Re: Notes from my forthcoming memoir A Curmudgeon at 17; Awesome 4-Eva

1

I have very similar memories of trying to read in the dining hall during lunch and being plagued by some girl who would sit down and say, "Oh, wow, reading. For fun? You like to read for fun? I like to read for fun sometimes. I don't really get a chance to. Or maybe it's more like I don't know what to read? You should give me a list of books I would like. I'll read more if I have a list and you know a lot of books I bet." Etc.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 9:16 AM
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On the veldt we always asked everyone what they were eating so we'd know whether to steal it or kill them or have babies with them or what.

Just yesterday I told my coworkers "that smells really good, where's it from!" but they were bringing back takeout, so that's different and ok?

1: Occasionally I resolve to make a habit of taking myself out to a bar-menu dinner at a nearby fancy restaurant. The last time I so resolved, I brought a book with me. There was a wait for a seat at the bar and as I waited, reading, a somewhat drunk woman accosted me in the waiting area, on her way out, waiting for her friend: "You took a BOOK? to a RESTAURANT?" Then she asked me what it was (_The Invisible Gorilla_) and I told her and she said she'd definitely check it out.


Posted by: ursyne | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 9:34 AM
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I wonder what bob mcmanus thinks about all this.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 9:38 AM
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3: Oh, as if he'd ever tell us what's on his mind. So laconic, that guy.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 9:40 AM
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My least favorite part of working at a large Internet company that provides free lunch is how it forces me back into the high school cafeteria/dining hall dynamic. Sometimes you just want to sit and eat alone without feeling like a loser or a dickhead...


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 9:52 AM
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On the upside, nobody ever asks me what I'm eating. They're all like, "Lobster again? Ugh."


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 9:53 AM
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5 and 6, I totally get that.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 10:12 AM
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Look, eating is an inherently social activity, much as we might object. If you're eating alone, it's natural for people to stop in, and what you're eating is right there, ripe to be seized on for small talk, especially if it's an iota less ordinary than a cheese sandwich. Plus in the business context, lunch is the time when idle chatter isn't frowned on. Calling it "nosy" kind of misses the point, I think: it's not really about your food most of the time, I'd say.

I get this too, but only occasionally, since I'm in a small office. Are the people who accost you ones you barely know? That would be a bit more annoying, but still, if it were me, I'd strive to see it as an opportunity.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 10:21 AM
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One of my professors walked by me at the grad school cafeteria and saw me eating some broccoli and quinoa or something like that while reading, and he just says, "Oh, look at you with your punitive little meal!" and walks off. I love that guy.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 10:24 AM
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I'll often talk to people about their lunch because I like talking about food, and if something looks good I want to know what it is, where to get it, how to prepare it, etc. But I hope - hope! - that I would be able to pick up on the larger signal of reading while eating, which says - look, I'm content here, doing what I want to do, don't bother me.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 11:13 AM
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9 reminds me that I recently made a fool of myself by revealing that I thought quinoa was pronounced "kee-NOH-uh"; it is not, except in my head.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 11:23 AM
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I lived in a dorm one summer and sometimes would read in the dining hall. No one bothered me, but some people sitting nearby did glance over every now and then. One time some friends told me later that they'd been motioning for me to go join them, but I didn't see them.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 11:27 AM
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11: Didn't you live in South America for a while?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 12:00 PM
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13: Yes, but I was (mostly) in Chile, where the main cuisine consists of fried meat pastries and crappy Nescafé instant coffee it really was quite embarrassing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 12:18 PM
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I'd have been wrong too.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 12:30 PM
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The reading while eating thing doesn't seem that hard to decipher. If the look up and make eye-contact beyond that furtive "what dark shadow approaches?" animal response, then it's safe to ask if they'd mind if you joined them.

At my last gig I kind of enjoyed getting asked what it was that I was eating, because I was often a little bit proud of the leftovers (or more properly of the meals that they were left over from). What I didn't like was when this would generate a round of self-disparagement along the lines of "Oh, I don't know how you can cook like that all the time. I'm lucky if I make one meal a week! I'll only burn everything anyway." etc.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 1:02 PM
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I take 3 breaks per work day. At the end of break #2, after my cigarettes, I begin to eat an apple. Every day, without fail, curious passersby or elevator companions comment about me eating the apple. "Looks good!" or "Is that a honeycrisp?" or "Finishing your lunch outside on this beautiful day?" General innocuous banter. (Except for the "Is that how you stay so skinny?" which is REALLY annoying.) Yet I find it deeply irritating. Is it that distasteful to eat an apple in public? And it's not like I can answer their multitude of questions WHILE I'm gnawing away on my apple. I have a full mouth. Now distasteful would be to comment aloud whilst chewing, so I don't do that.


Posted by: Anniearchy | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 2:12 PM
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I don't eat at my desk, because of a large number of passive agressive comments from my bosses about 'people who are spending too much time texting (i read books on my phone on lunch break)"

and since there is always one of those obnoxious 'chat' tv shows on in the break room, i wear ear phones. I wouldn't mind bitchy comments about odd/foreign/healthy/hippy fodo


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 4:12 PM
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What I didn't like was when this would generate a round of self-disparagement along the lines of "Oh, I don't know how you can cook like that all the time. I'm lucky if I make one meal a week! I'll only burn everything anyway." etc.

What I don't like is when this turns into an unwelcome set of remarks like, "Oh, black olives, that's really a lot of sodium there, you know," or "Ah, yeah, I ate like that for a while, but now I'm full-on vegan, which is much better, and let me tell you why."

The what-are-you-eating routine is really separate from the seeming cluelessness about the fact that one is reading here, see, because one wishes to read, and so, no, the fact that one is reading does not necessarily indicate that one is bored and desirous of company.

In my last household -- four bedrooms, four housemates -- one housemate eventually threw down his newspaper in disgust in the morning and burst out to another housemate, "Look, I don't want to chit-chat in the morning. I want to have my cereal and read the paper! Stop yacking at me in the morning!" Heh. Oops.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 5:07 PM
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heh. i don't mind that, because awkwardness/rudeness/disagreement/etc can always be turned back on the other person, even without any malice. Please read the story of medusa, what is wrong with schools these days!


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 7:36 PM
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Please read the story of medusa, what is wrong with schools these days!

Tangentially, I just watched a fun BBC documentary, about the interpretations of fossils across history, which posits that the story of Perseus and Andromeda, specifically the part where Perseus petrifies the monster with Medusa's severed head, was an attempt to explain the big bones people were digging up.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-17-11 10:15 PM
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If it really is just asking what you're eating, I don't really see what the problem is. It's either, as suggested, a search for inspiration, or just a bit of small talk. If they then go on to prevent you from reading by engaging further in conversation, that's another matter.

My perspective may be a bit skewed, however, as lunch is my main meal of the day, and I tend to get something elaborate/substantial (by office lunch standards) - pie and mash, fish and chips, a carvery meal, a sushi platter etc. The people who sit next to me run a sweepstake each day on what I'm going to eat. So I'm kind of used to people asking me what I've gone for, every single day. But I'm also always either reading or listening to podcasts when I'm not working, so they don't disturb me further once they find out.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 4:21 AM
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21: Yeah, it was fun, what I saw of it (I only caught about half of it). I've always wondered why the fossil craze didn't really kick off until the late 18th century. I supposed it had something to do with the discovery of geological time and the realisation that these bones weren't undiscovered, extant creatures or monsters, but potentially extinct creatures, but it still seemed odd that they weren't a bigger deal until then. The programme explained it a bit with the point that most Mediterranean fossils discovered until then had been mammals.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 4:25 AM
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Did they say that? I must have missed that bit. I'd further attribute it to the need to fit fossils into some kind of rigorous system, religious or not. Wikipedia says that the discovery of the correlation of fossil type with depth was a big prompter of the discovery of geological time in the first place.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 8:48 AM
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11: Yes! I'm glad someone else has this affliction. I have never eaten quinoa, but I know that I hate it. Why? Because I hate foods that make me feel stupid.


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 9:46 AM
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11: Webster's Third New International likes kee-noh-uh better than anything else; probably why Nero Wolfe burned it.


Posted by: grackle | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 9:51 AM
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26: Wait, really? I mean about Nero Wolfe. Which book?! (I recently looked up how he did corn in the oven.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 10:00 AM
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For being insufficiently prescriptivist. I think at least one of the specific grievances was treating 'infer' and 'imply' as synonyms. But I don't recall which book. I do remember that he bought it with pasteboard covers rather than morocco so as to burn more easily.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 10:03 AM
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I think at least one of the specific grievances was treating 'infer' and 'imply' as synonyms.

Well, good grief. I should think so, or rather not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 10:09 AM
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Am I shockingly dumb, or can we just say that it is a testament to the . . . bounty of the Nero Wolfe books that I thought he burned the quinoa. (Although in truth it really doesn't seem like his or Fritz's thing.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 10:10 AM
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That's a funny one -- I've seen it in mid-century writing as the sort of thing prescriptivist types complain about: a loosey-goosey writer saying something like "By describing the character as a 'boy scout', the author inferred that he was thrifty and brave," where 'implied' would have been correct by persnickety prescriptivist standards. In my current experience, though, that's not something I see writers doing at all. I'd read that usage of 'infer' as just an error, and would be surprised to see a reference book calling it acceptable; not offended, but literally surprised. So maybe that's one issue where the persnickety prescriptivists won, and stamped out an unsightly usage that had been starting to spread.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 10:13 AM
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30: That's hysterical. I don't think he ever burned anything edible that I recall. And while I don't recall quinoa specifically, he was really big on indigenous American ingredients: remember the speech he gave to the organization of great chefs about American food in Too Many Cooks? So he would have at least been interested.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 10:16 AM
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So maybe that's one issue where the persnickety prescriptivists won, and stamped out an unsightly usage that had been starting to spread.

Yay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 10:23 AM
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32: That is just the book I was thinking about! He mostly stuck with trout and cornpone and huckleberries (making these up but more or less), but yeah, he'd be interested. (Eating a dinner made by Fritz at table with Nero and Archie is high on my list of make believe things I would like to do.* Vegetarians [always eggheads or weirdos] show up for dinner a couple times and Fritz is accommodating.)

*Archie has to take me dancing after.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 10:24 AM
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a loosey-goosey writer

Funny, I heard someone in the last couple of days use this term in a political commentary, about loosey-goosey remarks or analysis being thrown around by someone or other, and paused briefly to wonder about that phrase. You don't hear it often at all these days. It has a certain charm, and is fairly descriptive.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 10:27 AM
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35: It certainly makes one want to sit up and take a gander.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 11:17 AM
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Every time I see Stanley comment unexpectedly on a new thread, I want to duck.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 11:35 AM
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This is kind of a non sequitur, but I really don't see what the big deal about Drake is.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 11:41 AM
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This thread has taken a fowl turn.

|| Therefore, I present you with Marie Antoinette action figure with.... Ejector Head!|>

max
['Also, Sylvia Ji is unbelievably awetabulous.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 11:49 AM
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But still! Are geese notoriously glib? I don't like to think that of any creature. "You silly goose."

This is Minivet's territory.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:01 PM
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Are geese notoriously glib?

Compared to ducks, which have no fleeting passions.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:03 PM
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"Loosey-goosey" is actually a corruption of the original phrase, "loosey-gorsey", after the ease with which the petals of a gorse blossom fall off.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:05 PM
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OED: loosey-goosey comes from the original rhyming scheme "loose as a goose."


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:14 PM
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42 may be having me on, though I'd be willing to believe it. It would be somewhat terrific if "you silly goose" derived from a corruption of "loose-gorsey".

I bet I could clear a lot of this up with a quick google, but it would be so much less entertaining. I still say geese are getting the short shrift here. Could you fly a bazillion miles every year, on schedule and in marvelous formation, and be a fool? I think not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:16 PM
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The Chartreuse Goose would be a fine name for a bar.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:18 PM
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It's all about the Chantilly lace.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:19 PM
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Could you fly a bazillion miles every year, on schedule and in marvelous formation, and be a fool? I think not.

Say more about this. Why not?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:24 PM
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Geese gabble and hiss, but it's the other end that's so impressively loose.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:32 PM
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47: Careful; if she elaborates much more, she might suddenly find herself with a grant from the Discovery Institute.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:37 PM
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47: You have a point. I am, obviously, defending the honor of geese everywhere, who are clearly no more or less foolish than humankind.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:43 PM
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I'm not sure if I should be offended by 49, essear.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 12:58 PM
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You shouldn't be offended exactly, but you should sit up a bit straighter and exhale sharply, give essear a poisonous look, and put it from your mind.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 1:01 PM
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Done.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 1:06 PM
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Related: The Naturhistorische Museum in Vienna has a stuffed black swan.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 2:07 PM
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||

Paul Krugman

"Hysteresis Begins" ...began in late 2008

Forever. Forever. Until a World War, and billions dead.

This will not get better now. Not ever. We're over.

How bad is a President that killed a great nation? Like, the worst ever, the worst imaginable. Bush II created the problem, but we needed a fucking maniac to fix it. Martial law and dictatorial powers. Presidents, like generals and ship captains don't get any excuses, Lemieux. They perform or kill trying. Obama should fucking cut open his belly, today.

And I am not listening to his campaign bullshit, because he lies, and will grovel to the Republicans come 2013. The lies about the FISA & the Bush tax cuts prove it.

One-a-day troll. I have no heart for more.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 2:55 PM
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||

Okay, one more. Because Lemieux, Klein, and Yggles are so fucking contemptible.

"FDR couldn't get Wilkie and Dewey to deal so we lost the war and all speak German, except for the American Jews, Slavs, and Blacks, who are all dead."

Presidents do not get to blame the opposition, the institutions, or the circumstances. They get the job done. Failure is not an option.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 3:01 PM
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bob, can't you come up with some new clich├ęs at least?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 4:46 PM
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57: whatever, don't you know we have to nuke the future to save it?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 5:16 PM
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OT: This Nate Silver column in the NYT on the proposal in Pennsylvania to switch to a proportional allocation of electoral college votes is helpful. I've been just a tad worried about this, after all.

Silver says in the end that the proposal is likely to be defeated, for very good reasons on the merits, but also because:

Republicans control 112 of the 203 seats in the Pennsylvania State Assembly, with 102 votes being required to pass the bill. Republicans hold a 30-20 majority in the Pennsylvania State Senate, meanwhile, so would need to hold 26 of their members to pass it there.
My guess is that they will not be able to keep their coalition together: it's not clear if this plan is in their best interests. There are reasons why states have been loathe to tinker with the Electoral College despite having the latitude to do so.

Silver is in the business of making predictions: I do hope he's right here. If any of our PA denizens know more, I'd be interested.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 5:25 PM
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45: A friend and I came up with the name for the next food-related anarchist project yesterday: Bread & Flames


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 5:27 PM
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57:"New cliches" is illiterate. Did you mean "different?

Klimt Raoul Ruiz 2006 was pretty good. Masked balls that didn't happen, broken mirrors in 1900, and Fellini's little girl from "Toby Dammit." Schiele and Melies are important. Dante. Syphilis.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 5:28 PM
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Maybe 59 could be put up as a new front page post for people who might want to talk politics.

I don't mean me, mind: I'm going to watch the Emmy awards. Sort of. Maybe. I mean, that's tonight, right? I heard that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 5:37 PM
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Huh. In the background of the still included in this review of Klimt is a painting that reminds me very much of the movie I saw last night Chi-hwa-seon about the 19th century Korean artist Jang Seung-up. At one point in Klimt, a lady tells Gustl he should stick to landscapes, which was Ohwon's specialty. Just saying.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 6:01 PM
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Link for 63. Sorry. Warning, naked Saffron Burrows or body-double.

Very nice still.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 6:04 PM
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45: The Chartreuse Goose would be a fine name for a bar.

Dun Answerin'


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-18-11 6:41 PM
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But still! Are geese notoriously glib? I don't like to think that of any creature. "You silly goose."

This is Minivet's territory.

Much less so since I lost my OED access, sadly. I poked around on an old public domain OED and elsewhere, and not much enlightens, although the earliest "loose as a goose" appears on on Google Books is 1930, and "loosey-goosey" 1944. The babytalk "Goosey-Loosey" appears much earlier, though.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 8:55 AM
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Maybe we do need a politics thread. Yglesias makes a good case that over Obama is beginning to suck a little bit less.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 9:28 AM
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It's sort of a deathbed conversion, isn't it?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 9:33 AM
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Yes, but it wasn't clear that even total failure would get him to change direction.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 9:47 AM
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Of course, the bobbish reading is that he's pivoting to the left just in time to explain electoral defeat.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 9:51 AM
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70:Yes, Obama ran a more progressive campaign than the way he governed, and I have been expecting him to pretend to get the center left part of his base back in the election season. It will be a wink and nod stuff, because he will continue to compromise with radical evil, but the devious rhetoric will get the whirly-eyed spinning like tops again. And, as you say, win or lose in 2012, Obama and his minions will say populist rhetoric is a fail. There are actually, believe it or not, people who claim Obama has been center left in rhetoric and governance. There are people who deny evolution, though these are different people in detail, if not in degree of sanity.

The official true progressive firebagger position is that Obama should resign immediately rather than declaring he will not run, in order to minimize the damage that son of a bitch can still do.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 10:17 AM
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In fact, in his only veto threat Obama made it clear he would accept Medicare benefit cuts if they were accompanied by new tax revenue from the rich* by saying, "I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share." That "but" is a very important clause that means there are scenarios in which Obama would sign a bill that significantly cuts Medicare benefits.

While it is good our Democratic President is at least not publicly pushing for major cuts in America's social safety net, he has still very much left the door open to supporting major cuts in the future as part the grand bargain he has been pursuing almost since the day he took office.

*taxes on corporate jets, but hey, $375,000 before deductions isn't rich, but struggling middle-class, and he will not increase their taxes. The Bush tax cuts will get extended again, if not made permanent, because Obama is not going to be the guy that raises taxes on the upper middle class. Remember, they come up after the election.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 10:30 AM
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70: So Mark Penn says Obama's new stance is a recipe for electoral disaster and a terrible idea on the merits... Applying the nearly infallible heuristic "The best course of action is the opposite of whatever Mark Penn recommends," I can only approve of Obama's choice.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 10:33 AM
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I heartily recommend that heuristic. I was using him as an example of what will become the centrist wisdom if the election goes badly.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 10:36 AM
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The official true progressive firebagger position

I'm having trouble parsing this: are you saying that the true progressive position is the firebagger position, or simply that what you go on to explain is the official true-progressive-firebagger-style position?

I take it that "official" signals that it's the latter. Whew.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 10:46 AM
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Mark Penn is providing cover.

We have been here before, all thru the first half of the year we were seeing the "tough" Obama. You really believe this time Obama is for really real? Read Ezra Klein, he believes. Hopey-change has turned again.

I hate the idiom "kabuki" so let's try bunraku. There is the Supercatfood Commission report, then probably whatever the triggers are, then the 2012 budget, and probably another debt ceiling test.

And Obama will "cave." But not really.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 11:44 AM
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65: Just for future digital archeologists: Exhibit A and Exhibit B*.

*Anserinely: Virtually never used adverbial inflection of the rarely used adjective anserine.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-19-11 2:03 PM
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About a year ago some co-workers of mine proceeded to throw sugar packets at my back whilst I was reading and eating. (And, even more annoyingly, "hiding" around the doorframe to do it.) I ignored them, they persisted, I got pissed and yelled at them to stop. "Are you reading?" one of them asked. "Yes, I am," I replied.

I haven't really spoken to them since then. Juvenile assholes.

Next time someone asks me if I'm reading, I'm going to say no, I'm masturbating with my mind.


Posted by: KJ | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 12:05 PM
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