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I still recall when they broke in over the PA system in middle school to announce the verdict.

Remembering again that I'm a withered old crone. Middle school?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:19 AM
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I was in fifth grade. We listened to the verdict live on the radio in class.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:21 AM
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80: Proof once again that the US is a fundamentally unserious nation. This country desperately needs adult supervision.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:23 AM
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72: People are not boring because there is nothing interesting about them. It may be because what they find exciting and fascinating is boring to you. Or it may be because they are trying to be boring -- they don't want to bring up anything that might offend anyone and/or they don't want to reveal any of their secrets.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:25 AM
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Perhaps this is obvious, but the point of 78 was that Heebie's story does not strike me as implausible.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:26 AM
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81 is a parody of 2003-4 era blogging, yes?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:27 AM
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Or it may be because they are trying to be boring -- they don't want to bring up anything that might offend anyone and/or they don't want to reveal any of their secrets.

This is usually me in those contexts. So yeah, I don't really want to defend the "maybe some people are just boring" position too strongly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:27 AM
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I had a friend who was a particle physicist at Los Alamos. His mom was obsessed with the OJ murders, and asked my friend what he thought of the whole thing. He said "Who's OJ?", to which his mom said, "You're going to be on the jury."


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:28 AM
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Particular interpersonal interest, rather than "what do you do" or "have you seen or read this", yes, I think that the frequency of intentional false signals is higher for young women.

Fake it till you make it for a new acquaintance? Maybe, but why?

re:74, I wouldn't know because I am never boring. But now that you mention it, I have noticed that women will good-naturedly mock me a few paragraphs into ergodicity or allele frequency where men simply walk away or look glazed.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:29 AM
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Some people totally are boring. Objectively.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:32 AM
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79: Don't feel bad, LB. Teo is just unnaturally young.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:33 AM
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On the other hand, everyone knew all the details of OJ's trial.

The day the verdict came down, the Washington Post put out a special afternoon edition. I didn't actually hear anyone saying, "Extra! Extra!" but they were handing them out for free on street corners.

On the bus that day there was pretty much no conversation about anything else; lots of group discussions among strangers and an absolute presumption of innocence and sense of vindication (by people who were willing to speak up, anyway, of which there were many).

Also, seriously? A special edition? That was 1994 and Googling reveals that the Post didn't publish another one until September 11th. Before that it was probably V-E Day.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:33 AM
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yes, I think that the frequency of intentional false signals is higher for young women.

Even outside of genuine interest in the person that's not matched by interest in what they're saying (the situation I identified in 74), I think signals of disinterest are interpreted as more hostile and disrespectful from a young woman than from an older person, or a young man. So young women are more likely to fake interest to be polite, where a man would be more likely to believe he could pull off "Shut up about the boring stuff you want to drone on about, and listen to the boring stuff I want to drone on about," without having the conversation turn actively hostile.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:35 AM
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The only major event I remember them breaking into instruction in school for was when the Challenger blew up.

Also, seriously? A special edition? That was 1994 and Googling reveals that the Post didn't publish another one until September 11th. Before that it was probably V-E Day.

I suspect the Kennedy assassination may have merited one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:36 AM
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88: I am not arguing that there are not boring people. That would be denying my own existence!

I am just saying that even the most boring people probably are interesting in some way.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:37 AM
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I am just saying that even the most boring people probably are interesting in some way.

But if that's the case, they aren't actually boring people, are they?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:39 AM
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I yearned to know nothing about OJ, but my girlfriend at the time wouldn't shut about it. We had an agreed quota of how long she would talk about it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:39 AM
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84: Yes. -ish. Parody on the square, as it were.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:47 AM
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94: No. They're still boring. The fact they there is some interesting about them that you'll probably never find out doesn't change that.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:49 AM
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97: Sounds like an emic/etic distinction issue.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:50 AM
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I don't know if I can explain this, or if you'll believe it, but in the Middle America blue-to-pink collar would in which I grew up during the 60s, the Civil Rights events and the Vietnam War were really just not a very big deal.

All our fathers & uncles had served, the vast majority had seen combat, and (obviously) all that we knew had come back. Military service was absolutely taken for granted;most of the guys I knew enlisted. About a third went to Europe or some other safer duty. Of those who went to Vietnam half did not see combat...logistics or whatever.

Most of the discussions with the vets I remember were partying, foreign women, officers and regular army, and then war. Military service was a temp job, a rite of passage. Maybe we were in denial.

Keep this in mind. 5 million (?) men in uniform (x% different men every year) of which at peak 50k died in combat in a year. That's 1%.

It took the entire 60s to move from "taken for granted" to "interesting and dangerous."

Low level war was also pretty much taken for granted. I can see this kid not paying attention, because my group watched tv and read newspapers and basketball was vastly more important to us.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:57 AM
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Fake it till you make it for a new acquaintance? Maybe, but why?

Because you're stuck at a math conference and that's what polite people do in such situations?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 9:57 AM
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Everything is equally interesting.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:01 AM
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97: Sounds like an emic/etic distinction issue.

More like emetic amirite.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:03 AM
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fake interest to be polite, conference

Oh, I see. I wasn't talking about polite young people at conferences, middle aged guys would have to be delusional to interpret that as a real personal interest. The joke I responded to was telling lies to young women, which I interpreted as going out to bars or something, a circumstance where everyone is free to walk away and there is no shared interest to serve as centripetal force. That's the context I was thinking about.

Yes, when you're talking with colleagues, conference-goers, strangers in airports, you fake interest. Especially at conferences, the person actually has something interesting to say pretty often.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:04 AM
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If this kid was from the Southern Appalachia (not so sure about the Northern third or fourth) I guarantee he was like me, and barely knew anubody who had not worn a uniform or seen combat. That is the context in which you should put his ignorance.

What, do you think we teenagers paid attention to Santa Domingo or Central Africa or dustups in the DMZ? Or wherever LBJ was playing with his toys this month.

As far as Civil Rights goes, I lived in a sundown town. We were less urbanized in 1965, and in large swaths of the country de facto segregated. Riots and marches happened somewhere else, and were only vaguely interesting.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:12 AM
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99: In the blue-to-pink collar world of my parents, avoiding the Vietnam War was job #1. The attitude of their parents, who had served either in the Army or a factory during WWII, was that they had done their part for their country, and their country had no right to ask their kids to serve too.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:13 AM
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I find the guy's story completely implausible, frankly. And Bob's defense of it equally implausible. Just because serving in the military is the norm in some communities doesn't mean a war can range for a decade and the average community member not know about it. If your community is riddled with people actually serving, I'd be very f'cking surprised if you'd not know about it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:26 AM
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My elementary-school teacher wheeled out the TV to show us the OJ verdict, which was quite unprecedented since we were a Montessori school; the TV was only used to watch videos very occasionally.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:34 AM
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I'm with nattargrammat. I note from the link in 42 that the college in question has a television studio. Did they have a television studio back in the 60s, producing programs for the single campus television? I'm beginning to suspect a mind-control experiment.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:34 AM
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Literally never heard of is, I admit, implausible.

Failed to pay attention to enough such that finding out when he got drafted that he was getting sent to Vietnam was a major surprise? That I could see.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:38 AM
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I was pretty surprised following the link in 42 that we weren't talking about some hut up a mountain. Colour me even more sceptical.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:39 AM
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106:Oh, he may have vaguely heard of it, but like Santa Domingo, just one more little action on the edge of his consciousness.

Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Mid East things:it is probably no longer comprehensible the degree to which the US and the world was at war, and had been at war all our lives. Could go nuclear at any moment. Ho-hum.

It was background to getting a degree, job, wife, house kids. I had relatives in the National Guard and ROTC, but they wanted to not take the long military break or get good position. The student deferment until Nixon was mostly about getting an education, and not going to college in your mid-twenties.

How much attention is most of America paying to Afghanistan? If Obama sent a brigade into Pakistan, would Middle America drop everything.

Yes, Vietnam was bigger and more dangerous, but until the late 60s, not that much bigger and more dangerous.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:43 AM
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54 gets it exactly right.

I forget which historian of the region said (paraphrased) that Appalachia was a different country until the 1970s, when television overtook the church as the dominant social influence.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:43 AM
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110: Srsly. It's not some hovel in the holler, it's a four-year liberal arts college, for crying out loud. Only a psychological aberration on the guy's part could make it plausible.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:44 AM
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I wonder if it's not something he's convinced himself of. Like Vietnam really was background-interference-level news at the time, but the story he's told himself about it over the years has drifted towards "I'd never heard of it." One of those "once caught a fish this big" type stories.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:48 AM
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Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Mid East things:it is probably no longer comprehensible the degree to which the US and the world was at war, and had been at war all our lives.

What? And this has changed, how? I'm not buying Appalachia as Sparta ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:48 AM
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Yes, but I'm just underscoring the degree to which college students can ignore the news, even when there's a TV in every room and newspapers available. This place did not have TVs anywhere, and so if you and your nerdy math friends didn't work hard to seek out the news, it didn't make it onto your radar.

I'm not denying that this guy's experience may have been particularly insulated, and that mine may have been unusually cosmopolitan (for want of a better word) but, still, it's so far from my college experience that I'm struggling to get my head around it. I'm not saying our experiences would have been remotely comparable, but it would have been literally impossible to go through even a month of my university education without encountering something about "Vietnam" (read Kosovo or Afghanistan for my cohort), even if you were actively trying to ignore all news. I'm a news reporter now, and I'm probably less bombarded by news outside my specialist field now than I was at university.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:49 AM
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Yes, Vietnam was bigger and more dangerous, but until the late 60s, not that much bigger and more dangerous.

And, indeed, the late 60s are when we're talking about.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:50 AM
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In the age of the $59 Walmart special, it's hard to appreciate how much of a luxury a television was in 1969. True, it was a widely available luxury, but a luxury nonetheless.

The conservative law-and-order trope about convicts in prison getting to watch color television at taxpayer expense, which anachronistically survives into the present day, resonated in the age of Nixon precisely because buying a color television was such a significant expenditure.

Add to that the fact that broad swathes of Appalachia got very poor terrestrial reception before the advent of the satellite dish (perhaps no reception at all if you lived deep in a holler) and you begin to imagine how a college student could really be that isolated from the world of Walter Cronkite.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:51 AM
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re: 118

The college is very much not a tin shack in a holler.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:54 AM
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So maybe they didn't watch teevee in Appalachia. But then they go to their buddy's wedding at the VFW and run into a bitter vet, and the next thing you know they're over there and it's hell. I've seen this.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:55 AM
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I always feel a little frisson when I have their/they're/there in a single sentence.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 10:57 AM
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The college is very much not a tin shack in a holler.

It hasn't been specified which college we're talking about, but if I think of some of the usual suspects that fit the description it doesn't seem totally implausible to me. YMMV.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:00 AM
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I don't know. My grandparents lived in the North Carolina mountains, in a community of artists, and even there the isolation was striking ... and this was in the 90s. My grandfather did Meals on Wheels and I accompanied him and most of the homes we went to lacked a visible tv (it could have been in the bedroom, I suppose). But these were homes with dirt floors and outhouses, still. (Also largely occupied by the elderly, which could explain the aversion to tv.) Basically, I'm totally waffling on whether or not to believe the dude's story.

I do find it implausible that someone would not be aware of a war that they might have to go to, but then again, my dad dropped out of college (University of Kansas) seemingly unaware that that put him at risk for being drafted (and indeed, he ended up enlisting in the navy to get out of being drafted in the army).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:01 AM
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119: But do not mistake the 2010 manifestation of the college for the 1960s one. (That said, I do think this was undoubtedly a somewhat embellished story.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:02 AM
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re: 122

It was specified above in 42. It's a liberal arts college with a couple of thousand students. 3 or 4 years at a liberal arts college, in the late 60s, and not heard of the Vietnam War? Bollocks.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:03 AM
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Look out, Mama, there's a white boat comin' up the river
With a big red beacon, and a flag, and a man on the rail
I think you'd better call John,
Cause it don't look like they're here to deliver the mail


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:06 AM
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125: I missed 42. Thanks for pointing that out to me. That one fits right in with the profile of the others.

I obviously don't know whether the guy is telling the literal truth or not, but the story doesn't strike me as implausible on its face given the location.

I should ask my father, who taught HS in the region at the time, whether his students showed any widespread awareness of the prospect of being drafted and sent to Vietnam.

Rick Perlstein is excellent on recreating the world of 1969 as it was experienced by the "silent majority". Vietnam was just not as salient a concern at the time -- even in 1969, once you get outside the cosmopolitan university towns -- as it appears in retrospect.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:10 AM
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I'd go with the "something he's by now convinced himself of" line. While he may in fact have been aware of it by late college age, it just wasn't very important, and the latter fact has rewritten itself to become the claim that he'd never even heard of it.

This kind of thing happens as you get older: you simply forget when exactly something or other became present for you. In this case the guy may be making more of a negative claim: not only was I not marching in the streets as everyone else apparently was, I hadn't even heard of the matter!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:10 AM
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113
Only a psychological aberration on the guy's part could make it plausible.

That's very plausible. There are a lot of crazy, stupid people out there. Not Always Right is very often good for a laugh, and it's (theoretically, at least, allowing for biased narrators and all that) all true. I think Scott Adams also had something about how even supposedly smart people can be relied upon to do stupid stuff.

121: Ooo, that reminds me of a pun on the name of someone I know. I'll have to try to work it into conversation at some point.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:11 AM
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125: I don't want to push back too strongly against your notion that the guy is mistaken about his own past, because frankly I do believe that just may be the case, but don't underestimate how much higher education in the last 40 years has changed. For one, I'm sure the school was a lot smaller in the 60s, and two, the idea of what a college education should be and the experience of living at college (the whole in loco parentis thing) has changed so much over the years. And this is America. Shouldn't you be unsurprised at how ignorant we can be?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:11 AM
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Complete agreement with 130. The guy could certainly be mistaken or embellishing, but that a math major at a Baptist college in Tennessee in the 60s was unaware of pretty much anything seems plausible to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:14 AM
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And the college kept losing football games because they didn't know about the forward pass.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:22 AM
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||
I just found (and joined) Virginians in Support of Nat Turner Day on Facebook. I'd been toying with the idea of starting such a group myself in response to Confederate History Month, so I'm glad someone stepped up.
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:24 AM
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You know, lying to make a better story is just not that rare. I have had multiple people swear that they know the guy who was there the night they brought in Richard Gere...


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:25 AM
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Oh. Baptist college. I hadn't actually clicked through to the link to the actual college that heebie provided.

I'm trying to think what an analogous scenario in this day might be. There may simply not be one, given the overwhelming presence of TV now. On the other hand, how many of us here watch (for news) nothing but the local nightly news broadcast? I think that all you get there is, well, local stuff about a water main break and so on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:25 AM
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The college is very much not a tin shack in a holler.

This is wildly underestimating what a Biblical college can be like and could be like, in the middle of the Appalachian mountains, in the 1960s. Whether or not this guy's story checks out, I seriously doubt that ttaM and others are grasping Appalachia back then.

He also said that dancing wasn't allowed back then, but we interviewed a candidate who went to a no-dancing school in the past decade, so this is no biggie for fundies.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:29 AM
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Maybe relatedly, I made a reference to the Abrahamic religions the other day and completely baffled a recently graduated U.Va. alum who's an engineer. He'd simply never heard of the concept that there was some commonality among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, despite having been raised (in Appalachia; specifically, Shenandoah Valley) as a rather devout Methodist.

I was stunned. Like, okay, maybe they left out the Muslims thing, but really? You didn't notice that the Jews kept showing up in the stories?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:30 AM
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I should ask my father, who taught HS in the region at the time, whether his students showed any widespread awareness of the prospect of being drafted and sent to Vietnam.

I don't think anyone's questioning the plausibility of ignorance about the likelihood of being drafted. It's the idea that he wasn't aware the war was going on (or the civil rights movement, the year after RFK and MLK were shot) at all.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:30 AM
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I think I've met this same guy. If I recall correctly, he told me that life is like a box of chocolates. He was also weirdly good at ping-pong.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:34 AM
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135: Someone in college in 2004 that didn't know about 9/11 or the the War in Iraq?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:34 AM
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137: That's not at all surprising. You've just been spoiled by hanging out with us.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:36 AM
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140: Except that's why there's no analogy, right? The times have a-changed. No college student is without a TV and an e-mail address.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:37 AM
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You didn't notice that the Jews kept showing up in the stories?

I love this.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:37 AM
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asemitism?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:41 AM
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141: Possibly related -- I think this has come up here before -- are there others here that met somebody in college that genuinely believed that Jews had horns?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:42 AM
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122: It can't really be the first of those, can it? Don't they have an explicit social justice mission, so much so that, nevermind Viet Nam, it would, I think, be impossible to emerge from there with no notion of the Civil Rights Movement.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:42 AM
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140: Yeah. I dunno. There are those in this country who are convinced that Obama is a muslim terrorist (the antichrist, even), that some combination of communism/socialism/fascism is ascendant among our leaders, and that, uh, Sarah Palin is an expert on foreign policy because she can see Russia from Alaska.

The shape of the failure of knowledge would be different now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:43 AM
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146: Ah, I see the college was linked even higher up. OK!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:47 AM
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147: Sure.

At this very moment someone out there is amazed that so many of his fellow Americans still believe that slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:50 AM
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There is a great deal of willful ignorance, still. I may have told the story before of my shock at learning a few years ago that a friend didn't realize that there are two houses of congress: House of Representatives, and Senate. He thought surely it's just one thing, you know, Congress; he knew about the separation of powers, checks and balances, Executive and Legislative and Judicial branches.

My conclusion from that exchange was that while he'd read and listened to a lot of news, and could carry on a decent conversation, there was a lot of detail that he was just letting go right over his head.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:51 AM
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Sarah Palin is an expert on foreign policy because she can see Russia from Alaska

I'm amused that this line has taken on general public awareness, but I have to keep reminding myself that Palin didn't actually say that. It was Tina Fey, doing a Palin impression, who said the Russia line, wasn't it?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 11:58 AM
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Someone in college in 2004 that didn't know about 9/11 or the the War in Iraq?

Given the time and place, it would be closer to someone in college in 2010 who doesn't know we're at war in Afghanistan. And I'll bet you can find plenty of those.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:02 PM
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151: Oh, how naive. Here's something Palin said on that topic: "As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border."

So while, no, she never uttered the string of words "you can see Russia from my house" or something, she did indeed base her foreign policy credentials on the claim that flights between Russia and the USA pass over Alaska.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:03 PM
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153: Now that you mention it, the "rears his head" thing rings a bell. God, I hope she wins the GOP nod for 2012.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:05 PM
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The question I would like to ask this guy is whether he had heard of the Beatles.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:06 PM
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151: Oh, was it? Oops, sorry.

Before I let go of this line of thought, which is probably a little obnoxious, there's also someone another friend's son knows -- the son is in the military, aged about 27 -- one of the son's fellow army members (from the south somewhere) thought that Canada was a city.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:07 PM
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156: It is a city! http://www.ci.little-canada.mn.us/


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:09 PM
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155: My parents know who the Beatles are, but I doubt they'd recognize a single song.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:10 PM
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in Appalachia; specifically, Shenandoah Valley

Small nit to pick: the Shenandoah Valley is not part of Appalachia by most relevant definitions. The geographic remit of the Appalachian Regional Commission, which is defined pretty broadly for political reasons, touches the Shenandoah Valley only in a tiny swathe of Rockbridge County. And even that is a stretch under the commonsense cultural definition of Appalachia: the milieu of Washington & Lee is a world apart from the other side of the Alleghenies.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:10 PM
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I did spend some time in rural Appalachian Kentucky and Tennessee in the late 60s (I was in my early teens). In the latter state I was just northwest of the college in question. It certainly was a rather insular environment with the most remote parts consisting of walk-in hollers, and stuff that really was "Powderfingerish" along the remote stretches of the Clinch and Powell Rivers. (I was with a traveling church "Health Fair" and some folks showed up from homes accessible only by water or footpath not having been to a doctor in years or ever.) But there was a fair degree of variability even within the rural counties depending how close you were to the state road. So all of that said, I still vote embellishment. A lot of folks in the military and awareness of Vietnam among those I interacted with. The Civil Rights stuff I am more inclined to credit. Was he perhaps talking only about the Vietnam War protest movement?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:11 PM
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150: one of the major UK newspapers had a US correspondent in the mid-90s who had enormous trouble separating out the Senate and House - I think he was dimly aware that there were two bodies and two sets of titles but didn't really see why Senator McCarthy couldn't have sat on the House Unamerican Activities Committee.

On the broader question of this guy's lack of world knowledge. There's a great book by John Gaventa (Power and Powerlessness) that addresses a community that must be very close to this guy's college (ie appalachia near Knoxville - a little googling doesn't seem to clarify exactly where the Gaventa study was). Gaventa talks (IIRC) a bit about how as late as the 1970s the local media were either owned by or allied with mine owners such that nothing would be reported that might angry up the blood in any way.

My fav stylised fact about that sort of thing is from a footnote in NYT v Sullivan - in 1960, under 400 copies of the New York Times were distributed daily in the whole of Alabama (popn 3.3 million).


Posted by: Abelard | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:12 PM
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156: A friend reported that a fellow incoming freshman asked her sincerely, on hearing that she was from Vermont, "Is that in Delaware?" This was at Princeton.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:14 PM
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151: She didn't say she could see it from her house, but she did say that one could see Russia from Alaska (and implied that she had), but apparently this is only vaguely true for some extremely remote (and possibly uninhabited?) Alaskan island.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:16 PM
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I could see a Russian deli from my house if other people wouldn't have built their houses in my line of sight.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:19 PM
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159: I paused with doubt as I typed that. Corrective noted with appreciation.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:20 PM
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I know a ton about foreign policy: you can see Canada from my house! I mean, assuming that by "Canada" you mean "Boston".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:24 PM
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151: Palin did say that. From an interview with Charles Gibson, in September 2008:

GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

PALIN: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:26 PM
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I can see Russia on TV in my house. Sometimes, anyway.

Also I can see it on my globe and in my atlas in my house.

I am qualified!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:26 PM
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163: From Little Diomede, which is part of Alaska, you can see Big Diomede, which is part of Russia. There's a Yupik village on Little Diomede.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:27 PM
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166: That's silly, Sifu. Canada's not a foreign country. It's the part of America where we keep all the moose and free healthcare.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:27 PM
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I once found a dead moose in my furnace filter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:36 PM
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I killed the blog with a bad vowel joke?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:42 PM
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145: Yes.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:43 PM
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145: When my Dad was about seven years old he mortified his parents by walking up to a Catholic Nun and asking her to take off her hat so he could see her horns.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:51 PM
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The roommate of an acquaintance apparently was unaware who was President last year (hint: it was mostly the same as this year) and had never heard of Social Security, thus was surprised that her pay was less than she expected.

She is a post-doctoral researcher.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:55 PM
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I met someone in college who had never met a Jew before, but to the best of my knowledge he didn't think we'd have horns.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 12:55 PM
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174: Does anyone know where he got the idea Catholics (or maybe just nuns?) have horns?

I blame Michelangelo for the Jews have horns thing -- http://www.usm.maine.edu/~rabrams/michelangeloMoses.jpg

(of course, David and Jesus were Jewish too, and he doesn't depict them with horns)


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:04 PM
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The horns thing is so weird. Mormons love telling stories about people thinking Mormons have horns.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:05 PM
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174: Michelangelo's David was why I thought Jews were 20 feet tall.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:08 PM
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179 to 174. Sorry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:08 PM
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Semi-on-topic. I am curious as to the identity of the posh remotely-situated Christian liberal arts college with the Atlas/Jesus sculpture where this alleged jazz-backgrounded pre-non-alcoholic cocktail hour conversation took place. No good reason and I realize you may not want to come right out and spill it here. So maybe leave it as a riddle.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:11 PM
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I know someone who works as staff at C-N, and he says it's not crazy, at least as compared to places like this. On the other hand, he's an ev. Xian, so his calibration may differ from my own. (And of course, 40 years ago things could have been very different.)

In other news, Standpipe is a trend-setter:

Younger audiences are starting to warm to the stand-up style, with a Chinese twist. There are footnotes: after the punch line comes an explanation of why it's funny.

Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:12 PM
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Mormons love telling stories about people thinking Mormons have horns.

An easily cleared up misunderstanding. What people really think is that Mormons are unusually horny.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:12 PM
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When I was a freshman in college, one of my fellow freshmen thought that Connecticut was between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I wouldn't have found this that surprising, except she was from New York City.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:17 PM
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182.1: ?? Not following your qualifying statements given the original judgment of "not crazy".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:20 PM
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184: Nothing comes between me and my new jersey.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:21 PM
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177: Sunday School. Seriously. Fundamentalists have no problem lying to children, and in fact seem to consider it something of a mitzvah if it throws up barriers to doubt. I don't know how widespread that particular lie was, but it fits in well with the notion that the Pope is the Anti-Christ.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:22 PM
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Della wore my new jersey ... boyz


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:24 PM
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When we were kids my dad drove me and my sister through part of West Los Angeles that we didn't usually have occasion to visit, and my sister was amazed to see all the "Amish" who lived in the area.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:27 PM
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185: My source characterizes C-N as not crazy and invokes JBC by way of comparison (as a place he considers over-the-top in religiosity). Certainly I accept his comparative judgment. But, given his beliefs, I (and others similarly situated) might, upon further investigation, adjudge C-N to be nutty too, even if less so than JBC.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:35 PM
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190: OK, got it. I misread the "it's" reference (thought it referred to the story even though that rendered the 2nd part of the sentence off). Makes sense now.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:53 PM
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I'm sure C-N is basically a sound university. There are plenty of schools with decent departments that don't overlap with theology in any way, and then that have tensions around their biology department.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:54 PM
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I am curious as to the identity of the posh remotely-situated Christian liberal arts college with the Atlas/Jesus sculpture where this alleged jazz-backgrounded pre-non-alcoholic cocktail hour conversation took place. No good reason and I realize you may not want to come right out and spill it here. So maybe leave it as a riddle.

How about a riddle called check out my personal blog?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 1:55 PM
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184: A few years ago I asked a business contact to send me a package at my home address instead of the office. When I gave her the address, she was shocked, "you work in Philadelphia, but you live in NEW JERSEY?!?" If I were quick-witted, I would have replied, "I'm a really strong swimmer." Philadelphia is across the Delaware River from New Jersey. There have been regular ferries since about 1630, and bridges for the past century or so.


This business contact was in Baltimore, almost in commuting distance from either home or office.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:00 PM
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Hah! That was what I was going to guess ... honest.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:02 PM
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194: Do you live in New Jersey so you can buy beer in grocery stores?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:03 PM
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Huh. I could almost see a (dimwitted, clueless) New Yorker saying that: Jersey is right across the river, while Philly is far away. But someone who was more Philly than NY-aware, it is pretty inexplicable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:03 PM
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195->193


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:04 PM
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195: Have you been there? Isn't it swanky?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:04 PM
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194: I admit to having had a similar reaction one time in Philly. My band had just played a warehouse party, and it was time to head back to Virginia at like six in the morning, and a bandmate was missing. We finally got him on the phone with a reaction of, "YOU WENT TO NEW JERSEY WITH SOME RANDOM GIRLS?!?! Oh. But you'll be back in ten minutes. Okay. Cool. See you then."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:05 PM
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192: Although it did kind of make me think of Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock, an alumnus of the "Kentucky Mountain Bible College." "Science was my favorite subject. Especially the Old Testament."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:05 PM
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I've mentioned a geographically clueless neighbor.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:08 PM
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I think I'd like some media isolation right about now.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_pulitzers

"The Post also won in commentary for Kathleen Parker's witty columns on political and moral issues..."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:13 PM
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196: By buying beer, liquor, and gas in New Jersey, and cigarettes in Philly, I can make enough to quit the job. Except that if I quit the job I wouldn't have any occasion to keep crossing the bridges.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:14 PM
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Do you live in New Jersey so you can buy beer in grocery stores?

I'm guessing no.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:15 PM
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Huh. I could almost see a (dimwitted, clueless) New Yorker saying that: Jersey is right across the river, while Philly is far away. But someone who was more Philly than NY-aware, it is pretty inexplicable.

Well, from a Baltimore perspective Philly is pretty close, but Jersey probably sounds far. So maybe the same mistake, just with the places switched.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:16 PM
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You lot wouldn't have this problem if you hadn't cluttered up the east coast with all those dinky little states.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:18 PM
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True.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:19 PM
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204: Gas is cheaper in NJ? I wouldn't have guess that what with the attendants and all.

As for crossing bridges, I'm starting to get nervous. I cross this bridge twice a day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:22 PM
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Gas is cheaper in NJ. NJ liquor laws are also less insane than PA ones (which isn't saying much), but you still can't buy beer in grocery stores.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:24 PM
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I'm pretty sure falling concrete is considered a bad sign in the engineering business.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:25 PM
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Right with you, NPH and Teo.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:26 PM
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210: I guess I just assumed everybody but PA and Utah allowed beer sales from grocery stores.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:27 PM
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I'm pretty sure falling concrete is considered a bad sign in the engineering business.

Hang on, now that Megan's here let's get her perspective before we jump to any hasty conclusions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:28 PM
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213: Nope. I think some of the New England states don't either.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:28 PM
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211: Unless you're a weapons engineer.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:28 PM
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I guess I just assumed everybody but PA and Utah allowed beer sales from grocery stores.

That's how you can tell a place is backwards, 'cause even Utah has beer sales in grocery stores.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:29 PM
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In another tale of NJ-related embarrassment, I once spirited the band vehicle south on the Garden State Parkway for a full hour before realizing that (1) we were going South and (2) we were on the GSP and not the Turnpike. This was bad, because the intended destination was New York City.

On the other hand, I didn't have to drive any more on that tour after that mishap.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:30 PM
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MA technically allows beer (and wine) sales in grocery stores, but a single company/owner can only do so at 3 locations in the state, so in practice most big grocery chains don't carry any.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:31 PM
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That's how you can tell a place is backwards, 'cause even Utah has beer sales in grocery stores.

It's almost as if those laws were driven more by the interests of incumbent beer-sellers than by moral concerns!


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:32 PM
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You lot wouldn't have this problem if you hadn't cluttered up the east coast with all those dinky little states.

Indeed, dinky little states are best plunked down in the middle of the Central Pacific somewhere.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:33 PM
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221: Somebody has been trying to do that to RI lately.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:34 PM
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218: Heh. I've found that navigating around NJ, especially by car, is absurdly difficult and confusing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:35 PM
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207: It's not our fault. The British did it to us.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:36 PM
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222: Well, it does claim to be an island. Let's see if that sumbitch can float!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:36 PM
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224: Also the Dutch and the Swedes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:37 PM
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Some places even sell liquor in grocery stores.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:37 PM
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But, if concrete keeps falling from a bridge such that they put up netting, then a solid roof over the road below the bridge, and then they still put up more netting seven years after the roof, should I start going a different way? And when they do crash test ratings, do they check what happens in a 'sixty feet straight down' collision?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:37 PM
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221: Touche, but there is a certain amount of geographical logic here that is less obvious in the eastern states.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:39 PM
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The Spanish were more about setting up huge, sprawling territories over which they had little effective control.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:40 PM
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I think some of the New England states don't either.

Only Rhode Island, apparently.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:41 PM
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when they do crash test ratings, do they check what happens in a 'sixty feet straight down' collision?

Six feet is perfectly sufficient if you're unlucky.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:41 PM
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225: Float s/b capsize


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:41 PM
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228: Have you considered installing an ejection seat in your car?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:43 PM
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232: You misunderstand. I'm driving on the bridge that is dropping cement, not the road onto which it is being dropped. (I mean, I take the road that has cement dropping on it, but not as often.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:44 PM
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228: Buy one of those tools with the seat belt cutter and window smasher on it. Leave it at home, because chances are you won't be able to find it in the event of an accident, and looking for it will just delay you in getting right with God before the end.

I hope this helps.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:44 PM
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Maybe I should just put some lead weights in the front of the car so that it will go nose-down more rapidly. There is an airbag that way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:46 PM
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Speaking of liquor laws, I'm beginning to suspect that our new governor is not the brightest individual in the state:

McDonnell has already tripped up on this one by suggesting he can replenish the state road fund by selling state ABC [liquor] stores.

Yeah! Get those tax-dollar-earning freeloaders off my back!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:48 PM
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237: How about one of those parachutes like they have in the back of drag racers?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:48 PM
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Some folks seem not to have been in a grocery store in Maryland: No beer. In DC, I think it's only one store of a chain.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:49 PM
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238: You trade a steady revenue stream for a big chunk of cash now. From the point of view of any elected official, it means you get to spend the tax money that would have been raised by whoever comes after you. You should certainly oppose it, but nobody does it out of stupidity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:53 PM
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Pittsburgh has sold its water works and is about to sell its parking. This is not unrelated to the bridge dropping chunks of cement.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 2:56 PM
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191: No problem.

In TN, liquor stores cannot sell non-alcoholic beverages. Annoying!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 3:07 PM
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195: Have you been there? Isn't it swanky?

No, I just was trying to use my mad college knowledge skillz plus your clues to hone in* on the place since I was intrigued by the Atlas/Jesus statue. And here's the story on that. Martin was inspired to create the piece when he saw the sculpture "Atlas," in front of Rockefeller Center on a Spring Break Campaign** to New York City. and "Each person may take something different from viewing the statue," Martin said. "Basically, it is an image of Christ bearing the burden of the world's sins."

*LB wrote me a personal note granting me permission to use this phrase.

**The campaign failed when Grant beat them back at Riverside Park. (Actually, I think it was a christian service campaigns.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 3:21 PM
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177: This internet rabbi says the Jews-have-horns myth goes back to the Vulgate Bible in the 5th century, which took a passage which meant "Moses's face was shining" and translated it "Moses's head grew horns." I remember reading elsewhere that it was very common in ancient and medieval Europe for people to believe Jews had horns.

In any case the current stories that Catholics and/or Mormons have horns are clearly copied from the original myth about Jews.

I think we should start a rumor that Scientologists have tails.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 3:30 PM
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240: When I was in college, 7-11s in MD sold beer. They weren't allowed to sell it between 2-4am, I think, as I remember sitting on the floor waiting for it to turn 4 once.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 3:31 PM
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What Mormons have is some seriously annoying graduation speakers.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 3:34 PM
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MD's a bit weird - there's variation in alcohol policy by county. Montgomery County, I believe, maintains a monopoly on hard liquor sales, the only county in the country to do so.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 3:36 PM
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MD is more confusing than that and varies by county-- locally owned groceries or something get to sell beer. Also one 7-11 in MoCo and at least one Giant in PG. But no national chains. Not in Bmore either.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 3:37 PM
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247: We had Muhammad Yunus.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 3:52 PM
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This was someone named Quentin Cook, who's apparently a big shot in the church. Not really horrible by graduation speaker standards, but more authoritarianism and such than I was really looking for on an otherwise lovely Saturday morning.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 4:11 PM
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244: And with regard to your impression of the general locale per your personal blog, might be a good opportunity to read The Wind which was set not too far west of there (or see the movie with Lilian Gish). "How could a frail, sensitive woman fight the wind... a ghost more terrible because invisible--that wailed to her across waste places in the night, calling to her like a demon lover?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 4:20 PM
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I don't think anyone's questioning the plausibility of ignorance about the likelihood of being drafted. It's the idea that he wasn't aware the war was going on (or the civil rights movement, the year after RFK and MLK were shot) at all.v

I'm tentatively siding with the "He failed to encode and retain news about world events that was passing through his community at the time," rather than deliberate lie or total ignorance.

However, I'm thinking back to the last few earnest young people I have met from small, rural religious colleges and goodness gracious did some of them have some serious gaps. So I don't know -- in an much more isolated setting, 40 years ago? Maybe he really didn't know.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:17 PM
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133: Me too! There are a couple more Virginia residents around here, right? Are you joining the group?

Maybe I shouldn't call myself a Virginian(1) but, oh well, I'm close enough for Facebook.

(1) I've only lived here for a little less than two years, and some places are persnickety about how long you have to live there to belong, and inside the beltway probably would never count to someone who cares about that kind of thing.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:25 PM
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So you live in the fake Virginia, is what you're saying.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:28 PM
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Him, George Washington, Robert E. Lee...


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:31 PM
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256: Frickin' communists.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:32 PM
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133, 254: Emerson started one called "Yankee Heritage: Honor the soldiers who put an end to slavery." Y'all facebook types should sign right up.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:42 PM
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re: 176

I'm pretty sure I was 20 before I met anyone who self-identified as Jewish and had been brought up with that identity. Before that I had one friend who'd been to Israel and learned Hebrew but he'd been brought up Church of Scotland and was only very very tenuously Jewish.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:44 PM
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So he hadn't grown his horns yet?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:46 PM
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They take a while to grow in.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:47 PM
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That would explain why he wore that hat.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 5:51 PM
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255: Yeah, that kind of thing, but Vermont is rife with jokes about how you aren't a real Vermonter unless you've been there for more than three generations and own a dairy farm or something, so I don't instinctively read the political subtext into comments about being a real whatever. In my last few years in the state I learned that it actually did matter more than I would have guessed when I was a kid, but the realness requirements are always phrased so stringently that it's impossible to take them seriously.

176, 259: Same here, probably not until I started college at 19. Through elementary and high school I had a classmate who was half-Jewish, but I don't think she was observant and I didn't know her well enough to be sure.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 6:12 PM
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It is hard to think of other explanations for wearing that hat.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 6:13 PM
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255. One of the high schools in Arlington, VA (the capital of not-really-VA) is Washington-Lee HS. An American friend of mine noted that it is not named after Denzel and Bruce.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 6:20 PM
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re: 263

Yeah, my friend had one Jewish grandparent, I think, but he went to Israel to visit a friend whose father was a Church of Scotland missionary/charity-worker, not to reconnect with any lost Jewish identity. Although after he came back, he definitely thought of 'Jewish' as at least part of his ethnic make-up.

I'm from a small town in Scotland. It wasn't as ethnically homogenous as people might think: quite a lot of Poles and Italians who'd settled before and after WWII, small numbers of pioneering Pakistani families moving out from the big cities, and so on, but no Jewish community.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 6:21 PM
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266 My mom was born in Edinburgh but her parents returned to Poland after the war. It's why I'm a UK citizen. She also says that she knew virtually no Jews, at least not consciously, until 1967-68 when many of friends got expelled from university or fired from their jobs. In at least one case that was the first they'd heard that they were Jewish.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 6:51 PM
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I haven't caught up with the thread, but some of the people in Harlan County, USA didn't have running water in their homes and that was 1976.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 6:56 PM
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I would not be surprised if he didn't know about Vietnam until after high school, and that his memory has confused high school for college.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:01 PM
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re: 267

My Dad grew up in the area in Glasgow that was the historic centre of Scotland's Jewish community, which, when he was a child, was still primarily urban and concentrated in one area. Much in the way that the East End of London was a similar locus, but isn't really any more.
Funnily enough, the major town near where I'm from had, at one time, three working men's clubs. And two of them were Polish [there was a 'Big Polish Club' and a 'Wee Polish Club'].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:16 PM
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I bet it was more like 'Wee! Polish Club!'. Polish people are so fun-loving and silly like that.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:18 PM
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"Wee! Shake club," works better if you want to keep things dry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-10 7:49 PM
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Belated, and I might repost this in a more active thread, but a relative of mine who grew up in Appalachian Tennessee, and was in exactly the same year-cohort, says "not a chance" to this guy's assertion. She says any male flunking or graduating college in 1969, there or anywhere, would be at instant jeopardy of being drafted, and it was a constant topic of conversation. In addition, the college in question is near Knoxville, which at the time had 3 network TV stations, so anyone at college would have been watching them.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-13-10 6:25 PM
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Was it over when the Germans bombed pearl harbor?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-13-10 9:21 PM
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