Re: Adult conversations

1

"Daddy, when are you and mommy going to die? When am I going to die? Can you kill xxxx for me?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:45 AM
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Viagra commercials? No actual experience with this, I just wonder what you say about this to a curious, let's say, 6-year old. I guess the good thing is that a 6-year old isn't likely to be too curious about a commercial with a lot of old people.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:50 AM
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"Abortion is the taking of a baby's life in the mother's womb."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:51 AM
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"In our family, Christmas is about giving, but to my son's friends, it's all about getting."

For a small child? Of course it's all about getting.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:53 AM
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I've always just talked to my kids about whatever, including topics that I'm sure other parents find grossly inappropriate. I'll bet you're all very surprised to read that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:55 AM
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Christmas? Not about giving or getting.

From my earliest memories of it, it's about alienation.

Of course, I'm Jewish.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:56 AM
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Anyway, whenever I'm judgmental in a post, I come to regret it because everyone loves to take down the judgmental person.

Judge harder, faster, Heebie!


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:56 AM
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I just wonder what you say about this to a curious, let's say, 6-year old.

"It helps adults have sex."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:57 AM
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4: I don't even understand how that example fits in with the others. That's an uncomfortable conversation?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:57 AM
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9: Don't you feel uncomfortable explaining to your child that other families just aren't as virtuous as your family?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:00 PM
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I find myself getting the "Oh, damn, I have to be clear and informative yet age-appropriate now," largely around racial issues. I was on a bus with Sally a couple of weeks ago, and she started chattering about how awful straightened hair looked, and how if you're going to straighten your hair she didn't see why people didn't take better care of it -- it looks really terrible when it gets kind of frizzy with the straightening.

And so I had to take a deep breath and start talking about how there's a long and racist history of black women being pressured to have long straight hair like white women, and that's why so many black women straighten their hair, and that it's really difficult and laborious to do well and keep in good condition. And that this was a sensitive topic, and being judgmental about people's hair, particularly black women, was an area where there was a great risk you'd find yourself being a jerk without meaning to, so it's a topic where she should work on listening to her classmates rather than being opinionated herself.

Doing this on the bus, sitting next to a couple of black women close enough to overhear the conversation, I was sweating bullets trying not to sound like an ignorant jerk myself, while still getting enough across to Sally that she didn't get herself in trouble with friends at school.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:03 PM
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10: Oh, God no. It's one of the most important things I want my kids to understand. That little bastard friend of yours? His parents spoil him rotten!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:04 PM
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"It helps adults have sex."

Also works for liquor, low standards, and regular bathing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:04 PM
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14: And your 8:30 pm bedtime.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:07 PM
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13: "But, daddy, I don't even want to have sex! Why are you making me take a bath?"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:07 PM
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including topics that I'm sure other parents find grossly inappropriate.

Just wait til you take your kids to a nude beach, they tell their friends, friends tell their parents, and they in turn freak.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:07 PM
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11 does sound difficult to navigate.

A different friend was taking her daughter to school one morning and the daughter (maybe 5?) piped up with "There are four slaves in my class!"

(In the next few minutes, it emerged that there were four black children in her class, and she'd been reading some historical book and made the connection that black people = slaves. So my friend had about five minutes to try to leave her daughter with a possible sanitary version of these words until they could talk later.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:08 PM
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Why is Jimmy's family poor?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:10 PM
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Because Jimmy's dad took-up with that waitress from the truck stop.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:12 PM
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18: Oh, that's a good one, too. We're high-income among the kids' classmates, but we're also cheap, and particularly on the comparatively cheap side about kid spending-money. Questions about relative economic status get complicated.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:13 PM
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Or the doctor a few weeks ago, "I just don't like having to answer questions about those people with my 11 year old."
I'm fine talking about doctors with my kids, although it depends on the field of practice.
Since it's back in the news again, I remember all this hand-wringing during the Thomas confirmation hearings about, "What will the children think?" I think it maybe helped improve childhood obesity for a little while by turning them off Coke.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:13 PM
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18:

1. I'd start with "Why do you think Jimmy's family is poor?"

2. Then riffing on their answer and interjecting some points about how our society promotes inequality, through crappy wages.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:13 PM
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18- Surely the Randians have no problem with that one.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:13 PM
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"Why is granddad's name on that sign?"

Or "Why does BR need a nuva ring?"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:14 PM
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24: "Because he performed abortions for women" and "Because she doesn't want to get pregnant."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:16 PM
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3: Wow! At least she was saying it in a Catholic school. Way to instill your crazy values in the kids as early as possible lady.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:17 PM
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22, 23 Without knowing the specifics, it is a minefield, no? Single parent, out of work, recent arrival, not actually poor, just lower status, etc.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:17 PM
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I've also been uncomfortable in conversations about drugs with the kids, through not wanting to either endorse the WarOnDrugs "all illegal drugs are equally dangerous, much more so than anything legal," or be cavalier about "do what you like, just don't get caught." That just means it's work to get what I want to say said, though, not a reason not to have the conversation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:19 PM
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You know the cartoon where Calvin's mom bursts in on him hammering nails into the coffee table, and screams "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" and he considers the self-evident nature of the question and eventually responds "...Is this a trick question?"

That's how I feel with these tough questions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:19 PM
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Without knowing the specifics, it is a minefield, no? Single parent, out of work, recent arrival, not actually poor, just lower status, etc.

What's the minefield? Surely you say that you don't know, but here are some typical reasons.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:20 PM
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Gah. My wife turns the channel every time a couple kiss on tv. Doesn't matter if they are playing a married couple. Drives me nuts.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:21 PM
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Drugs:
"Drugs are like a see-saw, where if a person does too many it starts to wreck their life. So adults want to tell kids what to do, so that they don't wreck their lives. But it's really hard to tell kids what to do when there's no right answer, so there are a lot of black-and-white overstatements about drugs."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:23 PM
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Heebie:

You are close to my answers!

I pointed out what the little pink and blue flags meant.

When I told him that BR didnt want to get pregnant, he looked uncertain until I explained to him that she had sex.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:24 PM
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And, actually, I didnt mind those questions.

A real question that made me EXTREMELY mad was "Why did you write in your court papers that Mom is crazy?"

I was pissed that she showed him.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:25 PM
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I'm curious, what did your (plural) parents tell you about drugs, cigs, and alcohol. Mine were all 'you must learn how to drink responsibly' well before I started drinking, complete with urging me to drink wine with them. Cigs were declared anathema, drugs were barely mentioned except for occasional 'don't do the hard stuff'. The cig message didn't work so well.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:25 PM
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29: That's how I feel with these tough questions.

They're all tough because you're uncertain that a young kid has the knowledge/maturity to use the information you're giving them in a sensible or socially appropriate manner. There are true things that it's rude to say in public or in front of some people, and the rules about those kinds of manners are complicated and hard to teach except by example. So if you're in a situation where a straight answer involves priming your kid with something that there are possible circumstances where you wouldn't want them to repeat it, it's touchy. (The other kid Newt's age in our building? Learned the (clinically described) facts of life from Newt at six or seven -- Newt had been sitting in on a conversation when Sally asked about it. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, but I cringed a little when the other kid's mom mentioned it to me.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:26 PM
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31

Yeah, like they're lazy.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:26 PM
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"Right over there, there's some people smoking weed."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:27 PM
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39

there are possible circumstances where you wouldn't want them to repeat it, it's touchy.

Oh, that's true. That some possibly garbled version of this is likely to be repeated in public.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:28 PM
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Oops, that should be 30.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:28 PM
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"It helps adults have sex."

I'm trying to figure out if (a) this is a joke, (b) this is a serious answer given in ignorance because you haven't spent a lot of time around young kids (older than HP), or (c) this is a serious answer given in full knowledge of the repercussions.

Because, of course, to give this answer, you have to be prepared to answer the following series of follow-up inquiries:

"What is sex?"
"Why would you do that?"
"Can I try?"
"Show me how it works!"

And you then also need to be prepared to deal with calls from day-care, wanting to know why HP is asking her classmates if they'll have sex with her, or if they've ever had sex, or if they know how sex works, or if their parents have sex, etc.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:28 PM
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42

Yeah, like they're lazy.

That they spend all their time commenting online.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:29 PM
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43

OT anybody see the curbstomping thread at LGM? Lambert showed up and did the full crazy. I clicked over to Corrente for the first time in over a year, and those folks are like the old hardcore Naderites, except that they're convinced that Hilary is somewhere to the left of your bog standard liberal blogger. Like I said, nuts.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:30 PM
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41: It was serious, but it assumed a background conversation about "What is sex" had already taken place with the kid. That's not how I'd introduce sex for the first time ever.

But if a kid asks point-blank what sex is, you're not going to have that conversation?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:30 PM
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32: what age of child are you imagining giving this answer to?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:31 PM
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35: Drinking was implicitly approved of, but no real instruction on being responsible about it. But they certainly knew I was drinking underage and were fine with it. Mom nearly gave a friend of mine a heart attack in a liquor store where she was buying 'champagne' for a NY Eve party I was going to as well -- Mom walked up to her, took the Spanish sparkling wine she was buying away from her and told her she couldn't drink that, she'd get a terrible hangover, redirecting her to something better.

They both smoked like chimneys but wanted to quit -- they would have been annoyed and sad if I'd started, but would have gotten over it in about an hour.

No information or commentary about drugs. When I was in college I found out that a friend of Mom's had gotten them stoned once: Dad had extremely unpleasant time-dilation effects, and Mom ate the refrigerator. Neither liked it, so they didn't do it ever again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:31 PM
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45: Maybe 8?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:31 PM
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48

what did your (plural) parents tell you about drugs, cigs, and alcohol

I don't remember about drugs or alcohol, but my mother told me and my sister several times over the course of our childhoods that she had tried a cigarette once, and it was so terrible that she couldn't even smoke half of it. Which of course just made us think she's a wuss.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:31 PM
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41

Of course it's not serious. It's good-natured trolling.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:32 PM
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39: Right, but not even necessarily garbled -- there's lots of straight answers on difficult questions that I wouldn't want my kids repeating verbatim to a non-picked audience.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:33 PM
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But if a kid asks point-blank what sex is, you're not going to have that conversation?

Again, what age are we talking about? I wouldn't get into mechanics with a five year old, no. I'd probably go with something bland (and partially false) like "it's something adults do when they care about each other."



Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:34 PM
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My mom got a friend in trouble by asking 'so what did you get [x] to bring to tonight's party? We gave him a bottle of vodka.'


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:35 PM
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convinced that Hilary is somewhere to the left of your bog standard liberal blogger

How anybody arrives at that conclusion remains utterly mysterious to me. She was in the Senate. She has a voting record. Go look at it some time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:36 PM
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54

Death
Sex (actually a series of 3 books for different ages)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:38 PM
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53- She was just constrained by the tactics and realities of the situation! But Obama, now there's a total sell-out.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:39 PM
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Again, what age are we talking about? I wouldn't get into mechanics with a five year old, no. I'd probably go with something bland (and partially false) like "it's something adults do when they care about each other."

Every time I have a student ask a question in office hours, my first response is "What's your answer?" Then after I know what else is going on in their head, I can much better answer the question.

With a five year old, that's how I'd start. Then fill out their knowledge, staying roughly in the same plane.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:39 PM
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I tell my kids my take on drugs, which is largely "weed is obviously less bad for you than booze but it's still illegal so stay away from it. Despite the drug warrior nonsense it remains a fact that all the other drugs are felonies and these days every job that does not involve swinging a hammer will require a background check. Also, druggies are to be avoided because they will 1. steal your shit. 2. try and point the cops to you rather than go through withdrawal in jail. If you're ever going to ignore this advice at least try and wait until you're 18 or 20 so that your brain is fully developed."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:39 PM
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Sustained brutality is hard to discuss with kids. So is the slow suicide of ongoing addiction, dementia in the aged, and often complete indifference to the suffering the very poor.

Other things depend on the kid, and how enthusiastically they will use information about the adult wold to play games ("But you said..." or similar testing of what they know to be acting up). The more prone the kid is to shenanigans, the more likely that hiding information makes sense.

There are so many reasons to hate other people, neurotic overprotective parenting styles are pretty far down on the list of visceral dislikes for me, about at the level of say a live action disney film on TV in a room I can't leave.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:41 PM
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So, to wrap-up:

"What's Viagra?"

"It helps adults have sex."

"What's sex?"

"What's your answer?"

That doesn't sound like a helpful exchange.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:42 PM
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"What's your answer?"

In a more realistic interaction, "What's your understanding of sex so far?"
Them perhaps: "Nothing. I don't know."
Me: "Suitably bland answer about adults being intimate and private with no red flag words whatsoever."

If that doesn't satisfy them, then they do have some idea or question. Get them talking. Stick with the level of words they're already using.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:44 PM
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Sustained brutality is hard to discuss with kids. So is the slow suicide of ongoing addiction, dementia in the aged, and often complete indifference to the suffering the very poor.

Sure, because these things are upsetting. Not because they're strictly too adult.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:46 PM
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62

Wait, so what is the appropriate age to have the actual facts of life conversation? 7? I mean the "here is how babies are made" conversation not "here is how to spice things up with help from the local vegan-friendly sex toy collective" conversation.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:48 PM
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Also, useful educational site for general kid-oriented answers on all topics: brainpop.com or brainpopjr.com (Subscription required but about 5% of the topics are free to view. Annual subscription of $100 was totally worth it.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:50 PM
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Wait, so what is the appropriate age to have the actual facts of life conversation?

You'd withhold details if a kid asked at an age that surprised you?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:50 PM
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62: My answer on that was "the first time they ask". I don't think there's an age that's too young for a simplified version of the biology.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:50 PM
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Not "details" but you'd withhold basic facts?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:51 PM
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67

My kid is 9. I started smoking pot when I was 11.

I have taken the line that he will soon run into kids in school that are doing things that they know are wrong, maybe smoking cigarettes or stealing stuff they don't need much or something like that. These kids will seem tough and independent, but in fact there is something wrong with them, probably a home life that's not right. Don't act that way, and don't trust those kids.

I would argue that the most taboo conversation, as here, is about money, not sex. How much does a Mercedes cost? How much do the nicer houses in the other neighborhood cost? Don't brag about going out to the nice sushi place, not everyone wants to spend that much on dinner. So far the line that money is private has worked for me, but since spending is sometimes showy and social, that's not so easy.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:56 PM
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64, 66 -- I was asking sincerely, not rhetorically -- I don't know and the issue hasn't come up yet.

It seems like if you can have a basic mechanics conversation, then the Viagra conversation is pretty easy, and, hey, why not just talk about it. On the other hand, I'm not sure I want my 4-5 year old to be the kid going around the playground talking about the basic mechanics of sex (or, worse, repeating them over and over in a singsongy voice, as she's apt to do when she's learned something new).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 12:58 PM
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68.last: As noted above, that will happen. It wasn't a high point in my week, but I got through it. (The other mother wasn't upset, which made it easier.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:01 PM
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with 65, I'd say start with the biology-- plant pollination, fish fertilizing eggs, most mammals have litters, we're mammals too. Back into the social aspects rather than leading with them.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:01 PM
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I stayed away from plants and non-mammal animals. Actually, I kept the conversation human-only.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:03 PM
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On the other hand, I'm not sure I want my 4-5 year old to be the kid going around the playground talking about the basic mechanics of sex

That's how I learned the basics. I also learned "Fuck" from the same kid, but that was after somebody ran over his dog.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:04 PM
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Has someone mentioned the recent Sesame Street parody of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit above? I have not read the thread. That's the only one I can think of. I tend to enjoy having "adult" conversations with kids (like about class, gay love, philosophy, etc., you pervert) but then again they're not mine. That would be more worrisome, I guess.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:05 PM
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Actually, I kept the conversation human-only.

Nobody is suggesting you send them to the herpy site.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:05 PM
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I'd say start with the biology-- plant pollination, fish fertilizing eggs, most mammals have litters, we're mammals too.

"You see, look at this flower, there are these things called a Pistil and a Stamen. Wait, maybe that's the Pistil and that's the Stamen. Who knows. Anyhow, so, there's a flower, and bees are involved somehow? And then cells divide. Or wait, maybe that's only in plants. I guess they divide in a different way in people maybe. You'll learn about this stuff in high school and then forget it. Anyhow, forget about turning sunlight and carbon dioxide into oxygen, that's not important here. Also, you know how a bunch of puppies show up from a mother dog? Humans are like puppies. Sort of. Anyhow, don't talk about this stuff at school, it's dirty."

Frankly, I don't think I could pull this off.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:12 PM
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Humans are like puppies. Sort of.

Says the parent who is about to watch their son pee on a fire hydrant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:14 PM
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Humans are like puppies.

Not nearly as cute.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:15 PM
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I'm not looking forward to the day when my son comes home after one of his friends tells him about God. I'll have to answer with some variation of "it's a fairy tale that a lot of people believe in, but you better not call it a fairy tale, or they will get mad."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:20 PM
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Drug talk: My parents fucked that one up about as badly as you could imagine. Although I've never done heroin, so there's that. But anyway, since my dad was an alcoholic, we could only talk about liquor and drinking in these very circumspect, uncomfortable ways. I never really saw any positive behavior around alcohol, except maybe on poker night, because mostly my father would sneak down to the basement after dinner and mix himself enough screwdrivers to get really wasted, then fall asleep by 9 or 10. Or, when he wasn't drinking, he'd be so unhappy that there was a lot of screaming and yelling about trivialities. He did stop smoking after my little sister was born, and that plus the fact that my grandmother was still smoking at 62, while on her death bed, meant that I never really got the whole "smoking is cool and marks you as an adult" thing. I had always assumed that my parents had smoked weed a bit in college, only had confirmation about that from my dad, and that only very recently.
But, on the whole, it's still only alcohol that's a problem. I don't really get high anymore, and I've never gotten really strung out on anything (with the exception of a few times when I've had enough weed around to get stoned every night and fall way behind on the laundry.)
But yeah, my parents' example? Not so grate, akshully.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:25 PM
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Drugs are like a see-saw, where if a person does too many it starts to wreck their life.

Egad! I had no idea see-saws were so dangerous!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:26 PM
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I've handled that with "This is what most of the people around here believe about God. I don't think it's true myself."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:26 PM
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80: There's a reason they don't put them in playgrounds anymore.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:27 PM
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I've handled that with "This is what most of the people around here believe about God. I don't think it's true myself."

My mother took this line, and it worked just fine for us.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:27 PM
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75 is pretty funny.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:31 PM
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The sex and drugs conversations happened when I was five or six, because AIDS had just emerged and my parents were terrified of what it would do to our generation. I think we had already been told pretty clearly what sex was, because the conversation I remember was quite specifically about safe sex---not about specific methods, obviously, but that there could be life-altering consequences to the decisions we eventually made, and we should know that ahead of time and be ready to make good decisions. No doubt the idea of having this conversation with a five-year-old would freak a lot of parents the hell out, but I think it was a brilliant move: get this really important idea across while your kids are young enough that your views have near-total normative force.

My parents took a less nuanced tack with respect to drugs, which I can't recall having heard of before then. Drugs were right out (on grounds of dirty-needle peril plus general life-wreckage) and my parents would be EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED if we ever tried any, ever, at all. I don't think they even mentioned cigarettes, which my grandmother's heavy smoking had already established as disgusting.

What has stayed with me is their absolute white-knuckled terror about AIDS, and their sadness. They had always made it clear that sex was a normal and joyful part of adult life, and suddently they didn't know whether we would ever be able to experience it in the same way. I think they really grieved over that.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:32 PM
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85.last: so, like a dutiful child, you made sure that they could share in your joy when things turned out fine: "Mom! Dad! I just wanted you to know, I'm having sex right now, and it's totally safe, and gosh, guys, it's fantastic! Yeah! Really great. I'm glad we got to share this."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:34 PM
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But the question is, how old should your parents be before you sit them down for that conversation?


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:50 PM
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I think I was eight when I asked my father whether governments really maintained organizations of assassins as in movies and books.

Also, Christmas is about taking Jesus.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:57 PM
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I think I was eight when I asked my father whether governments really maintained organizations of assassins as in movies and books.

Also, Christmas is about taking Jesus.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:57 PM
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Damn it.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 1:57 PM
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Also, Christmas is about taking Jesus ham.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:00 PM
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Christmas is about taking Jesus ham.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:01 PM
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|| Sorry to go OT so early on, but I read this story over lunch, and just had to share it with y'all. And I think I'd like to send that t-shirt to a former (?) commenter. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:02 PM
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Also, Christmas is about taking Jesus ham Chinese restaurants.



Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:02 PM
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91: The dogmatics of St. Cartman are apocryphal at best, dude.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:03 PM
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Christmas is about taking Jesus's ham away.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:03 PM
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My favorite part of the link at 93:

"Really, the only thing we try to make sure our blades do is get through the skull,"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:06 PM
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I fucking hate zombie stories and I fucking hate nerd enthusiasm for zombie nonsense. I don't like the post-apocalyptic fantasies of rednecks who like to imagine armoring-up the local Fuddrucker's and pot-shotting mutants and I sure as hell don't like the post-zombie fantasies of nerds who like to imagine ravenous monsters feasting on the girls who wouldn't talk to them in high school.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:11 PM
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O.K. But, I really like swords.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:12 PM
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98: any thoughts on CHUDs?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:12 PM
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CHUDs eat at Fuddrucker's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:14 PM
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Sorry. It's just that every year I have to put up with an ether full of zombie this, zombie that, zombie Margaret Thatcher symbolizes something about the British working class the other.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:14 PM
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I'm more on the robot/ninja/robot-ninja side of things, unsurprisingly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:20 PM
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"Daddy, why is Monmmy consorting with Cthulhu?"
That was a tough one.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:22 PM
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102 -- Flip, you'll feel better if you come try out some of the swords. You'll find this a heartwarming story of young small town entrepreneurs.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:24 PM
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I'm trying to think of real life examples but I can't offhand. But I think for me, when it's been awkward, it's not been so much the actual question, but where we have been when they've asked it. Like on a busy train, or shouting from the back of the van about something delicate.

My older two knew all about sex and babies pretty young because I had two more babies and so it was a major topic of conversation. The younger two were rather slower to find out. Kid D just asked me a couple of weeks ago why there is a book about sex in her room - "who would want a book about sex??!?!?!?" Told her it was actually useful information.

Sometimes people get stressed about talking to their kids about things, and they're clearly just being idiots. Sometimes it might sound like a reasonable question, because you're assuming they will have already talked about x, y and z, but they haven't so it's hard to know where to start. And sometimes kids' questions *are* tricky to answer - if you get through your children's childhoods without ever once starting an answer with (scrunched-up face) "ummmm, welllll, errrrrr" then you will be the Best Parent in the World and can blog about it once they're all adults.

I have come across an awful lot of parents of 2 year olds who truly believe they are brilliant parents and always will be and why can't you all be as wonderful as us? and it's totes annoying. (Rant not directed at heebie. Mostly at self-righteous AP types.)


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:25 PM
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Mostly at self-righteous AP types.

My school was too small to have an AP program.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:26 PM
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Has anyone else seen this bit by Charles Stross about disliking steampunk? I carry no water for steampunk, but if I did I would probably find it provocative.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:28 PM
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I don't see the ninja apocalypse as very likely.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:29 PM
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I was going to say something about the lamestream media, but 107 beat me to the punch.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:30 PM
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"Mommy, what is calculus?"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:33 PM
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109: unlikely, or... invisible?!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:40 PM
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OT: 'Democrats: If We're Gonna Lose, Let's Go Down Running Away From Every Legislative Accomplishment We've Made'

That's pretty awesome. Even though I'm currently in my usual pre-election state of unwarranted optimism that things will turn out less badly than they seem (see, me, in late October 1994, 2000, and 2004).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 2:48 PM
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NMM2 Danno.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 3:08 PM
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I explained condoms to a precociously verbal 2-year old without blinking. (I mean that literally, I was kind of frozen as I calmly and yet succinctly did the entire "babies are made when a daddy's sperm reaches a mommy's egg and that thing that you're holding is not a balloon, but a way to stop people from having babies, you can put it down now," speech. You know that speech, right? Doesn't everyone have to make it at some point?)

It was also easy to explain prostitution (Eliot Spitzer), crystal meth and ecstasy to a 12-year old, but I admit, that was in part because I'd already had to explain fellatio and gay sex (Larry Craig) to an 11-year-old and that one...yeah, that wasn't fun. In principle, I don't mind explaining what a blowjob is, but when I imagine explaining it, I'm envisioning some kind of ideal circumstances, where I have plenty of time, and can make room for questions, and can, I guess, romanticize the whole thing. Two minutes in the car before school drop-off and you're left wondering all day whether you've just warped your child's idea of sexuality for life.

I guess what this means is that I see both sides of the question. To the best of my ability to judge, I have completely stepped up to the plate and provided clinical and correct detail on every random sexual or drug-related subject, but yeah, I wish some of those conversations had happened differently.


Posted by: Sydnew | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 3:20 PM
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I have come across an awful lot of parents of 2 year olds who truly believe they are brilliant parents and always will be and why can't you all be as wonderful as us? and it's totes annoying. (Rant not directed at heebie. Mostly at self-righteous AP types.)

Aww, it can be directed at me. I'm super judgmental with no personal experience! I have it coming.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 3:28 PM
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But if a kid asks point-blank what sex is, you're not going to have that conversation?

I asked my next-door neighbor this when I was five. I had heard her older daughter using the word. She told me "oh, that's just one of her made-up words". I was temporarily satisfied.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 3:45 PM
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11: Oddly, I would've been less sensitive about this one.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 3:47 PM
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93: Another example of the zombie craze making the world just a little bit worse. There oughta be a betting pool on the time elapsed before one of their super-sharp weapons is used on the living.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 3:50 PM
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118: Really? I have a big hotbutton "Getting opinionated about black people's hair, is, as a white person, a really quick easy route to sounding like a major league asshole." I was trying to get that across in some way that would both accurately convey the issues so she'd be satisfied by the explanation, and would also not make me sound (on the bus) like I was being whiny about expecting people to be mean to her if she said something perfectly reasonable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 3:52 PM
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and gay sex (Larry Craig)

It would be nice to be able to explain that one without having to also explain "wide stance," "airport restroom," and "Minneapolis."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 3:53 PM
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Can't tell if this has been linked to yet, but someone you might know has a blog on the topic, in preparation for her planned book on "How to Talk to Your Kid About Tough Subjects."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 3:54 PM
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121: "You see Jimmy, when two groups of people really dislike each other, but they both want to make money from selling logs and making flour, they form separate cities. One city is laid out by drunken Irishmen, and everyone there goes to church a lot and hates each other. The other city, that would be "Minneapolis" -- but don't repeat that to your friends at school, it's not a nice word to use -- thinks it's better than everywhere else, and constantly compares the number of theater seats per capita that it has to New York."


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:01 PM
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122: How many blogs does she have, now? I know of two....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:07 PM
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So remember a couple of months ago, when I was at a garden party and a friend's 6 year old asked his mother "How did he [me] get so fat?"

What would have been your response? 'Cause I thought the mom's sotto voce "That's not a nice thing to say, honey." was sort of a cop-out. But I didn't want to make a faux pas by going into my political analysis of obesity. I am still feeling unsatisfied about that incident.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:13 PM
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A woman of my acquaintance used "cunt" for "vagina" with her daughter from a very early age. Like, when the kid was three or four, I remember her asking something about some newborn she'd just seen, and mom said, "That's the way she came out of her mama's cunt, sweetie." I never asked her about it; it may have been a Lenny Bruce/nigger kind of thing. Maybe it was just because she's an artist.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:16 PM
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125: I would have gone for a straightforward "he ate a lot of food", myself.

I tend to enjoy having "adult" conversations with kids (like about class, gay love, philosophy, etc., you pervert)

"Parents with young children are warned that this programme deals with adult themes. Debt, despair, senility, disillusionment, regret and frustration."

Sex? Drugs? Nudity? Random violence? Those are teenage themes.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:19 PM
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126: Maybe it was just because she's an artist.

Whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his Johnson.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:20 PM
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120: I think your instincts on the issue are really admirable, don't get me wrong. It's the right approach in terms of teaching tact and proper behavior in public spaces.

I'm just really impatient on black/brown nationalist grounds with the nigh-universal hair-straightening thing. Racist pressure or not, it's an absurd waste of time and money and natural hair really does look far better, albeit then you have to fend off the somewhat inexplicable Caucasian Hair-Touching Reflex. I know better than to say anything directly, of course... but I also don't know how I quick I would be to correct my niece if she were to point out how bad it looks. It often does.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:25 PM
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I think we can all agree that getting small children to give honest answers to questions about strangers' hair would make the world a better place.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:37 PM
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28: Well played, NP.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:44 PM
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128, that is.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:45 PM
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131, 132: Thanks, I was so worried someone would pwn me, but I did it!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:48 PM
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"How did he [me] get so fat?"

"Eating nosy children."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 4:53 PM
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inexplicable Caucasian Hair-Touching Reflex
But it's so bouncy.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:03 PM
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Shit, that was me.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:03 PM
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Not that I really want to claim that.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:04 PM
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I share all of Heebie's prejudices. I think honesty at an age-appropriate level of detail is virtually always the way to go. There may be specific exceptions if you know the child in question well enough to foresee that it's going to get repeated in a particularly hurtful or damaging way.

It's a harder line to walk when they're not your kids. I am violently opposed to lying, but if I know that my natural response will sharply contradict the parents' value system, then I'm willing to give a vague answer or the ever-unhelpful "I think your parents would feel more comfortable if you checked with them directly about that."

A couple of people I know well have gotten upset for what I consider disappointing reasons; apparently mentioning "trans" in passing at the dinner table is Forbidden.

I can't remember when I didn't know the mechanics of reproduction; certainly by age 3 or so. "How Babies Are Born" was a much-discussed favorite among all of my siblings. I do remember having to have it explained to me why the birth pictures in the photo album were paper-clipped together with a little note (answer: "Because some people aren't comfortable looking at them and would prefer to know so they can skip over them").

But, you know, hippies. Not representative. And I've been known to talk about my salary on local cable-access, so I'm kind of a bizarre outlier all the way around. Even within my family.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:05 PM
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Oh, and I should say that my parents went to pretty significant lengths to protect us from the grief and disillusionment mentioned in 58.1. Yes, we were going to visit our senile grandmother in the nursing home, and nobody was pretending that she was healthy, but they weren't having long conversations about the financial and emotional burden on my aunt (the primary caregiver) in front of us.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:09 PM
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inexplicable Caucasian Hair-Touching Reflex

It's because afros are so cool. I don't see any other reason. I hope they ask, for heaven's sake.

Last time I was in British Columbia, a woman at a big outdoor birthday bash asked to touch my hair. I'm not black, but I have curly hair, and hers was iron-straight, and she was stoned and earnest, so I smiled and figured, "Fucking hippies, so strange."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:10 PM
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No talks. Irish Catholic stock, but, you know, recovering, and gay. So one day I got a copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves on my pillow.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:20 PM
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Actually, I'm sorry to have broken out with the personal anecdote about hair-touching; DS has mentioned this before, and my remark was an utter non-sequitur.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:23 PM
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Wrt the Caucasian Hair Touching Reflex...I like LB's response, not necessarily on the specific issue itself, but because it's probs helpful at some point to introduce your white kid to the idea of white privilege. Wow, do I wish I had gotten that talk. It would have saved me a loooot of massive asshole moments. Also prob would have saved me from a few asshole opinions a little later in life. Get rid of that ignorance quick, is what I'm saying.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:27 PM
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Wait, that implies I assume LB's kid is white. I don't know that. I guess I did assume it? But I don't know it.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:28 PM
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I have told this story here previously, but I like it a lot, so I'm going to tell it again.

When Joey was three, he was told that to make a baby a sperm would have to come out of his penis. But he had no idea how big a sperm was, or why one would come out. So he spent several days worrying that one would pop out at any moment, like a little mouse.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:31 PM
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When I was in summer camp -- so I was 11 or 12, I think? -- I was discussing fades and flattops with only black kid in my cabin, and he said, "I wish, just for one week, I could have white person hair, because you do not have any idea what you could do with it." I wish I had gotten him to describe his visions for bold new directions in Caucasian hair in more detail.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:50 PM
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My son just told me Fred, Daphne, and Velma are the smart ones, so at least that is clear.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 5:56 PM
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Relevant legal case:
Mr. Tyrie "correctly notes that infants under the age of 4 are conclusively presumed incapable of negligence," Justice Wooten wrote in his decision, referring to the 1928 case. "Juliet Breitman, however, was over the age of 4 at the time of the subject incident. For infants above the age of 4, there is no bright-line rule."


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:02 PM
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when I was at a garden party and a friend's 6 year old asked his mother "How did he [me] get so fat?" What would have been your response?

"People come in all shapes and sizes, just like people can be any height. That's just what his body looks like."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:08 PM
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129: Ah, I follow you. Yeah, part of what made me jumpy about the question was that I kind of agreed with her that straightened hair often looks terrible compared to the natural options, and I wanted to make sure I got her clear about not being opinionated at people about their hair before I reinforced the opinion she'd already formed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:09 PM
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Then probably later on, away from other people, a conversation about how our society is mean to fat people.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:09 PM
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I wish I had gotten him to describe his visions for bold new directions in Caucasian hair in more detail.

Wow, me too!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:13 PM
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I think this is a great thread, that these are questions with non-obvious answers, and that of course everybody wants to touch afros. (And can't, of course.)


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:19 PM
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If and when my daughter asks me this sort of question, my plan is to deploy the "Beats me; ask your mother" move, and then do that walk-away-quickly-without-quite-breaking-into-a-run thing.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:23 PM
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Or just channel Halford at 75.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:26 PM
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I think honesty at an age-appropriate level of detail is virtually always the way to go.

Sure. Doesn't mean it's always easy.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:28 PM
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75 reminded me of this.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:29 PM
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Don't leave the sex talk too late or your kid might end up conducting the kind of experiment that a couple of my friends did, which ended with one of them peeing between the other's butt cheeks. It's one of the more vivid memories of my early childhood, and damn am I glad I was too timid to participate.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:31 PM
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158: !


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:32 PM
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Yeah, you have to tell the children the truth*, because they really want to know, and they're going to be damned determined to figure it out. 158: !

What's odd is the ebbing of that desire in later childhood into adulthood. I have no idea why people stop wanting to know things, but it does seem to happen with some frequency.

* That's the best bumper sticker I've ever seen, the only one I've regretted not purchasing: "Tell the Children the Truth".


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:47 PM
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I went to high school with a kid who had a theory that almost any question in the world could be answered nonsensically with either (1) "meat" (2) "lasers" or (3) "stuff". I plan to use this theory as the basis of my approach to any and all inquiries from future hypothetical offspring.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 6:55 PM
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158 is indeed a chastening story. On the other hand, my daughter seems to have inherited my total lack of interest in risky or socially frowned-upon behaviour of any sort, so there's that.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:08 PM
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Today I was told that no one who is not from East Asia is capable of preparing any food that tastes good. My "you know, if I said that about people who aren't American, I would sound like a provincial hick at best or a racist at worst" got the response "but that isn't true."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:20 PM
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Between the awkward double negative and the ambiguous "that", I think maybe I'm better off not trying to write tonight.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:24 PM
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I heard somewhere that a non-trivial proportion of conversations among East Asian immigrants consists in pitying Anglosphere Westerners for the flavourlessness of their food. I feel that they have a point, if we're comparing median experience of flavour.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:29 PM
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What? Salt is a flavor!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:30 PM
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But this involved a much stronger claim: that even the best western restaurant rises, at best, to the level of the crappiest East Asian food.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:32 PM
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I agree - the food at Best Western is probably worse than the worst East Asian food.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:33 PM
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Restaurants at Best Westerns aren't usually very good.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:34 PM
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Dammit.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:35 PM
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Gimme five! Up high! Down low! ....TOO SLOW!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:37 PM
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Stupid smartphone commenting.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:38 PM
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Stupidphone.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:40 PM
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164 to 167.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:48 PM
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101 s/b "Zombies eat free at Fuddruckers."


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:50 PM
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What? Salt is a flavor!

Or is it one of the five tastes, which in various combinations together with smell gives rise to flavour? Huh? Huh? Clearly you can have no comeback to my superhuman powers of analysis.

But this involved a much stronger claim: that even the best western restaurant rises, at best, to the level of the crappiest East Asian food.

Another thing I've heard, which might explain this, is that if you've grown up eating meals based on steamed rice, no other sort of meal ever quite satisfies. So flavour might not actually be the whole issue.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:56 PM
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It's 72 in this house, and I'm in a tank top and shorts, and still sweating like a motherfucker. Outside it's 59 degrees, and I keep stepping outside to cool off.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 7:56 PM
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176: Possibly related: I like eating East Asian food every now and then, but I could never eat it regularly because it has neither mashed potatoes nor cheese.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:01 PM
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||

So I went out doing some Firesheep today, as recommended here, and wow. Sat at a cafe for an hour, saw into six different people's facebooks with nothing more than a Firefox extension. I froze up in terror instead of even leaving a helpful "[X] might want to install ForceTLS Configuration now that she's been hacked with Firesheep" but I think next time I'll skirt up and do "[X] WANTS TO SEX MUTUMBO!!!1!"

|>


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:03 PM
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damn, I spelled Mutombo right then second-guessed it.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:03 PM
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Also, with all respect to the culture and people of Japan, even good sake tastes worse than Natural Light.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:07 PM
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For goodness sake.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:08 PM
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178 IS A RPETTY SHHort summary of why i prefer east asian food.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:11 PM
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How can anybody not like cheese? There's hundreds of different kinds.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:13 PM
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You're a good man, yoyo, but you were a better man when you had fingers.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:14 PM
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179: exciting, eh? I accidentally logged into my coworker's twitter account (I wanted to check it out, but not to, like, 0wn up my coworkers) and felt very dirty.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:14 PM
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How can anybody not like poop? There's hundreds of different kinds.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:15 PM
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179, 186: I haven't been paying attention. Should I update Firefox right now?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:18 PM
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188: won't help.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:19 PM
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Anyhow, it's nothing new, really. Like all the most successfully frightening hacker tools, it puts a friendly UI on exploits that have been around forever. Seeing it in action really drives the point home.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:20 PM
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188: If you ever use public Wi-Fi, yes -- install ForceTLS Configuration and apply it to every website you sign into.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:20 PM
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167: Butter and Salt is too a flavor!


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:22 PM
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It's not new to Sifu, an experienced hacker. What's new is that I, who am merely "good with computers", can now effortlessly access "exploits that have been around forever."


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:22 PM
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178: Could we be moving towards a Grand Unified Theory of Favourite Starches, according to which the human race is divided into large families according to the form of carbohydrates (rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, couscous...) people imprint upon at an early age as playing for them the role of the One True Meal Base?


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:22 PM
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But what if I get hacked by someone who provides me with more interesting status updates? I'd be okay with that.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:23 PM
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194: you're just trying to make Halford prepare for the apocalypse.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:24 PM
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ST, your opinion on 189 vs 191?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:25 PM
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191: I only use public wifi on an iTouch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:27 PM
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197: well, that will help. I just don't think of that as "updating firefox"; more "install 3rd party extensions to firefox". I don't think that solves the whole problem (for one thing, some sites (like twitter) seem to be able to ignore it pretty effectively) but it certainly can't hurt.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:29 PM
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198: yeah you're SOL.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:29 PM
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I thought Jobs had my back.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:33 PM
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There have been four straight walks in the bottom o the Eighth. I am witnessing the apocalypse right now.

The claim about East Asian food is insane; it's pretty good and better than Applebee's, but come on. I just choose not to worry about whatever horror K-sky and Tweety are talking


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:33 PM
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This is a pretty embarrassing music collection, Moby.


Posted by: Café Hacker | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:34 PM
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Sorry if 176 caused 182. Just joking around.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:37 PM
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Sorry if 176 caused 182. Just joking around.

Oh dear. "Goodness sake" was intended to be read like the drink, riffing on "good sake" in 181.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:39 PM
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Heebie you jerk.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:40 PM
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Jesus Christ. When Aaron Rowand looks like an offensive powerhouse, we've, like already broken the Fourth Seal and are moving steadily towards Armageddon. Well, at least I have the election and the Dodgers being saddled with a $300 million divorce judgment in the offseason to look forward to!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:40 PM
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203: It is. I think all I have from the past five years is Lady Gaga.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:41 PM
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I was out with my ex and his two little kids in Park Slope, where we got pizza in a restaurant where there was either a very butch lesbian or a trans guy who prompted the five-year-old to stop cold, look her dead in the eye, hold up a finger for point of inquiry, and shout, "Excuse me; is you a man or a woman?"

Max and I were momentarily frozen by it, since neither of us could answer the question either, but the person laughed good-naturedly, said, "adorable" and walked out.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:43 PM
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208: This inning has been unreal.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:45 PM
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||

Our baby-sitter just texted me and said that she needs to be done by 11:30 tomorrow night so that she can go out of town with her family.

That's kind of prohibitively early - it's a birthday party that starts at 10:30 - but I'm going to have trouble finding another baby-sitter this late in the game.

I can't figure out how to respond -
1. "No! You must stay till midnight like you agreed earlier!" -
2. "Let me try to find someone else in the morning" (knowing full well I won't be able to)
3. "Uh, ok, sure. We'll be home by then."

Any help?

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:47 PM
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i think the best thing about having a kid will be having someone really really eager to hear my explanations for everything in the whole wide world.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:47 PM
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205: Very good. I thought I was missing something.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:48 PM
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andi f i don't have finger,s how did i pour this wine? shit does not pour itsi non-superfluidy self.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:49 PM
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Any help?

I'm off work all day tomorrow, but I don't think I'm in Texas, sorry.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:50 PM
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212: That's not something you can count on.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:50 PM
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212: "Why is the sky blue?"

"Well, let's start by understanding a simple abelian gauge theory, and then I'll walk you through a quick estimate of Rayleigh scattering..."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:51 PM
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"It's 72 in this house, and I'm in a tank top and shorts, and still sweating like a motherfucker. Outside it's 59 degrees, and I keep stepping outside to cool off.
"

its fall here. Steel Grey Sky! so great.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:51 PM
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Here it thought about being fall and then decided to go back to summer.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:53 PM
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217: or from the other direction.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:53 PM
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It was lovely here today, in the low seventies and sunny, but unfortunately my building's heating system, having gone on for the season, is undeterrable. The past two days have been well above 80 and probably at least 80% humidity in my (modern-ish high-rise) building (with windows that don't open). I've taken to sitting a foot or so further from my laptop because I find the heat it produces unbearable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:55 PM
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Or this, which I have linked before, ending in the why problem.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 8:55 PM
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212: An increasing number of my conversations with my daughter involve the following pattern:

- Look, let me tell you something...
- I know what you're going to say, Dad...
- Well, you might think you know, but why don't you wait and see?
- Because I know exactly what you're going to say.
- Oh really; what am I going to say, then?
- [exactly what I was going to say]
- Right... Good... Well, see that you do!

Teenagerhood is going to be a hoot.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 9:03 PM
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I went with "Mind if I try to find a sub in the morning, and get back with you?" Who knows, maybe Stanley will be in town after all.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 9:05 PM
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223 is great.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 9:06 PM
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I initially read the last line of 223 as "Transgenderhood is going to be a hoot."


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 9:18 PM
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So I was going to try Firesheep but when I click Start Capturing it asks for my system password to make permission changes. I think Sifu's just trying to drain our bank accounts.
212 really is true. My kid starting telling his doctor about brain plaques at his 6 year checkup.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 9:31 PM
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227.1: like I'd stoop to that. I'll drain your bank accounts with charm and charisma!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 9:34 PM
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226: For some in the Dominican Republic, that reading wouldn't have been out of the question:

http://www.newint.org/features/1998/04/05/trans/


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 10:10 PM
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Asilon up at 156: Doesn't mean it's always easy.

Right, yes. I didn't mean to imply that it was. Maybe it's that I find attempting to lie to be so panic-inducing and flustering that whatever genuine level of difficulty or awkwardness attaches to the truth still seems easier in comparison.

But anyway, I didn't mean to be dismissive of how hard it can be. Especially gauging exactly what developmental stage the child is in, and dealing with explosive topics in public.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 10:12 PM
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that even the best western restaurant rises, at best, to the level of the crappiest East Asian food.

The cook/owner of the restaurant where I worked used to say that "ethnic food" was pretty easy, because you couldn't fuck it up too badly. She was easily the most entertaining racist/misogynist/homophobe I've ever met.

Thai is the dominant Asian cuisine here by far; I didn't realize how thoroughly it's become part of my daughters' reality until we were passing our local doughnut shop on the way back from our favorite Thai place and I asked which they'd rather have, doughnuts or pad Thai. Pad Thai, hands down. I suppose that makes me some kind of elitist.

Also: WTF, Rangers? You could at least make it look competitive.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 10:58 PM
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231: Is G-dub showing up to any of the games? I was just tonight wondering how he spends his days.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:05 PM
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Don't know if he went to SF (wouldn't be surprised if not), but I imagine he'll be there in Arlington. The monster.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-28-10 11:09 PM
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That Stross steampunk thing above is very good.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 12:27 AM
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41: A friend manages a daycare centre, and a 3yo girl had this exchange:

Little Girl: I have a baby growing in my tummy!
Daycare Worker: uh-huh [many little kids play at being pregnant when their mother is]
LG: And Little Boy Over There put It in there!
DW: [growing alarm]
LG: [with satisfaction] WITH HIS PENIS.

It emerged that LG's older sister had taken to sneaking her into their parents room so they could both watch them having sex. The mother ill-advisedly had the older sister standing near her when she explained, and the older sister started to give DW a triumphant description of the sex acts witnessed.

I guess after hearing that story I'm less worried than before about Heebie's question, since older siblings and older kids in general are apparently so willing to step into the breach. I guess they need privacy explained to them though.


Posted by: Pineapple | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 12:27 AM
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easy to do in general but maybe hard to do in the particular situation in which it's asked. my local doctor is a wonderful old chinese guy with a degree from the university of malaya. he is a thoughtful person, a really thorough doctor, sweet, etc. for these reasons I found it hard to explain the hilarious viagra ad in his office which features a) a block of tofu b) a peeled banana c) an unpeeled banana and ...fuck, I can't remember what represents appropriate erection hardness. anyway, the girls know about the mechanics of sex but I found it impossible to say anything other than "I'll explain it to you later" in front of the kindly 84-year-old. the ad has actual 3-d items, not pictures, with a block of wood saying "tofu" in english and chinese on the side.

in general I explained about sex and stuff to my kids when they were little enough to find the answer relatively uninteresting, such that we didn't have to have a "talk" later. the difficult things for me have been letting my children know that there are a few adults in the world who want to have sex with them without completely freaking them out. I mean, you need to tell them that if anyone touches or talks to them in a way that makes them feel weird they should tell me/the teacher, that nothing like that is ever their fault, even though the person may try to make it seem like they would get in trouble if they told etc. also that this person might be someone they know, not a stranger--even, more likely someone they know than a stranger. otoh my older daughter is really easily terrified ad I don't want her unduly worried about it.

slavery was not so tough because it's so obviously wrong and you don't have to go into a great deal of detail; I have to admit my kids don't totally know about the holocaust yet, or, like, the interahamwe or anything. we've kind of stalled out at nazi germany was a bunch of bad guys who hated jews and gypsies and gay people and poles and, etc. plus japan sucked in wwii, although bluffing the british was kind of amazing in its way, and that the rounded up lots of young chinese men onto changi beach and machine-gunned them all in the surf. I don't recall freaking out over it at the time but I swear my older daughter is going to learn about japanese medical experiments or gassing or the ovens or something and never be able to sleep again.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 12:45 AM
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235. That sounds a lot better than the surprisingly large number of otherwise well adjusted adults and teens I've met who are totally squicked by the idea of their parents having sex at all (like, you wish you'd never been born, son?).

Also, the "some people hate talking about this for whatever reason, so it's VERY VERY RUDE to start a conversation about it without they make the first move" bit is probably the hardest part of most 'difficult conversations'. Having no kids, but having been cast as the indulgent honorary uncle on many occasions, I've been there more often than I care to remember. Fortunately most children are surprisingly rational about being told this.

Also, gswift is a fantastic father.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 1:24 AM
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I took alameida's approach. Teach them early.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 2:03 AM
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Also, gswift is a fantastic father.

Especially given that she started with a natural disadvantage in that field.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 3:54 AM
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blah, flat mates are having a messy break up. --- i hate the fucking melodrama of it all.

As a kid the line taken on difficult questions was that once I could read I could basically work it out for myself, and by the time I was asking questions I'd have basically figured it out anyway. It was a surprisingly robust strategy, from memory.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 4:19 AM
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239. Sorry, there was something a while back that convincedme gswift was male.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 4:23 AM
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241: Everything he's ever posted leans that way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 4:56 AM
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I'm fairly sure my parents told me whatever I wanted to know if I asked them explicitly, but I don't ever remember really asking much. We had the Joy of Sex on the family bookshelves when I was a kid, along with other similar things -- hippy stuff on bodies and the like -- so if we wanted to nose through them that was fine.

I do remember in-depth political discussions, and discussions of science, from a fairly early age, too, much of which went over my head.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:04 AM
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242: Including pictures of himself.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:09 AM
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244: that he sent to that address neb set up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:28 AM
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You know, I don't recall asking about the birds and the bees, but that is probably because when I was some fairly young age, my parents left out a copy of that book "Where Did I Come From?" knowing as the did that I would read literally anything left within grasp. I only much later realized that this was surely intentional. Oh! I do remember asking, while my mom and my dad and one of my brothers were watching M*A*S*H (the movie), how on earth Hawkeye and Trapper intended to figure out whether Hotlips was a natural blond or not by seeing her in the shower. Nobody answered because they were too busy howling with laughter.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:34 AM
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34

A real question that made me EXTREMELY mad was "Why did you write in your court papers that Mom is crazy?"

Not sure I understand this reaction. It's probably not too cool to tell your kid their mother is nuts but if she wants to bring it up herself?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:39 AM
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the somewhat inexplicable Caucasian Hair-Touching Reflex.

IME Africans and Asians have been known to exhibit a similar propensity in the presence of long, blonde hair.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:54 AM
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Including pictures of himself.

In fairness, the humping the dog photo is kind of gender-ambiguous.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:57 AM
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Shearer,

"Dad is calling me crazy in court to try to take you away from me so I cant see you" --- you think that is an appropriate conversation to have with a 12 year old?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 6:15 AM
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I'm big on not lying to kids, though I don't get particularly graphic about the nature of my relationship with Lee. "We love each other and we're a family" is usually my normal route when asked; I don't want to make assumptions about their mommies and daddies and say that we're just like them. I got after Lee a few years back for telling the son of a friend of ours that yes, she and I are married because there's no reason to introduce untrue information.

Our current frustration on this front is with Mara's foster mother, who has two other pre-K aged kids who were also foster children and whom she and her husband adopted. The family doesn't talk about race and as a result the kids had decided that Mara belonged to another family where she'd match. Their mom decided to take advantage of that and rather than saying what we'd have said ("You know, you were in foster care and then we adopted you and right now Mara's still in foster care but everyone thought it would be better for her to be adopted by Lee and Thorn. But you're already adopted and you're our family forever; that's what adoption means.") she decided to tell them that Lee is Mara's biomom who was sick for a long time but is healthy now and wants to take Mara back. I just don't understand that kind of thing, especially when I've heard her say very negative things about Mara's mom within earshot of the other kids.

So yeah, we don't know what Mara understood of any of that or if she heard it and she doesn't really have the language skills to let us know, but it's very frustrating that the switch between families is being explained with a lie when there are plenty of good versions of the truth that would have worked just as well (and not introduced the trope of the returning birthmom) and I don't get it at all.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 6:43 AM
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The "returning birthmom" thing seems 8 kinds of pernicious. Will the other kids be expecting theirs now? Ugh.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 6:52 AM
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248: Can we just all stipulate that it is fun to play with hair?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:02 AM
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Wait, I'm a chick on the internet now? The hair was a lot longer a few years back but it wasn't that girly.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:24 AM
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250: I'm guessing you actually did believe she was crazy, so what did you expect?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:28 AM
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254: That's you in the red? You look pretty girly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:31 AM
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254: That picture is adorable: there's nothing like a kid holding up a freshly caught fish.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:35 AM
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How did you generate the direct link to flickr? I thought they disabled the ability to do that.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:35 AM
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251 -- What an astonishingly bad idea. Will there be any relationship with these people beyond a month or so?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:36 AM
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How did you generate the direct link to flickr?

Go into the "view all sizes" function. You can right click on any of the various sizes and pull a direct link.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:40 AM
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For instance, look what was in the carwash lost and found. Losing that probably ruined someone's day.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:46 AM
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262: What's that? I'm guessing quartz, calcite, quartz.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:47 AM
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"What's that?" just might be as awesome as "That's not mine." when you're pulling contraband out of someone's pockets.

I'm guessing quartz, calcite, quartz crystal, rock, crystal.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 8:17 AM
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Hypothesis: the popularity of the name "Crystal" (and variant spellings thereof) has an inversely proportional relationship with the usage statistics on crystal meth.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 9:28 AM
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108
Has anyone else seen this bit by Charles Stross about disliking steampunk?

234
That Stross steampunk thing above is very good.

Maybe it's just that I've stumbled upon an inordinate number of these recently, but the "X genre is bad and you should feel bad (if you like it)" type of post is really, really overdone.

Zombie apocalyses suck; they always were about racism, and now they're also about consumerism too. Vampires suck; modern readers deserve more mature views of sex than Victorian hangups. High fantasy sucks (linked from Stross' steampunk denunciation), it glorifies aristocracy and black-and-white morality. Superheroes are fascists, and crime procedurals are way too authoritarian too. (This is a criticism I'm not sure I've ever actually seen, but it's a suspicion I personally hold based on what very little I know of the genre, so I guess I should write the post just so I can add it to my list.)

None of this is wrong, necessarily - Mark Millar overall really is an idiot, and a lot of high fantasy really does whitewash how awful life would be in such a culture - but it's beside the point of both the genre and the critic. I agree more with roy edroso about this kind of thing: putting proscriptive politics in art is optional at best, and judging art on its politics results in missing out and often causes other to miss out too.

I carry no water for steampunk either; I think I've only read one book that plays it straight, and that book was indeed up-front about how horrible it would be to live in such a world. But if other steampunk is more utopian, and if most fiction in these other genres is regressive and politically incorrect in all these other ways, well, guess what: probably 90 percent of fiction is escapism of one kind or another.

/end rant


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 9:33 AM
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159: Once she's settled, we'll have as much contact as the kids in the two families need and that will probably decrease over time. I have no interest in carrying on a relationship with the foster parents, although I'd have been willing to make a lot more effort if they were on the same page as us on several fronts. However, I do think once she's feeling safe and stable in our home, we're going to try to set up contact between Mara and at least some of her siblings. There's no reason for her not to know her family.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 9:58 AM
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OMFG - I just read someone saying that, as a Christian, she thinks that a 5 year old does not need to know the names of all the parts of the body. (This was in a sex ed context, not that she was anti the pancreas or whatever.)


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 11:38 AM
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261: I was going to make a joke about how (since I live in SLC) I was missing three baggies but then decided against it since my name is easily identified from my Flickr account. Stupid privacy concerns.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 11:39 AM
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267: Christians: objectively pro-buttcheek pissing.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 12:47 PM
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I have a child-related question:

Is there some kind of agreed-upon observation of Halloween tonight or something? I keep seeing parental updates on FB about getting kids into costumes. That's for school parties, right?

My concern is that I just moved to a house with a front door on the first floor and don't have any candy. Do I have to go shopping right now? Can't it wait until Sunday?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 2:33 PM
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270: It's school stuff, almost certainly. Little NYC kids won't be trick or treating until the 31st, per usual (I know that at least because the building has a sign-up sheet for folks who will have candy).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 2:36 PM
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OT: Anyone in DC for the weekend?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 2:36 PM
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271: Thanks!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 2:37 PM
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270: Trick or treating here is not until Sunday. Or you can just put out the lights and hide in the back like you do when you run out of candy.

I am so mad at my ghetto, gentrifying micro-neighborhood for its total failure to observe the spirit of Halloween. The area is walkable, the street is full of big houses with nice families in it that are reasonably close together, and the neighborhood is brimming with kids, many of whom live in nearby apartment buildings. But so few -- no more than 15% -- of the houses give out candy that any kid who wants to trick or treat in the neighborhood has to walk a ridiculously long way to get a decent amount of candy, meaning that few kids trick or treat in the first place. It's a total collective action problem.

Personally, I held out for a few years, but this year I'm going to drive my kid up to my parents' fancier neighborhood to trick or treat, and leave my house dark. That makes me sad.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 2:42 PM
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Thanks for the link, Rob!

I would very much appreciate it if you guys would leave question/comments on my blog (will do a post soliciting same in a minute). One wants not to forget anything.

Re. some of the stuff in this thread: PK got a detailed answer about sex at the age of 5 because a lesbian couple we knew called my husband to come babysit b/c one of them was ovulating and the Time was Ripe. It doesn't seem to have harmed him, and it has made subsequent questions much easier. With the Viagra question, I would actually explain how it works, on the grounds that I don't want him to think that grownups can't have sex without taking pills; "it helps grownups have sex" is just too vague and open to weird misapprehension.

I agree with LB that, for a white parent, the race questions are the trickiest ones. Reading her explanation of the hair thing (which is certainly exactly how I would have answered it), it occurs to me that it might also have been helpful to throw in an "it's kind of rude to comment on other people's appearance, sweetie--everyone's hair looks a mess sometimes" before explaining that commenting on black women's hair specifically is *extra* rude.

Re. questions about economics and poverty, I personally don't find those too difficult. Many of PK's friends are much poorer than we are. When it comes up I make a point of stressing how very lucky we are and that his friends' parents may have had worse luck but they all work hard to make sure that his friends have what they need. And then I usually add something about how touched I was that so-and-so chose a book out of her own collection to give him as a present rather than buying him one, or that yes, it's too bad that such-and-such is living in a trailer right now but that the important thing is that the family is together and they all have the things they need, even if they're a little crowded and I really admire how their mama is making sure they're all okay.


Posted by: tedra | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 3:53 PM
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234 Amen.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 4:04 PM
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tedra!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 4:54 PM
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265: It's usually merited when a genre is starting to disappear up its own arsehole and is need of a reality check, and/or a good slap upside the head. "Nostalgia for the good old 19th century" in "steampunk" is a good example and Stross' critique is merited; especially since this pleasure rather suspiciously coincides with fresh adventures in colonial tutelage in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Zombie apocalypse" fandom needs a very hard slap upside the head, too, and not just on the grounds of racism or consumerism -- or, moreover, the ugly geek-revenge-fantasy undergirding it all -- but because when "zombie walks" start to become a public nuisance, and people get the idea of its being totally funny to make and sell sharp decapitating weapons "for use against zombies," the whole phenomenon is going beyond being just moronic or tiresome or in bad taste.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:35 PM
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Also note in re: steampunk -- one of the commenters correctly notes that the original entries that unwittingly birthed the genre were drawn to the 19th century precisely by its dystopian characteristics. Only later did it become about kewl Britannia.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:39 PM
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272: weekend, weekday, etc. Anyone planning on going to the foofaraw on Saturday?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:43 PM
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Except that steampunk often has plenty on the ugliness of the alt/Victorian era it describes and the standard left critique of heroic fantasy is a lot less true than it used to be. Whatever you make think of folks like Abercrombie, Lynch, Rothfuss et. al. you can't say that they ignore ignore the social reality of medieval/early modern societies. Indeed, for all that its primary appeal to most readers seems to be the pornographic depictions of violence, what struck me the most about the First Law trilogy was that it was a wonderful sustained critique of Tolkien himself, marred by way too many loving descriptions of torture and the ol' ultraviolence. Add in that straight sf, the genre that Stross works in, is no stranger to these kind of issues, and it all adds up to 'these sub-genres aren't my cup of tea, but I'm going to pretend that anyone who likes them has no taste and is a reactionary running dog of capitalism to boot'


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:45 PM
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And then there's the stuff that is simultaneously secondary world fantasy and steampunk, e.g. Jay Lake's Trial of Flowers or Mark Charan Newton's Nights of Villjamur. Again, both rather heavily emphasize the nastiness of the rulers and the misery of the ruled.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 5:51 PM
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280: My housemate and a friend are going, for what's that worth. It'll be interesting to hear what they have to report. Given that there doesn't appear to be any sort of plan, or line-up of speakers, or any agenda in particular, well ... should be interesting, I imagine.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 6:09 PM
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Stross' critique is merited

It'd be easier to take from somebody who hadn't spent the last ten years writing a series that reads like Tom Friedman with a time machine.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 6:20 PM
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281: For purposes of such rants you can usually assume them to be about the bad examples of the genre, not the whole genre. Especially when the author specifies this, as Stross does. Saying that critiquing the crap a genre is producing "adds up to 'these sub-genres aren't my cup of tea, but I'm going to pretend that anyone who likes them has no taste and is a reactionary running dog of capitalism to boot'" doesn't seem to be on point. Stross is not exactly known for being sparing in his critiques of awfulness in SF either.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 6:24 PM
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284: Well, couldn't speak to that. I don't actually read Stross' novels.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 6:25 PM
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280: One of my kids will be there. I'm looking forward to his report if he chooses to share it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 6:43 PM
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We may go examine the goings on for a bit. In the periphery.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:05 PM
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I've always just talked to my kids about whatever, including topics that I'm sure other parents find grossly inappropriate. I'll bet you're all very surprised to read that

Not unrelatedly, I finally downloaded the My Chemical Romance album you recommended. I briefly balked because several songs were labelled "explicit and Mr. and Mrs. UNG were just going on about parental blocks or whatever. But then I remembered, oh yeah, fuck that shit. Rory pronounced it awesome.

We've always talked openly. Now that she's a tween, that's mortifyingly embarassing for her. Which makes it that much more fun.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 7:55 PM
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The one thing I have an incredibly hard time talking to Rory about is "Mommy takes antidepressants." Mostly because my parents both have hard core issues with psychiatric meds (i.e. it's a load of crap, people who take those things are pathetic, etc.) God forbid I should admit that this one is not an allergy medicine and she should mention it in front of family. (Dad would have fits about how could I be so stupid, etc. Mom would get all anguished about how these drugs worry her and omigod why are you depressed and can you please deal with how difficult it is for me to cope with you being depressed.) Sigh.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 8:15 PM
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250

"Dad is calling me crazy in court to try to take you away from me so I cant see you" --- you think that is an appropriate conversation to have with a 12 year old?

Yes, actually. You were hoping to keep it a secret?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 8:17 PM
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omigod why are you depressed and can you please deal with how difficult it is for me to cope with you being depressed

Ha! Your mom is my mom, which makes us sisters. In my case it's anxiety. Why am I anxious? Don't I know she worries about me so much? Me being anxious doesn't help! Maybe I should work harder if I feel so anxious! Maybe I'm anxious because I'm not really doing enough work? Just thinking about it is making her so worried!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 8:19 PM
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Yes, actually. You were hoping to keep it a secret?

Actually, James, the issue is not about secrecy, but about not triangulating children into the issues between their parents. A child should not be put in the position of taking sides.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 8:24 PM
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Children are like Switzerland. Neutral and chocolate-filled.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 8:34 PM
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Not to mention amoral, selfish, xenophobic, thoroughly corrupt. Not sure how the clean, staid, stunningly beautiful and cheesy fits in.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 8:38 PM
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293

Actually, James, the issue is not about secrecy, but about not triangulating children into the issues between their parents. A child should not be put in the position of taking sides.

So if UNG filed court papers saying you were crazy and trying to take away your custody rights and you told your kid this and she told UNG and UNG got mad you would think his anger was justified?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-29-10 8:42 PM
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because a lesbian couple we knew called my husband to come babysit b/c one of them was ovulating and the Time was Ripe

Huh--is "babysit" a new euphemism?


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 2:59 AM
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It'd be easier to take from somebody who hadn't spent the last ten years writing a series that reads like Tom Friedman with a time machine.

Really? If you're talking about the Merchant Princes books, I have to disagree--it kinda started that way, yes, but by the 3rd book, at the latest, it was clear that while the protagonist had a rather Tom Friedmanish understanding about How The World Works, it wasn't actually so, with some unpleasant consequences for said protagonist.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 3:03 AM
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putting proscriptive politics in art is optional at best, and judging art on its politics results in missing out and often causes other to miss out too.

This is something that I've been thinking about a fair bit lately, partly because I (a) read a lot and (b) never took any university classes in criticism, and so wonder what exactly It's All About. Once we move beyond the realm of either nearly-pure aesthetic experience--a beautiful Swiss mountaintop vista, say--or dance music that seems to hit some sort of natural internal frequency, won't a thorough explanation of why a piece of art (esp. a novel or film that has so much narrative content) works, or what it would be for it to work, likely at least gesture towards the surrounding culture, genre history, etc., of the audience & creators, which may well then involve politics?

Take the movie 300 (please!). On one level, it seems almost frighteningly well-executed, almost an analog of that dance-music-internal-resonance thing. But any attempt to grapple with the film's content, with what, exactly, it's making the viewer resonante to, feels like it has to engage with, well, the pretty naked (or: "pretty, naked,") fascism on display. No?

Example 2--last nicht I saw the German vampire movie 'Wir sind die Nacht' [We are the Night, google-translated review here]. Here, the vampires are all female, having decided that men are 'too loud, too greedy, too stupid' to put up with for eternity. The film's plot is driven by head-vampire Louise's attempt to seduce newly-turned heroine Lena, who in turn is horrified by the whole killing-and-drinking-people-thing and strikes up a flirtation with policeman Tom (who, complete with blond hair, could easily go on a Wehrmacht recruiting poster--think Riley from Buffy). Furthermore, although the vampires kill fairly indiscriminately, the two times the film takes time to humanize the victims both involve men, and both turn on male sexual desire (though the vampires, having vampire-strength, needn't bother with such games). Surely an analysis of how the film tries to engage with its audience ought to acknowledge the sexual politics here, right?


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 3:49 AM
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...putting proscriptive politics in art is optional at best, and judging art on its politics results in missing out and often causes other to miss out too.

I certainly don't disagree with this on its face, and from time to time I roll my eyes at the apparent disinclination of the educated classes to look for anything in any work of art other than evidence of somebody else's sins w/r/t matters of race, class, gender and sexuality.*

However -- perhaps a little like x. trapnel in 299 -- I wonder whether the cramped idiom of contemporary criticism is understandable because it takes a rare talent to communicate the pure aesthetic response, and the demand for responses is greater than the supply of the not-particularly-political.

* Related: the unstated assumption, on the part of Stross and his commenters but common in pretty much any discussion of anything that one can point to lately, that any work of art, popular or otherwise, has duties of comprehensiveness and perspicuity. "That movie/television program/book/magazine article/obituary/Bazooka Joe cartoon didn't acknowledge the subaltern contingency or subvert the something something something." This reminds me, not pleasantly, of the "I wanted..." movie reviews of Harry Knowles.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 4:30 AM
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So if UNG filed court papers saying you were crazy and trying to take away your custody rights and you told your kid this and she told UNG and UNG got mad you would think his anger was justified?

Yes. More to the point, whether or not UNG's anger would be justified in that situation, I believe that it would be wrong for me to tell Rory this. Different story,of course, if he's already told her and I'm correcting misinformation or answering questions.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 5:33 AM
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oh yeah, fuck that shit.

That's the spirit, mom!

Rory pronounced it awesome.

Yay! It was a big favorite of Keegan's.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 6:00 AM
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the unstated assumption [...] common in pretty much any discussion of anything that one can point to lately, that any work of art, popular or otherwise, has duties of comprehensiveness and perspicuity. "That movie/television program/book/magazine article/obituary/Bazooka Joe cartoon didn't acknowledge the subaltern contingency or subvert the something something something."

I'd come at it from the other direction. It's not so much a gotcha ('This text didn't acknowledge the subaltern!') as it is the pointing out that some products of culture do little more than reinforce the status quo.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:04 AM
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...some products of culture do little more than reinforce the status quo.

You think you have something pegged as "status quo," but then you turn on the TV for the "bedtime video" and you see Diego gripping a rifle and urging the sea turtles to expropriate the expropriators.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:11 AM
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303: One might retort that the demand that everything be acknowledged, everything subverted, interrogated, unpacked, is as inseparable from the status quo as anything the demand seeks to acknowledge, subvert, etc., etc., etc. Future historians of culture may record the status anxieties of the critical class in harsh terms.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:25 AM
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One might, but you wouldn't?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:30 AM
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Future historians of culture may record the status anxieties of the critical class in harsh terms.

Personally, I find it charming.


Posted by: ZARDOZ THE RECORDER | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:35 AM
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306: I got the low self-esteem.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:35 AM
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Indeed, a critic who demanded that all cultural output be subversive would be tiresome indeed. Perhaps you need to read better critics.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:44 AM
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Perhaps you need to read better critics.

I find my leisure reading much improved by the exclusion of the living, the reputable and the defensible.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:46 AM
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If you outlive Rowling, I thought the Harry Potter books were pretty good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:58 AM
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301

Yes. More to the point, whether or not UNG's anger would be justified in that situation, I believe that it would be wrong for me to tell Rory this. Different story,of course, if he's already told her and I'm correcting misinformation or answering questions.

Well if no one tells her anything until after UNG wins you won't have any chance to correct misinformation or answer questions.

And presumably you also think it would be wrong for UNG to tell her. So she would be kept ignorant of a potential major change in her life. About which she might have an opinion. Don't judges sometimes ask for the opinion of children in custody matters?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 8:58 AM
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I find my leisure reading much improved by the exclusion of the living, the reputable and the defensible.

How... subversive.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 9:19 AM
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265: Oh yes, I didn't single this out from Cyrus:

putting proscriptive politics in art is optional at best, and judging art on its politics results in missing out and often causes other to miss out too.

I think this completely misses two points in one sentence. Putting politics in art is virtually inevitable, whether you're thinking about it or not, insofar as politics is inevitably part of the cultural and economic setting that produces the art. "Judging art on its politics" is also largely unavoidable -- even if done by omission, as in considering the politics so self-evidently correct that you think you're having a "purely aesthetic" reaction -- but the implication being made here is that this somehow means only judging as worthwhile art that has politics you agree with, which rarely happens among the hoity-toity latte drinking critics' set that this gripe is usually aimed at. (Neither Stross nor Mieville are offenders on this score, and there's basically a really long history of explicitly political literary criticism that's a hell of a lot more complicated than this.)

305: One might retort that the demand that everything be acknowledged, everything subverted, interrogated, unpacked, is as inseparable from the status quo as anything the demand seeks to acknowledge, subvert, etc., etc., etc.

Something-something rubber, something-something glue...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 9:27 AM
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If it were a matter in which her input were appropriate, certainly she'd be given information appropriate to the situation. The "right" way to do it would be to sit down together to tell her, in a neutral manner. Not "Dad is trying to take you away from me." Not "Your mom is a bubbling bucket of loony." More something like, "Mommy and I disagree about where the best place for you to live is and the court is going to help decide that. A man named Will has been appointed to be your lawyer in this to present your side of the story. He'll ask you some questions, and the judge will ask some questions. We both want you to speak honestly and tell the judge how you feel, okay?"

Sure, it's possible that UNG is telling her horrible falsehoods about me in this hypothetical. But (1) I have a solid enough relationship with my kid to trust that she's not going to believe vicious lies about me blindly. (2). If she shares something that he said, I would respond. But if I tried to preemptively rebut every horrible thing I imagined he might be saying, I would be putting Rory smack dab in the middle of a basket of nastiness she doesn't need to be in the middle of.

Also, per my pharmaceutical comment above, I woke this morning to a string of emails from my parents on whether or not thyroid replacement meds are a big scam.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 9:37 AM
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whether or not thyroid replacement meds

There's no pill to grow a new thyroid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 9:41 AM
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It takes a whole pillage to grow a thyroid.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 10:02 AM
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315

I took will's objection to be to the fact that she told him at all not quibbling about the wording. Going to court to sever a mother's relationship with her child is an extremely hostile act and I don't find it reasonable to expect a totally calm and rational response. Particularly from a mad woman.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 10:28 AM
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Take the movie 300 (please!).

I took students to see it in the theater -- and it was probably the most fun I've ever had with a movie in class. We'd just been reading Aeschylos' Persians and Said's Orientalism, which text was clearly used by the film makers as a checklist.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 10:44 AM
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290: I've talked with Caroline and Joey (ages 7 and 5) about my antidepressents, and it went really smoothly. I told them that I had a sickness that makes me think bad things about myself, and that the medicine helps. They understood, because they both have thought bad things about themselves. Indeed, the whole reason we had the conversation was that Caroline was beating her self up a lot (mentally.)

Like you, though, I am worried about how they will relate this information to other grown ups. This fits my general theory that talking with children about difficult issues is not hard at all. It is talking to grown ups that is hard. The conversations with children only become difficult because people imagine that they are having a conversation with other grown ups through the child.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 10:44 AM
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Well put, Rob.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 10:54 AM
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re: 319

I was teaching some people how to do a front kick the other week, and one of them couldn't resist:

"This ... is... SPARTAAAAAAA!"


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 10:59 AM
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318: Well, what Will said was: A real question that made me EXTREMELY mad was "Why did you write in your court papers that Mom is crazy?" I gathered his primary concern wasn't telling the child/ren there was a court proceeding but telling them the specific, kinda sensitive point in contention. I stand by my position that what they are told should be discussed by the parents in advance and both parents should be present. Not for the parents' benefit,but the kids. Also, I somewhat doubt Will is seeking to sever the relationship between his kids and their mom.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 11:04 AM
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"Judging art on its politics" is also largely unavoidable ... but the implication being made here is that this somehow means only judging as worthwhile art that has politics you agree with....

Or the more pernicious sub-phenomenon, wildly praising some cheesecloth-and-rough-slats pop culture artifact for its political content, which fans flap their jaws about like they've broken the Enigma cypher. Mad Men, I am looking in your general direction.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-30-10 1:29 PM
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