Re: In Which I Dump Links

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You win the prize for nested blockquotes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 1:47 PM
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The New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights wins the prize for "if that's a big improvement, we've got problems."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 1:50 PM
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Yeesh. I'm unfucking the formatting now.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 1:50 PM
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This seems like an appropriate thread for the following. Regulars might remember the case brought up by JRoth here. Last night I had the opportunity to speak to someone who knows the mother well and received an update on the proceedings, as well as further details that make some sense of the ex-boyfriend's motivations. In part I just wanted to share this info so as to have some company in my outrage, but there's also a bleg below that I'm hoping Witt or one of the lawyerly types might be able help with.

So, in no particular order:

(1) The ex-boyfriend has been awarded partial custody of the daughter (she'll live with him three days a week). He's appealed that decision, which implies, I suppose, that he's going after full custody, although I don't understand how that'd be legally possible. (My informant unfortunately didn't get into the legal details when talking with the mother.)

(2) The legal wrangling came about thusly: The mother had noticed that the daughter had begun to have nightmares. This didn't occasion much concern at first, but one night the daughter woke up sobbing that she didn't want to go to church and didn't want to live in the "princess room." After some coaxing it emerged that the ex-boyfriend had been taking the daughter to services without the mother's knowledge. Much more creepily, he'd recently bought a house in an affluent neighborhood near the mother's and as part of the renovations was preparing a room for the daughter; he'd been taking her to the house to show her the progress on what it seems he was describing to her as her "princess room." The next day the mother told the ex that she'd no longer allow him to spend time with the daughter unsupervised. He initiated legal proceedings that week.

(3) The ex had made expansive claims about the role he played in the daughter's life, which presented the mother with the difficulty of proving that, e.g., the boyfriend hadn't in fact regularly spent the night at her home. One such claim that she thought she could successfully dispute was the claim that he frequently picked the daughter up from school. As it happens, the Waldorf school the daughter attends will only allow a student to leave with an adult if they have written authorization from the parent or guardian. The principal of the school testified that they had no such authorization on file for the ex; he'd never have been allowed to take the child from school. Ex's counsel argued that the Waldorf school was a "hippie commune" interested in promoting "matriarchy," and so the principal's testimony should be discounted. The judge concurred.

(4) A social worker was supposed to observe the interaction between mother and daughter and make a report to the court. He missed the appointment because of a snowstorm but filed a report anyway, basing it on his receptionist's observation of the mother and daughter as they sat in the waiting room. A clinical psychologist who was present when I heard this story pointed out that not only should that report have been inadmissible, it was actually illegal for the social worker to have submitted it. Nevertheless, the judge accepted it. Apparently the mother lost her temper in front of the judge at that point and now has a contempt of court hearing.

(5) This is where the bleg comes in. The mother is now on her fourth lawyer. The first three resigned after she rejected their advice to settle. (One of those lawyers hired a private investigator to dig up information on the ex; he reported back that the ex was worth $51 million. The lawyer explained to the mother that she could settle, or the proceedings could continue until she was bankrupt, at point she would also have to settle.) She's had to hire someone from Philadelphia, as every other candidate lawyer she's contacted in Pittsburgh has turned out to have a conflict arising from a relationship with the ex, one of his lawyers, or the judge.

Are there any organizations that might provide the mother with legal representation? (She's not only going bankrupt; the representation she seems to have had so far as been much less effective than the ex-boyfriend's.) The case doesn't really present a civil liberties issue, so presumably neither the ACLU nor the Institute for Justice would be interested, but it can be framed as an issue of gender equity, I think.


Posted by: bizzah | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 1:55 PM
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For some reason the link to JRoth's recounting of the story is getting stripped from my comments.


Posted by: bizzah | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 1:56 PM
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5: Everyone's having a rough time formatting today. My sympathies.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 1:57 PM
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It seems to work now. This story is here.


Posted by: bizzah | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:08 PM
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I'm very interested in the follow-up, but I question the suitability of this thread to put it in. This thread just started and has a ton to unpack and talk about already.

So everybody be sure to discuss all possible facets of everything everywhere.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:12 PM
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Wow, that's awful. I've got no idea about getting pro bono representation in Pittsburgh -- if I were her I'd probably be talking to reporters, and see if I could turn media outrage into free representation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:13 PM
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She's talked to reporters at the local dailies, but there's not much interest.


Posted by: bizzah | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:14 PM
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10: That's so weird that it makes me wonder if there's some missing fact you (and her partisans generally) don't know that makes the story not outrageous. I can't think of what it would be, but I also can't imagine that this would be hard to get a columnist's attention with -- the story as we've heard it here is so bizarre.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:20 PM
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What is the equivalent of the Chicago Reader (or whatever) in Pgh? Because this seems like just their kind of story. Frankly it makes me want to call Gloria Allred or something.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:20 PM
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Googling suggests that it's the Pittsburgh City Paper. Didn't JRoth use to write restaurant reviews for them?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:23 PM
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I will look at the link, but you cannot discount a very real possibility: the facts might be against her.

Her version might just reflect rose-colored glasses, ignoring very important facts. Ive been involved in several similar cases where the person was someone able to enlist all sorts of allies based on his or her tale of woe. Unfortunately for them, the poor trampled-upon person was did not deserve custody.

Once again, I am making no comments about her actual situation, just a comment on the fact that people rarely own their own faults. They dont get custody bc of the system, or corruption, or their lawyer....never bc they are bad parents.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:23 PM
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Yep, he still does. I wonder if he'd know anyone at the paper who might write about the case.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:23 PM
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Fuck Howard Kurtz, fuck Reihan Salam, fuck William Saletan and all the other Beck apologists and contrarians. Christ, is that media circle jerk pissing me off. It's not enough that they've been taken in by this transparent mountebank; they're falling over themselves to gush over it and give the bigot-birther spokesman more publicity. Do you have to prove you're an invertebrate to get a job as a pundit?

(And fuck the judge and the boyfriend in 4.) GRR HULK SMASH


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:27 PM
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he reported back that the ex was worth $51 million

If true, doesn't that explain everything?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:30 PM
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If he's got partial custody and is worth $51 million, would be on the hook for some sort of child support payments? Not that she's necessarily interested in such a thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:33 PM
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13 gets it right.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:36 PM
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Christ, is that media circle jerk pissing me off.

No kidding. The guy veers back and forth between charlatanism and total lunacy and can get a bunch of broke-tooth mouthbreathers to show up and babble incoherent nonsense. Whoop-de-doo. Doesn't make him or his knuckle-dragging acolytes anything other than what they are. Hitchens is dead on here:

In a rather curious and confused way, some white people are starting almost to think like a minority, even like a persecuted one. What does it take to believe that Christianity is an endangered religion in America or that the name of Jesus is insufficiently spoken or appreciated? Who wakes up believing that there is no appreciation for our veterans and our armed forces and that without a noisy speech from Sarah Palin, their sacrifice would be scorned? It's not unfair to say that such grievances are purely and simply imaginary, which in turn leads one to ask what the real ones can be. The clue, surely, is furnished by the remainder of the speeches, which deny racial feeling so monotonously and vehemently as to draw attention.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:37 PM
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16: If you want to get angrier, check out these guys.. Even if the filmakers went out of their way to only interview the most moronic bigots at the Beck rally, it is still positively amazing that they could find such loser assholes.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:38 PM
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Though this is a class with economic grievances, it seems more concerned with psychic injuries

Maybe this is Salam's polite way of saying that they're fucking morons.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:39 PM
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Shit. Moron-pwned by Helpy-Chalk.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:40 PM
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For further Hitchen's point, notice that at 10'03" in the video I linked to, a Beck supporter says he now understands how the Indians felt when the White Man came to this country.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:41 PM
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18: That'd be logical, but I can't see how she could possibly seek support payments without conceding that he has paternal rights -- if this gets appealed all the way up and goes against her, but not before that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:42 PM
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11,14: We've been asking ourselves the same thing (that is, whether we're hearing only a very partial version of events). The mother isn't someone whose judgment impresses (data points: being anti-vaccine, accepting regular cash gifts from an ex without clarification of whether a quid pro quo was expected).

On the other hand, when my informant expressed skepticism about aspects of the story, the mother showed her (my informant) court documents confirming (3) and (4) in my post above. And on those questions I can speak personally about, it's the mother's version of events that seems true. (E.g., for about a year I spent a few nights a week at the mother's next-door neighbor's, and I saw the ex on only a few occasions; he certainly never spent the night.)


Posted by: bizzah | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:43 PM
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In a rather curious and confused way, some white people are starting almost to think like a minority, even like a persecuted one. What does it take to believe that Christianity is an endangered religion in America or that the name of Jesus is insufficiently spoken or appreciated?

How can Hitchens manage to act surprised by this? Whites have been a persecuted minority in the United States at least since the Civil War. Christianity has been endangered at least since Darwin's dangerous ideas crossed the ocean.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:45 PM
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Bizzah,

For me, the "3 lawyers have resigned" speaks volumes about the mother.

Perhaps I am just jaded, but I hear tales of woe every day. People come into a lawyer's office and give their version or perspective of the situation. Their version often leaves out lots of critical details.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:48 PM
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I have to say that many aspects of this story make me extremely skeptical that we have all of the facts, including the fact that she's had to fire lawyers who rejected advice to settle, and the fact that she is unable to hire a lawyer in Pittsburgh to take her case.

With that said, I have a good friend, not a family lawyer, who is at a well known firm in Pittsburgh, who might have some more information on a lawyer to contact or (depending on the facts) might see if there's a way to look into getting this handled pro bono, if you're interested.

Frankly it makes me want to call Gloria Allred or something.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:52 PM
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she's had to fire lawyers who rejected advice to settle

Other way around: she rejected the lawyers' advice to settle.

Thanks for your offer. I'll speak to someone who knows the mother better and see if she's interested in pursuing that option. Could you give me a way to contact you off-blog if need be? (The email linked in my pseud is functional.)


Posted by: bizzah | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 2:59 PM
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Though this is a class with economic grievances, it seems more concerned with psychic injuries

Is Thomas Frank still totally refuted? If not, Lenin of the Tomb has done his Marxist analysis of race and class, English style, for years.

And as long as these white middleclass Christians are your enemy of course they will see you as theirs. Shall we ask who started it? When you start seeing rich neo-liberals as your existential oppressive enemy, no matter their gender or ethnicity, hello Obama and Clinton, then maybe the Teabaggers can see you as potential allies.

But it never seems to work out. And it's all their fault, of course.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:03 PM
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You have got to be fucking kidding me.

I do that sometimes.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:03 PM
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Speaking of chick-lit, watched The Time-Traveler's Wife last night. Pretty people made me cry. I'm so fucking easy.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:06 PM
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28, 29: I'm having the same "too bad to be true" reaction to the story, but the curiosity is killing me -- I can't figure out a missing piece that makes the bits we've heard make sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:10 PM
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Fuck Howard Kurtz, fuck Reihan Salam, fuck William Saletan and all the other Beck apologists and contrarians

Indeed. Wherever they might be found.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:15 PM
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You don't fire lawyers who advise a settlement that you don't want, unless they tell you that unless you settle, they quit.

The judge actually said he believed that the Waldorf school is a hippie commune devoted to matriarchy? Or he said he had doubts about the principal's testimony?

"Inadmissible" isn't always so easy to judge. There are things like the purpose for which something is offered, the timing of an objection, whether it's part of an expert report, and whether it's a bench trial -- as this seems to be.

I don't mean to sound like I think the court system in PA functions well -- my limited experiences with it have not left me impressed. But I'll second, third, and fourth the warnings about how people losing cases perceive issues and rulings.

By the way, JRoth mentioned attempts at witness tampering. Have these been introduced into evidence? They're relevant, almost surely admissible and, if the right witnesses are testifying (e.g., JRoth) possibly devastating. Of course, it's a good idea to be putting that kind of thing on the record before you lose the case -- as soon as you know of it -- so it doesn't seem so much like a Hail Mary play.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:19 PM
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34: Yes. Especially since the implication, from JRoth's original version and the new info, is that the ex is a malice aforethought child molester (nightmares, "Princess Room," deliberate creation of false record of parental role from the very beginning). That's heavy, and it seems a no-brainer that that would be scarier than the pick-up policies of the Waldorf School.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:19 PM
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I don't mean to sound like I think the court system in PA functions well -- my limited experiences with it have not left me impressed.

Elected judges is part of the problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:23 PM
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then maybe the Teabaggers can see you as potential allies

They aren't potential allies. That's some seriously weak trolling.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:24 PM
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That's some seriously weak trolling.

"How do we make money? Volume."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:26 PM
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Judges are perfect. They get cases wrong all the time. Maybe this is that kind of a case.

But, when three lawyers have quit and the judge has ruled against her, I am more inclined to place my bet on mom being somewhat loose with the truth.

But, that is only a guess based on very little information. I suspect that transcripts of the proceedings (if any) would make for interesting reading.

I think we discussed this issue at length in the last thread about this topic. I'll just end for now by saying that I wouldnt be sending any money to her legal aid fund any time soon.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:28 PM
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obviously, are sb arent


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:29 PM
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Hey, bizzah -- just leave a comment if you'd like me to get in touch; I don't really have an anonymous email account or the like.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:35 PM
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43: See the end of 30.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:36 PM
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unless they tell you that unless you settle, they quit.

This would be a nice thing for lawyers to be able to do, but, once a case has started, it's generally unethical for a lawyer to do that. As most contingency fee lawyers know from tragic experience.

The firing lawyers part of the story is what raises the most red flags for me. Of course, it's possible that she just got really unlucky with three terrible lawyers, but it's pretty unlikely.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:39 PM
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Oh, duh.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:39 PM
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I think the only proper response to Link #1 is that given by one of the authoress's herself: "go weep into [your] royalty statement." There is literary fiction and there is popular fiction. The NY Times does not go out of its way to cover the latter. It doesn't review romance, thrillers, sci fi, or fantasy on a regular basis. There's no gender bias here. One thing I've wondered is why they make an exception for crime novels, which they do regular roundups of, and how authors like Elmore Leonard and James Elroy slip through into the respectable category.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:42 PM
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Of course SFF authors don't get that option these days, unless we're talking urban fantasy.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:50 PM
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47: Part of their argument involves the gender bias in making the "popular fiction" and "literary fiction" distinction. They claim that men writing novels about relationships and work and family -- say, Nick Hornby -- get far more deference from reviewers than women writing on the same topics, who get tossed in the "chick lit" bin.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:51 PM
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I think it's mostly based on judging books by the cover.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:53 PM
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45 -- I think I may have misread, but the misreading makes it look worse for the mom. Did she fire the lawyers, or did they quit. My previous comment assumed the former -- which I don't think speaks well of the mom. But if they quit -- and bizzah's comments suggests this -- for which they (or the last one, at least) would need court approval, the flag should be higher and redder.

On this account, it seems that twice she talked new lawyers into replacing her existing lawyers -- the existing lawyers wanted out because she didn't want to take their advice to settle -- and that both times the new lawyers ended up leaving because she didn't want to take their advice and settle, the second one getting the judge to agree to leave her without counsel.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 3:58 PM
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They aren't potential allies.

Of course they are. They have the problems we do. These are not necessarily the problems they focus on, but that is where you can help.

Or you go talk to Dodd, DiFi, and Obama about job and financial insecurity. As multi-millionaires, they will have only your interests at heart.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:00 PM
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51: No, as I understand it she has a lawyer now. Having a judge let your lawyer quit on you without your consent and without replacement would be a red flag, but I don't think that's what bizzah said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:03 PM
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53 -- Oh, right, of course. OK, well, I hope it's not too late for the new guy to put on a good case.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:09 PM
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They have the problems we do.

So did Strom Thurmond's voters. So do most of the Christian Coalition. They aren't potential allies.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:10 PM
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I have a link I like. To change the subject completely.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:16 PM
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They have the problems we do

Wait, my religious faith is under siege by atheists and Muslims, and brown people from foreign countries took my job and my money? Well, that changes everything.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:17 PM
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From the link in 56:

Several men had hiked in for a bachelor party, and one had impaled his lower leg on a stave.

Here's a guy who seriously misheard the infamous, "If it's gonna be that kind of a party..." line.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:31 PM
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55:But Obama and DiFi are?

How about just sharing enemies and see what happens?

You know, you just look at who is benefitting from the domestic strife and identity politics. How are those young black males and Hispanic construction workers doing under Obama? Obama doesn't care about black people, as Kanye said of someone doing very well right now, who Obama gave some personal time and a lot of praise on TV the other night. Obama's good buddy, GWB.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:37 PM
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Still on the Pittsburgh case: it's not that the version of the story we're getting doesn't smell funny to me too, but I'm still stuck on it. Even under PA's funny-farm de facto parent law, what do the real facts have to be (or what does the judge think they have to be) before a parent loses a custody battle with an ex-boyfriend who's not biologically related to the kid? If she's still got custody four days a week, she can't have been found to be an unfit parent... what are the facts that could make this make sense?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:38 PM
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OTOH, Shirley Sherrod, who did reach out to people you would probably consider her natural enemies, is not coming back to the Obama administration under any circumstances, for any offer.

Sherrod gets it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:40 PM
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60: I was wondering this too. He's getting a custody arrangement that's more generous than what some divorced biological fathers get. How does that work?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:44 PM
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Obama doesn't care about black people

Certainly not like my potential allies, who care quite a bit.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:45 PM
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49: I haven't read the authors in question, but in the spirit of 41.4.2, I'd bet that Hornby writes better books.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:47 PM
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62: If you read the old thread, PA has odd law that lets a non-parent prove that they're a 'de facto' parent if they can show they had a parenting relationship with a kid over a four year period. But anything like the facts in this case as I understand them (that is, even the facts that I understand the guy to be alleging, assuming the judge believes everything he says and nothing she says) makes it seem as if the standard for 'de facto' parenting has to be freakishly low.

Either PA law is very strange by my standards, the judge is a lunatic, or the story we've got is really really far from the story before the judge.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:49 PM
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The suggestion is that the ex-boyfriend is particularly well-connected and wealthy, right? If we have the facts, the judge might be bribed in some manner rather than a lunatic.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:58 PM
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How about just sharing enemies and see what happens?

That's okay. I'll let you go have circle time with the racist, theocratic wing of the GOP base. I spent enough time around it growing up. But do let us know how it goes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 4:58 PM
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66: I'd tend to guess irrationally biased in favor of the rich, stable guy long before I'd guess literally bribed, but maybe. But I'd really want to see all the court papers before saying anything bad about the judge that wasn't completely hedged.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:03 PM
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Further to 62, 3 days a week is a lot of custody -- it's what I get, pretty close to 50%, and is substantially greater the presumptive custody amount for biological fathers in California. It is really hard for me to believe that, absent some other very compelling factors, a "de facto" parent would normally be entitled to that amount of custody.

Which is just what you've all already said, but it really does seem like either we're dealing with a genuinely crazy or corrupt judge or we don't know the facts.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:04 PM
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I'm with everyone in the thread who says there is clearly much more than meets the eye going on in the Pittsburgh case. And Will is surely right that people often reframe the narrative of their own case in a way that is most sympathetic to themselves (sometimes even unintentionally!).

That said, some of the most tragic and awful situations I've ever dealt with were precisely this level of farfetched and paranoia-inducing. If I hadn't personally witnessed some of the aspects, I would never, ever have believed them.

To me the biggest flags in favor of the mother's version are: 1) the potential economic resources of the boyfriend, and 2) the 'everybody in town knows/is connected with him' conflict of interest problem. When you have those two factors in play, almost no amount of "Perfectly reliable evidence was ignored" or "Clear legal requirements to do ___ were overruled" is too much for me to believe.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:05 PM
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A related issue is that it's hard to overstate the degree to which "plausible" is in the eye of the beholder. One of the most difficult aspects of cross-class or cross-cultural work is helping people to identify which of their guiding lights is not actually a beacon of objective reality.

The heuristics that work in one setting often fail catastrophically in another, and enough people spend most of their working/waking lives in a single culture/class that when they try to function in a different one, it can have very painful consequences.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:12 PM
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It is really hard for me to believe that, absent some other very compelling factors, a "de facto" parent would normally be entitled to that amount of custody.

The PA case law I looked at the last time we looked at this (and I got the term of art wrong, it's "in loco parentis" not "de facto") did, on a superficial review, look very very weird. There's a case saying that there's no presumption of custody in favor of biological parents against third parties -- anyone files a custody suit against you, and the standard is the best interests of the child. And hey, maybe it's in the best interests of the child to be rich, rather than to spend all it's time with its mother.

But it's so weird. Does this guy have any responsibilities toward the kid, or does he just have custody? Heebie brought up child support, but it could be anything -- can he walk away tomorrow if he gets bored?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:12 PM
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70.3: Something that the Pittsburghians can speak to better than I can, but that might influence this, is that on my short visits there, Pittsburgh feels like a pretty small place, upperclass-wise. I was doing some shopping for furniture and clothes with Dr. Oops, and we ran into a surprising number of people she knew -- the normal six-degrees of separation felt more like two degrees.

In NY, I'd believe that rich people have an advantage, but I'd tend to disbelieve anyone saying they got shut out of the courts because their adversary was too connected. In Pittsburgh, I don't know enough to say that it's plausible, but from the tiny bit I know, it seems as if it might be less than totally implausible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:17 PM
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spend all it's time

Wow, you really *are* upset over this whole situation, aren't you?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:18 PM
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Nah, I do that one all the time. I usually go back and catch it, but I type with my ear rather than my eye, and homonyms show up a lot. There/their/they're is pretty random too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:20 PM
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56: Somewhat interesting read just because I've done some (non-extreme) backcountry stuff. But I'm guessing there is some aspect that stands out to you that I am missing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:21 PM
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76: For me it's the ever-confusing phenomenon of people intentionally choosing to use skis without the assistance of motorized chairlifts and nearby warm places serving hot toddies.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:24 PM
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IIRC from the last time this came up, the loco parentis/de facto parent doctrine was about visitation, not custody. But that's obviously not what happened here, and there's no way I'm wasting even more time learning about this issue.

More red flags: How many people in Pittsburgh can there be with a net worth of over $50 million? And if the guy really has that kind of money, why isn't the mom's position that she is entitled to a massively ridiculous amount of child support? And if that's the case, why isn't every family lawyer in the area looking to take her case?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:25 PM
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if the guy really has that kind of money, why isn't the mom's position that she is entitled to a massively ridiculous amount of child support?

If she's arguing that he shouldn't have rights at all, then it's hard for her to be seeking child support, isn't it? But I should stop picking at this -- I find it fascinatingly and horrifyingly weird, but without someplace to go for more solid facts, there's not much to say about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:31 PM
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77 --Yeah: the mountain where the guy died dominates the view out my windows; I'm not extreme sports type, but have been known to do stupid shit miles from anywhere; June 17 snowstorm; People taking matters into their own hands; What sort of liability are they taking on.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:33 PM
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(I'm going climbing next week in Glacier, maybe 4,000 feet above the snow line from this weekend's storm).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:35 PM
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There's a case saying that there's no presumption of custody in favor of biological parents against third parties -- anyone files a custody suit against you, and the standard is the best interests of the child.

Was curious enough to do a little research (how better to avoid the research I actually should be doing?), and while I don't doubt that there's such a case, the recent cases I saw on a quick look were more sane. They require first of all a showing that the third party has stood in loco parentis (proof that the third party "has lived with the child and provided care, nurture, and affection, assuming in the child's eye a stature like that of a parent") before they get any standing on custody questions. And even then, the third party is not supposed to get "parity" with natural parents in terms of their burden of demonstrating the best interests of the child.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:40 PM
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79 Well, but she's got the kid 4 days a week for now. If the kid is used to a $50M lifestyle, she should be entitled to a massive amount of child support. Plus there's the rule that the wealthier party pays attorney's fees in family law cases. A case where one half of the couple has $50 million in the bank would have lawyers drooling to represent the other half of the couple, not refusing to take the case (unless things are very different in PA).

But you're right, it's hard to say more when we don't know anything.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:40 PM
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73: Pittsburgh feels like a pretty small place, upperclass-wise.

We're a simple people...

But, yes, it is a small place. If the dude was a connected local (being from the right family without money would work better money and wrong family) and the mom wasn't, it could be hard in court.


78: How many people in Pittsburgh can there be with a net worth of over $50 million?

More than you'd think, if you count the country side and people who only live here part of the year. There are a great many old fortunes bouncing around.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:44 PM
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A case where one half of the couple has $50 million in the bank would have lawyers drooling to represent the other half of the couple, not refusing to take the case (unless things are very different in PA).

We put french fries on salads, but other than that and the mullets....


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:46 PM
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one half of the couple has $50 million in the bank

In the *bank*? What a terrible place for it! Does the judge know about his (admittedly low-risk) shitty investment skills?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:49 PM
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it is a small place

I was shocked, recently, by the realization that a city of ~300,000 could maintain an NFL, an NHL, and an MLB (sort of) franchise.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:52 PM
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83: I'm really speculating baselessly here. But the bits of the law I've looked at, it seems as if having custody under this standard wouldn't make you a parent -- it's a status with rights like a parent, but different somehow.

Wouldn't it be fucked up if all the family law things that are supposed to protect a poorer parent against a richer parent in a custody battle (including child support, wealthier party pays attorneys fees, or whatever) didn't come into operation because the other side of the lawsuit wasn't a parent? I wish we had a PA family law practitioner around here to ask.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:54 PM
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16: Christ, is that media circle jerk pissing me off. It's not enough that they've been taken in by this transparent mountebank; they're falling over themselves to gush over it and give the bigot-birther spokesman more publicity.

Though Reihan Salam isn't taken in by Beck or the Tea Party, of course; he's an accomplice.

That Daily Beast piece can be taken apart six ways from Sunday*, so transparent are numerous of its moves. The guy's clever, I'll give him that: he was on one of the Sunday talk shows this past weekend and had even the liberal commenters chuckling despite themselves a number of times.

* odd turn of phrase


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 5:57 PM
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Come to think of it, I had a case with a Pittsburgh judge, who characterized the conduct of my public entity client -- failure to answer a complaint, or respond to the consequent motion for default judgment -- as 'the worst tyranny since Richard I in France.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:00 PM
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56 Nasty story of an incompetent official Search and Rescue and friends of an experienced but dangerously reckless mountaineer playing a blame game. You do not go that far out on your own unless it's either completely zero risk beyond spraining an ankle or has plenty of traffic. On the other hand, every mountain SAR type I've encountered is basically a professional mountain climber. This is really not something you want amateurs doing, and it sounds like the core of the local mountaineering community is on average far better skilled than the SAR's, which is bizarre.

Talking about which, I just read about two idiot Brits who decided to go up Gerlach in spite of being warned of an imminent snow storm and lacking serious cold weather gear. They collected their Darwin awards.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:00 PM
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90: Did the Lionheart really get to tyrannize over France much? Fought and died there, sure, but I didn't think there was an extended period where he was just comfortably being a tyrant.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:03 PM
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Link one: If this complaint were coming from Audrey Niffenegger I might take it seriously, but Jennifer Weiner is not (in my opinion) a very interesting writer and even fans of Jodi Picoult have told me she writes the same book over and over, which is exactly what they want. As for the gender bias, isn't there a genre aimed at men known as "lad lit" that is more or less equivalent? And an endless stream of cookie-cutter spy'n'crime novels, also aimed at men, that never get reviewed? Do you hear Lee Child whining about how his books are really Literature? No. Weiner should man up.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:06 PM
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http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_fed9f618-3df4-11df-92c1-001cc4c03286.html

91 -- Not that uncommon.

My thing wont be alone: I'm going with a 60-something widow. And I will be first to chicken out if there's any excuse to bail.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:09 PM
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I dunno, it seems to me as if I've seen more respectful reviews of Lee Child than of a plausible femmy counterpart.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:11 PM
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OTOH, here is a link to another crazy-sounding custody dispute in Pittsburgh, where the cousin of a deceased mother, who had only lived with the child briefly before the death, was awarded at least temporary joint custody with a biological father.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:13 PM
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95: If Lee Child is getting respectful reviews then civilization has already collapsed, so I don't see the point in bothering.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:15 PM
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95: In that case, the choice is between providing more numerous respectful reviews of femmy commercial fiction, or providing fewer ones of the manny (?) variant. I'd go for the latter option myself.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:17 PM
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I'm jealous, that looks wonderful. The stupidest stuff I've done is hit low traffic off pistes on my own, with no notification and no avalanche equipment. The closest I've come to dying in the mountains is slipping on a technically simple but icy high altitude knife-edge, walking/climbing loose roped. Fortunately my climbing camp instructor grabbed me, otherwise he would have had to jump off the other side to have any chance of either of us surviving.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:19 PM
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Lee Child is actually quite a lot brighter than people give him credit for; there's more going on than he lets on, I think.

It's odd to discuss this, because I do think that (a) sexism is an issue in publishing/reviewing/genre-respectability and (b) Picoult is basically a not very good writer who gets snubbed for a good reason.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:20 PM
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Are you talking about whether Lee Child personally is a bright guy? Because I'm sure he is, the books are amusing and literate on a sentence by sentence level. Or whether the books are absurd crap? Because they totally are.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:23 PM
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Not that it's relevant to his writing of books, but his signature totally looks like a funky EKG readout.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:25 PM
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Here's how important the Times thinks he is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:27 PM
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Btw, I sent along the link not because I think Jennifer Weiner or Jodi Picoult are themselves perfect illustrations of what authors the NYT should be reviewing, but because I thought the issues raised in the interview were important and compelling. And because I liked Weiner's sense of humor.

I haven't actually read anything by either of them, although I have a very high appetite for entertaining fiction, some of it decidedly lightweight.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:28 PM
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I should say that I've read Child, and not Weiner or Picoult. My taste in crap fiction runs to gunfire rather than romance -- if I want emotions, I tend to read something from the nineteenth century.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:29 PM
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Ultraviolent villain = sadistic thrills plus justification for bloody mayhem by Reacher = more sadistic thrills. Plus Reacher is irresistable to women but can't be tamed, also never does laundry.

Now you don't to buy a Lee Child product ever again.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:30 PM
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I think the books are both absurd crap, and quite intelligent absurd crap, if that makes sense. For one thing, Child's pretty good about racism, sexism, homophobia etc etc (at least, on the surface.) He's quite aware of conventions of the thriller, and he tends to play around with them in an interesting way.

(In terms of sexism: the two people I know who read Lee Child books are my mum and my female flatmate; sure, not scientific or anything, but I'm pretty sure Child's got a large female audience out there.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:31 PM
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And also: James Patterson gets a long NYT magazine feature, and Nora Roberts gets...uh.

Well, she spent $3 million to create a B&B in Maryland and got a write-up in the Travel section.

They'll review men or women who write books that men *and* women read. My strong suspicion is that a rigorous study of books reviewed would reveal that they largely don't review books written by women, for women.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:34 PM
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I think this description sums up the issues that the Brits encountered:

Be warned, this is an alpine environment expect snow any time of the year and I found that the weather here closes in much faster that any other area that I have climbed in. It can be nice one moment but then minutes later you can be in the middle of a thunderstorm blowing up from the valley.

Another thing that will throw you a bit are the deceiving lines I clearly remember looking up a ridge and thinking there would be a nice walk along the top on it. When I got to it, it was a knife-edge with a 400m drop off the other side. Needless to say I went back to the marked trail. Because of the short distances involved it is very easy to climb yourself into trouble very quickly sometimes with no retreat possible.

Treat this peak and all of the others in the Tatras with respect and you will have a great time. Just think of them as very short 4kers. Treat them like 2000m hills and you will come to grief guaranteed.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:36 PM
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that was meant to be all blockquotes


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:37 PM
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And as Keir says about Lee Child, women are easy -- I don't think there really is a category of books written by men that women don't read.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:37 PM
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111 to 108.

To 107: Thing is, reasonably PC on a surface level and doing some interesting things with genre conventions is a standard that plenty of romance novelists can make. But they don't get the attention someone like Child (who is amusing -- you can do a fast shift back and forth between laughing at and laughing with the books) does.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:40 PM
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Is there anyone in particular you're thinking of here?

(I don't disagree that the NYT is basically sexist in how it reviews. I just think Child's a cut above someone like Patterson or Nora Roberts.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:46 PM
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And as Keir says about Lee Child, women are easy -- I don't think there really is a category of books written by men that women don't read.

In SFF really generic mil SF seems to be almost exclusively read by men to a greater degree than even the most women oriented urban fantasy/paranormal romance stuff as long as it is marketed as SFF rather than in the Romance section.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:51 PM
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Seriously, while Nora Roberts is also crap, I've read a couple of hers and I think you're wrong to put Child out of her league. Child's more my style of crap, but Roberts is less ridiculous, and I think sells better.

For someone I'd say was better than Child who gets more marginalized because of being in a feminine genre? Eh. As I said, my taste leans more to the gunfire end of things, so I'm not up to date -- the name that popped into my head was Eva Ibbotson, but she was writing romances (not great literature, but literate, amusing nonsense) in the 80s and 90s, not so much now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:54 PM
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People who think of Neal Stephenson or Orson Scott Card as geniuses of our age have no business making fun of chick lit.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 6:59 PM
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I don't think ridiculousness is anything to be ashamed of in a novel.

I actually can't remember if I've ever read a Roberts. I think I have, and wasn't that taken with it.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:01 PM
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116: But that's not the NYT books pages; the NYT books pages looks down on Orson Scott Card like mad.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:02 PM
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I've read two books by Weiner and kind of loved one of them, and basically enjoyed the second. I just found the main character in the first one very likable.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:03 PM
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Remember that book "The Girls Guide To Hunting And Fishing", that was very enjoyable until it totally collapsed near the end on this nonsensical Mr. Right who suddenly appears? Weiner's books are in the same category in my mind.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:04 PM
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Speaking as someone who thinks The Corrections is an important masterpiece (and has been duly assailed by those here who object), I think there's a lot to the Picoult/Weiner complaint.

It seems uncontroversial to note that the books lumped in as Chick Lit include novels that have interesting, witty takes on work, society and gender that are subordinated for being about white women in a way that doesn't happen to young male Brooklyn novelists. I think they're strongest when they don't make it about themselves.

I'm reminded of the truism that record critics like Elvis Costello because record critics look like Elvis Costello*. The knock against chick lit is that the protagonists are Mary Sues, empty-to-idealized vessels for the reader to pour herself into. I think that's a challenge that writers for all audiences face, and I think the class we think of as the big boy literary writers resist that well but not completely.

*I am also reminded of the truism that Americans think Elvis Costello is wearing Buddy Holly glasses but British people recognize standard-issue National Health Service frames.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:04 PM
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108: I'm sure sexism plays a role in who gets published, let alone reviewed. And I also bet that there are better women writers who have a harder time getting published than Weiner and Picoult because they can't be slotted neatly into a commercial niche.

W&P have demonstrated that they can move product, so the resources get spent on them. Now they want a cookie too. Wah! Lee Child got a cookie! Maybe they have a point. I just don't care.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:08 PM
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91, 94: The general nature of the conflicts described in the article are not that unusual in my experience.

80: but have been known to do stupid shit miles from anywhere;

I managed to suffer my worst backcountry injury ever this weekend when I stumbled on a steep, rugged not-really-a-trail with a backpack on and sprained the shit out of my wrist and hand*. Probably not the most dangerous moment I've had, although as I lay there I saw that I was a bit closer to a very steep slope than I had realized. I was out with my two sons; in decades past I was guilty of (but enjoyed the shit out of) a lot of solo outings.

*I still can't quite make a grip ... but it's my left hand ...I'm ambidextrous... but not like I can do things with both hands..."arm" things with my right..."hand" things with my left...so I'm having trouble brushing my teeth.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:08 PM
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I haven't read The Corrections, just the stuff that Franzen has published in the New Yorker. It seemed to fit in well with a genre you might call "This American Life Sucks".


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:08 PM
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For those looking for chick lit with some heft, I strongly recommend my friend Darcy's book Wedding Season, which comes with well-thought-out, not-at-all boilerplate ideas about love and marriage, plus good jokes.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:09 PM
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123: Be careful. Lots of "falling down the hill" stories in the news lately.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:10 PM
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Orson Scott Card

This reminds me that I recently heard an interview with a science fiction(-ish?) author who was a woman, and a caller asked if she was familiar with Card, because he thought she'd like him, based on her work. She said no, and I was really surprised that she was unaware of Card and halfway wondered if she was just being polite.

Anyone have any idea (1) who that author could plausibly have been or even (2) what public radio call-in show that might have been? Recalling the interview now reminds me I meant to circle back around and read up on the author.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:11 PM
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On preview: I'm with mcmc in 122.

108: My strong suspicion is that a rigorous study of books reviewed would reveal that they largely don't review books written by women, for women.

You're probably right, and we probably all know this. The thing is, books written by women, for women (specifically?), is a category that I don't know what to do with. What does that mean? Of course there are romance novels, and there are Sue Grafton novels, and I hope we're not wanting them reviewed by the NYT. Otherwise, frankly -- and I'm speaking at this point just personally -- I don't find myself interested in something that bills itself as written "for women."

Perhaps the NYT should have a separate book review category for specifically women's fiction.

Note, I haven't read much of the interview with Weiner and Picoult. The term "chick lit" turns me way off. If a Margaret Atwood were speak on this matter -- she who writes about women, but not particularly for a female audience -- I'd be more inclined to listen.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:16 PM
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From the link in 125:

But when Joy finds herself obligated to attend seventeen weddings in six months (including those of her father, mother, younger brother, and five of her closest girlfriends), the couple is forced to take a new look at why they're so opposed to marriage when the rest of the world can't wait to walk down the aisle.

While it might be a good book, I can't imagine that there's much overlap between women who don't ever want to get married and women who are excited to read this book.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:17 PM
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Plus Reacher is irresistable to women but can't be tamed, also never does laundry.

Leonard Cohen's Never Gonna Bring My Groceries In (it's the second song on the page, you'll have to scroll down).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:18 PM
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126: Yeah, my wife sent me an article today about a guy in NYC surviving a fall (a jump actually) from the 39th story. Also don't want to pull a Doug Kenney. (I always thought his was accidental, but Wikipedia strongly implies possible suicide--never heard Harold Ramis's take: "Doug probably fell while he was looking for a place to jump".)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:19 PM
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131: Locally, it has been kids in state parks. I had no idea Ramis had anything to do with Caddyshack and can't imaging why it got bad reviews.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:24 PM
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Imagine I said that one without a typo.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:25 PM
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Also, the actor who played the main caddy was once married to Bonnie Raitt. Wikipedia really sucks you in.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:27 PM
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129: I would say the ideal reader isn't so much "woman who doesn't even want to get married" as "woman who enjoys smart, contemporary fiction that nods towards Jane Austen and who would like to see characters who exhibit skepticism towards an institution otherwise portrayed with universal desirability." Though yours is snappier.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:34 PM
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I found the piece CC linked really irritating. SAR sometimes falls short, but the elite backcountry dudes were needlessly antagonistic, especially given that it was one of their elite backcountry pals who was dead out on the mountain. And the attitude expressed in the last part is infuriating—like, SAR sucks, man, but we can't help, because what chumps want to do run-of-the-mill rescues? In my outdoorsier days I ran into plenty of guys like that, all of them genuinely shitty testosterone-fueled fucks.

109: People are like that about Mt. Washington (the one in New Hampshire). Thinking it's an easy day hike—you can even drive to the summit!—plenty of people have died there.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:42 PM
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and I was really surprised that she was unaware of Card and halfway wondered if she was just being polite.

1) A lot of genre writers don't read much in the genre, to avoid being influenced. I presume editors are the ones who say that's being done by three people already, possibly at the proposal or outline point.

2) I also don't believe quantity helps that much. You are better off really understanding what Chandler is doing in order to work with it than trying to merge 50 different styles.

3) Card doesn't strike as interesting or important in any way. Enders should be read by someone trying to understand the genre, but reading all the Hugos and Nebulas will take years, and I can't see why it would be useful for a writer.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 7:55 PM
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I'm reminded of the truism that record critics like Elvis Costello because record critics look like Elvis Costello

Which reminds me of that post-review article in which the film critic (Joe Morgenstern, maybe?) admitted that he, like so many other film critics, had perhaps lavished so much praise on Sideways because they identified with the main character.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:02 PM
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Sideways: Swingers with ED.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:10 PM
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The thing is, books written by women, for women (specifically?), is a category that I don't know what to do with. What does that mean?

Yeah, I was kind of sloppy in my phrasing. I meant something more like "books that the publishing industry makes zero effort to market to men." When Nora Roberts started writing her futuristic romantic suspense novels about 15 years ago, she published under the name J.D. Robb. There were good reasons for this, but it was also a pretty blunt attempt by her publisher to try to get men to read her. In contrast, someone like Marisa de los Santos or even Elinor Lipman is just basically not marketed to male readers at all.

Of course there are romance novels, and there are Sue Grafton novels, and I hope we're not wanting them reviewed by the NYT.

Actually, I am. Not to the exclusion of other kinds of books, of course, and certainly not in one-to-one correspondence to their appearance on the bestseller lists. But there are bad genre novels and good genre novels, and it strikes me as not a bad thing at all for The Paper of Record to acknowledge a handful of them. Especially since, as noted above, they already do that with at least one genre.

127: I can think of several very plausible reasons that a female author might not want to say in public that she's heard of Orson Scott Card. For one, it leads directly into "So what did you think?" Discretion being the better part of valor, and all that.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:10 PM
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Regarding chick lit. Is it reasonable to say that there are two issues in play? (1) Whether the NYT should shift its target audience in order to be more inclusive; and (2) Whether candidates for the literary canon, as identified by the NYT among numerous others [the NYT is not alone], should be expanded to include chick lit.

I say to (1): The NYT isn't interested in reviewing for people who read Weiner and Picoult. To (2) I say: make a serious case for a Weiner or Picoult being included other than as a(n) historical moment. The question of what's included in the canon is a big hairy mess, but face it, an enormous amount of stuff is published, and people do make judgments about what's worth pointing to. Chick lit, so called, is a genre; there might be stand-outs, but otherwise, insisting that it be reviewed as a matter of course needs defense. "It's sexist not to" isn't a defense, yet.

The big hairy mess is real, of course. All genre writing goes through this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:12 PM
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The Times basically never reviews zines.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:15 PM
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141 crossed with 140. I'd be fine with The Paper of Record assigning someone to survey the chick lit genre stuff to see whether anyone floats to the top, and giving that person notice.

I still don't really think Sue Grafton's fiction should be reviewed by the Times. I've read at least at dozen of them, and enjoyed them, but they don't need to be reviewed by the Times.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:20 PM
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A lot of genre writers don't read much in the genre

Just to clarify, I was just surprised (and somewhat skeptical) that she wasn't familiar with Card, not that she wasn't voraciously tearing through every last page he ever wrote. He's one of the most well-known living sci-fi writers alive, right? Certainly, she'd heard something about him, good or bad.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:30 PM
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Talking about which, I just read about two idiot Brits who decided to go up Gerlach in spite of being warned of an imminent snow storm and lacking serious cold weather gear.

For a minute there I was trying to figure out why anyone would need cold weather gear to go to Gerlach.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:36 PM
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The Paper of Record doesn't care about your economic interests,* why should you be surprised it doesn't care about your taste in fiction?

*For most values of "you" I care to think about.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:38 PM
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I was trying to figure out why anyone would need cold weather gear to go to Gerlach.

'cuz it gets fucking cold there at night. The low forties, regularly, and sometimes colder.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:38 PM
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He's one of the most well-known living sci-fi writers alive, right?

I wouldn't say that, exactly, but it's hard to believe a person in the field hasn't heard of him.

Then again, my brother revealed to me last night that he'd never heard of The Wire.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:40 PM
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147: Plus you might get all stoned and be like, "Let's play Shackleton Dress-Up Theatre"!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:42 PM
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149: you laugh, but getting lost on that playa at night is no joke. Especially if there's a dust storm and you can't find the event at all. And then you start thinking you've traveled through time, and then you see this kind of futuristic factory and then you come across this camp full of screaming goths and surrounded by front-end loaders fitted with giant van der graaff generators and it's pretty much clear that you're living in Mad Max world. That shit is pretty scary. And cold.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:46 PM
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Bets that Rowling would know anything of Hambly or Donaldson or Kurtz?

Bets that Meyer would have heard of McCammon or Yarbro?

Susanna Clarke

She explains in an interview that she was particularly influenced by the historical fiction of Rosemary Sutcliff as well as the fantasies of Ursula K. Le Guin and Alan Garner, and that she loves the works of Austen.[11]
...Wiki

My impression is that fiction writers work this way at least as often as with erudition.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:55 PM
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Not knowing about Card is surprising, but I'm surprised by the idea mentioned above that it's a good idea to avoid other writers in the genre.

That said, not knowing about Card is, in fact, a good thing.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:56 PM
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Got a batsignal. I have no further firsthand information, but just to fill in some:

It is absolutely the case that, if the ex is rich and connected, then he will have connections with basically every decent lawyer in town. There was a time, not that long ago, when it was almost literally true that every important (non-Jewish) person in town went to the same church. I know one guy who's old money, and have no doubt that he's within 2 degrees of literally every significant person in town - and he's a complete, lifelong fuckup. I suspect that at least the first lawyer hired by the mother simply sucked, the mother not realizing that she needed a kickass lawyer to win this case. Not all lawyers are equally good, and there's no reason to think that a person without means, but with a facially strong case, would seek out the best lawyer in town from the get. Subsequent lawyers, who knows?

But the people directing suspicion at the mother's version of the story need to explain #3 of bizzah's recounting, which is (apparently) corroborated and documented. I'm struggling with any way that a fair, reasonable judge could have come to this conclusion. However, I have seen that, almost without exception, couples in which one parent has doubts about Waldorf, it's always the father. I don't know what the deal is - PWS specifically is really not "out there" by any post-1965 standard - but it seems to threaten the hell out of a lot of men. And if this judge is willing to dismiss the testimony of the head of a school because he has a problem with the school's approach, then I don't see how the problem lies primarily with the mother.

Last, local judges certainly do suck. One guy apparently was a drunk for years and years, everyone knew it, and it wasn't until he was caught driving drunk and pantless (iirc) that he got in trouble and (I think) thrown off the bench. When AB was at the City, cases occasionally went to the Court of Common Pleas, and the judges basically ruled without any consideration for the underlying statutes - e.g. property owner does not-permitted thing while ignoring all process, the City laboriously goes through every prescribed step for trying to get compliance, and the judge throws out all fines and lets the owner keep his not-permitted thing. Because, you know, why not?

Oh, and I suppose I could mention this to someone at the paper.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:57 PM
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150: This will shock you, but I'm pretty sure I know most of the people who put that camp together.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:58 PM
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141: The first gloss I read about the Weiner/Picoult argument wasn't that they were making a case for Weiner/Picoult so much as they were making a case that someone like Lorrie Moore or Mona Simpson gets slighted not because her literary talent is lesser but because she doesn't conform to the expectations about Important Novels. She'll get reviewed, but there's a sense that the big Brooklyn boys have scope and that their publications are Events.

Aha, it was in the Awl. This may be a more nuanced consideration that Picoult/Weiner give the matter:

So let's look at the phrases that have been used to justify the effusive levels of praise being directed at Franzen. Tanenhaus, for example, says that Franzen's book was great because it spoke to "our shared millennial life." Grossman, the Time critic, admires the way Franzen "remains a devotee of the wide shot, the all-embracing, way-we-live-now novel." Even the Brits agree that Franzen has tapped into some kind of shared experience psyche: the Guardian called The Corrections "a report from the frontline of American culture."
It seems a fair question, in that context, to ask: "What's this 'we,' white man?"
What collective American experience do these critics envision Franzen as describing? I have a suspicion they simply imagine their own white, male, middle class experiences as the "American experience," because it's always been presented that way to them, not least in the novels of Updike and Mailer and sometimes Roth that they so often list as favorites. And since Franzen does seem to have a knack for describing that particular strain of the American experience, the critics elide all the issues.

Also, someone should correct "Franzenfreude" to "Schadenfranzen" which makes much more sense though is not as fun a ride of a word as "Schadenfreudenberger."


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 8:59 PM
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154: I think we've talked about it before. You happily turned out not to know the specific people I hoped you didn't.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:03 PM
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I'm surprised by the idea mentioned above that it's a good idea to avoid other writers in the genre.

I've heard a story twice now -- no idea if it's true -- that Franzen, the man hisself, strives to avoid being influenced, to the extent that he sequesters himself, wears a sleep mask, and in other ways avoids outside input in order to render himself as, er, virgin as possible. This is to allow for originality and avoid cliche, as I've heard the story.

Of course, he's not a genre writer.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:07 PM
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153: I'm more inclined to credit bizzah's version of the mother's story after reading the story Halford links in 96 -- PA law seems screwy enough that anyone who's ever arguably lived with your kid has a shot at custody if they feel like it. The judge wouldn't have to be bribed, just feeling whimsical.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:08 PM
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156: Fuck my memory's shot. And here I don't even have massive rave-related drug use to blame for it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:14 PM
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Last, local judges certainly do suck.

That's not uniformly the case, but it isn't rare. Also, if I recall correctly, they start the new ones in family court. Lastly, becoming a magistrate (not what PA calls them, but it is what I grew-up using as the term for a non-lawyer who decides minor cases) or judge is the main retirement plan for politicians who don't make higher office.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:15 PM
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Hey, that Awl link in 155 is pretty good. It highlighted something I liked a lot:

[...] Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's speech at last fall's TED, called "The Danger of A Single Story." You should watch it, she'll put it more eloquently than I can, but one of her main points may be briefly stated as follows: when your canonical literature speaks only to one experience--the "single story"--it actually, in a very real way, begins to limit people's imaginations, and limits the kinds of experience literature can and should expose you to. "Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person," she says, around the 10-minute mark, "but to make it the definitive story of that person."

And my own personal sexism reared its head when I got to the bottom of the Awl article and saw it was written by a woman. I'm sorry, Michelle Dean! It was a good article! I was just disappointed to see that its insight was coming from someone who wasn't a white guy.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:15 PM
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And here I don't even have massive rave-related drug use to blame for it.

That's a common misconception. What actually happened is that the drugs only targeted the slow or infirm neurons, leaving the rest a lean, tested and fit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:16 PM
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155: I haven't read the new Franzen, but yeah, my response to the reviews has, on a first read, been much the same as what you quote from the Awl. That said, the championing of Franzen is a slightly distinct question from whether we should be reviewing chick lit (sorry, the term gets on my nerves, and when people like Weiner and Picoult refer to "girl writers," it doesn't help).

Also, someone should correct "Franzenfreude" to "Schadenfranzen" which makes much more sense

Heh. I'd heard about this hoohaw before Stanley posted Witt's link, and it was in connection with that. To wit: "Franzenfreude," wtf?? Try "Schadenfranzen." You're trying to be clever, but it is not working, AT ALL.

Oops.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:18 PM
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leaving the rest a lean, tested and fit joke-from-Cheers-referencing machine?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:19 PM
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The typo in 162 was an intracerebral loyalty test. The agitators have been eliminated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:20 PM
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Anyone remember James Gould Cozzens, the US' greatest novelist? It's deja vu all over again.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 9:54 PM
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I don't know whether I wish DS would show up in this thread, or not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:16 PM
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...DSzzz.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:19 PM
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||
If a client is dead set on a space with a south-facing entrance, Mr. Mehta sometimes extends the hallway
and moves the entrance so that it faces north. "If they really like the office," he said, "we can make it happen."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/realestate/25feng.html?ref=realestate&pagewanted=all


Is Mr Mehta dead set against his clients or have I regressed in my reading ability ?

|>


Posted by: Econolicious, pause Mehta question | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:29 PM
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136 -- Oh sure. Then again, the contrast between the Msla Co. sheriff and the Ravalli Co (immediately to the south) was pretty striking. Our guy has been somewhat controversial, and we're in the midst of a campaign to replace him.* I expect this article to be campaign fodder. There's also a culture war overlay to things like this.

My take was somewhat similar about the guys, and you have to wonder what they were thinking, although their arrogance appeared to be justified.

You know, the article also struck me as actual journalism. Nothing here is repetition of press releases, or leaks from people with agendas.

Still, you're left with the practical question: if SAR is going to prevent your buddies from coming to get you, and you're out beyond the SAR's competence, maybe you call your buddies first. And tell them to call SAR (which will be the only way to get a chopper, I'd bet) from the trailhead.

* The Republican is a retired police official from SoCal, bought land half an hour out of town, and tells us he knows how to deal with the big city crime we're sure to get. The Dem is a long time deputy, ran against his boss last time, and recently made news for being a Facebook fan of Sarah Palin. And defriending her when it was revealed. At least the article gives the candidates some things to talk about.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:38 PM
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Nora Roberts got a long write up in the New Yorker some months ago, and I was very amused to recently pick up one of her books and see on the back:

"America's most beloved writer." - The New Yorker

It was, in fact, a direct quote, but I think it was followed by something like, "America's most beloved writer, if you go by the numbers...."

I think Weiner and Picoult definitely have a point; not that I love their books so much (I've only read Weiner), but what Witt and K-Sky have already said is pretty much how I feel about it.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:44 PM
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Also, wooo, JRoth!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:45 PM
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This is to allow for originality and avoid cliche, as I've heard the story.

Isn't it interesting how frequently it results in the opposite? This is a familiar pattern, I imagine, to pretty much everyone who has ever participated in a writing workshop.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:50 PM
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Actually, nobody's denying that there's an obvious point to be made about mainstream book reviewing favoring the white middle-class male perspective.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:51 PM
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Is Mr Mehta dead set against his clients or have I regressed in my reading ability ?

I think the idea is something like "If a client is dead set on a space for its other features, despite its south-facing entrance...."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:53 PM
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174 to 172.

173: Yeah. That's why that story about Franzen (unconfirmed) is so weird, or strange.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 10:59 PM
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Oh. 174 to 171, that is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 11:03 PM
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A link to a SAR story from the 1930s.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09- 1-10 11:03 PM
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174: I didn't say otherwise?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 12:28 AM
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re: 109

It's a problem in the UK a fair bit, too. The Scottish mountains are basically foothills by European standards. Most of them look like you could stroll up and down them in an afternoon in shorts and a t-shirt. However, in the Cairngorms, and other places, the weather changes super-quick and there can be snow and ice more or less all year round in places, with avalanches and the like. The end result is that an amazingly high number of people die, relative to the apparent difficulty of the terrain.

Shit, I used to have a flatmate who worked for the Ochils -- my local 'hills' -- mountain rescue who had horror stories of idiots going up them in bad weather and getting in serious trouble. And the Ochils literally are foothills with toddlers going up them in the summer in crocs. Dumyat was the first place our school hill-walking club took us on our introductory walk.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 12:46 AM
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99% of getting published is the combination of two items only: co-incidence and prostitution. Both are involving middle-aged white guys that double up as reviewers and writing school professors.


Posted by: Earnest O'Nest | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 12:56 AM
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OP(2): there are some proper racists on reddit, n'est-ce-pas?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 1:40 AM
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180: true. People think that smaller mountains aren't as dangerous, but you only need to fall ten feet to break bones (or die) if you're unlucky, and if you get soaked to the skin and you don't know what to do about it then you can go down very fast indeed. Weather too: last winter I was up on Ben Ledi, which is the sort of small, inoffensive hill that ttaM's school probably took him up right after doing Dumyat, and was hit by the most amazing blizzard I have ever seen anywhere in the world. It was physically impossible for us to continue.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 2:57 AM
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re: 183

Yeah, a friend from school did one of those 24 hour run/hike/orienteering challenges across the Ochils. It's done by scouts, and army cadets, and adults from various services, orienteering clubs and the like. They got hit by a blizzard up on the top of the plateau, and although they were fairly well equipped, I think he was fairly sure they were going to cop it. IIRC, they ended up 'sledging' part of the way down one of the shallower gullies using their ponchos, and then hiding under an overhang until it stopped.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 3:41 AM
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I missed the Franzen thread (or sub-thread), but I'm picking up a bit of an anti-Franzen vibe here. While I agree that the adulation is a bit much, and while I find the quest for the Great American (yes, White Male) Novelist extremely tedious, I have to say that I thought The Corrections was ... I don't want say "great," so how about "very, very good". He really is a wonderful writer, and he does deserve some of the praise. I have high hopes of his latest, which I will certainly read.

Most of my favourite fiction writers are English women, who are somewhat underappreciated here.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 5:42 AM
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Most of my favourite fiction writers are English women, who are somewhat underappreciated here.

That's alright, they're underappreciated here too.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 5:52 AM
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The Corrections was terible.

Just to, you know, add my voice.

I never did finish it, though, so maybe it got awesome later. (no.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 6:03 AM
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@180: even at 2,000ft on Great Whernside, I can recall being unexpectedly snowed-in in early October as a scout. Orienteering in the sleet storm the next day was...amusing, too, once it was over. Years later I came back with the opinionated academic, who suggested we go up there for a few days over New Year. OK, where are the alpine gaiters in the loft?

Oddly enough, this debate was going on at John Cole's a few days ago. What strikes me about it is that charging people for SAR assistance, as they do in the States and some other places but not in the UK, doesn't seem to dissuade anyone from doing stupid things. You still get the bikini-clad winter mountaineers and bathtub yachtsmen and testosterone-poisoning cases on x-boards/x-bikes who should have stuck to the x-box, they get in trouble, get rescued....sometimes...and then get a huge bill for the helicopter hours. And then they do it again.

This has certain consequences for one's views on economics and politics. (The Fort William MRT publishes an annual journal with a complete log of their call-outs - it's compelling reading if you like mountains and black, black humour.)

@162: the neurons may be ok, but what about the cruciate ligaments?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 6:15 AM
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185.last: Barbara Pym?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 6:16 AM
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@162: the neurons may be ok, but what about the cruciate ligaments?

On the internet nobody can hear your knees.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 6:17 AM
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also, I've just read the Missoula News piece and I have to say I'm not impressed by the idea of rocking up at the incident command post and saying "Well, I'm going to put the show on right here - just me, my friends and my enormous cock awesome skills!" It's not at all clear to me that they achieved anything much - they're complaining that the MRT closed down the search for the night, while they bivvied somewhere on the hill. What's the difference? They weren't searching through the night - just sleeping, with the difference that they were trying to do so in a snowstorm at altitude. "Maintaining a presence on the mountain for Chris" doesn't make sense unless they hoped he might just stumble on their camp, and that's not a plan. (if he's such an expert, what would he be doing moving at night anyway rather than staying put in his nice cosy snowhole with his beacon?)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 6:29 AM
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191: I like the opening sentence: "On Thursday, June 17, Missoula adventurer Colin Chisholm woke around 7:30 a.m. with eight messages in his cell phone's voicemail box".

In Missoula journalism, "adventurer" is apparently an acceptable job description like "postman" or "Foreign Secretary".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 6:47 AM
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...and the unfortunate Chris, despite being such an expert adventurer an' all, doesn't seem to have told Colin where he might be going, seeing as he had to guess that he might have gone in the direction they were planning a trip in.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 6:51 AM
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In Missoula journalism, "adventurer" is apparently an acceptable job description like "postman" or "Foreign Secretary".

Have you been to Montana? It's probably about as likely as the second and far more likely than the first in those environs. Admittedly, it's also probably a synonym for "climber bum", but still.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 6:57 AM
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"Author" isn't as dramatic. And maybe he's given it up.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:01 AM
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194: fair enough, but I would expect a slightly less gungho description like "keen skier" or "climber". Adventurer sounds like something out of D&D.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:01 AM
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Local Kobold Colin Chisholm,


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:03 AM
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Less gung-ho? if there'd been a bit less gung and more ho, there wouldn't have been a problem.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:05 AM
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194: I have a very good old friend who grew up in Montana* and he is fearless and insane. (He was for a while some kind of scary secret agent dude* who jumped out of airplanes into open ocean in the middle of night waiting to be picked up and other cuckoo stuff.)

*A tiny-ass town in MT -- where his family knew Carp and his wife. Is that random or what?
**This is surmise. But I am right.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:08 AM
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Perhaps he's a merchant adventurer, gambling with shares in unlimited liability companies. The eight messages saying, "Real estate still going down", "Financial sector still fucked", "No you can't move it into the Honourable East India Company"...


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:08 AM
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185: I liked it too. And while it's perspective is white and middle class, it's not entirely male. Big chunks of the book are told from the POV of the sister and mother.

Also, Franzen does not live in Brooklyn (AFAIK).


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:25 AM
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Addendum to 201: Did anybody read Franzen's short story in The New Yorker a few months ago? It was pretty great, and told entirely (and credibly) from the perspective of a teenage girl who had been raped.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:28 AM
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199 -- I'm going to have to ask my wife about this when she wakes up, but I think your boyfriend was a student of hers in her first teaching job (in a tiny ass country high school). I think of him as the best friend of our foster-child's brother, and son of the guy who first occupied the job I had at the time, and whose work I defended in court.

People think Pittsburgh is a small town.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:29 AM
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203: How many people are/were in that town? 500 or something?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:32 AM
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Fewer then, nearly 600 now, I think. The school drew from a larger area of course, and I think there were maybe 24 graduating seniors that year (including the BF?).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:39 AM
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205: I think maybe he did his senior year in Billings? He moved like a year after his parents did. (That is super weird to me -- but the younger kids were in the house in tiny town by themselves after the parents moved to the big city.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:49 AM
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That sounds right. We were part of some going-to-college festivities, and so already knew him. But I don't remember all the exact details from 25 years ago.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:58 AM
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152
Not knowing about Card is surprising, but I'm surprised by the idea mentioned above that it's a good idea to avoid other writers in the genre.

I know authors often go out of their way to avoid reading any story suggestions from readers, even authors who are big on feedback from and communication with fans (come to think of it, I don't know how they do that; maybe filtering is part of their secretary's job even if it looks like the kind of thing that's unfiltered, like Usenet or forum postings), to avoid any risk of an accusation of copying it. Maybe they do the same for the work of contemporary authors.

If so, I'm actually curious about how. A writer doesn't write in a genre he or she doesn't enjoy reading, do they? And sure, any given genre is large enough that theoretically it would take a long time to exhaust the pre-contemporary canon, but don't writers catch the buzz about other authors? Get interested in these people who are showing up quoted on their own book jackets?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 9:03 AM
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It's not exactly the same thing, but a friend of mine who published a novel that drew comparisons to Dave Eggers and Jonathan Safran Foer had resisted reading just those authors and others who could be considered his peers. He was reading the more established contemporary literary fiction writers, Franzen among them, but also just a hell of a lot of everything -- Musil and Beckett and Vargas Llosa at the time, IIRC.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 9:19 AM
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Here we go again.

Rescue efforts under way after oil rig explosion in Gulf


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 9:39 AM
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I blame President O'Terrorist -- BP + the magic bacteria managed to fix the first one, so now he's trying again. I'd like to see him try to run his muslin mosk on solar power.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 10:16 AM
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Isn't it interesting how frequently it results in the opposite?

Indeed, if one read widely in one's own area one might better be in a position to know what was original and what cliched.

Robert Fripp claims that he deliberately avoided listening to the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early 70s.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 10:36 AM
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One person's cliche is another person's genuine developmental stage. I think 90% of everything considered cliche really just means outgrown. It's pejorative only because we kind of sneer at our former selves.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 10:46 AM
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That is super astute, h-g. My baby sister is just starting college, and when I talk to her, everything she says is so cliched that my teeth ache. But I remember feeling exactly that, fervently, and with the notion that I had really figured something out.

Shoot. Now I'm doubting the past few years I've spend writing down what I think. I'm not going to enjoy re-visiting that in ten years.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 10:53 AM
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I would add that to become a cliché, an idea has to be really good, at least in some context.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 11:11 AM
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215: I used to always say that...


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 11:12 AM
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Until you realized you were using too many commas?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 11:15 AM
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202: I haven't read that, but I'm going to look for it. Thanks.

I also really like Franzen's review of Alice Munro's Runaway.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 2:22 PM
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Ordinary speech is significantly different than creative speech generated in the hope of profit or a reputation. Lots of uneducated, intelligent people express themselves by using cliche. Music used to be largely cliche-- familiar songs played for small audiences. In music, the drive to novelty was a consequence of mechanical reproduction and copyright, I think.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 2:51 PM
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214: It's not going to take 10 years. I'm going to shred the pity-party crap I wrote during the last three years before I croak and the kids see it. Right now, in fact.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 3:51 PM
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Six Moleskines cross-cut and the computer files into TrueCrypt. That should do it.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 4:05 PM
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You know, if you think about it, the title of this post is pretty gross. I wish I hadn't thought about it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 4:12 PM
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If you didn't get that the title was gross, maybe you should spent some time in a junior high or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 4:36 PM
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One person's cliche is another person's genuine developmental stage.

This is a really good point, and I've never seen it made in those terms before.

I think one of the things that makes me most forgiving and affectionate about very hackneyed phrases is when it's clear that they are the person's best effort at expressing something. Sometimes it's because they're 19 and the idea itself is new to them. Sometimes it's because they're 57 and their working vocabulary is limited. Sometimes it's because they're very bonding-oriented and sociable, and they're picking up on phrases that have been used by others in the room and echoing them.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 4:46 PM
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224: Now we're talking about two different things though. It's one thing to have, say, the same customer come into your shop every day and exclaim "Hot day for fat folks!" and another to be talking with some people and use a word like "lackadaisical" and have a couple of other people default back to that word because they can't say "lazy" or "ennui-bound" or whatever. Totally different rhetorical phenomena, I would say.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 4:52 PM
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Also, the question of cliche initially arose here in connection with writing rather than speech patterns. There are tried-and-true story lines and well-versed approaches in writing that one might, as a writer, do well to mark and attempt to avoid. Or not: this is not a dictum.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 5:04 PM
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The only recent appropriate thread I can find in which to dump this:

Weigel deeply disappoints on the topic of the Tea Party movement. See the final, and closing sentence of the penultimate, paragraphs. That is:

Beck, who's done so much to inform the Tea Parties, told a crowd of 100,000 or so people in person, and many in the TV audience, that they needed to look inward and look back to God and be ready to restore the pre-New Deal vision of America.
Is this good for the Republican Party? I think it is. When is an active and powerful base bad for a political party? The issue that activists and Republicans have to deal with, as they look to power, is whether they can be as successful at convincing Americans of their agenda as they have been at convincing themselves. They need a country that has given up on Democratic policies largely because of high unemployment to be convinced that their policies will hurt in the short term and work in the long term. If all the Tea Party does is help the GOP create momentum for tax cuts, it will have failed. It's spending cuts, painful ones, that 40 years of conservative activism have been asking for, and 2 years of Tea Party activism have tried to convince the country that it needs.

Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:09 PM
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I should say that it's unclear whether Weigel is endorsing this agenda (restoring the pre-New Deal vision of America), but it sure as hell sounds like he is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 2-10 7:26 PM
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I read 60-70 pages of Franzen's latest while waiting for a plane the other day. He's very readable, but there's just this sourness in his tone and attitude toward his characters that I find off-putting. He never really likes or respects them, and they never feel very independent of the author. Also, his technique of generating "depth" by writing huge run-on sentences which pile up cultural reference after cultural reference gets old fast.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 5-10 9:48 AM
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227: Weigel's article is good on the intra-DC strategy issues, how the tea party looks from an insider perspective. I like that he points out that we're heading to a collision point where we have to have it out on the New Deal. The politics of tax cuts + deficits is tapped out. As a liberal, I welcome that fight.

It's bad because it doesn't get to the complexity and interest of the tea party as a social protest movement. I wish liberals were willing to think more creatively about how to tap into that.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 5-10 9:59 AM
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230.last: Except we're all familiar with the social protest aspect of the TP; they used to just call themselves Republicans. The "movement" (such as it is) represents an intra-GOP fight for control of that party. Liberals have far more in common with the GOP figures the TP is trying to purge than with the purgers.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-10 10:06 AM
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And now that I've read Weigel's post, 231 is superfluous.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 5-10 10:13 AM
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232: That's why I said Weigel maybe didn't get to the full complexity of the tea party. The "tea party" itself was set up by the far right, but the force behind it is a protest movement fueled by the (correct) sense that there's a government-big business alliance that has been damaging to the interests of the middle class. I just want to see progressives make a better effort to connect to that protest energy somehow, because there are potentially progressive elements there.

I fully admit that as the tea party gets increasingly identified with the hard right, and the racial and Rand-ite elements get stronger (as Weigel points out, they are heading for re-litigating the New Deal), this belief seems increasingly like wishful thinking. And it's crazy making to see the tea party get increasingly respectful press coverage as it becomes more of a rebranding of classic hard right themes. But it would at least be good to connect enough to mount a populist challenge to the warped view of American history taking root there.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09- 6-10 9:50 PM
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