Re: Who needs a big bear hug?

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Must smash .


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 11:49 AM
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If I were a woman, I'd have been calm enough to get that tag right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 11:50 AM
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1: Don't you know Hulk is a feminist?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 11:54 AM
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This all seems obvious to me, having grown up surrounded by assumptions that the honor roll would be mostly female, the gifted classes would be mostly female, more girls would graduate, more girls would be recruited by the better colleges, etc. As a younger kid it seemed like a basic issue of fairness in that men were stronger, so women would be smarter and better able to perform social interactions.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:02 PM
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Last year, Iceland elected Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, the world's first openly lesbian head of state, who campaigned explicitly against the male elite she claimed had destroyed the nation's banking system, and who vowed to end the "age of testosterone."

Ha ha! Only a crazy lesbian could reach that conclusion! Crazy lesbians!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:06 PM
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Women also now get more PhD's than men, and single, childless college educated women make more than college educated men. (I think the stat was more than college educated men as a whole.)

But on the whole, women still make less money than men and are missing from the highest echelons of most professions.

At this point, I think we can locate the glass ceiling pretty precisely at pregnancy. Identifying the factors behind that location is another debate, though.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:12 PM
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This article is describing a very real phenomenon -- the final stretch of America's transition to a post-industrial economy -- but because it's The Atlantic, home of business and economics editor McMegan, instead of discussing any social justice concerns, it's designed as a boo-hoo for the overclass.

Over the course of the past century, feminism has pushed women to do things once considered against their nature--first enter the workforce as singles, then continue to work while married, then work even with small children at home. Many professions that started out as the province of men are now filled mostly with women--secretary and teacher come to mind. Yet I'm not aware of any that have gone the opposite way. Nursing schools have tried hard to recruit men in the past few years, with minimal success. Teaching schools, eager to recruit male role models, are having a similarly hard time.

This is because once jobs like secretary and teacher become "women's jobs", they become stigmatized and underpaid. (Also, is this a thriving economy for secretaries?)

The 1999 movie Office Space was maybe the first to capture how alien and dispiriting the office park can be for men.

Certainly there was nothing in the movie about how women in a service economy feel alienated and dispirited. I'm going to stop reading now.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:13 PM
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6: Young, single, childless women make a little more than young, single, childless men because they have better credentials. Once you compare the similarly-credentialed, women still make less.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:17 PM
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There's something odd about the step from trends showing that power and status are moving from men toward women (that is, women who have avoided that whole glass ceiling issue), to "men are doomed and women will rule everything!" without paying much attention to the fact that the baseline was profoundly unequal. A society that was moving toward gender egalitarianism, rather than toward female dominance, would look rather like our last few decades. Isn't that distinction (between gender egalitarian and female dominance) kind of a big one, and one that's worth considering?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:20 PM
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I don't think the article is saying Female Dominance = Disaster Everywhere! More that many of the traits that create a productive workplace are feminine in our culture, and as a consequence, many men need to be somehow retrained, but no one really knows how to do that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:26 PM
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9: Yes? The article doesn't seem interested in nuance.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:26 PM
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it's designed as a boo-hoo for the overclass.

This isn't true. Much of the discussion is about men who held or hold blue collar jobs.

You all just like to shit on The Atlantic. Which is fine, carry on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:32 PM
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A caveat on that gender-gap study:

Here's the slightly deflating caveat: this reverse gender gap, as it's known, applies only to unmarried, childless women under 30 who live in cities. The rest of working women -- even those of the same age, but who are married or don't live in a major metropolitan area -- are still on the less scenic side of the wage divide.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:33 PM
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Well, not much. But community colleges are discussed, blue collar jobs - it seems like the article fairly deals with a full range of SES categories.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:34 PM
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So, over thirty, women make less. Married with or without kids, women make less. Kids but not married, women make less. Unmarried, without kids, and under thirty, but not in a major city, women make less.

We're not quite past the point of gender egalitarianism yet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:34 PM
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12 gets it right.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:35 PM
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This isn't true. Much of the discussion is about men who held or hold blue collar jobs.

It is true, because it's not formulated as "America sucks for blue-collar workers" but as "America is starting to suck for men". An article chiefly interested in blue-collar men wouldn't have sentences like Women now earn 60 percent of master's degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:36 PM
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It's definitely a big problem that the pay gap persists. That doesn't mean that gender stuff isn't sufficiently complicated to allow for a real conversation about how men are missing out on valuable skills that are deemed feminine, and how it's hurting them in the workforce.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:37 PM
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13: Oh, I missed the under 30 part, too. That's a big deal: now the study just shows that 20-something urban men are a bunch of slacker hipster losers.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:38 PM
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An article chiefly interested in blue-collar men wouldn't have sentences like Women now earn 60 percent of master's degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s.

It's not chiefly interested in blue-collar men. As I said in 14, the article tries to deal fairly with a full range of SES categories.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:39 PM
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And! Where were all you fuckers when Hawaiian Punch was napping and I kept clicking refresh? Do you know that she's awake and babbling in her crib, just as you all are getting spicy? What fuckers.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:40 PM
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14: Right -- the overclass here is "men". (Because I'm a feminist, laydeez.) There's no discussion of facts like LB is citing in 15, and things like this drive me insane, because they're so divorced from reality:

The sociologist Kathryn Edin spent five years talking with low-income mothers in the inner suburbs of Philadelphia. Many of these neighborhoods, she found, had turned into matriarchies, with women making all the decisions and dictating what the men should and should not do.

That's because an insane proportion of poor black men in America have done prison time, and unemployment is through the roof in that demographic. That's a "crisis for black men", or possible a "crisis for inner-city African-Americans". You can't yoke that sort of thing to "a majority of MDs are now women" (just in time for the start of a decline in the pay and social capital that accrue to doctors!) and get a "crisis for men".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:41 PM
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An article chiefly interested in blue-collar men wouldn't have sentences like Women now earn 60 percent of master's degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s.

I think you need to replace "chiefly" with "entirely" to make this sentence true.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:41 PM
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An article that actually seemed interested in discussing the issues Heebie brings up in 18 would be interesting and worth reading. Maybe it'll run in The New Yorker someday!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:43 PM
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21: Make your male slaves attend to their child rearing duties, Heebster.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:47 PM
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That's because an insane proportion of poor black men in America have done prison time, and unemployment is through the roof in that demographic. That's a "crisis for black men", or possible a "crisis for inner-city African-Americans". You can't yoke that sort of thing to "a majority of MDs are now women" (just in time for the start of a decline in the pay and social capital that accrue to doctors!) and get a "crisis for men".

Oh, definitely - the prison time link with unemployment is a giant clusterfuck that is not dealt with in this article. There's also the long-established thing about how educated black women can't find sufficient numbers of their black male counterparts to find someone when it comes to starting a family. So there are very different forces at work, in different class segments, and many of them have been at play for a very long time.

However, if some of these trends are extending from a small group to a bigger group, then there's something going on. In particular, the three girls discussing their slack-ass boyfriends/future husbands resonated. I know many couples where she holds a more advanced degree than he does.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:49 PM
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Sort of hurriedly written and not re-read. I really should go rescue HP.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:49 PM
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19: There's a really interesting question about whether the "under thirty" thing is an age question or a cohort question: ten years from now, will the income gap be closed or reversed among people under forty, or will it still be under thirties?

Biglaw litigators, there's definitely (oh, IMnonscientificObservation) an age/seniority issue: women are half the junior associates, but many fewer of the partners, and this has been going on for long enough that the first batch of women associates who were hired in substantial numbers should have been partners for a long time by now. But that doesn't mean there aren't cohort effects in other parts of the legal profession, or other professions, or non-professional jobs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 12:51 PM
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"America sucks for blue-collar workers"

True here, just as much as anywhere. I can't see any hope for my younger male relatives, that's for sure. There's nothing for them. Nothing. Their lives are fucked before they've even really got started.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 1:04 PM
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I don't think it's too far off to say that the economy sucks even more for traditionally male blue collar jobs than for traditionally female blue collar jobs. Or that the gender disparity between incarceration rates (looking at incarceration for violent crime anyway) has a real impact in a lot of places. Or that the continuing preponderance -- and we've been seeing this for a decade and more -- of women in college is going to work though the culture in some interesting ways.

No one thinks de-industrialization is the best cure for gender pay disparity. And yet, to a considerable extent, that seems to be how it's playing out.

As for the glass ceiling, there are a couple of things going on IME. Second pregnancy (really, end of second maternity leave) is where the rubber seems to really meet the road: ask a early/mid 30s lawyer whether she really wants the expense and hassle, and lack of contact with her kids. Answer may depend on whether her partner's UMC income/prospects can support the family.

There are also systems where promotion is more dependent on traditionally female virtues, and other where traditionally male virtues will be more highly valued. And it'll depend, I imagine, mostly on which makes more money for the organization . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 1:19 PM
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There may still be a "female personality traits are becoming more adaptive" explanation at work for the increase in power of poor black women relative to their male counterparts.

You have a situation where jobs are scarce and poverty is high. Who is resorting to drugs and crime--mostly the men. At least some of this is because male patterns of coping with adversity don't work in this situation. Men are more likely to deal with depression via alcohol & drugs. Men are more likely to be too proud to take certain shit jobs.

There was a study linked to here a while ago of problems of minority men in community college. The upshot was that racism wasn't that big a deal. The biggest problem was that minority men were unwilling to admit that they needed help with school work.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 1:21 PM
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to be too proud to take certain shit jobs

I would say that there might be a real gender difference along the "take this job and shove it" axis. We had a new guy come into my section at work a few months ago, and he had some difficulty dealing with the (female) boss's management style, which is frankly terrible. She's a basically decent person, and she knows a lot about what we do, but she's a counterproductive micromanager and wildly rude about it, to the point where I spend a lot of conversations with her digging my nails into the palms of my hands until they leave marks that don't fade for hours.

So new guy keeps on getting into shouting matches with her, and then comes to me to unload about it. And I explain that she's not out to get him particularly, she treats everyone like that, including me and I know she likes me personally and likes my work. And he nods, and says that he'd be better off if he could just let it roll off him, but he's just not the kind of person who can accept being treated that way.

And, you know, bullshit. But that's a particular kind of dysfunction I associate with men rather than women: getting to an "I don't have to take this crap" point long before it's actually in their best interest to blow up about it. That's the kind of thing that I could see keeping men who would have been bluecollar workers out of the often humiliating and unpleasant female-associated service jobs that they might be qualified for.

(Monarchiality because there's a non-zero chance my coworkers might read here.)


Posted by: Queen Flavia of Ruritania | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 1:41 PM
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32: "Yes, you do have to take this crap. Here, take it. There's more coming."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 1:57 PM
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re: 32

he's just not the kind of person who can accept being treated that way.

Some people might read that as bullshit, but some others might read it as someone who has enough self-respect to struggle with being treated like shit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 1:58 PM
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And even assuming we were in the business of persuading people that they ought to get used to eating shit, there aren't enough of those shitty jobs to go around anyway.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:00 PM
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But that's a particular kind of dysfunction I associate with men rather than women: getting to an "I don't have to take this crap" point long before it's actually in their best interest to blow up about it.

Who decides what "their best interest" is? Your story reminds me a lot of things my dad told me about a job he worked a couple of years ago, which he quit after about six months. It would have been in his financial best interests to stick it out a while longer, but for the sake of his mental and physical health quitting was a better move than putting up with the stress every day.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:04 PM
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34: Well, that's kind of what I mean -- I associate "My self-respect requires me to fuck myself over rather than accept an unpleasant situation," with men rather than women. He's not getting treated any better because he's shouting at the boss, and he transferred to our department after a similar issue with a prior boss. I'm not saying he's wrong about the boss's managerial style, but the requirements of his level of self-respect aren't doing him any good.

'Bullshit' was dismissive, certainly; I was a little out of patience with the dude after he came to me for sympathy with his inability not to shout at the boss. Sucks to be you, dude, but if you're going to work here, that's what it's like: function, or quit.


Posted by: Flavia | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:06 PM
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36 is right.

Pointless Anecdote: I quit my second ever job -- part-time petrol pump attendant, aged about 16 -- by telling the boss to go and fuck himself, in front of the entire company, and to this day I don't regret it. He was a bullying asshole and nothing was worth taking that shit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:08 PM
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Sucks to be you, dude, but if you're going to work here, that's what it's like: function, or quit.

That has echoes of 'love it or leave it', which is, frankly, not a happy worldview.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:08 PM
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And of course it would be a better world if no one had to get used to eating shit, and I've left jobs myself because of an unacceptable level of shit. But in a world where there are whole lot of jobs that involve eating shit, if men on average have a lower breaking point for it, that's going to be a disadvantage in staying gainfully employed.


Posted by: Flavia | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:11 PM
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Also, there's a difference between jobs that are inherently shitty, just because of the nature of the work, and jobs that are shitty because of totally preventable factors, like having a crazy neurotic boss. Especially if it's the latter, I think it's reasonable to complain and refuse to suck it up.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:11 PM
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I don't understand how the dysfunction as described in 32 is not the female boss's dysfunction.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:12 PM
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41: Reasonable can mean 'morally justified', and certainly shouting at our mutual boss is reasonable looked at that way. But if reasonable means 'well suited to get the guy to a place where he's employed but not taking crap from anyone' I'm not seeing it as a reasonable route to that goal.


Posted by: Flavia | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:15 PM
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42: She's wildly dysfunctional. Absolutely. But she's also a fact on the ground that this guy has to deal with, if he's not going to quit. Shouting at her is not an effective way to get better treatment.

I'm not complaining about this guy's sense of how employees should be treated, which isn't far off mine. I'm saying that as a matter of tactics, he'd be better off thinking about the Serenity Prayer: the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference.


Posted by: Flavia | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:20 PM
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2010-2011 BLS Job Growth Projections 2008-2018

Table 2. Occupations with the largest numerical growth


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:21 PM
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43 basically makes sense, except that it assumes that the alternative strategy will lead to that positive outcome, and not just to bloody palms.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:21 PM
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I haven't read the article yet, but in terms of gendered freakouts at work, my experience is that men are more likely to get into shouting matches. However, I have certainly worked with my fair share of shouty, angry women. Crying at work, on the other hand, has been pretty much exclusively women.

Close call as to which one makes other people more uncomfortable.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:21 PM
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re: 44

Possible anonymity fail?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:25 PM
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Sure, it would be a better world if no one got shit on. But hierarchy means that lower-status jobs will involve a relatively high frequency of shit, and this is exactly the gender training part. It used to be that most blue collar jobs required you to be practiced in playing through the pain, as it were -- to do physically punishing labor even when it is punishing, and to make it clear that you can/will do so and ask for more. Now many more require you to suck it up in this social/psychological way, and women are typically much more practiced in this particular sort of crummy interaction.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:26 PM
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"This" being putting up with managerial crap.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:27 PM
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49: but, having peered through the window of presidentiality, that doesn't seem to be the kind of job we're talking about here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:34 PM
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Well, it's bottom of the relevant hierarchy, whatever the qualifications that might make it easier to strike out for greener pastures (which, this last couple of years in my industry? Trying to switch jobs is a little tricky; trying to find one while unemployed, eve more so.) This guy and I are both workers who are supervised and do not supervise, despite the fact that we're generally in a prestigious profession.


Posted by: Flavia | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:38 PM
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I agree with 46: it's not obvious that taking it all lying down will get him anywhere either -- some people will just keep on exploiting you if you don't push back.

Maybe it's also tougher for him because the boss is a woman.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:38 PM
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COME AND SEE THE EMOTIONAL VIOLENCE INHERENT IN THE SYSTEM!


Posted by: SHOUT GUY AT FLAVIA'S WORKPLACE | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:40 PM
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"get into a shouting match with your supervisor" and "put up with complete bullshit" is a bit of a false dichotomy.

I thought the whole point of these superior social skills was that you were able to make your needs known and get people to change their behavior without screaming and throwing things.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:46 PM
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I can understand that there are circumstances where the self-interested thing is going to be to suck it up and take the shit. I'd want to push back against that being the universal lens through which these situations should be viewed, though.

There really are lines in the sand, I think, for a lot of people, when it comes to how they'll accept being treated. I'd want to resist pretty strongly the idea that [to the extent that's gendered] 'male' intolerance of a certain kind of social/psychological nastiness is something that we ought to be persuading the 'men' [again, assuming it's somewhat gendered] to adjust to by changing. To the extent that women's acceptance of some of these things is the result of centuries of ingrained sexism in the workplace that's not something we should be encouraging as the 'norm' for both genders.

I remember reading a comment by a second-wave feminist writer to the effect that we shouldn't see women's ability to thrive in a particular social and economic system that had previously been structured to favour men as necessarily a good thing. Her point being, I take it, that a lot of that world is pretty fucking shitty, and changing it was at least as important as thriving within it unchanged.

I think the same point runs the opposite way, too. To the extent that a lot of historically 'woman's' work has been characterised by a particular kind of subservience, and bullying we shouldn't be taking it as read that the way for men to get ahead, now that a lot of traditional male jobs are dying, should be to accept and conform to that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:46 PM
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Shorter 56, we should resist levelling down, rather than up.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:49 PM
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If you are junior, you might be able to get some relief from a micromanager by going for annoyingly eager to do things exactly right. At the very least, you can make life hard on the micromanager without shouting. If you are willing to run some risk, micromanaging is about as close as you get to a self-punishing crime.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:55 PM
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But are we leveling up by encouraging people to get into shouting matches?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 2:55 PM
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re: 59

Of course not,* but saying that the appropriate response to unpalatable facets of the workplace is always to suck it up and take it is wrong.

Of course, a lot of the time people have no choice, and I'd certainly not judge people for not always being able to push back when they get treated like shit. But I'd very strongly resist the idea that taking shit should be seen as something to be promoted.

* although there's a time and a place, obviously.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:01 PM
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I'd want to resist pretty strongly the idea that [to the extent that's gendered] 'male' intolerance of a certain kind of social/psychological nastiness is something that we ought to be persuading the 'men' [again, assuming it's somewhat gendered] to adjust to by changing.

Reading Flavia's comments with a completely objective, outsider's eye, she may have failed to draw the descriptive/normative distinction as strongly as she should. It seems plausible to me both that (a) the willingness to tolerate a certain amount of ill-treatment is an advantage in functioning successfully in many workplaces as they are constituted today, and that she's right that her co-worker isn't doing himself any favors, in terms of actually improving his situation, by his response to ill-treatment and that (b) it's a bad thing that there are workplaces in which willingness to tolerate ill-treatment is an advantage to functioning successfully, and we should all think of that as something that needs changing.

Generally, though, I doubt there's much leverage other than trying to make the labor market tighter -- if people on the bottom rungs are free to quit, and difficult to replace, they'll be treated better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:11 PM
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Generally, though, I doubt there's much leverage other than trying to make the labor market tighter -- if people on the bottom rungs are free to quit, and difficult to replace, they'll be treated better.

Or, like, unions and stuff.* There's been 30 or 40 years of relentless push back against full employment for precisely this reason. It's very handy for businesses and the rich to keep those who work for them properly cowed. But yes, I agree re: the descriptive/normative distinction. Clearly a lot of people have no choice but to take huge amounts of shit, the fact that they have to do so is a profoundly bad thing about our society. As you say, things won't get better unless it's in the interests of those in power to make it happen. There are a couple of routes towards that. One is a tighter employment market, the others include making it costly for employers to treat people like shit. Historically that's how the labour movement worked.

There's also a little chippy part of me that suspects there is a small amount we can do on a personal level to fight back, even if it's inconsequential on the larger scale of things.

* facetious, I know!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:21 PM
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I think we're falling into an implicit dichotomy between "shutting up and taking it" and "shouting matches", which I don't think actually exists. There are plenty of ways to be insistent, and even unhappily insistent, that don't involve losing your shit. So we can agree that the gentleman in question may have an inflamed womb that's causing him to react in unproductive ways without necessarily signing on to the idea that fist-clenched takings-of-it are the most effective solution.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:26 PM
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re: 63

Sure, and there are lots of more subtle things that happen. Eventually arsehole bosses start finding it difficult to get things done, or to call in favours, and so on.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:27 PM
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Gosh the unfogged discussions about work can get depressing sometimes.

Reading Flavia's comments with a completely objective, outsider's eye, she may have failed to draw the descriptive/normative distinction as strongly as she should.

This is, essentially, what Flavia said in 42, I don't think that anything Flavia is saying is wrong.

However, there is another element to this story. There is a collective action problem at work for employees dealing with a bad boss. It may be in each person's individual self interest to eat shit until they can get promoted out of the position, but collectively it would be better if there was some way to put pressure on the organization to not hire psychotic bosses.

(Or, what ttaM said about unions.)

For that matter, I feel like one reason for people to be impatient with somebody who's advice is to just put up with insane crap is that there is a way in which that attitude makes things worse for everybody (this isn't, at all, a criticism of Flavis, just thinking about possible reasons why the reaction to her comments was so consistent).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:28 PM
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63 meet 55.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:33 PM
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Let me put it this way.

From the perspective of any individual in a dysfunctional and hostile organization they are, to some degree, in a situation of, "I don't need to be able to outrun the bear, I just need to be able to outrun you."

That is to say, it's always better to not be the most thing-skinned person in the office. As long as somebody can be better at taking shit than their coworkers that gives them an advantage.

But, it also obvious, that any workplace that (implicitly) creates a competition between the employees based on their willingness to suffer quietly, is creating a bad situation for all of the employees.

And, obviously, other people have said this before, it just strikes a bit of a nerve with me -- not because my workplace is bad, very much to the contrary, but because I am strongly averse to workplace cultures that put a lot of weight (implicitly) on competition between the employees.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:34 PM
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66: oop.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:37 PM
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"I don't need to be able to outrun the bear, I just need to be able to outrun you."

But thinking this way cuts off your best route for changing things, which is to present your manager, and your manager's manager, with a united front.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:40 PM
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68 cont'd: but Mr. Shouty aside, I'm unconvinced that the typical socialization patterns for women make them better able to assert themselves in this kind of situation; losing your shit is obviously the wrong solution, but to my mind so is sucking it up and taking it; it seems like the kind of strategy that is under discussion may be better for keeping a job but not necessarily better for advancing.

It's possible, of course, that this is a product of my heteronormatively male outlook, and it's not like I've been asserting my way up the org chart for the past ten years, but nonetheless.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:43 PM
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But thinking this way cuts off your best route for changing things, which is to present your manager, and your manager's manager, with a united front.

That was my point in 65.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:46 PM
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but Mr. Shouty aside

I'm just sad that we collectively failed to make Shouty Flopdick happen.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:49 PM
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71 so it was. I should not be dividing my attention between work and the blog.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 3:53 PM
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Pointless Anecdote: I quit my second ever job -- part-time petrol pump attendant, aged about 16 -- by telling the boss to go and fuck himself, in front of the entire company, and to this day I don't regret it.

I'm having fun imagining the alternate universe where you do regret it. Old ttaM rocking slowly in his chair, thinking back to that foolish, foolish young pump attendant. If only he could go back and unsay those words!

I'm still not sure whether the regret is due to some outrageous way in which the young ttaM (16 years old; second part-time job) suffered horrible consequences for his actions, or whether he just feels really sorry about it.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 4:00 PM
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re: 73

And mine! And mine! In 62.

And re: heteronormative maleness, I'm particularly chippy, I have to admit. I've gotten much better at not manifesting it as a I get older; to the extent that a recent annual review at work praised my 'soft' skills -- getting on with others, being willing to help beyond the call of duty, good communication skills, and so on. But there's still stuff that really makes my hackles rise, and I know, with some certainty, that I couldn't deal with in-your-face rudeness of that type that my wife regularly has to deal with in her job. However, as I've said to her in the past, people just wouldn't _be_ that rude to me, I don't think; as the sort of people who like to abuse total strangers because they think they are in a position of power over tend to be cowards.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 4:05 PM
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which is to present your manager, and your manager's manager, with a united front.

Predator satiation is a successful evolutionary strategy for a number of species.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 4:06 PM
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it's always better to not be the most thing-skinned person in the office

The comic book discussion was another thread, but yeah, Ben Grimm would have problems with office work.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 4:11 PM
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Sifu and ttaM are right. It is true that women tend to be more likely to deal with being treated shittily at work without blowing up about it, but I don't think that's something we should be encouraging men to do.

I worked at a job where I was treated like crap, and I knew that it wasn't me, that the boss was bonafide crazy (and had a substance abuse problem), and that I was actually treated better than everyone else there. I still quit, but I quit way, way, way later than I should have. Because I felt like it was my job to try to make the situation okay. Fuck that. Not worth it. And fuck my fellow employees who had been enabling her behavior for years and, in some cases, decades.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 4:24 PM
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72: There's still time to make Shouty Flopdick a thing. Si, se puede!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 4:32 PM
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79: "If, we can do it!"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 4:38 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 4:41 PM
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The comic book discussion was another thread, but yeah, Ben Grimm would have problems with office work.

"It's Human Resources grievance-filing time!"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:11 PM
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Three theses:

1) There is something very real and very demoralizing going on for a lot of men, of which the loss of traditionally male blue-collar jobs is a part, but a relatively small part; it's a more generalized kind of status/position anxiety.

2) Some, but not all, of (1) is simply the result of the growth of feminism and the decline in patriarchal norms, and to that extent (1) isn't all bad.

3) The existence of (2) makes it nearly impossible for any man to talk seriously and empathetically about the real problems going on in (1) without coming across as either an asshole or a wuss.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:12 PM
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Stronger thesis that needn't mean that Robert is wrong: white men have always suffered from status anxiety. Which is to say, they've always worried that their social position was in jeopardy, and have variously blamed Native Americans/African Americans/Mexicans/the Irish/the yellow peril/the Jews/women/etc. Seriously, you can look it up. Start with the Puritans' treatment of Anne Hutchinson and go from there.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:21 PM
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83: Rob, I'm not seeing (3). I see that it would be a danger that a man talking about (1) might come across as an asshole or wuss (emo, right?), but I've certainly heard about (1) before, understand it as real, and don't dismiss it. Not that there's a lot to be done about it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:26 PM
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85 -- I was really thinking of the total failure of the various kinds of "men's movements" since the 1970s, which IMO are either pathetic or evil, in different proportions.

Maybe a better thesis is this: in the United States, there's no current acceptable working model for middle class adult male sociability in the way that there is for middle class adult female sociability.

The models for male sociability are basically adolescent and something that one is supposed to grow out of -- which is kind of the point of all Judd Apatow movies -- but what one is supposed to grow into as a man is totally unclear.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:40 PM
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there's no current acceptable working model for middle class adult male sociability

And what's Unfogged, chopped liver?


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:44 PM
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Duh-uh, it's practically a Uterus Party.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:45 PM
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white men have always suffered from status anxiety.

Well, with status comes status anxiety.

I try to think of freedom from status anxiety as a little reward I get for being fairly low status. But somehow I manage to be anxious anyway.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:46 PM
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The idea that lower status leads to lower anxiety is exactly backwards, from what I recall of the research; subordinate social position is a much stronger predictor of stress levels than anything else. (I think? Cursory googling finds a bunch of papers, any of which could be the one I'm thinking of.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:50 PM
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86: Yeah, I see that popular culture doesn't model male sociability very well. I just spent a few minutes casting about for an explanation, and am coming up empty.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 5:50 PM
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91: It's like you don't think icing one another will help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:02 PM
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I could use a hug. Will probably need to go on welfare, and twenty fascist bastards in the next Riksdag.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:04 PM
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A hug to you, David. I may not be big enough to make it a bear hug, but: hang in there?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:19 PM
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Now, drink this Smirnoff Ice all at once or I'll call you a dickless loser and pee on your car.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:21 PM
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I think I understand what Robert is saying in 86.2 and 86.3, but this keeps throwing me: what one is supposed to grow into as a man is totally unclear.

This is touchy terrain. I kind of want to ask, first, why anyone needs to be told what to grow into. But that comes across as obnoxious. I get the point about popular culture's images of masculinity. Of course.

So, 86.2: in the United States, there's no current acceptable working model for middle class adult male sociability

I don't know. There are a bunch of men here on Unfogged, say, who seem like acceptable working models. How did they figure that out?

I'm having trouble understanding this without making a lot of assumptions that I don't really want to presume to make.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:32 PM
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There are a bunch of men here on Unfogged, say, who seem like acceptable working models. How did they figure that out?

Craigslist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:34 PM
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1. I'm really glad heebie posted this, because I think it's a generally meaty and important issue.

2. I can't bring myself to click through and read the article, because the bits that are filtering through are so annoying.

feminism has pushed women

Feminism! It's this entirely external force that is pushing poor defenseless women!

(Also, The sociologist Kathryn Edin spent five years talking with low-income mothers in the inner suburbs of Philadelphia is a fact-checking fail. AFIAU, her work was done in Philadelphia and Camden, and almost no one on earth would describe Camden as a "suburb.")

3. What rfts said in 49. Exactly.

4. we should resist levelling down, rather than up. This too.

5. I dunno, 83.1 and 83.2 make perfect sense to me, and then I get bogged down thinking about 83.3. I feel as though I have a lot of examples for why that's not true, but I'm not actually thinking of any.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:36 PM
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OT but speaking of uterus parties, I go in for my D&C Tuesday and while I've been okay at not panicking or anything, I've been less happy since the discussion turned to tumors rather than polyps even though I don't know what the practical difference is since I'm assured the tumor would be benign. I'm just not excited and any BTDT might help.

Back on topic, I work in an all-woman office with a boss who has serious problems and basically no room for advancement. I try to focus on the positives, but onnthe other hand I am lying back and taking it and have been for years. I'm right on the cusp of being able to do whatever I want because I'm a parent and mitherhood is sacred to my boss, but being on the other side of the unfair divide doesn't make me like it any more, actuallym this isn't really on-topic, is it?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:37 PM
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97 cont'd.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:38 PM
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I don't know. There are a bunch of men here on Unfogged, say, who seem like acceptable working models. How did they figure that out?

Because drinking and insulting others was invented by Ogged.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:38 PM
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I highly recommend clicking through to the gallery in the link in 100 (here, click on "masculinities") though it's NSFW.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:42 PM
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102: Wow. I like how it's simultaneously funny and frightening.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:53 PM
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I don't know. There are a bunch of men here on Unfogged, say, who seem like acceptable working models. How did they figure that out?

I have argued before that one of the continuing themes on unfogged is the search for an appropriate, contemporary, image of masculinity.

It would sense then, that unfogged would select for men who are interested in that as a subject of conversation and exploration.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:53 PM
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97/100 seem familiar to me, but not exactly. Did someone here link something similar about femininity or sexuality or something, awhile ago?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:56 PM
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In light of the link in 100, expand 83.3 to "asshole" and "wuss" to "asshole" "wuss" or "nutjob."

The point remains, though -- there's just not really a space for this conversation without it spinning into parody or ludicrousness.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:56 PM
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104: Huh. That was way back in '05. Sure, though, that was one of Ogged's oblique themes. It's probably one reason I found this blog of interest.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:58 PM
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Luke ("I am masculine because I abandon women after taking their love. Because when you study Freud you don't let him study you. Because I study philosophy not literature.") is ... something.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 6:59 PM
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108: he's the best, but I also like the guy in the pink shirt who is making "fuck or fight" determinations whenever he enters a room and the humanities scholar blazing a path of destruction on the way to success.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:01 PM
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104 cont'd . . .

It's odd going back and reading my own comments on unfogged. That thread sticks in my head because it was an "aha" moment, of sorts, but looking at the tone of my comments it's immediately obvious (to me) that I was just barely starting to feel comfortable with unfogged.

I had relaxed enough to post comments that were potentially revealing of beliefs that I cared about, but I hadn't figured out at all how to fit into the conversation here.

I realize this is a completely self-indulgent comment, but it just struck me that the linked thread was at such a recognizable and precise moment in my personal socialization to unfogged.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:01 PM
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106.last: I really disagree, Robert. I mean, people can intentionally spin it into parody or ludicrousness, but it doesn't have to be so.

I'm godawfully tired, and I become earnest in this state. Sorry.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:09 PM
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NickS, I for one would love it if you'd comment more along those meta lines. i'm very interested in the self-construction of masculinity and also critical (in the best sense) views of masculinity from someone who isn't a lesbian like me. I'm working my way through that linked thread and enjoying it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:13 PM
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86: but what one is supposed to grow into as a man is totally unclear.

There's only one correct choice?


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:22 PM
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I'm really glad heebie posted this,

I like it when people say this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:25 PM
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NickS, I for one would love it if you'd comment more along those meta lines.

I appreciate that. I have recently been thinking about my interactions with unfogged because I just realized that I now think of myself as a "regular" and that's an interesting and odd shift.

i'm very interested in the self-construction of masculinity

The comment thread isn't as interesting but this post is one of the touchstones for discussions of masculinity on unfogged (or, was it a different post? I seem to remember ogged making the kid cry).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:30 PM
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OK, here's a thought. There's a poem that is exceptionally popular among New Age-leaning people (among others). One part of it goes:

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children
.

What I like about that is its immense practicality.

I've been reasonably amused by Judd Apatow movies in the past, but what makes me impatient with the version of young men that's being caricatured in those type of movies is exactly that sense of passivity -- of waiting to be told what the thing to do is, rather than assessing the situation and responding appropriately without waiting to be told.

Now, the thing is that I'm actually not convinced that this is a gendered trait in our society. There's a version of it that is maddeningly true of a subset of young men, but I really don't feel certain that there isn't also a parallel -- though differently expressed -- version among a subset of young women.

111 gets to something related: Earnestness is considered unmasculine. (Well, more like dorky and naive. And the dorkiness/naivete penalities for men are often higher than for women, I think. Because men are supposed to Know Things.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:31 PM
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116: Heh. The Craigslist personals ad that I almost replied to recently had a message much like that. (I was just going to tell the guy that while I'm not currently in the market, I thought he should know that his ad was great and appealing, and wish him luck. My earnest mood has been lasting for days, it seems.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:43 PM
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116 -- Where you live and -- especially --how much money you have really has quite a lot to do with whether you'll be able to "get up" after "a night of grief and despair" to "do what needs to be done to feed the children."

So I'm calling bullshit on that particular poem, or at least its implied ability to combine practicality with anti-materialism. I'm not really sure what that has to do with the masculinity discussion, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:52 PM
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To 113, I just meant that there are many fewer current cultural models of post-adolescent male sociability than female sociability.

The point of the Apatow movies, I think, is that the main characters' slackerish stoner buddy periods are fundamentally transient and must be thrown into the past in order to gain adulthood (which is acheived by marriage). There is a counter-theme that, once married, there is no plausible future for male sociability, and perhaps for self-expression at all, save pathetic attempts at nostalgic recreations of adolescence, e.g., Paul Rudd's fantasy baseball club in Knocked Up). Maturity is both an inevitable destination, and a cage.

Holy shit, I am turning into Bob. More apocalyptic ranting combined with reports on my cable TV viewing coming right up.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 7:54 PM
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119 seems about right. Achieving maturity means giving up friends and having children instead. Or more optimistically, all of your friends will also have children, and then you can be friends again.

As a younger man what I feel pressure to do is not be made fun of. I don't know why this is such a huge concern, but it is. You need to be able to have the upper hand on people. And that doesn't mean being able to beat them up, it means being able to say something to make them look foolish, if the need arises. You never want to be totally earnest with someone you don't totally trust because it might turn out that the person you're talking to is playing a joke on you or something.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:03 PM
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And that doesn't mean being able to beat them up, it means being able to say something to make them look foolish, if the need arises.

If I recall, it also means you can't be too afraid of them beating you up, unless they are hugely bigger or armed or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:05 PM
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OK, I clicked through, and now I'm reading the whole thing.

Interesting opening image. I guess "The End of Men" also includes the erasure of women of any ethnicity and background other than European/East Asian?

As thinking and communicating have come to eclipse physical strength and stamina as the keys to economic success, those societies that take advantage of the talents of all their adults, not just half of them, have pulled away from the rest. And because geopolitics and global culture are, ultimately, Darwinian, other societies either follow suit or end up marginalized.

That last bit is just incredibly stupid. Geopolitics and global culture are ultimately Darwinian? Is there a prize for stringing together two concepts that arguably don't exist with a third that is best known for being misinterpreted?

(To 118: I think we're reading this entirely differently. To me it says "Your status symbols aren't important; what matters is whether you're able to reach within yourself even when you feel crappy and take care of whichever more vulnerable person is in your sphere." It isn't literally about money or having food to feed the kids.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:08 PM
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Geopolitics and global culture are ultimately Darwinian? Is there a prize for stringing together two concepts that arguably don't exist with a third that is best known for being misinterpreted?

Best Adapted Screenplay. Duh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:09 PM
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there's no current acceptable working model for middle class adult male sociability

- And what's Unfogged, chopped liver?

You know, I was assuming that that comment was so self-evidently absurd that there'd be lots of funny replies about franchising an Unfogged Drumming Circle, where you get to wrestle oiled and naked with a regular who then corrects your grammar.



Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:20 PM
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who then corrects your grammar.

IYKWIMAITYD


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:22 PM
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an Unfogged Drumming Circle, where you get to wrestle oiled and naked with a regular who then corrects your grammar

I can assure you that most of the time meetups are nothing like that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:22 PM
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122 -- But that's what so annoying about the poem. "I don't care about how much money you make, or where you live, so long as you make enough money and live in a good enough place in order to have the energy and resources to feed my children." What a liberating anti-materialist message!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:22 PM
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The men are black and white, their ages ranging from about 20 to 40. A couple look like they might have spent a night or two on the streets, but the rest look like they work, or used to. Now they have put down their sodas, and El-Scari has their attention, so he gets a little more philosophical. "Who's doing what?" he asks them. "What is our role? Everyone's telling us we're supposed to be the head of a nuclear family, so you feel like you got robbed. It's toxic, and poisonous, and it's setting us up for failure." He writes on the board: $85,000. "This is her salary." Then: $12,000. "This is your salary. Who's the damn man? Who's the man now?" A murmur rises. "That's right. She's the man."

Roisin leaves this story right at the most interesting point. This workshop leader has effectively framed the problem, in pretty pithy and accessible language (especially the part I bolded). But what's the solution? It sure ain't demonizing your ex-wife because she's now "the man."

the list of growing jobs is heavy on nurturing professions, in which women, ironically, seem to benefit from old stereotypes and habits. Theoretically, there is no reason men should not be qualified. But they have proved remarkably unable to adapt.

I'm just not sure I believe that last bit. Let's think about two jobs -- residential counselor, say, and nurse. A residential counselor doesn't need anything beyond a high-school degree; he'll get $10-13/hour in a metro area to work swing shifts and weekends essentially babysitting small groups of adults with disabilities in a group home. A nurse still doesn't even need a bachelor's degree (although this is starting to change for the more desirable nursing jobs), and can pull down a decent middle-class wage as long as they're reasonably flexible schedule-wise, and a rather impressively good one if they go on for more training in a speciality and/or are willing to work a more demanding schedule.

And the number of men that I know* who are taking jobs in these professions is pretty robust, and rising steadily. As a child it was common to hear the clarifier "male nurse," but I hear people unselfconsciously say "He's a nurse" pretty regularly these days.


I include both my social circle and the much larger and more diverse pool of people I have contact with and/or employment knowledge about through my job.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:23 PM
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...an Unfogged Drumming Circle....

Next stop, a sweat lodge where people keep asking one another to water Mutumbo.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:26 PM
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127: Either I'm explaining myself really badly, or we just have entirely different views of reality. Or both. Or something I haven't thought of.

One last try, and then I'll stop flailing away at this: To me, it's not about wanting the other person to have money. It's about wanting to believe that whatever the external circumstances, the other person will have the -- moral strength, character, something -- to go beyond their own needs and look out for someone weaker.

So it could just as well be "I want to know if after a night of deep grief and mourning over the death of your father the the king, you will pull yourself together to make sure your son gets his cereal in his favorite elephant bowl," as it could be "I want to know if after a night of deep grief and mourning over the death of your father the steelworker, you will pull yourself together to go next door and ask John if you can borrow a little oatmeal to feed your son."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:30 PM
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As for the glass ceiling, there are a couple of things going on IME. Second pregnancy (really, end of second maternity leave) is where the rubber seems to really meet the road: ask a early/mid 30s lawyer whether she really wants the expense and hassle, and lack of contact with her kids. Answer may depend on whether her partner's UMC income/prospects can support the family.

I could finish catching up on the thread before I respond, but I am not that patient. Yes, this may be true (I don't know that it is, and certainly see some real gunners at my firm with two maternity leaves under their belts). But I would challenge the popular wisdom that this is somehow because women are just inherently more nurturing and can't bear to be apart from their precious babes. As an early/mid (oh, fine, late) 30s lawyer, the degree to which I am motivated to deal with the expense and hassle and lack of contact with my kid is pretty directly related to the extent to which I see those efforts as likely to "pay off.". Guys want to believe women drop out of the professions because of that irresistible maternal drive, rather than look at the other factors in play.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:31 PM
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I can assure you that most of the time meetups are nothing like that.

Disappointed, always disappointed.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:31 PM
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122 -- But that's what so annoying about the poem. "I don't care about how much money you make, or where you live, so long as you make enough money and live in a good enough place in order to have the energy and resources to feed my children." What a liberating anti-materialist message!

Interestingly I read it differently, and had a different hesitation about that line.

Not having children, I read it as metaphorical rather than literal and as being a test of whether you are a person who is helpful in a crisis situation.

My frustration is, then, that there are many different flavors of crisis and I know that, personally, I would be quite good in some of them and a complete wreck in others.

I'm pretty good in situations where the appropriate response is staying patient, not being too argumentative or belligerent, being able to prioritize and take care of immediate needs first. I'm terrible at dealing with crises where the appropriate reaction is decisive action or engaging conflict (this shouldn't come as any surprise to anybody who reads my comments here).

In the scenarios Witt describes in 130, I think I'd be okay, but I wouldn't describe myself, in general, as somebody who can do what's necessary to get through a crisis.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:38 PM
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Guys want to believe women drop out of the professions because of that irresistible maternal drive....

Sparked by one's musky, Victor Mature-like scent leader-of-the-pack animal magnetism, to complete the thought.

OT: One is sufficiently evolved not to expect Tarotists and other fortune-tellers to be either old ladies of Eastern European extraction or dark-eyed princesses from Russian folk tales, but is it too much to demand that even a sidewalk entrepreneuse know how to spell "psychic"?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:39 PM
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do what needs to be done

That part definitely, no matter what the damned problem is. That's one of the vastly irritating aspects of having one's body fall apart with age; I have to keep finding new ways of doing what needs to be done.

I never thought of it as a particularly masculine trait though, my parents scorned the idea of the helpless female. It was just something everyone was supposed to be able to do. The women had gotten through wars and the Depression too, and weren't prone to the vapors.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:42 PM
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(And now, having finished reading the article, I'm realizing that someone excerpted it here (?) before.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:43 PM
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I understand the message the poem (presumably) is supposed to convey, which, as Witt says, is "I don't care about the status symbols, how strong are you in the real crisis with my kid." But the poem unintentionally, but tellingly, sends a mixed message, since one of the best ways to be able to psychologically handle crises is to have a lot of resources.

Can you also understand why a man reading it might not feel comforted that the author is OK with him not being a provider? ("Be rich enough to take care of the kids, and, also, take care of the kids.").


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 8:53 PM
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I read it as metaphorical rather than literal and as being a test of whether you are a person who is helpful in a crisis situation.

That's how I read it too. As Biohazard says, I'm not sure I would describe this as necessarily a masculine trait, but I can see how you could make a case for a version of masculinity emphasizing this kind of thing.

I found it interesting because I do generally think of myself as good in a crisis. I've been thinking about this a lot lately because I've been dealing with a family crisis of sorts, and it's been striking to me that I've generally done pretty well in situations like that. I hadn't really thought about the different kinds of crisis that Nick mentions; I suppose I'm also better at the first kind than the second, but I'm not sure how easily crises can be grouped into types like that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:00 PM
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...since one of the best ways to be able to psychologically handle crises is to have a lot of resources.

I still think people undervalue emotional repression as a strength in a crisis. At least, that's what I tell myself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:01 PM
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...a test of whether you are a person who is helpful in a crisis situation.

The history of executive power and its antecedents suggests the elasticity of "crisis."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:03 PM
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But the poem unintentionally, but tellingly, sends a mixed message, since one of the best ways to be able to psychologically handle crises is to have a lot of resources.

How would you feel about it if it ended one line earlier?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:06 PM
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A relative of mine is good in a crisis and terrible at good times, generally because she's always in crisis mode. (She sees fires everywhere that urgently must be put out and the rest of us incompetents are likely to just let them burn and burn. Things like running out of bread.) In contrast, there are people who are great at good times and terrible around crises.

I just think it's interesting that being good at crises and good at good times are completely independent skills. So we can should divide people up by quandrant and label them as Good at Crises, Good at Good Times, Good at Life, and Bad at Life.

I'm good at good times and medium at crises, probably. It's hard to say.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:06 PM
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142.1: I have a relative like that. It gets annoying. I'm trying to get him to try emotional repression, but no luck so far.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:13 PM
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I just think it's interesting that being good at crises and good at good times are completely independent skills. So we can should divide people up by quandrant and label them as Good at Crises, Good at Good Times, Good at Life, and Bad at Life.

This is an interesting way to look at it. I'd say I'm good at crises and medium at good times. My responses to crises are definitely among my finest moments.

It's hard to say.

It is, partly because crises are rare enough that people's experience with them varies wildly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:14 PM
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Also what Moby said about emotional repression. Absolutely.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:15 PM
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145: I was sort of joking, mostly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:15 PM
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I meant to send David upthread a hug. Have a hug, David. And good luck doing what needs to be done, whatever that means in your life at this time.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:17 PM
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146: I figured, but there's still some truth to it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:20 PM
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So we can should divide people up by quandrant and label them as Good at Crises, Good at Good Times, Good at Life, and Bad at Life.

But then wouldn't most of us be all bunched up at the origin, Mediocre at Life?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:20 PM
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As thinking and communicating have come to eclipse physical strength and stamina as the keys to economic success, those societies that take advantage of the talents of all their adults, not just half of them, have pulled away from the rest. ...

I believe this is confusing cause and effect.

... And because geopolitics and global culture are, ultimately, Darwinian, other societies either follow suit or end up marginalized.

This on the other hand seems basically correct.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:22 PM
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61

Generally, though, I doubt there's much leverage other than trying to make the labor market tighter -- if people on the bottom rungs are free to quit, and difficult to replace, they'll be treated better.

A reason for restricting immigation?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:25 PM
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148: I could see how moving to New Jersey after the Southwest might predispose you to think that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:28 PM
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Di, in my experience this is a question that gets asked. The answer isn't always the same, by any means. I also didn't mean to imply that it's all about maternal urges. There is, as you know, a tremendous amount of hassle involved in being a working parent, and the expense after adding a second kid is pretty stiff. And hours of the day are too short. I have the impression that this shortness is exacerbated by having more than one child.

Obviously, everyone deals with this in their own way. Someone married to someone else with a serious UMC income has real choices, though, and no one should be surprised that a number of people, women disproportionately ime, take them.

Maybe if you won the lottery you'd still work at your job. I think I probably would, although not at a biglaw partnership track pace . . ..


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 9:30 PM
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Another perspective on masculinity.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-19-10 10:18 PM
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151: have you ever read the Leonardo Scascia story with the Sicilian taxi driver who thinks emigration is great news, because the more people who go, the more work must be left for the others to do? This is actually the same argument you're making with different emotional valences added as decoration.

Strange, really - people who tend to appeal to "Econ 101" for everything also tend to miss the bit in Econ 101 where you learn that the lump of labour fallacy is a fallacy.

Also, I'd be interested to know why it became an assumption that service-sector jobs have to be shitty. The John Lewis Partnership, frex, doesn't have this problem. On the other hand, I was talking to some people who do (among other things) operations-support subsystem stuff for cellular operators, and the user interfaces for the call centre, and I was struck by the fact that their ideas of management still saw "feed the slaves" as a radical and slightly louche innovation.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:58 AM
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Also, off topic, the joy of living somewhere with 1000 years of contract law.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:05 AM
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Also, I'd be interested to know why it became an assumption that service-sector jobs have to be shitty. The John Lewis Partnership, frex, doesn't have this problem. On the other hand, I was talking to some people who do (among other things) operations-support subsystem stuff for cellular operators, and the user interfaces for the call centre, and I was struck by the fact that their ideas of management still saw "feed the slaves" as a radical and slightly louche innovation.

Yeah, it doesn't have to be shitty, it just contingently is most of the time. There's probably a limit to how unshitty service jobs can be made, because the general public are often shites, but employers often make it worse, because given a choice between their bottom line and squeezing their staff, 99 times out of 100 they squeeze their staff.

I used to work in call-centres, years back. At one point I even ran* the call centre for a string of UK ISPs. There was a pretty shit management culture -- when I worked for a bank they used time how long it took you to go for a piss -- it has to be said, but also, it's a very difficult business to even break even in without hammering your staff. For example, working in the ISP business we got, I think, somewhere in the region of £1 per month per customer. Which doesn't pay for a lot of support per customer. However, with no way of restricting customer take-up of the service, it was pretty tricky to balance staffing levels, service levels with the clients, operating costs, and so on.

It'd be nice to think that there was some complicated actuarial style maths being done to assign optimal staffing levels to support teams, but in practice no-one had a clue, and the staff just had to deal with the shit.

* not officially the 'manager' of the entire call-centre but in practice our manager oversaw both a sales and tech team, and the management of the tech team was my job.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:10 AM
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re: 156

That's great!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:18 AM
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in practice our manager oversaw both a sales and tech team

And guess which he was told to prioritise.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:29 AM
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re: 159

Well, yes. The sales team was a net earner for the company. and the tech team a net loser. Also, he wasn't really very techy, so he was happy not having to worry about that. Lovely bloke, someone I'm still in touch with 14 years later, and much more technically savvy now, but at the time he was completely out of his depth.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:33 AM
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153: That's good to hear. The conversations I have been privy to addressing the disproportionate attrition of women in our profession tend to focus exclusively on trying to accomodate motherhood. That frustrates me I a lot of ways -- because I am not asking for special treatment, and because a broad movement to accomodate *parenthood* (dads and moms) would go a lond wsy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:36 AM
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I'm fair to middling at life, but in a crisis I'm a fucking superhero. When I was doing my recovery thing and spent a lot of time out smoking with alcoholics and crazy people, this was very much the modal quadrant.

155: The sicilian taxi driver wasn't wrong about the value of his labor, at least in the short term. When you add the fact that undocumented immigrants, as a class, derive little direct benefit from labor laws, the empirical data showing only modest effects of immigration on low-wage employment become more surprising.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:36 AM
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The sicilian taxi driver wasn't wrong about the value of his labor, at least in the short term.

How short is your term? Until the people who would have benefitted from selling to the people who have emigrated find that their takings have fallen so far that they have to take a bus?

Other variables: the number of emigrants who were taxi drivers; the number of emigrants who took taxis when living in Sicily; the number of Sicilian who take taxis and mainly sell to the mainland or outside Italy. Etc.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:15 AM
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146: It's still true. Saving the emotions for after the bleeding has been stopped is great advice, IMX.

There's are times and places for letting them out, in the middle of a crisis isn't one of them. That would have to be a big part of any definition of "masculine" or "adult" before I would buy into it.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:23 AM
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155

have you ever read the Leonardo Scascia story with the Sicilian taxi driver who thinks emigration is great news, because the more people who go, the more work must be left for the others to do? This is actually the same argument you're making with different emotional valences added as decoration.

I expect expelling people would be less popular than restricting immigration. Migration from areas with a surplus of labor to areas with a shortage should in fact improve the labor market in the surplus area for workers who don't move.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:25 AM
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From the employer side, the question is how much can we do we have to allow employees to lessen the hassle of working parenthood, and still meet our service and revenue goals. In an environment with high overhead and high underemployment -- like our field -- the answer is often not all that much.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:33 AM
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(Overhead's a pretty big deal for big law firms. Just noodling around with the back of an envelope, I figure that while one might cover a junior associate's salary with 500 hours billed and collected, you might need 1,000 more to cover everything else. And there are discounts, write-downs, and other collection hits to consider when looking at how much profit is produced by the remaining hours.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:42 AM
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That would have to be a big part of any definition of "adult" before I would buy into it

I am always curious how people define "adult". I never really feel like I am one. Granted being almost 31 years old I don't think I can say I am not one, but I don't think my life has changed much at all in the last decade. It doesn't feel like there has been any forward progress. I also have no idea how one would define "progress" so this is probably just some weird insecurity talking.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:44 AM
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167 is not Manhattan real estate.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:49 AM
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167: It's hard math to do, particularly in a creative field. Having employees who value their jobs for more than just the paycheck and don't resent their employer might not actually make a difference in terms of efficiency and quality, and it would certainly be hard to measure if it did. But I wouldn't think morale would be a safe factor to entirely discount.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:58 AM
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166, 167: Agreed. And yet when discussions arise of how do we keep women from leaving the firm/profession in drove, how to minimize parenting issues always tops, and almost always comprises the whole of, the list. The hassles and expenses of parenthood aren't the only--and, in the anecdotal experiences of my peer--are far from the primary problem. But it's easier for management to view it through that lens precisely for the reasons you cite. "Well, gosh, we wish we could accomodate women more, but this is a business, after all..."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:59 AM
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I woke up early enough to go for a run before work. I am pretty sure this means I am an adult.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:00 AM
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172: Do you like black licorice? When the phone rings do you hope it's *not* for you?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:04 AM
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Those have both been true for a long time. Harder to convince yourself the phones not for you in the era of cell phones.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:07 AM
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'


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:08 AM
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Harder to convince yourself the phones not for you in the era of cell phones.

Not for me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:10 AM
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'phones? I think it has been long enough that you don't need note you've removed the 'tele' part.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:10 AM
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171 -- They don't sit around wondering how'd we get to be such pricks anyway?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:11 AM
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re: 168

I think a lot of people feel that way. I certainly do some of the time. To the extent that I developed the standard hallmarks of adulthood I developed them pretty young; I was a very self-aware and considered teenager. I could sound freakishly mature, and take responsibility seriously, by the time I was 16 or 17, and I meant it to, it wasn't insincere, or an act. But to the extent that there were other things that one might call immature, I don't think they've ever really gone away, and I'm 2 years away from 40.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:12 AM
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This and the other thread are bringing home to me, as is often the case talking to you folks, just how un-self-aware I really am. I remember being shocked, at 19, to meet people (from a different region) my age and 2 years older, who referred to themselves as kids. I considered myself an adult, and have never doubted this or, really, even thought about it since. Similarly, I don't think I've spent 5 minutes of the last 30 years thinking about what is or isn't consistent with masculinity, or what a modern male model of masculine sociability (whatever that is) might be. Not sure whether I'm privileged or deprived.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:22 AM
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My mental shorthand for adulthood is 'paying your own bills.' That doesn't work all that well -- there are certainly people who can't or don't pay their own bills that are adults, but if you've got a working plan to meet your own needs and those of the people you're responsible for, that seems like adulthood to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:22 AM
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I tend to think the "not really feeling like an adult" thing is a remnant of an early-childhood view of adults as universally competent and wise. I remember at some point having a minor epiphany while remembering some childhood event and realizing that my parents really didn't have a clue how to deal with it and were just sort of making things up as they went along. Maybe the real transition to adulthood is realizing that you just have to muddle through, and that this is all that everyone else is doing, too.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:25 AM
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I don't think I've spent 5 minutes of the last 30 years thinking about what is or isn't consistent with masculinity, or what a modern male model of masculine sociability (whatever that is) might be. Not sure whether I'm privileged or deprived.

Thinking about what is or isn't consistent with masculinity is not consistent with masculinity. Just do stuff and stop worrying about it all the time. The unexamined life is much more worth living.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:29 AM
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Also I do feel like my parents do (perform?) Adulthood with more formal rules than I do, and I think this gap sometimes makes younger generations think they haven't achieved Adulthood.

Of course, I also know plenty of people with totally incompetent parents, and their experience was very different than mine.

I, of course, go to the bank like a motherfucking adult, always.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:30 AM
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Maybe the real transition to adulthood is realizing that you just have to muddle through, and that this is all that everyone else is doing, too.

THIS. Tends to happen when you first attain a position with any responsibility for others: parent, thesis advisor, line manager, marksmanship instructor, etc.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:30 AM
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So, is it an easier transition for people with parents who didn't put up much of a hypercompetent front? I never had a lot of anxiety about adulthood: that is, I never had the "Am I a real adult yet" worry myself, and I wonder if it's because my parents were very clearly muddling through at all times. They were competent and functional, but in a muddled kind of way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:33 AM
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This seems as if it should circle back to masculinity, and to the conversation heebie wanted to have about how contemporary images of masculinity maybe aren't the most functional in the workforce. I'm not sure that's true, but I'm also not sure what contemporary images of masculinity are.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:36 AM
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185 -- I was going to add 'boyfriend' to your list, but realized that 'friend' is sufficient and correct.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:36 AM
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I didn't find it terribly stressful, even with hypercompetent parents. But the friends I'm thinking of considered themselves more competent than their parents while they were still living at home (and rightly so), and definitely never doubted their ability to be an adult, even if they took a few detours in their adult life.

I think I considered finishing undergrad my transition to adulthood, although not something I thought about consciously.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:37 AM
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Off to teach!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:37 AM
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186: that doesn't track with my experience (of myself and others)

187: I'm not sure that's true, but I'm also not sure what contemporary images of masculinity are.

See above re: craigslist. Which is to say, me either. I guess, unlike Carp, I have thought about it (what it means to be a man sort of regularly, which parts of that should profitably be ditched and which are worthwhile) but it all seems so inchoate and personal that tying it to anything generalizable seems entirely pointless.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:39 AM
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There's a great Calvin Trillin quote (that I'm not sure I totally buy, but it's great) that his friends could be divided into two groups: those that were in some sense taking care of their parents, and those whose parents were in some sense still taking care of them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:41 AM
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178: And there's the rub: the fear that if the retention and advancement problem for women in the profession is based on anything more than that whole motherhood thing, then the only alternative explanation is that the men at the top of the food chain are all pricks*. We've had this discussion here pretty regularly. Acknowledging that a statement or action is sexist does not mean the speaker or actor is necessarily sexist. But yeah, that's the defensive response that keeps us from fearlessly tackling the problem.

*Many, of course, unquestionably are.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 7:52 AM
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Similarly, I don't think I've spent 5 minutes of the last 30 years thinking about what is or isn't consistent with masculinity, or what a modern male model of masculine sociability (whatever that is) might be. Not sure whether I'm privileged or deprived.

Yeah, I talk about it online, because it's something that interests people -- and I can find it fairly interesting as an abstract issue -- but I can't say I've ever felt uncomfortable or conflicted about it as a personal issue. I've never had many worries about my own masculinity or about whether I'm 'doing it wrong'. So, sort of the anti-Sifu-in-191.

Worry about concrete shit such as 'whether I'm making person X happy' or 'am I fucking up on goal a, b, c, or all of the above ...' on the other hand ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:09 AM
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I think part of it is looking forward I don't really see any life milestones coming until retirement. So basically my life plateaued about 10 years ago and I seem to be here for about the next 30 which seems odd. I guess I could just declare victory and not worry about it.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:11 AM
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195 is wise.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:13 AM
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I've never had many worries about my own masculinity or about whether I'm 'doing it wrong'. So, sort of the anti-Sifu-in-191.

To be fair, that's not how I would summarize what I said; more like "huh, different people I respect handle issues in different ways from people that I grew up with. This is worthy of study." Partly I think this is a product of growing up in a famously neurotic and over-intellectualized town, partly it's a product of spending a lot of time in the both highly masculinized and blindingly immature hacker scene, and partly it's probably a product of being a child of divorce, but there was a moment in my early twenties where I sort of glommed on to different models for how one should behave in the world, and insofar as they were mostly men, this constituted thinking about what that meant.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:16 AM
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195: or you could take a bold step backwards, like I did.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:17 AM
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195: Huh. I suppose that's an advantage of having kids, it really does break up the lifespan into chunks. I'm looking forward to hopefully another twelve or so years of gradually increasing expense and panic, followed by a relaxing decade or so in which I have no worries other than work, being taken out to brunch by my adult children, and gradually growing older and closer to death. Also, possible grandkids that I can play with without having to take care of!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:17 AM
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re: 197

OK, yeah, I see what you mean.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:18 AM
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Between 195 and 199, I feel like I should start drinking at work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:20 AM
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199: Yeah, rock on! Gusty is 2 on Wednesday. It is a bit shocking. The grandparent really do seem to love the grandkid, so there is that.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:21 AM
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It's a hobby.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:21 AM
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followed by a relaxing decade or so in which I have no worries other than work, being taken out to brunch by my adult children, and gradually growing older and closer to deathfighting off the morlock hordes.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:24 AM
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199: Yes. That's precisely how it works!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:25 AM
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204: Joining the morlock horde also works if you are flexible about things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:26 AM
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I understand admissions standards are brutal these days -- I'm going to need to work on my scuttling.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:27 AM
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You could also try for a less structured, more individual cannibalism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:29 AM
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180: This and the other thread are bringing home to me, as is often the case talking to you folks, just how un-self-aware I really am.

Tart appreciation? Chilean miners?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:30 AM
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208 -> Chilean miner thread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:31 AM
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This thread was an amusing read for me, as I know the portrayals of male and female behavior are probably generally accurate but don't match up with my own experience at all.

It is generally acknowledged that my primary employable skill is the ability to suffer in silence.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:33 AM
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210: That won't happen for at least two weeks.


Posted by: Opinionated Chilean psychologist | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:33 AM
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Unless somebody sends A-1 Sauce down.


Posted by: Opinionated Chilean psychologist | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:35 AM
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I am always curious how people define "adult". I never really feel like I am one.

I was just telling a friend that I've made a shift to really thinking of myself as an adult over the last couple of years (I just turned 34), and that it was the second major shift in how I thought of myself in relationship to the outside world.

The first transition was after ungrad, and after getting established in a reasonable work/living situation (which was not immediate) I had the feeling of, "I pay my own bills, I have a job with real responsibility, beyond that I don't have to be accountable to anybody else." It was a shift from school in which, even when I was doing fine, I always had a sense that there was more that I could/should be accomplishing. That gave me the space to look at myself and become comfortable with the fact that there some things I'm very good at, and other things that I am not.

I'd always been comfortable with that internally but had a bit of anxiousness about whether/how other people would judge me if I was too exposed about that fact (not, incidentally, an anxiousness about losing in dominance games, but the social anxiety of, "I don't want to get into a conversation about or have to explain why this is an area of weakness for me."

So I think getting comfortable in that was was an important shift into being an adult, but I still didn't tend to think of myself as an adult because, for me, that meant thinking of my life as fixed, in some way, rather than transitional. I was more comfortable thinking of myself as "in transition" for all of the reasons of, "I'm used to measuring potential in myself, and I'm not ready to give that up."

But, over the last couple of years I have to admit, that I'm not in a transition period -- this is my life and, overall, I'm happy with it. Not incidentally changing jobs, making more money, and buying (half of) a house had a lot do do with that.

Similarly, I don't think I've spent 5 minutes of the last 30 years thinking about what is or isn't consistent with masculinity, or what a modern male model of masculine sociability (whatever that is) might be.

I think that reflects some privilege, in that it implies that your personal behaviors, goals, and standards fit (approximately) within the cultural templates so that you aren't left feeling (too much) like, "If I do what I feel is right/important I will be doing something that isn't valued/acknowledged."

On the other hand:

I've never had many worries about my own masculinity or about whether I'm 'doing it wrong'. ...
Worry about concrete shit ...' on the other hand .

More or less reflects my experience. Though, somewhat, I avoid feeling conflicted about masculinity by just not thinking of myself as a very masculine person.* There are times when I feel like that attitude of pre-emptive retreat limits my behavior, but generally, I just go through life being myself and not worrying about whether I meet anybody else's standard of adulthood or masculinity.

* Noted in passing, after re-reading my comment, that qualifiers in speech are generally coded as feminine.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:39 AM
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212: Although some tension does seem to be developing between Team Joe and Team Timothy.

"I always learned that being an adult means doing what needs to be done,"--Joe.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:41 AM
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When the phone rings do you hope it's *not* for you?

The timeless wisdom of Charlton Heston in 55 Days at Peking*:

"Open a letter and you may have to read it; read it, and you may have to answer it."

* Previewing, interestingly, John D. MacDonald's throwaway sexism (via Travis McGee) about women never being sufficiently secure to throw away mail without looking at it.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 9:13 AM
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* Previewing, interestingly, John D. MacDonald's throwaway sexism (via Travis McGee) about women never being sufficiently secure to throw away mail without looking at it

What a puzzling piece of sexism that is. Throwing mail away unopened as a sign of security, rather than a sign of anxiety about the possible contents?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 9:19 AM
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217: The folks I know IRL who have ignored their mail completely for months and months or thrown it all away unopened were suffering from fairly severe depressive episodes.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 9:23 AM
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218: One person I know who did that was suffering from fear of anthrax.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 9:24 AM
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217: I don't remember the novel in which the relevant passage occurs (maybe A Deadly Shade of Gold?), but McGee has very high standards for proper beach bum insouciance.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 9:25 AM
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Adulthood with more formal rules than I do

I do think this is a factor (although sometimes just as a "kids get off my lawn" complaint of the older generation). On the one side of my family I have seen it in action sequentially through four generations*. Examples would be dressing for breakfast or involvement in things like Halloween after you were an adult .

*On the other hand, some of the older generation men were masons and shriners and that kind of shit--goofy as hell in a way, but apart from their normal work and family routines.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 9:59 AM
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217: this sounds more like "self destructive male-pattern denial". Like not going to the doctor until the cancer grows over one eye.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 10:12 AM
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213: Num-Nummo, surely, not A-1 Sauce?

Incidentally, I find that the experience of reading Unfogged comment threads is greatly enhanced if you imagine that all the US commenters are trapped in a collapsed Chilean mine and all the foreign commenters are shouting at them down a long narrow borehole.
ATM, indeed.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 10:25 AM
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For me, coming to think of myself as an adult definitely has a strong existential component to it. Huh, here I am, hurtling toward my mid-30s. This is it, there's no "my life" that I'm going to get to outside of this.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 10:37 AM
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dressing for breakfast

Don't understand the concept.

The problem with thinking of yourself as an adult isn't that you can't use a bank or conduct a relationship or or order in a restaurant or whatever. It's the subliminal fear that at any moment somebody is going to say, "Oi, sonny, what are you doing in here!"


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 10:46 AM
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OI SONNY WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?


Posted by: OPINIONATED FORTY SOMETHING SKINHEADS | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 10:51 AM
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..."self destructive male-pattern denial"....

Look, if I had known my leg was broken, I would have gone to the doctor right away. It's not like I have x-ray vision.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 10:58 AM
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219: Was there a time when Anthrax mailed out CD to everybody, like AOL?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:17 AM
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225.1: Great-grandfather - suit jacket for breakfast! (hated him on Xmas morning)
Grandfather/grandmother - decent clothes, plus no product containers on the table.
Downhill from there.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:24 AM
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The discussion of masculinity has me paying attention to things I normally don't, which are now bothering me a little. It's something I had sort of been watching out for lately anyway, but this thread made me notice it.

I work with a woman who seems temperamentally very reticent. She has strong opinions that she'll express if asked (and they're usually incisive; she's a very sharp critic of people who oversell their research, for instance), but doesn't usually volunteer them. There's a group of us that usually eats lunch together during the school year, and she tends not to participate much in the conversations (which are usually largely focused on research, not on any very personal topics). I had decided that she was just a quiet person who doesn't like to talk much.

On the other hand, for a couple of months this summer, most people were traveling and I was (for once) staying put, so I often ate lunch with just her, and she was fairly voluble. It was a pretty dramatic change from the discussions during the school year. I learned a lot about her opinions and that they're pretty well-aligned with things that other people had discussed on occasions when she didn't speak up. So I don't think the topics of discussion made her uncomfortable.

There's another woman working here now, and when she's around the first woman is again much more likely to speak up. But when the gender ratio is more skewed (as it frequently is, in this field), she goes back to being silent. So I've been paying a bit more attention; there's definitely no overt sexism at work here, but I've been trying to notice if there's some more subtle exclusionary behavior. I haven't really caught on to any. But I have noticed (from others, and from myself) a tendency for a somewhat different conversational style when more men are around. There's more bluster, somewhat blunter expression of opinion. It's interesting. "Masculinity" isn't something I ever really think about, and "masculine" is not going to appear on any list of adjectives I would use to describe myself, but there is something happening in the male-dominated group discussions that isn't happening in one-on-one conversations. I don't know if it consciously makes this female colleague uncomfortable, but empirically it seems like it might be the factor that leads to her staying silent. I'm not quite sure what can be done about it, except to try to be more aware of how my own conversational style might change depending on who's around.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:25 AM
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229. Never met ggf. Grandfather and father both either swallowing coffee on the hoof while running out the door (fully dressed, to be fair) or eating breakfast properly in dressing gowns. Likewise grandmother and mother.

Mind my dad said his dad once chewed him out for leaving the house without a hat. But that grandfather (who I never saw at breakfast) was weird and older than god.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:29 AM
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230 is something I've noticed while teaching, as well. At Women's College, my students tend to take on all sorts of roles--nerdy egghead, smart-alec, bored eye-roller, earnest-but-ditzy artiste--but at Super-Diverse College, it's clear that the 18-22-year-old women just don't have the desire to play those roles. Even the older women (and there are many) tend to play the Very Good Girl role. It's not all of them, but I do think the presence of men, especially men in their 40's and 50's, has an effect on how women talk.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:34 AM
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230: isn't that sort of the well-described effect that happens in classrooms starting around twelve or so? Male students will jump in to answer questions but female students will hold back, even if they know the answer.

I actually feel like learning to shut up and listen more has been one of the more useful skills I've picked up as I've aged, but I don't usually specifically think about it in terms of gender differences.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:38 AM
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230: Huh. There are times when that's described me pretty well; voluble and assertive in one-on-one conversations, sitting back meekly in larger groups made up of mostly men. Law school, that happened a fair amount: I didn't have any trouble holding the floor in class, where I was engaging with the professor (in front of a couple of dozen other students, but with the professor). But in a cluster of students after class, I'd have a hell of a time getting a word in edgewise.

When I've had that experience, it hasn't felt like a response to an uncomfortable level of aggression or bluster: I like aggression and bluster, generally. What it's felt like has been trouble with the timing of the conversation: that I couldn't find gaps to speak into, or make eye contact with people so I knew they were listening -- a body-language problem, if you see what I mean. Pinning it down to whose fault it was -- whether I was being excluded, or whether I was failing to integrate with the conversational group, isn't something I can be sure of.

If you're interested, you might pay attention to whether this woman looks as if she's about to say something and then doesn't, if you see what I mean.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:40 AM
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I like aggression and bluster, generally.

I know a blog just full of those.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:42 AM
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Sez you. (Look! There's some!)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:43 AM
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There's a great Calvin Trillin quote (that I'm not sure I totally buy, but it's great) that his friends could be divided into two groups: those that were in some sense taking care of their parents, and those whose parents were in some sense still taking care of them.

My friends in 1830 would have done almost anything to get me out of a serious danger, but if I had gone out in a new set of clothes, they would have given twenty francs for someone to throw a glass of dirty water over me. Apart from Barral and Bigillion, I've only ever had, throughout my life, that sort of friend.


Posted by: Marie-Henri Beyle | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:44 AM
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What it's felt like has been trouble with the timing of the conversation: that I couldn't find gaps to speak into, or make eye contact with people so I knew they were listening

This is a problem for me, too, especially in groups of people who interrupt. I despise being interrupted, and refuse to interrupt others. In some crowds of very pushy people, this means I don't talk at all, which makes me feel tense and unhappy.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:44 AM
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I despise being interrupted, and refuse to interrupt others.

It's funny, I sort of feel this way, but it's not actually true about my behavior -- I interrupt people all the time, and I don't mind being interrupted by people who are doing it 'right'. There's a finishing each other's sentences and jumping into pauses sort of interrupting that I find very comfortable; call it cooperative interrupting.

But there's interrupting people in a manner that means they can't get whatever they're trying to say said, and that I don't (think I) do myself, and get either hostile, or if hostility doesn't seem appropriate, withdrawn, if it happens to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:50 AM
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It tells you something -- I'm not sure what -- that this conversation has turned into our umpteenth discussion of how hard it is for women to assert themselves in professional settings.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:53 AM
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That the first rule of masculinity is not to talk about masculinity?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 11:57 AM
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239: LB is me.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:02 PM
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some of the older generation men were masons and shriners and that kind of shit--goofy as hell in a way

I joined Rotary at a relatively young age, still in my 20's. Brought the average age in the room down to about 83. Anyway, what struck me was that the old coots, the very pillars of the community, acted like a high school locker room. Then they accepted women in the group, got boring and I quit.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:03 PM
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LB is me too. Conversations should have flow, and no, I don't mind if there's an attempt to finish sentences or suggest examples, and I do that too. But Person A is talking and Person B just stone-cold hijacks to talk about something else? Fuck you, Person B.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:05 PM
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Oh, I also don't mind if Person A is telling some long involved story and Person B says, quickly, oh hey check out that cool dog, or something, with the understanding that after checking out the cool dog, we can get back to the matter at hand.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:07 PM
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239, 242: conversation is a coöperative process; if one of the people in a conversation is hitting different rhythmic beats than the other people, either by interrupting at unexpected times or by taking unexpectedly long to finish their thought, it's distracting and can be infuriating. It's probably not worth assigning some moral judgment to one behavior or the other; people just aren't always in sync with each other. I mean, have you ever done any kind of skit or other acting-ish process where somebody has to interrupt somebody else naturalistically? It's fucking difficult.

It probably ties into the cognitive difficulty of determining pauses in speech.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:09 PM
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We need to hire referees to monitor our conversations!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:10 PM
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246: But the difference between the interrupting I find pleasant and that I find unpleasant isn't really about rhythm. (The issue I brought up in 234 might be, but that's a little different.) It's about topic, or specifically non-consensual topic switching: interrupting that helps your interlocutor make their point is cooperative, interrupting that makes it harder or impossible for them to say what they want is obnoxious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:12 PM
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What it's felt like has been trouble with the timing of the conversation: that I couldn't find gaps to speak into

THIS. And I've had the experience where I'll realize that's going on, and try to assert myself by just jumping in somewhere, anywhere, and it simply doesn't work. I've wondered whether it is an unconscious assumption on the part of the people talking that I am not a part of the conversation, such that people don't look at me / expect anything from my direction.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:14 PM
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How can you anti-interruptors possibly tolerate this website?

Anyhow, if someone interrupts to say something off topic that is stupid or boring or not what I'm interested in, that sucks. If someone is charming and interesting and smooth, they can interrupt. The end.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:14 PM
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try to assert myself by just jumping in somewhere, anywhere, and it simply doesn't work.

Yeah, you suck it up and say something despite not having a comfortable opening for it, and it just hangs there without getting responses. I hated when that happened.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:16 PM
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We are trying to teach our children to be respectful and let the speaker finish (no talking stick, as yet) Unfortunately this means that whichever child is speaking demands undivided attention, no side conversations or comments allowed. Frequent statements along the lines of "I'm still talking, don't interrupt!" even when we are hearing about what the puppy did today and dinner is getting cold. There has to be a better way.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:17 PM
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251: Right! And then you look like an idiot who doesn't know how to follow a conversation.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:18 PM
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have you ever done any kind of skit or other acting-ish process where somebody has to interrupt somebody else naturalistically? It's f--

MOO!


Posted by: OPINIONATED INTERRUPTING COW | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:18 PM
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There is the other kind of irritating conversational behavior where, instead of literally saying "I'm still talking, don't interrupt!" the speaker learns instead to breathe in the middle, rather than at the end, of clauses, thus demonstrating that s/he knows s/he's just going on and on pointlessly, but more than anything does not want to stop speaking for any reason. I encountered one of these yesterday.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:21 PM
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250: But what if they are interesting and charming and everyone ignores you and the topic you were trying to discuss? Isn't that worse than if they interrupted you with something boring and everybody quickly went back to your topic?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:21 PM
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OT:

Man, the state's budget is tight. We just got an email saying they're not buying us calendars (not wall calendars, those datebook things) this year. And there haven't been binder clips in any useful sizes available for ages.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:22 PM
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assert myself by just jumping in somewhere, anywhere, and it simply doesn't work

Well, of course not. You have to preface your remarks with "BOOOOORING!" Try it! Always works.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:22 PM
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255: The world, it turns out, is full of irritating people.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:22 PM
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234.2 describes me pretty well. I have this problem in lots of social situations. I ascribe it to general introversion, but really I'm just happier talking to people one on one and am not the least bit introverted under those circumstances - it's the group situations where I just sort of watch.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:23 PM
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Man, the state's budget is tight.

A friend teaching at a state college in the midwest was told at the first faculty meeting of the year that there is only enough money in the state budget to pay faculty through mid-November. Pay should (should) be reinstated at the beginning of the year, but the department chair was warning everyone to budget for the last month and a half of the year accordingly.

Merry fucking Christmas!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:27 PM
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256: I actually don't mind if someone else can jump in and make the conversation more interesting than it currently is. But dysfunctional conversational behaviors are usually markers of insecurity and a desire for unconditional attention, not markers of having, like, so many interesting and thoughtful contributions. When I notice myself talking in disfluent ways, it's never because I'm really calm and confident and thinking clearly about the conversation I'm having.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:28 PM
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The calendar things seems like a good place to cut, because all that stuff can be done better online anyway. It may not save much money, but it can't be that painful.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:32 PM
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Paper's actually pretty useful for us, because we don't have any sort of support for syncing online calendars with a smartphone, and we do a lot of scheduling while standing in courtrooms. Without a paper calendar, that means writing dates on a legal pad, and checking that they work when I get back to the office.

Obviously, under the circumstances, I'll just spend the six bucks or whatever it is and buy one -- I'm just finding it creepy that the budget's tight enough to make it necessary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:38 PM
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But dysfunctional conversational behaviors are usually markers of insecurity and a desire for unconditional attention, not markers of having, like, so many interesting and thoughtful contributions.

But they don't preclude them.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:38 PM
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264: Can't you just use your smartphone or EEE or whatever to access Google calendar or whatever.

I've been doing everything on Google for a while, because if it is made of paper, I will misplace it. But I'm always near a computer.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:47 PM
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We are trying to teach our children to be respectful and let the speaker finish (no talking stick, as yet) Unfortunately this means that whichever child is speaking demands undivided attention, no side conversations or comments allowed. Frequent statements along the lines of "I'm still talking, don't interrupt!" even when we are hearing about what the puppy did today and dinner is getting cold. There has to be a better way.

I wonder about this one, too. The real, true answer would be, I fear: Kids aren't conversational citizens; sucks to be you, small fry! And yet that is not satisfactory.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:50 PM
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257: I'd be more concerned about the lack of binder clips. Those things are like 30 cents per hundred if you buy in bulk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:50 PM
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I don't know about LB's state courts, but federal courts I've been in in her state (WD and ND) don't let you take any kind of phone past security. DDC lets attorneys (only) have phones in the courthouse, but woe betide anyone who's device makes a noise while the judge is on the bench.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:55 PM
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268: And the practice of law is impossible without binder clips! IANAL, but I have learned something in my years working in a law firm.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:56 PM
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(I was just at a conference where a MT Sup Ct. justice, formerly a state senator, related the following after someone's phone rang: in my senate committee, the rule was that if anyone's phone went off, they had to bring donuts for everyone the next day.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 12:58 PM
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Bring donuts and put binder clips on their ears for the whole day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:01 PM
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The one spanking I really remember from childhood was for interrupting at the dinner table. (Somehow the crime was worse for having been at the dinner table.) Today, I am not exactly the strong, silent type of woman described above in the thread.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:04 PM
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At a scheduling conference I did recently, I saw a lawyer (for the county, not involved in my case) furiously scribbling the judge's instructions on his palm and wrist. Presumably he'd just forgotten to bring paper, but the county is pretty broke.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:07 PM
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I interrupt a lot. In my defense, Texans talk really fucking slowly. Here everyone thinks I speak at some sort of light speed talker, but I'm nothing compared to locations where people actually talk fast. The slow talking is kind of like Chinese water torture after awhile.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:07 PM
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Racist.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:08 PM
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Is Texas a race?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:09 PM
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IF SO WE'RE WINNING!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:10 PM
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274: "Your honor, I just wanted to keep your words on my flesh because I value them so highly. I'm not forgetful."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:10 PM
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266; I suppose that's a solution. We're actually allowed to bring phones into the SD Federal courthouse now if we sign up for an attorney ID, which I have to get around to. It's a new thing this year.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:10 PM
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Subspecies, I think is the scientific consensus.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:11 PM
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So I'm like Jane Goodall?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:12 PM
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Or a chimp, depending on how well you've adapted.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:13 PM
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I'm afraid I'm an interrupter, at least when I'm bored listening to slow talkers. I'm very critical of how I talk in groups, but haven't figured out what I need to change to be where I'd want to be or whether I'm being realistic at all. I also started saying "like" deliberately to fit in with my peers and now it's sort of a habit even though it makes me feel very stupid. I think that's what I'll work on next.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:14 PM
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IF SO WE'RE WINNING!

To be fair, Mississippi just beats us in a lot of things: child poverty, lack of health care, and illteracy, just to name a few. Damn the Magnolia state!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:14 PM
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Or a chimp, depending on how well you've adapted.

It appears we can produce viable offspring.

(Jammies isn't actually Texan. I just wanted to make the joke.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:15 PM
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You're as Texan as William B. Travis.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:16 PM
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285: illteracy s/b illiteracy. Wevs.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:17 PM
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You're as smooth as Tennessee Whiskey.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:19 PM
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I'm as corny as Kansas. (I wonder if I should see a podiatrist.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:20 PM
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Arkansas State Slogan: Thank God for Mississippi.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:20 PM
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I also started saying "like" deliberately to fit in with my peers and now it's sort of a habit even though it makes me feel sound very stupid.

Of the many things that trigger my inner curmudgeon, that one ranks at the very top. Roberta has a close friend, an accomplished (two books published!) poet with a MFA from Columbia who is a very nice, gracious, and interesting person. But I can only barely stand to be in a room with him because he uses "was like" instead of "said" nearly 100% of the time. I'd rather he just slap me every few sentences.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:30 PM
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290: Are you as normal as blueberry pie?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:31 PM
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290: Nebraska: Like Kansas only colder in the winter.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:33 PM
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292: I know. And I picked it up to try to knock myself out of prescriptivism and being judgmental and feeling better than other people. So now instead I get to feel worse, all the time. I don't think I say it anywhere near the time, but that I say it at all was mortifying during the recent meetup.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:34 PM
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293: I'm so normal, 95% of me is within two standard deviations of being mean.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:34 PM
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Don't be mean.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:34 PM
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It's not easy, being mean.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:36 PM
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292: My bff's grandmother -- former president of Int'l B'nai Brith, no less -- told the pair of us in high school that we would be condemned to lives of utter failure if we didn't stop using "like" as often as we did.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:37 PM
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Oh. Then you're not as bright and as gay as a daisy in May, a cliché coming true?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:37 PM
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299 con't: And, you know, it hasn't been utter.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:37 PM
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Earworm


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:38 PM
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300: Blume is a smart little girl with no heart.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:39 PM
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295: I say 'like' all the time, and didn't even pick it up out of trying to blend in with people -- I just talk that way. It honestly seems to serve a function to me: sentences with the "So I'm like [this], and then he's all like [that]," construction may be annoying, but they convey nuance that's hard to duplicate talking like a grownup.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:39 PM
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292: My parents were equally vocal on the topic, my mother especially. In retrospect, I think picking it up was a way of making myself feel better about being a failure, so that people would hear me and mark me as such rather than thinking I actually had promise or some shit. That was not a great time in my life, and I've added "like" to the list of remnants from it that I'm trying to sweep out of my internal norms.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:39 PM
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the speaker learns instead to breathe in the middle, rather than at the end, of clauses,

Or it signals someone who grew up in a house where it was very hard to get a word in edge wise and had to do everything possible to make their sentences harder to interrupt.

I'm an interrupter - usually in the sense of finishing people's sentences/offering ideas - but I hate it. It comes directly from my childhood where you had to interrupt my step-father in order to ever be able to say anything, so I suppose I should be happy that I (mostly) don't interrupt to hijack the conversation. Also, apparently like Thorn, I'm hypercritical of the way I talk in groups. I'm not hitting the conversational tone that I would like, but unfortunately I'm not really sure what would be better or how to get there.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:41 PM
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295: Thorn, we didn't, like, mock you to your, like, face, at least I didn't notice it when you were here. (I do it occasionally, too.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:41 PM
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There must be a Language Log post somewhen that explains why people who object to the 'like' construction are history's third greatest monsters, after only Strunk and White.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:41 PM
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I use like too. I grew up on the southern California coast in the 80s. I get a pass, right?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:43 PM
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I'm not really sure what would be better or how to get there

Gratuitous profanity.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:44 PM
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3-7: My partner is also somewhat paranoid about how she talked in front of you guys. So apparently not only am I history's greatest monster, but it's sexually transmitted! Augh!!

But at least I'm all over the suggestion in 310. I'm trying to tone that down a bit too. Well, sometimes.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:46 PM
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How about "you know"? Someone pointed out to me how often I said it once, and then I started noticing, and after that I stopped talking for a few months.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:46 PM
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Are people objecting to "like" as a substitute for "said" or as filler or both?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:46 PM
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310: You know, that's apparently what I tried today (I'm not sure I should have said motherfucker so many times) and it seems to have worked.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:46 PM
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Also, I am still failing at the use/mention distinction. Where is nosflow to call me the world's greatest monster?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:47 PM
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312: So you didn't say a peep?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:48 PM
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How can you anti-interruptors possibly tolerate this website?

To jump back upthread for a moment.

One of the factors that made me uncomfortable when I was first commenting on unfogged also makes me less likely to be assertive in large group conversations -- a worry about how I'm going to be able to provide context for my ideas.

When I'm thinking about a complicated subject I tend to be aware of how my thoughts relate to any number of other references in my head, and it can be a bit tricky to know where to start explaining -- do you start with the idea, which may not make sense without the associated content, or start with background and bore everybody while you get to the point.

If I'm talking to friends then I don't worry because I assume the have some baseline familiarity with my thinking. If I'm talking to somebody one on one it isn't a problem because I can watch for when their eyes start to glaze over and adjust based on that.

In a big group, particularly one in which it's unclear how much conversational space is available, it's very likely that there's isn't going to be an opportunity to elaborate, or walk though a complete thought. In that circumstance I'm likely to not say much, and be very specific (and potentially terse) when I do speak up, but that's because I would really prefer the opportunity to go on at length in a smaller setting.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:49 PM
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316: Very funny, Sir Kraab!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:49 PM
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The "like" construction* has bothered me even more since the mainstreaming of Facebook. Now I'm always tempted to mutter "Dislike" every time somebody uses the dreaded "like" construction in a conversation with me, but I've successfully restrained myself so far.

*Specifically used to mean "said". Using it for emphasis (George Washington had, like, thirty goddamn meaningless interjections) doesn't really bother me until it starts happening every few words.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:51 PM
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Paying attention to how I talk at all is just unbearable. Way, way too many little sighs and non-word noises: like, I have about seventy different flavors of 'Um' and 'Huh'. Constant trailing off in the middle of sentences, frequent use of 'like' and similar unfortunate constructions; the times I've heard myself on tape (or seen myself on video), I've wanted to hide under the bed for a week.

But I do swear an awful lot, so that's good. (Although, sadly, I was raised by people who don't swear at all, so I had to pick it up as an adult, and it shows. If I'm genuinely startled I have a nasty tendency to cut loose with either "Sugar" or "Fudge".)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:51 PM
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317: Somewhat similarly, I tend to babble and meander and only figure out what I mean to say 3/4 of the way through a bunch of unnecessary explication and then I feel stupid for having wasted everyone's time and I shut up.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:52 PM
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Specifically used to mean "said".

But it doesn't, quite, mean 'said' -- you usually couldn't substitute on for the other without messing up the sentence.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:53 PM
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Sure you could.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:54 PM
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I use the word "like" as a substitute for "said" all the time. The thing is, it actually conveys something distinct from "said," and it's useful for that reason -- it connotes that what follows will be an approximation of the attitude that the person took in reaction to the situation with which s/he was presented, rather than a direct quote. Compare:

"My boss wanted me to get the reports done by Monday, and I said, 'Are you serious? It's Labor Day weekend!'"

with

"My boss wanted me to get the reports done by Monday, and I was like, are you serious? It's Labor Day weekend!"

The first is a straightforward reporting of a conversation, whereas the second is more interested in telling you how the person felt during the interaction. So it's different! And useful!


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:56 PM
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jms is banned.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:57 PM
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I've been meaning to post this all day and hadn't because I wasn't sure where the conversation was going, but one book I found both interesting and useful in thinking about gendered speech was Deborah Cameron's Good to Talk?, which I read ages ago and probably don't remember properly.

One of her arguments is that as men move into certain jobs (call centers, retail, I'm sure there are more) they're being specifically pushed by their corporate overlords to take on "female" speech patterns. I do think it's interesting that this was one of my thoughts as soon as the conversation here started and the talk has indeed shifted from just what men and women are willing to do to how they talk and how they talk about both those things.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:58 PM
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Exactly: it's not purporting to be reportage of the words spoken, it's explicitly a generalized summary of the general emotions expressed/information conveyed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:58 PM
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And then apostropher was like, jms is banned!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:58 PM
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308, 313: Here's Pullum at LL on its use as filler.

The people who grouse about like are myopic old whiners who haven't looked at their own, like, linguistic foibles, if you will.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:58 PM
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Apostropher gets it exactly wrong. "I was like," means "I said something like,".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:59 PM
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Damn, I meant to insert "so" in there.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 1:59 PM
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I think it's more like, "apostropher was all, 'jms is banned.'"


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:00 PM
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332: G.P.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:01 PM
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I tend to babble and meander and only figure out what I mean to say 3/4 of the way through a bunch of unnecessary explication

My (older) brother is particularly bad about doing that. I used to do that all the time but have, gradually, gotten better.

I think we both picked up the habit growing up in a household of talkers as a way to claim conversational space.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:03 PM
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Apostropher gets it exactly wrong.

If it makes you feel better to believe that, then okay.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:04 PM
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More LL on like, totally (the next two posts are also relevant).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:07 PM
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"My boss wanted me to get the reports done by Monday, and I was like thought, are you serious? It's Labor Day weekend!"


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:11 PM
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How about the "and then he was all '[whatever]'" construction, apo?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:13 PM
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Nah, you need something more like "thought, and conveyed through my demeanor and my words, although they weren't precisely what I'm about to say, the following." "Like" is shorter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:13 PM
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"My boss wanted me to get the reports done by Monday, and I was like, are you serious? It's Labor Day weekend!"

Instead of "and I was like", you could say "and I said", if the phrase that follows is what you said. You could say "and I said something like" if you're approximating, rather than quoting, what was actually said. You could say "and I felt like saying", if that's closer to what you're trying to convey. You could simply say "and I thought" or "and I felt", if one of those phrases is most appropriate.

There's never a good reason to use the degenerate phrasing "and I was like". If it's habitual, it's probably a venial sin, but don't delude yourself into thinking it's serving some useful distinction.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:15 PM
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If you've really got the surfer dialect, it's more:

"apostropher was all like 'jms is banned.'"

"Du-uuude" optional.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:16 PM
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Nah, you need something more like "thought, and conveyed through my demeanor and my words, although they weren't precisely what I'm about to say, the following." "Like" is shorter.

But people use it all the time for things they thought but didn't at all convey. Having to ask "Did you really say that?" ("No, I asked what time Monday, but I was thinking it.") makes it not actually shorter.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:17 PM
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Dude, what's up? Is there a story behind the pseud-boomeranging? Spill, either here or by email if security forbids publication.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:18 PM
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The problem with 340 is that if "and I was like" is comprehensible as a contraction of "and I said something like" then it's an argument against linguistic efficiency, which wtf.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:18 PM
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343 to 340.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:18 PM
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The thing is, it actually conveys something distinct from "said," and it's useful for that reason -- it connotes that what follows will be an approximation of the attitude that the person took in reaction to the situation with which s/he was presented, rather than a direct quote.

Ditto, ditto.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:18 PM
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344: Right. It's comprehensible -- I've never heard of anyone being confused by it -- so whence the exaggerated distaste.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:20 PM
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I use "like" to mean "said," fairly often as well, partially because it's my fucking linguistic heritage as a Southern Californian and therefore well within my rights and Apo can blow me, but also because it's an easy way to increase the intimacy/decrease the formality when telling a story. I wouldn't tell my boss or a judge a tale using the word "like," but, for example "I was like . . . uh, no" often sounds better for friendly conversation than "I thought to myself, no!"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:23 PM
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I was all 'power to the people' and then he was all like 'I am the people.'

|| Did folks see that [our favorite copmenter]'s unfortunate soldier was part of a WPost story over the weekend?|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:23 PM
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347: In my case, because people like apo will think I'm an idiot and also because if I'm speaking I should be able to use funny voices or other inflection markers to show whether I'm being literal or paraphrasing or what.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:24 PM
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And I was like, "Dude, you have no Quran."


Posted by: Jacob Isom | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:25 PM
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If somebody dropped the word "damn" or "zoinks" or "ascertain" into every second or third sentence out of their mouth, you'd all find it weird at first, then irritating shortly thereafter. Just admit that you've simply grown accustomed to your fallen states and are merely creating post facto rationalizations, and Ogged will return the world will be a better place.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:26 PM
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351: And yet I'd desperately hope that there it designated a literal quote!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:27 PM
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The locution that really could be dispensed of (if you needed to dispense with informal locutions) is "go" where one could use "said." Both "like" and "all" arguably communicate something that's different from "said" -- "like" conveys an approximation of an attitude, and "all" conveys a strong attitude or direct reaction, or, if you're describing the attitude of an antagonist, an unreasonable one. "Go" doesn't bring anything new to the table, and also (relevant to me right now) I have to admit it looks pretty dumb in a transcript.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:27 PM
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352: But it's part of our linguistic heritage.* I don't frown on your Southernisms!

*For the Californians among us, at any rate.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:28 PM
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Apo can blow me

Not if you're clear on the other coast. But call if you're ever coming to town!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:30 PM
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You'd be surprised.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:34 PM
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If somebody dropped the word [...] "zoinks" [...] into every second or third sentence out of their mouth

This seems worth testing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:36 PM
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358 to 357.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:37 PM
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Apropos of the definition of adulthood, here are my well-tested Warning Signs for those who may be uncertain:

1) The party is really boring, but hiding under a table and eating all the crackers doesn't help;

2) You have to buy a wedding present for someone you've gotten drunk with;

3) The leading character of the movie is your age, but the actor playing the role is younger than you.

If you've had all three experiences, there's no turning back.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:43 PM
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The leading character of the movie is your age, but the actor playing the role is younger than you.

There's some show premiering about 20-somethings that are ten years out from high school, and I was stuck watching repetitive commercials for it. After a while it dawned on me that I was not peers with these people in any sense. I kept thinking "Who still does that? Or has those dillemmas/plot points?" then finally "....oh right. I'm older than the target audience, by a meaningful amount."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:46 PM
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The leading character of the movie is your age, but the actor playing the role is younger than you.

IME actors playing soldiers are always too old, and actors playing evil business tycoons are mostly too young.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:46 PM
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If I'm genuinely startled I have a nasty tendency to cut loose with either "Sugar" or "Fudge".
New Yorkers, you have your next meet-up mission.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:47 PM
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The last straw for me was Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion.

Though it now appears via Wikipedia that I was mis-informed at the time; I am actually younger than either of the leads! I don't suppose this keeps me from being an adult now that the movie's more than a decade old, though it raises a question about my productivity.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 2:58 PM
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|| Did folks see that [our favorite copmenter]'s unfortunate soldier was part of a WPost story over the weekend?|>

I am unable to parse this in a way that allows me to find the story.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:01 PM
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361: I had a moment sometime in my late twenties visiting friends of Buck's in State College, PA (where the population is, I think, better than half college kids). And until that point, I'd thought of myself as sort of just out of college. And looking out the window of the diner we were in, I realized, no, I'm nowhere near these kids, they all look twelve.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:01 PM
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364: I have a terrible weakness for that movie. I also love The Devil Wears Prada. I am not a real man. If someone would just send me the appropriate address I'll mail my wedding tackle to the recycling center.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:04 PM
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365: I know what it means, but couldn't easily find the story in the WP. Remember him recently talking about having been one of the officers who arrived on the scene of someone who looked like they were planning to be a spree killer: the guy (a recently returned vet, IIRC) had body armor and lots of ammo, but was stopped before he'd shot anyone except one of the first cops on the scene (in the leg, I got the impression not a very severe injury).

(I think the redaction for discretion was overkill, but I'll go with it just in case.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:05 PM
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366: try going back to college in your thirties. Hello, yet-moist pupae. I am your peer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:07 PM
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369: O.K. But I have to hurry because I've only got one more possible semester.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:09 PM
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I have been teaching college freshmen, either as a TA or as an instructor, since I was a 19-year-old sophomore. So I've gotten to watch this bizarre drift from "my students are exactly my own age" to "holy shit they are so tiny." Of course, I've also had students as old as 80+, so it throws off the illusion.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:22 PM
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I don't think of my students as much younger than they used to seem, but they all do seem very good looking.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:25 PM
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In the most non-pervy way possible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:26 PM
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368: Ah, thanks.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:27 PM
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371. Watching college football I was bugged by the constant reference to the head coaches. Then I realized that the coach was the most consistent part of the program. The players move on to the pros, or not as the case may be, but the coach is eternal. Until they violate NCAA recruiting rules or whatever (How's the weather in Seattle these days, Pete?)


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:29 PM
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they all do seem very good looking

I've noticed this, too--the girls especially are just gorgeous. Not very many 18-year-old boys have shrugged off their puppyishness yet, or at least not without replacing it with that fake hard-guy thing, so I don't tend to find them very appealing, thank Jesus.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:30 PM
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374: Googling Bran/don Bar/rett gets the story.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:31 PM
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AWB getting some belated empathy for that lecherous old prof?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:34 PM
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I've always had empathy for the lecherous old prof. The thing I remind myself of pretty frequently is how my vaguely pervy interest in him withered 100% away the instant he propositioned me. Professors are sexy until they try to do anything about it, and then they are not at all.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:38 PM
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my vaguely pervy interest in him withered 100% away the instant he propositioned me.

Heh. My sexual fantasy life is full of all sorts of things that my plain vanilla life belies. Some things are best left to the imagination.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:43 PM
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The locution that really could be dispensed of (if you needed to dispense with informal locutions) is "go" where one could use "said."

I grew up with that one, but I think it's disappeared from my speech.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:46 PM
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And now I finally get around to reading and replying to the rest:

234 What it's felt like has been trouble with the timing of the conversation: that I couldn't find gaps to speak into, or make eye contact with people so I knew they were listening -- a body-language problem, if you see what I mean. Pinning it down to whose fault it was -- whether I was being excluded, or whether I was failing to integrate with the conversational group, isn't something I can be sure of.

This is an interesting point, because this is something really familiar to me. In certain groups of people I just can't figure out how to get a word in and I end up sort of starting a sentence when there's a gap but always someone else does too and I just shut up and let them talk. I haven't observed anything like this happening with the woman in question, but it's a possibility, and one that I would feel better about then thinking that we're all exhibiting some sort of uncomfortable maleness that precludes her from contributing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:49 PM
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the girls especially are just gorgeous

It's a very good age for that. Most don't even have to try.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 3:54 PM
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Which explains all the sweat pants and uggs and whatnot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:01 PM
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I love how academic we all sound. "Harrumph! Yes! 18 year old girls are quite fine specimens!"

I remember when Teo ended his first longterm relationship and made some comment like "I believe it was time for the relationship to end, but upon introspection I anticipate I will miss having sex with my girlfriend. It would be pleasant if there were a way to enjoy sex on a regular basis without being in a relationship." That cracked me up with it's anthropological-ness.

(I feel like I should send a batsignal that I'm teasing Teo behind his back. HEY TEO! ALL IN GOOD FUN!)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:02 PM
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I love how academic we all sound. "Harrumph! Yes! 18 year old girls are quite fine specimens!"

Are you trying to say that the answer to the post title is "college freshmen"?

(okay, pretend that was actually funny but there should be some "bear"/"AWB" joke to be made).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:23 PM
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re: "like"

I used to overuse "right", a lot.

"So, I was talking to Stevie, right, and he said that he'd had enough of his job, right, and was going to quit, right..."

My mum and sister both used to take the piss out of it. At some point I switched to using "ken", which sounds like a cartoonish Scottish thing, but is actually how people where I'm from talk. And then after a while, "right", reasserted itself.

"Ken that bloke, works down the chippie, Billy? right. Aye, well, ken, he's got this mate who can get tickets for Saturday, ken, but he's wanting the money up front, right, ken?"

I think both have probably been excised from my speech but now there's probably some subtle tick I'm not aware of.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:31 PM
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What happens to utterances like 387.5 when they involve people named Ken?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:32 PM
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"Ken, Ken?"

"Aye, I ken Ken. Didnae know you kent Ken, tho'."

"Oh aye, I've kent him for ages, wis at primary wi' his brother, ken."


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:35 PM
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subtle tick

Fixed.

(And oh boy, Thorn, I thought I was the only person who deliberately trained myself to use "like." It wasn't so much a "fit in with peers" thing as an attempt to dumb down my speech, which is to this day a semi-useful ability, but I still don't sound completely natural doing it and so I generally don't bother trying that particular code switch.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:49 PM
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as an attempt to dumb down my speech

I am confused as to why this would be a winning strategy at any time. What exactly is the goal, to seem dumber than one actually is? I am reminded of the adage "Better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it remove all doubt"


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 4:56 PM
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I haven't necessarily used Witt's and Thorn's exact strategy, but I've definitely dumbed down my interactions in this specific way: when I recognize that I remember far more about the other person or previous contact situation than they remember about me or about life in general. Not because I had any special affection for them or the setting, but just because it happened to be things I'm good at remembering.

"Yes, we met before. Remember, you wore the striped blue sweater that your mom knitted?" I try not to do this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:02 PM
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re: 391

There are lots of times when one might not want to sound 'snooty' or over-educated, I'd have thought? I certainly modulate my vocabulary depending on context.

Code-switching is fairly natural for many people. Even more so for people who grew up speaking with a strong accent, or used a lot of dialect words, or who spend a lot of time with people from a different social class or educational level from their own.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:03 PM
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Remember, you wore the striped blue sweater that your mom knitted?

Do people not like this? I would be flattered that someone had this much recall about me. You're the one that was so beige that they don't remember you.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:06 PM
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I am reminded of the adage "Better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it remove all doubt"

Would that you consider it before posting any comment here.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:06 PM
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390.1: If I can't be subtle enough for you, then fuck off.


Posted by: Opinionated Tick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:07 PM
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I like doing the thing described in 392, but my recall only sporadically works that way, so it's probably okay.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:07 PM
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That came out meaner than I intended, I think. But I do think the reasons why Witt might want to dumb down her speech are fairly clear.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:08 PM
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395. Nice. But then again, what is the internet for if not proving oneself a fool.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:08 PM
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I would be flattered that someone had this much recall about me.

It's a delicate thing to read about a situation, isn't it? If they seem like they might be off-put, then you refrain.

To get into waters that I can't justify: if the situation smells like I have the upper hand, then I'm happy to flatter the other person and remind them of all these neat details. If the situation smells like the other person might disdain me, then I'm going to withhold all these neat details that make it sound like I was enamored with them.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:15 PM
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390: That's basically what it was, code-switching rather than desperation to be liked or anything. But I deliberately didn't want to sound alien and snooty to the people I was interacting with and also didn't want to talk down. I suppose that led to me feminizing my speech in certain ways and also taking on things I thought would read as youthful, like "like." I wanted to sound less certain and pushy, which I think is my natural tendency. I think I'm open to listening to lots of different kinds of people, but I have to remember that the kind of civil argument I prefer isn't the norm.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:21 PM
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Regarding the original post, I would like one.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:21 PM
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then I'm going to withhold all these neat details that make it sound like I was enamored with them.

She's a female! And all females is poison! They're full of wicked wiles!


Posted by: Grumpy the Dwarf | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:22 PM
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I have freakishly good recall for stupid and trivial shit. I think this is a common Unfogged trait. Not useful stuff about people I meet or know, but dorky stuff. Who played on what record, who produced it, which film that bloke whose face looks familiar on TV was in, and the other 23 things he did, and how he was apparently once meant for great things and a favourite of obscure art house director X, and whose novel the thing was based on, and what critic Y said about it, and and and ... I just absorb that shit by osmosis, no effort required.

So I often play that down. There's only so many times in a conversation you can correct someone on that sort of stuff. And most people, when it comes to this sort of inconsequential trivia, are, frankly, fucking ignorant. So you play dumb in order to avoid being a total arsehole.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:23 PM
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402: Well, get over here, you scamp!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:23 PM
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If they seem like they might be off-put

Guh


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:25 PM
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You sound off-put.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:26 PM
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you scamp

It's as though you could actually see the sling shot poking jauntily out of my back coverall pocket.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:30 PM
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(Okay I'm going to keep picking on 400; sorry, heebie)

To get into waters that I can't justify: if the situation smells like I have the upper hand

If the water smells like you have the lower hand I would change your clothes after getting out of it, regardless of its validity.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:30 PM
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There's only so many times in a conversation you can correct someone on that sort of stuff.

This trait is actually an important part of the characterization of Liz Lemon on 30 Rock. In one scene, at a singles mixer, she corrects a potential suitor who refers to the dudes with guns in Avatar as "soldiers." "Actually, they're private contractors hired by a mega-corporation blahblahblah." After the guy flees, her friend asks her what she's thinking. "What? Do you think he want to sit around all night being wrong?"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:31 PM
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Well, that and the pigeon-toed way you shyly kicked at the dirt.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:31 PM
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407: At least his complaint didn't ongo.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:31 PM
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If the water smells like you have the lower hand I would change your clothes after getting out of it, regardless of its validity.

Someone smells like he's having a bad day. Two hugs?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:33 PM
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Someone smells like he's having a bad day. Two hugs?

Wouldn't you want him to shower first?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:34 PM
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404. My kids pester me to be on "Jeopardy" all the time. Still waiting for the call.

There is a difference between not calling people out on trivial facts and saying "like" instead of "said" to dumb down speech. Vocabulary choice that fits the audience I get; hell, I coach ten year olds. I use language they understand, but I don't call them "booger brains" or anything like that.

I remain mystified.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:34 PM
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re: 410

Exactly! I'm OK at not doing it too much out loud, but the internal narrative is full of expletives.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:35 PM
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I use language they understand, but I don't call them "booger brains" or anything like that.

"Dickless motherfuckers that need a face-fucking" translates pretty well to all ages.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:36 PM
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Ow! My freakin' ears!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:37 PM
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410: You need an 'ed' or an 's' after 'want' in the last sentence.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:37 PM
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When I coached college lacrosse I told them to go after ground balls "like a hard dick looking for pussy". They understood.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:38 PM
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419: Yes.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:39 PM
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420: blindly, with underwear over their heads?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:40 PM
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Unfortunately, the team was composed of these 8 kids who thought the balls lived in this poor ottoman.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:40 PM
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re: 422

One eye closed.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:41 PM
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361: I was recently in a state-run liquor store and the couple in front of me was buying alcohol. I was shocked because they looked 15 but clearly must have been at least 21. I don't know when I lost my ability to distinguish between those age groups.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:41 PM
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"Get your goddamned lacrosse stick out of that custard!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:41 PM
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422. We regret the heteronormative phrase. From now on "a hard dick looking for a warm hole" shall be the preferred phrasing. It's more inclusive.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:43 PM
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427: Can't see how that excludes anyone! Play ball!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:44 PM
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328: obviously if it was women's lacrosse it would be "like a warm hole looking for team-wide consensus."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:45 PM
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429: Numbering error in honor of student athlete math skills.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:47 PM
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I think Kraab knows what I mean.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:49 PM
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Because she's from Austin?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:50 PM
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429. I am now coaching a girl's U14 and a U12 team. Needless to say, sexual reference are not included in the motivational talks.

It was a weird moment for me when in the middle of practice I overheard talk about make up, instead of beer parties.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:50 PM
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who spend a lot of time with people from a different social class or educational level from their own

Bingo. People can't hear the content of what you're saying if the format is making them feel tense or jumpy or judged or inferior.

I do a lot better at adjusting for this with vocabulary and other components than I do with slangy stuff, though.

And gestures, forget it. Sometimes my young people want to do fist bumps and I cannot not bring myself to do it. I feel ridiculous -- it's just too far away from my natural bodily idiolect. (That can't be the right term; what is it?)

I wanted to sound less certain and pushy

Yeah, this for me too. So many people conflate the "I am confident in my statement in this area" kind of certainty with the "I am making a global statement about my total rightness in every way" kind. So you end up hedging even when you're entirely sure.

(And also 404.last, but that tends to come up for me more in purely social situations.)

(Now someone can point out that I don't always successfully avoid it during meet-ups. But I try! Really, you have no idea how much I've improved over the past 25 years!)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 5:57 PM
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It's not your fault people at meetups are fucking ignorant, Witt.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:08 PM
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420: "Like Dukies at a stag party".

I ban myself.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:09 PM
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401: I suppose that led to me feminizing my speech in certain ways

Yes, this. I don't think I feminize my speech (inserting qualifiers and hedges) in verbal communications, but I do it in writing on occasion.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:40 PM
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I am confused as to why this would be a winning strategy at any time.

I KNOW, RIGHT?


Posted by: OPINIONATED AL GORE | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 6:54 PM
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This is probably just the thread to get re-assurance that I am not a humorless jerk.

A facebook friend posts the following joke in her status update: "NY Mosque. We shouldn't be fighting this. They won't blow up the new tower if its going to land on them. We should put a mosque on every plane."--Adam Carolla"

I reply: "the joke is sorta ruined by the fact that there was a mosque in the World Trade Center."

I then follow up with (and this might move me into the pedantic jerk category) "The Islamic prayer room was on the 17th floor of the south tower. There may well have been people at morning prayer when the planes struck. http://tinyurl.com/2cpsged"

People don't react well to this.

But it seems to me that if a joke requires the audience to be ignorant of some basic facts, then the joke is not really funny. Do you think they wanted to sit around all night laughing at a joke that isn't really funny?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:06 PM
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439: Consider your reply "like"d.

(I'm having a hard time not going off on people who are posting about Jon Stewart and rallying for moderation, but I keep telling myself these people are more or less on my side, just using language poorly.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:17 PM
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439: Thanks for fighting the good fight, rob. I think if I were on Facebook I would have very few friends, very quickly.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:22 PM
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I'm having a hard time not going off on people who are posting about Jon Stewart and rallying for moderation, but I keep telling myself these people are more or less on my side, just using language poorly.

Me too. It's completely infuriating that he has pitched this rally as "Whoa, Nelly! Both sides of the argument are ca-RAZY! Let's come down somewhere in the middle!" Yes. The middle is what's underrepresented on the spectrum. And all those loony leftist notions, like the public option and pulling out of Iran and Iraq are seriously nutso and need to be tempered.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:29 PM
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391

I am confused as to why this would be a winning strategy at any time. What exactly is the goal, to seem dumber than one actually is? ...

There are lots of situations when this can be an advantage. When conning someone for example.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:30 PM
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||

Holy mackerel, these are some remarkable maps.

It's old data (Census 2000) but still shows residential segregation patterns in a really interesting way. And he did lots of different cities.

Via Obsidian Wings.
||>


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:44 PM
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I believe that Stewart's thing is not about "moderate" positions, but rather moderating rhetoric. I think he's set a false choice, since only one side is being actually nutso of late (for quite a while really). But I do not think he'd contend that "what we really need is some Democrats compromisIng with the Republicans for compromise's sake" (here "compromise" should of course be "cave in, completely, preemptively, perpetually", of course).


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 8:45 PM
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There are lots of situations when this can be an advantage. When conning someone for example.

That's an interesting admission observation, James.

Re: Stewart's rally, I think that the false equivalence of "both sides" is basically an ironic gesture on his part. He's not neutral; he is clearly taking sides.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09-20-10 9:08 PM
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Re: Stewart, I haven't investigated it all in any detail yet (or at all) but I'm hoping he ends up playing the reasonable and moderate thing as in opposition to the Tea Party (who are clearly neither reasonable nor moderate, and who are the only other ones having rallies).

Nothing on Comedy Central is captioned on the internet so I don't really know what I'm talking about.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 09-21-10 6:54 AM
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the false equivalence of "both sides" is basically an ironic gesture on his part. He's not neutral; he is clearly taking sides.

True. And it's clearly oppositional to Glenn Beck's rally. But it still rankles me a bit.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-21-10 6:59 AM
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