Re: NMM

1

So many long-term dictators died and/or were ousted this year

The montage is going to be a real tearjerker at the Despotties.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 8:29 PM
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Not to worry, the US is working on our own versions.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 8:46 PM
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Anything to get people over Hitchens, really.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 8:52 PM
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Well we have one NMM who deserves the insane gushing that Hitchens got, and some of the over the top attacks on him (however good or bad some of his stuff was, he was just a fricking essay writer with some talent, and a very outsized capacity for charm and dickishness)


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 8:57 PM
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he was just a fricking essay writer with some talent &c.

Pretty much. And he's dead now, recently; the passionate hullaballoo of commentary pro and con has been a bit much.

He was no Kim Jong-Il or Vaclav Havel.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:08 PM
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All hail Kim Jong III


Posted by: Alfrek MacSteinie | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:36 PM
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Fun times ahead for Jong-un, fighting the army for the throne at the tender age of 28(ish). Dynastic succession is quite tough these days and I suspect quite a few apparatchiks and generals will have had unfortunate gardening accidents before it's settled.


Posted by: Leinad | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:37 PM
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Assad in Syria will make it through this year, but not that much longer.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:40 PM
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I shed no tears for the man. Still, I'm sad to see an end to this tumblr.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:40 PM
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Good riddance. Of course, now I'm going to have students pestering me for deep thoughts on North Korea, so I suppose I'll have to spend Winter Break developing some.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:40 PM
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11
The working class must be defended
By one from Kim Il-Sung descended.

(Gary Saul Morson)

I hadn't known that KJI's first son was disqualified from the succession for trying to secretly visit Tokyo Disneyland.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:42 PM
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Even an evil totalitarian society can sometimes have rules that, in isolation, seem like a great way limit the pool of potential leaders.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:47 PM
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11: The ruling class is goofy enough already.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:49 PM
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Will no one think of poor Madaleine Albright?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 9:52 PM
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the passionate hullaballoo of commentary pro and con has been a bit much.

Agreed; though I suppose that's just a function of the internets? Will any of it be remembered (whether pro or con) even a year from now? Will he still be read a decade from now, or fifty years from now, I have to wonder?

I appreciated his takedown of Mother T.; but cannot yet forgive him for his pro-Iraq-war, neo-con turn.

I do think he was an exceptionally talented polemicist, though. And his cancer essays for Vanity Fair are quite remarkable: almost frighteningly frank and clear-eyed, and almost devoid of self-pity. If anything he wrote is still read a generation from now, it will be those essays, I suspect.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:05 PM
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though I suppose that's just a function of the internets?

The internets at their worst; I read someone recently declare that 'the world is better off without him'. Jesus christ. He was a frickin' essayist, etc.! Get over it.

Anyway, one tries to keep these things in perspective, nu?

Did Madeleine Albright die?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:12 PM
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15: He spoke up loud and clear against religion, and I always appreciated it as an irreligious person.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:12 PM
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16.last: We're running out of dictators who had crushes on her.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:14 PM
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Kim Jong Il was a douchebag, and a terrible writer. He sure could drink, though. Wait, I'm thinking of J. Lynn Helms.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:16 PM
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There's a book called "The Secret History of Balls"?

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:18 PM
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I still think he should have had his entrails wound on a stick before while he was still conscious, but I'm old-fashioned that way. Oh well, esophageal cancer's pretty bad.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:19 PM
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Hang on, I might've conflated several US secretaries of state.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:19 PM
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I think Kim Jong Un's got some thrilling times ahead!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:19 PM
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Yeah, it's hard to take people who still hew to an ML line of some type too seriously when you think about the leaders they produce. You've basically got a couple of really good ones (Ho Chi Minh, Cheddi Jagan, Rosa Luxemburg) some halfway decent ones (Fidel, Gorbachev, Chou En Lai) and a whole hell of a lot of really monstrous lunatics. I mean Nicolae Ceaușescu? Stalin? Kim? Seriously? [State] Communists produce mass-murdering, genocidal dictators like Wisconsin produces cheese and cannibals. Not even a tiny bit sorry to see one of them go (although if more of them got what was coming to them the way Ceaușescu did, I'd be even less sad.)


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:35 PM
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I was about to defend Wisconsin, but then I remembered Gein and Dahmer and decided I wasn't going to win that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:45 PM
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ML line

Marxist-Leninist?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:46 PM
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25: I was just reviewing my undergrad transcript and learned my Chile credits appear as transfer credits from University of Wisconsin. Go Badgers!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:48 PM
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Given that M-L distinguished itself from standard issue post 1917 2 Int left socialism by taking as its core political idea the concept that democracy and free speech are bad, and dictatorship is good, what would you expect? Related to that Rosa a Leninist?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:51 PM
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27: you should consider transferring your allegiances from Mr. Jefferson to Herb Kohl.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:53 PM
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"Asia Stocks Slide After Kim Jong-il's Death"

Shouldn't the efficient market have already known the death was coming and incorporated it into prices?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:57 PM
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Oh well, esophageal cancer's pretty bad.

C'mon, it must have been bloody well awful for him. From the time he was diagnosed (about a year and a half ago?), he knew how his story would finally end. And he then had to suffer through it. I give him major props for continuing to write to deadline, and for daring to write about how it felt to be dying of cancer in a non-inspirational way ("inspirational" = pink ribbons and 'survivorship' and etc.).

He was wrong about Iraq, and insufferably arrogant. But he was not a player like Dubya or Cheney or, let's face it, Obama, though he probably liked to think that he was. He was an essayist and a polemicist, merely; he never had his finger on the button.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 10:58 PM
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The button-button or the Cooper Mini button?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 11:10 PM
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If she meant the Mini Cooper button, she would have said "finger under the hood."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 11:20 PM
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Precedent.

Notes from 2008 on Jong-il's health and the succession (probably out-of-date now).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-18-11 11:27 PM
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31: I was being facetious; naturally it's kim jong il who should have had his entrails wound on a stick. I'm just sick of hearing how fucking great hitchens was. he was the very last of the old trotsky-ites to go neocon. he was a really high-functioning alcoholic. great. I'll get a plaque ready. he was a sexist asshole. he didn't have his finger on the button, but he was a forceful, passionate convincer of people to go to war with iraq. I credit him with genuine influence. he was a tony blair-like figure, "well, he thinks it's a good idea, and he's smart has a british accent, let's go for it!" no lie, I think he had a genuine effect. I credit him enough to dislike him for it.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:48 AM
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I say that as someone who was personally enough of a dumbass to think it was a good idea to go to war with iraq, and even was a dick about it. in retrospect it's so idiotic I don't know exactly what was going on there, except that, as holbo said, "I went a little bit hitchens, but I'm better now."


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:51 AM
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We disagreed about politics, but he could drink a lot of Scotch, and he was always extravagantly kind to young journalists who flattered him.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:54 AM
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"was always extravagantly kind to young male journalists who flattered him."
fixed that for you. haven't heard any outpourings from any grateful female aspiring journos; can't imagine why not.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:38 AM
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and dude, I could drink a lot of scotch (barring the fact that I hate scotch, so let's just say I could drink a lot of bourbon). I had a friend comment that I was more articulate while actually in the process of puking in the toilet than she was when sober. I cleaned up nicely and went right back to drinking and arguing about politics. and I had done up a dime bag of "get paid," my personal favorite brand of heroin at the time. I don't consider it my life's finest hour or anything, though. it's not worth 10 articles on slate, anyway. and christ I was a pussy compared to my mom. whole bottle of JD and enough dilaudid to kill 2 heavy guys, and then a successful real estate negotiation in which she housed some motherfucker who walked away from the signing wondering why his ass hurt so bad. high functioning alcoholics. let me show you them.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:53 AM
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it's not, like, a superpower.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:59 AM
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haven't heard any outpourings from any grateful female aspiring journos; can't imagine why not.

Thanks for bringing that up. That seems quite right. I knew I was missing something about this outpouring of nul nisi bonum, but I couldn't see it for what it was until your comment.

A reminder of how much journalism--or at least the "let me tell you what I think about stuff concerning which I have no real expertise" variety--is still a total sausage-fest.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:01 AM
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Nobody ousted me!


Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:22 AM
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yeah. not a one. all those young guys he lavished all that attention on, taking them seriously, talking to them about books. what did he talk about with young female journalists? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if he was as lit-up as all that he was an outright, pawing at you, avoid at all costs asshole. I could well be wrong, but really...


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:25 AM
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OK, not a fair charge with no evidence; nonetheless.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:32 AM
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45

Here's a story about two female journalists who he paid a lot of attention to, although I see he only gave them basic foodstuffs rather than the good Scotch.

As I say, I didn't have time for his politics, but you can't deny that he was extremely influential, not just on the USA but internationally.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:34 AM
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I just said he was very influential in 35; I think he was an influence for ill, at least as regards his conversion to the liberating powers of dropping bombs on iraq.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:42 AM
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Also, Annette Gordon-Reed seems to say that Hitchens mentored her. Link to Slate


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:44 AM
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at least as regards his conversion to the liberating powers of dropping bombs on iraq

Iraq? I never heard him mention the subject, although I would have guessed from the rest of his politics he was against it. He was more a turn-South-Korea-into-a-lake-of-fire kind of guy. That was the main point on which I disagreed with him.

Excellent taste in Scotch though.

oh, are we talking about Hitchens? I thought this post was about Kim Jong Il.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:01 AM
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47: I am refuted.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:03 AM
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Did Madeleine Albright die?

Nope, in fact she's speaking in town here tonight on her pin collection, which is on display through March at the Carnegie Museum. She wore a big, gaudy American flag pin when meeting Kim Il Jung.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:34 AM
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Korean Central News Agency site:

He suffered an advanced acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock, on train on December 17, Juche 100 (2011) for a great mental and physical strain caused by his uninterrupted field guidance tour for the building of a thriving nation.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:54 AM
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Julian Sanchez tweeted yesterday that they always come (go) in threes and wondered who the third one would be. Prescient.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:56 AM
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52: That's my joke. Mother Theresa, Lady Di, Mobutu Seso Seko. And hitchens wrote about all three.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 5:18 AM
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BBC on Kim Young 'un: He is reported to be a fan of NBA basketball. You have been warned.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 5:27 AM
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NMM2 Cesaria Evora.

It's still permissible to listen to her music while getting it on, though. She would have wanted it that way.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 5:46 AM
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||

Feminism Uneven Success ...NY Times

Outsourcing of care responsibilities can have many positive effects, but it reduces the potential for cross-class gender coalitions. Emphasis on changes in women's average or median earnings relative to men often conceals growing inequality among women.

As Leslie McCall, a Northwestern University sociologist, describes recent trends, "Absolute gains among women as a whole, and visible absolute gains among more highly educated women in particular, came at the expense of the worsening situation of low-skilled women, whose real wages have been falling."

Any further attempts at increasing solidarity in "feminism" (which this study proves empirically is just a class war against working women) will fail to help the 99%

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 6:28 AM
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Does that mean I can be sexist and help make the world a better place?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 6:35 AM
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Only if you're sexist against men.


Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 6:39 AM
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The civil rights movement was a just a war on working-class white men. I read it in Ron Paul's newsletter.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 6:48 AM
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I am mostly trolling, I sure haven't got this figured out yet. But around three generations of experience has made pretty certain that what we (note the fucking "we") are trying will never succeed

The civil rights movement was a just a war on working-class white black men. I read it in Ron Paul's newsletter.

Do I need to cite numbers on black men in jail or unemployed? The CV rights movement is a bit of an exception, coinciding with the War on Poverty and some other counter-tendencies.

"Trickle-down" social theory is exactly the same as "trickle-down" economics, built on the same liberal and anti-egalitarian core principles and sentiments of meritocracy. It is already an empirical and theoretical fail.

It is not the middle must get more, but the last shall be first.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 6:58 AM
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All of the good social-liberal progress since 1970 has coincided with regression in other areas: increased militarism, increased authoritarianism, and increased inequality. I don't blame social liberals for this and indeed am a social liberal myself, though grumpy one, but there's one kind of social liberal who says "Good!" and has little problem with the three things I mentioned.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:30 AM
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In the picture linked in 50, I can't decide if Kim is wearing a business suit or a track suit. Say what you will about the tenants of Korean despotism, the man had style.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:36 AM
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Will they get their security deposit back?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:39 AM
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64

30: Shouldn't the efficient market have already known the death was coming and incorporated it into prices?

Shouldn't markets be ecstatic that North Korea will now be liberated and turned into a Chinese Disneyland dictatorship? A chance to expand into a place where building brutal sweatshops employing semi-starved child labor will improve conditions?

61: All of the good social-liberal progress since 1970 has coincided with regression in other areas: increased militarism, increased authoritarianism, and increased inequality.

Speaking of increased authoritarianism, the Times sayeth:

The study, the first since the 1960s to look at the arrest histories of a national sample of adolescents and young adults over time, found that 30.2 percent of the 23-year-olds who participated reported having been arrested for an offense other than a minor traffic violation. That figure is significantly higher than the 22 percent found in a 1965 study that examined the same issue using different methods.

Yay!

max
['More money for rich people!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:06 AM
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The hair is dead, long live the heir!


Posted by: Alfrek MacSteinie | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:00 AM
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What I can't understand are all the people who think that Hitchens had some super awesome smartness and reasoning skills. I only started reading him in the 90s when he was a crazed Clinton hater, but the dude always seemed like basically a ranting blowhard in the manner o many smart drunks. I'm sure he was "influential" but I was surprised how many people seemed to take him seriously.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:00 AM
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North Korea's is one of the most consistently depressing stories in modern history. I wonder if that's about to change, and if so for better, or for worse.

As for Hitchens:

31: He was wrong about Iraq, and insufferably arrogant.

Not to mention his being a loathsome little toad who made his bones slinging mud at Mother fricking Theresa, acted as an influential booster of Islamophobia (which as an ingredient of his wading-pool-depth atheism was a big part of the apparent motivation for his cretinous idiocy about Iraq), and paraded various other unpleasant attitudes under the aegis of the kind of superficially-erudite misanthropy that some people mistake for moral courage.

I'm sure some people found him fun to hang with and a great wit at parties, and apparently he dealth with his cancer pretty well, so kudos to him. But man alive, his legacy as a "public intellectual" is noxious, and people talking about him as an essayist "in the tradition of Orwell" are giving unforgivable insult to the latter's memory.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:06 AM
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And 66 has it right.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:08 AM
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He wrote well, Halford, much better than most of his peers. He had an English accent, which goes a long way toward convincing credulous Americans that the speaker is terribly bright. And he had the courage of his convictions, so much so that he was willing to walk into the lion's den/slaughter sacred cows without thinking twice. That's a pretty unusual and powerful combination, actually.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:08 AM
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Fuck Hitchens. Sometimes in the 80s and early 90s on C-Span he made me laugh. That is all.
...
As far as the end of dictatorships it is also an end to nationalism. As someone who was closer to the beginning of that shit with Nassar, Assad, etc history has become a trip. I am still working on what it all means, but by God, it means something and is important. See max, 64, 1st paragraph.

That Havel gets little attention this week may mean that charismatic leaders have little real power or attraction anymore, or at this time. See above. This could mean we are in actual honest-t-god democracy now, but I doubt it. Looking back at say 4000 years if an egoistic individual of whatever talent can be little more than a cog and a tool, that would be a radical change.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:16 AM
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Based on my twitter feed, a shocking number of people seem to think his life's work was promoting skepticism/freethinking/science/atheism. Everything about Clinton, Iraq, etc. either vanished or never existed for them (although to be fair I never know about him vis-a-vis Clinton until now).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:16 AM
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71: Everything about Clinton, Iraq, etc. either vanished or never existed for them

No doubt that was exactly the point of the turn the latter part of his career took. Not that his brand of atheism promoted any real form of skepticism or freethinking either, but never mind.

Greenwald on the Hitchens hagiographies and protocol for public figure deaths is quite good.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:22 AM
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At some point in the early 90s, Hitchens had a weird proto-Daily Show clip show on . . . Comedy Central? Something like that. He sat in a chair, chain smoked, stared blankly forward, and delivered deadpan commentary on the news. It didn't last long.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:27 AM
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Um... who is this "Hitchens" of whom you speak?


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:27 AM
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The end of nationalisms would imply the end of armies and big war. Some have said what we are seeing since 1989 is the Sovietization of the world, faceless bureaucrats and the death of hope. It is hard to explain in today's politics why Qaddafi et al were hopeful indicators for individuals, and why say the Egyptian military oligarchy is in some ways better than Mubarek and in some ways will be so much worse.

Gonna be hard.

Gotta read Weber, Agamben, re-read Nietzsche.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:28 AM
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He wrote well, Halford, much better than most of his peers.

Yeah, this. Even when I disagreed with him (as everybody eventually does with a professional contrarian), he really was fun to read. Perhaps more so, he was fun to watch on television when, plainly drunker than fuck, he could still effortlessly skewer everybody else on the panel. But mostly, as an inveterate hater of Christmas, I can't help but love anybody the author of this greatest of all Grinch essays, which I link every year about this time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:32 AM
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Thought about North Korea: the satellite photo where it's almost entirely dark is famous, but is it possible that's partly due to air-raid policies?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:33 AM
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I found him mildly amusing in The Nation, from 1981 to maybe 1983, then (a) outgrew interest in his style and (b) got switched off by his pro-life stuff.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:41 AM
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76: See, I always found his writing kind of "meh." Entertainingly vituperative when he happened to be taking aim at a target one also despised (as everybody eventually experiences with a professional contrarian), but the reasoning and even the point tend to come unstuck on close examination, and he relies more on brio than fact. A rather bitter and unspectacular species of comedian masquerading as a deep thinker. It's true of that Christmas article too, actually.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:48 AM
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can't help but love anybody the author of

Not quite sure what happened there.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:51 AM
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79: Yes. (And I thought I was alone in this.)


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:56 AM
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I don't think Hitchens' views on religion influenced his brother Peter much.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:57 AM
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On Hitchens, I'm with Drum.

Politically, he spent the 80s as a Trotskyite, the 90s in transition as a lunatic Bill Clinton hater, and the aughts as a cheerleader for the Iraq war. This is not exactly an enviable track record of considered judgment.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:57 AM
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Based on my twitter feed, a shocking number of people seem to think his life's work was promoting skepticism/freethinking/science/atheism.

That would be because of this, which is getting to be up there with the works of Kurt Vonnegut on the bookshelves of pretentious college students.

Also in terms of the political stuff, he's just one of ten thousand angry famous people writing belligerent political books, whereas he stands nearly alone in his high-profile anti-Mother Teresa and anti-God positions.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:02 AM
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his being a loathsome little toad who made his bones slinging mud at Mother fricking Theresa

Attacking Mother Theresa was one of the best things Hitchens ever did. I don't care how many lepers' feet she washed. She campaigned against birth control, abortion ("the greatest destroyer of peace"), and divorce -- way to keep millions of women in poverty!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:20 AM
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-h


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:21 AM
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Attacking Mother Theresa was one of the best things Hitchens ever did.

Amen.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:26 AM
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Especially in the US, where the media is much more sycophantic to the Catholic Church than in the UK.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:29 AM
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Elsewhere I proposed a Hitchens thermometer:
God-Mother Theresa-Lady Di-Kissinger-Bill Clinton-Pacifists. I'm at 4.5 out of 6, since he hated Clinton mostly for the wrong reasons. A few people are at 0, a few are at six. Many people rank order differently.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:30 AM
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79.2.1 to 79.3


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:33 AM
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And he had the courage of his convictions, so much so that he was willing to walk into the lion's den/slaughter sacred cows without thinking twice.

When your convictions are bollocks, having their courage isn't a virtue.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:36 AM
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I was bored with Hitchens 15 years ago.

Paul Krugman on Hungary ...longish but amazing on the way the law is changed, legally, to create a permanent tyranny. Doesn't look to me that there will be any way under the law to go back. Fascinating.

Here is your liberalism and democracy. Suicidal. Look at your future.

Fuck the law.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:41 AM
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When your convictions are bollocks, having their courage isn't a virtue.

You'll have to point out where I said anything about virtue. I wasn't a fan. But I certainly thought, as I said above, that he boasted a powerful combination of attributes. Also, in fairness, not all of his convictions were bollocks.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:52 AM
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That Havel gets little attention this week

This goes to show how much FB is shaping my perceptions of the news, but being friends with a bunch of Slavicists (German department shares a floor with them) has made my FB news feed quite full of discussion of Havel and links to articles about him. I've also probably read more Havel than Hitchens over my lifetime, not that I've read a lot of either.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:00 AM
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85: Attacking Mother Theresa was one of the best things Hitchens ever did. I don't care how many lepers' feet she washed.

I kind of do. That she put heroic effort into humanitarian work and openly opposed hateful and divisive entities like the BJP in India is probably worth weighing in the balance with her opinions about divorce and abortion. Nor did Hitchens invent critical scrutiny of Mother Theresa; his contribution was to escalate it into vilification and denunciation of her as a "fraud" (a bit rich coming from him and at any rate a rather low tactic based more on entertainment value than anything else).


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:00 AM
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Well, the BJP opposed HER. American Catholics boldly opposed the KKK too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:13 AM
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she put heroic effort into humanitarian work

This is the point at which I ask whether anybody defending her has actually *read* Hitchens' book on her, because her "humanitarian" work really was much, much less impressive or effective than that of any number of American televangelists that you'd all be willing to dismiss. But then they weren't tiny, wizened Albanian women.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:19 AM
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For another informed view on Hitchens and women, there's Katha Politt's obit.

"... for someone who prided himself on his wide-ranging interests, he had virtually no interest in women's writing or women's lives or perspectives. I never got the impression from anything he wrote about women that he had bothered to do the most basic kinds of reading and thinking, let alone interviewing or reporting--the sort of workup he would do before writing about, say, G.K. Chesterton, or Scientology or Kurdistan."


Posted by: Zb | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:22 AM
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For another informed view on Hitchens and women, there's Katha Politt's obit.

"... for someone who prided himself on his wide-ranging interests, he had virtually no interest in women's writing or women's lives or perspectives. I never got the impression from anything he wrote about women that he had bothered to do the most basic kinds of reading and thinking, let alone interviewing or reporting--the sort of workup he would do before writing about, say, G.K. Chesterton, or Scientology or Kurdistan."


Posted by: Zb | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:22 AM
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Mother Theresa running hospices under a philosophy that is objectively pro-suffering seems like even a worse crime to me than bog-standard anti-abortionism. Lots of people are anti-choice. It takes a real hard-ass to refuse pain killers to the dying.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:30 AM
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tiny, wizened Albanian women

That's niche even for you, apo.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:33 AM
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One of my friends called Hitchens "Cockburn lite". Maybe his 9/11 move was an attempt to get out of that box.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:36 AM
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Cockburn: "He courted the label "contrarian", but if the word is to have any muscle, it surely must imply the expression of dangerous opinions."

In American politics it almost never does. It's almost always liberals/radicals opportunistically moving right -- contrary to what their friends believed, and to what they used to believe themselves.

This may be a new definition, maybe since 1984 when Reagan's re-election convinced people that the change was permanent.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:39 AM
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79 was always my impression of the writing style, but I've only read the columns; I think I have a low tolerance for fluff and invective. OTOH I like Matt Taibbi, so maybe it's just all about agreeing with the politics. Also, maybe Hitchens' books were better than his columns but I've never wanted to find out. I like Emerson's scale in 89; I'm a 1.75/6, I guess; I find it hard to really *hate* Mother Theresa, but she definitely goes in the "massively overrated" category.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:40 AM
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OT, mostly, except for Hitchens' atheism: I just had a professional exchange that ended with "Merry Christmas." So unusual! So nice! I really do wish I could wish people Merry Christmas, but the combination of the Bill O'Reillys of the world turning it into a battle cry and the secular atheist bubble in which I work has made it practically nonexistent. I guess I'm the truly oppressed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:43 AM
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From Zb's link: "What I saw was that drinking made him angry and combative and bullying, often toward people who were way out of his league--elderly guests on the Nation cruise, interns (especially female interns)."
Yuck.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:48 AM
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40: Perhaps not - I wouldn't know - but there is something a little romantic about performing at a high level under what is for most people an extreme handicap. Like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. Or giving the other runner a few minutes' lead in a race.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:49 AM
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105: I've just come back from the nativity play at a state-run school. The part of the Virgin Mary was played by a kid called Mohammed.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:49 AM
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I've read far more Havel than Hitchens, and found it far more worth my time as well. Maybe I'll go back and read some again. (Havel that is, not Hitchens)


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:56 AM
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105: Antisemite.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:59 AM
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I really do wish I could wish people Merry Christmas

This is the weird thing. I mean obviously I get the jokey tone of 105, but I have read comments elsewhere by people who do feel oppressed because they can't (?) wish people Merry Christmas, and I just don't get it. What's so compelling about wishing everyone Merry Christmas? I have a holiday I celebrate that nobody around me does* and I think it's a perfectly lovely holiday but I don't feel constrained by the fact that I can't share holiday greetings with anyone beyond the circle of my facebook friends. Ok that's a dumb example, but really, why do you wish you could tell everyone Merry Christmas?

And p.s. you can, and the worst that will happen is maybe they're assholes like me and will roll their eyes at you or pointedly wish you a happy some-other-holiday, which is a perfectly fair exchange.

*because I made it up


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:59 AM
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107: They're all too common. I've known several and I'm thinking the romantic aspect is a function of distance. IMX, the crashes are messy.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:02 PM
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104: OTOH I like Matt Taibbi, so maybe it's just all about agreeing with the politics.

I've tended to enjoy the admittedly little of Taibbi I've read as well; a number of people have lately been calling him just another Hitchens, which has me frowning and thinking I need further information.

What I would not like to see is Hitchens' legacy (under construction even as we speak, it appears) to include deprecation of any and all loudspoken, in-your-face journalistic styles. That would be the wrong conclusion.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:04 PM
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111: Yeah, sort of. I mean, why can't you wish people a Merry Christmas? What would happen to you if you did? If the whole answer is "It would probably annoy people, and that wouldn't be good for me professionally," then what's the upside of doing something that's going to annoy people?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:06 PM
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I routinely wish people merry christmas unless I know they're a) religious and b) not Christian. Even then I occasionally screw up out of instinct. Probably comes from a combo of being a lifelong agnostic/atheist raised as such and Christmas always being a Very Big Deal as the key family celebration of the year with accompanying ritual. So important, fun, and not at all associated with religion.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:09 PM
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114, 111 -- It's not actually a big deal, but, you cold-hearted Scrooges, it's a nice gesture of social solidarity, somewhat nostalgic, and implies that you are thinking of even the people you work with as capable of taking off a few days a year to think about things like family, good cheer, sitting around a warm fire, and peace on earth, instead of relentless status positioning and money grubbing. But of course it's now impossible to say without risking offence.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:10 PM
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I get weird looks when I wish people a Flatulent Festivus.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:12 PM
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and implies that you are thinking of even the people you work with as capable of taking off a few days a year to think about things like family, good cheer, sitting around a warm fire, and peace on earth, instead of relentless status positioning and money grubbing

Except for those Jews, of course!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:15 PM
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116: Completely impossible! I don't see how you could even communicate anything related to spending a good time with your family without naming Christ himself as the reason for doing so.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:15 PM
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instead of relentless status positioning and money grubbing

Doubling down, huh?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:17 PM
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I went to a family gathering yesterday where a cousin explained that she taught her young son that Santa is Jesus, because he would just get them confused anyway. Said another: "well, they both help people, so Santa is kinda like Jesus." I couldn't figure out what to make of this exchange.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:18 PM
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119 -- as I say, it's not actually a big deal. But "happy holidays" as a greeting just doesn't convey the same feeling. And of course saying "merry christmas" would be fine if the right wing culture warriors (and, in response, some of the more annoying left wing ones) had just kept it as a basically secular and traditionalist greeting as opposed to a religious rallying cry.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:18 PM
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See but it doesn't mean those things to a great many people in the world. I realize you know this, but I find that even people who cognitively understand this don't quite 100% believe it.

If someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I don't get all shirty with them, because it's a basically harmless gesture of social solidarity etc, but I'm tired enough of compulsory Christianity in the culture I live in that another thing it means to me is "shut up about your own ideas of good cheer, we're talking about mine."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:19 PM
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You can't wish people a merry christmas for the same reason that one person can't say to another "I love you madly": both parties are familiar with Bill O'Reilly bzw. Barbara Cartland. The otherwise traditional and appropriate greeting (to coreligionists bzw. madly beloveds) has been sicklied o'er with a patina of other associations, which can't even be canceled explicitly.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:20 PM
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122 Argh "Merry Christmas" was never secular. "Happy holidays" indeed does not convey the same feeling, to wit: happy MY holidays.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:21 PM
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I just want to say gay and mean happy! I want to say queer and mean odd! I just want to say colored and mean Negro!


Posted by: Opinionated Grandma | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:22 PM
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And of course saying "merry christmas" would be fine if the right wing culture warriors (and, in response, some of the more annoying left wing ones) had just kept it as a basically secular and traditionalist greeting as opposed to a religious rallying cry.

Okay, more seriously: no. There is no way in hell I'm ever going to be able to parse "Merry Christmas" as "basically secular". I've gotten to the point where I can look beyond the literal words and recognize the sentiment behind it when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, but it's still a reminder that my cultural identity makes me an outsider in some very important ways.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:22 PM
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123: and a cheerful Feast of St. Cunilingus to you!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:23 PM
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Right. Christmas just isn't basically secular. I'm fine with it because even as an atheist, I'm a secular Christian more than I am anything else, so I do a secular celebration of the Christian holiday. But there are people who really are neither Christians nor atheists of Christian origin, and they're not included in Christmas as a celebration of social solidarity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:23 PM
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I'm tired enough of compulsory Christianity in the culture I live in

Don't you live in NYC? I mean that's basically like the right-wing Christian in Alabama calling out the oppressive secularists. Give me a break. Sorry for being a little pissy about that but come on, the faux-oppression is annoying on all sides (and I'm really seriously not claiming this is a big deal).

Except for those Jews, of course!

Oh, of course. But I feel like we'd gotten to a point about 20 years ago where you could express holiday wishes like "merry christmas" (or a happy hannaukah without being actively exclusive of anyone). Maybe that wasn't true but I feel like the O'Reillys of the world took what had become basically a secular greeting and re-religousized it, to everyone's detriment.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:24 PM
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127: Happy Very Minor Holiday Of Your People That We Decided Was Important Because We Just Talked To The Romans And They Said Now Is When The 'Holidays' Are And That's It!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:25 PM
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But I feel like we'd gotten to a point about 20 years ago

What do you mean "we", white man?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:25 PM
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I think in England Christmas has a more secular-holiday vibe, and has for a long time. You eat and drink and there's a pantomime and kids make noise. All the TV shows have Christmas episodes that aren't about Jesus. Christmas in the US is just more Jesusy.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:26 PM
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I just want to say colored and mean Negro!

A few days ago when I was in a public place and used the word "colored" to mean "has SU(3)_c charge and interacts with gluons" I caught someone giving me a dirty look.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:27 PM
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129 gets it right. If you know someone well enough to know that they're culturally Christian (but not Jehovah's witnesses) then it's ok to wish them a merry christmas. Otherwise it's presumptuous and rude. Not that complicated.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:28 PM
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I've tended to enjoy the admittedly little of Taibbi I've read as well; a number of people have lately been calling him just another Hitchens, which has me frowning and thinking I need further information.

They could not be more different. Hitchens was basically sort of an ass, and Taibbi is not. At least not yet and I don't think he'll become one. Here is Taibbi's 2004 essay on Hitchens and journalism, containing this take on the man:

No one among us is going to throw that first stone, though. Not even Chris Hitchens, a man who makes a neat living completing advanced Highlights for Children exercises like the following: "Denounce a like-minded colleague, using the words 'Lugubrious' and 'Semienvious.'" Such is the pretense of modern journalism, that we are to be lectured on courage by a man who has had his intellectual face lifted so many times, he can't close his eyes without opening his mouth.

Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:28 PM
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she taught her young son that Santa is Jesus

So when he finds out that there is no Santa, what is he going to think about Jesus? Because I'm pretty sure that kids will argue hard on the playground that there is no Santa, in a way that they would never do with Jesus.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:28 PM
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130: You think Christians are an oppressed minority in New York?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:28 PM
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130: I live in NY too, and the Christmas is so thick around here you could cut it with a knife. It's not particularly religious Christmas, but it's sure as hell not-Jewish/not-Buddhist/not-Hindu/not-the-kind-of -atheist-who-disapproves-of-holidays-of-religious-origin.

And you know, most people don't mind being involved in celebration of holidays that aren't their own tradition -- we've got a long-term Christmas/Passover swap with friends of Sally's. We feed them roast goose on Christmas, they feed us Hillel sandwiches on Passover. The only piss-off is the feeling that Christmas owns December and everyone is required to play or they're being a bad sport.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:29 PM
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132 -- I dunno, I grew up with a world in which 1/2 my relatives and at least 50% of my friends were Jewish and the culture was entirely secular, and people said "merry Christmas" pretty regularly. That seems to have changed. But of course, it can't come back, precisely because it provokes reactions like the ones in this thread.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:29 PM
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134: definitely racist. I bet you think some perfectly ordinary quarks are strange just because they don't carry isospin, don't you?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:29 PM
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I really do wish I could wish people Merry Christmas

Whereas, on the other hand, a guy I know, who happens to be Jewish, who's relatively new to the backwater of nondiversity in which I live and has on several occasions recently made a point of complaining to me about the lack of cultural/religious diversity generally and the lack of appreciation for the fact that not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas more specifically, including getting rather irritated when the non-religious school to which he sends his son had a supposedly non-religious holiday party which he attended and at which it turned out one of the primary organized events was very-religious Christmas caroling, just moments ago ended lunch with me with a seemingly heartfelt: "If I don't see you again, I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!", which seemed awkward, mostly because I wasn't quite sure how to respond. I went with a limp "Um, I hope your year ends well, too", but I'm not sure that was the most appropriate reply.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:30 PM
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I'm Jewish and Merry Christmas is fine with me. Jesus is one of my favorite Jews.

Bill O'Reilly can go fuck himself though. He's not going to take Merry Christmas away from this liberal Jew.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:31 PM
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121: I've conjectured that archeologists in 5000 AD will conclude that between 1850 and 1900 the Santa cult replaced the Jesus cult.

I've read that in India people of different "faiths" are invited to celebrate one another's holidays, as such, i.e. Muslims celebrating Xmas, Christians celebrating Nowruz (originally Zoroastrian), etc.

It takes some of the edge off if you say "Hey, Merry Christmas 'n' shit!"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:32 PM
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140: I really think that some of that was a feeling that it was not okay of Jews to not get into the Christmas spirit -- it was okay to be Jewish, but not to fail to fall in line with the dominant cultural norms.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:32 PM
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I'm sorry my insufferable cousin has ruined Christmas for you, but it's all the more reason not to celebrate Christmas at all.

I was very briefly tempted to buy a record of the Robert Shaw Chorale singing carols the other day, as it brings back good memories of singing those arrangements in school, but then I remembered that I hate Christmas.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:32 PM
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I've noticed that many of the seasonal Christmas card stores around here are staffed by young Muslim women. I kinda want to ask if it feels really odd to work surrounded by Christmas (but of course I wouldn't).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:32 PM
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Now if we all spoke Polish this debate wouldn't be happening. The greeting is 'Wesolych Swiat' which means 'Merry Holidays'.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:32 PM
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142: Oh, that makes perfect sense to me -- "Man, I hate purportedly secular things that assume I'm celebrating religious holiday [X]. But I know you do, and so I wish you a good one!"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:34 PM
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149: Right, it makes total sense for him to say it, I'm just used to wishing Merry Christmas in return, which seemed obviously inappropriate, and, um, there on the spot I didn't really know what to say. A simple "Thanks" may have been best, but I'm not that socially fluent.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:36 PM
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There is no way in hell I'm ever going to be able to parse "Merry Christmas" as "basically secular".

See, there is the problem. You've accepted the frame Christmas as a Christian holiday, in spite of its obviously pagan/secular roots. I mean, bringing an evergreen into your house at the time of the winter solstice? Telling stories about elves and reindeer? That stuffs all Pagan - ain't nothing Christian about that.

Let alone the whole spending a lot of money on presents for people, which is more an expression of American secular consumerism than anything else.

Christmas is as much or more of a secular holiday than a religious one and we shouldn't let the churches get away with co-opting it for religious observance. Take the Christ out of Christmas!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:37 PM
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Yes, I live in NYC. I spent the first 30 years of my life in the large area outside of NYC, and have not forgotten conversations like

Stranger at the Door: We just stopped by to see what church y'all go to.
My mom: We go to a synagogue. We're Jewish.
Stranger at the Door: Oh, a church is a church.

College friend: You're going home for Christmas, right?
Me: Oh I'm sticking around here, but it's no big deal. I don't celebrate Christmas.
College friend: I know, I know, but it's Christmas.
Me: Right, no, not a Christian.
College friend: Right right right. But I mean don't you want to spend Christmas with your family?

Did it occur to you that the idea of peace and family and all good things can only be adequately expressed in terms of a Christian holiday might be inoffensive to you for any particular reason having to do with what religion you were raised in?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:38 PM
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JWs argue, accurately, that Xmas is a retrofitted pagan holiday. That's what pisses them off.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:38 PM
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150: Another good response would be "and a Happy New Year!"


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:39 PM
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A few times in the past weeks, I've been asked "Are you ready for Christmas?" by (different) well-meaning acquaintances.

Why is this so impossible for me to answer? Things that run through my head:
1. Like am I braced for it? I don't control the calendar. It comes of its own accord.
2. I don't do any holiday shopping. Am I being asked about holiday shopping? I bought stuff for the family of the one SIL who really cares.
3. I don't do any decorations. Am I being asked about that?
4. Am I being asked about being done with the semester? I still have grading left.

By then I look like an idiot, so, carry on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:40 PM
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It annoys me that 124, which so obviously Gets It Right, is being ignored.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:41 PM
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(And he also offered me a job. Which I guess now I have to decide if I want to take. Which I'd love to derail the thread to discuss, but it seems hard to do without giving any details. Suffice to say it seems like it would be better than my current job in some ways, and not better in others, and it's hard to know how much those factors balance out. How much is never-having-to-bill-hours worth, in dollar terms? $10,000/yr?)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:41 PM
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I think you're also being asked about 'ready to either travel to a relative's house or host relatives at a big dinner at your house'. It really is an immense hassle of a holiday.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:42 PM
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Did it occur to you that the idea of peace and family and all good things can only be adequately expressed in terms of a Christian holiday might be inoffensive to you for any particular reason having to do with what religion you were raised in?

The one thing that makes me more irate than anything else is when people use "Christian" when they mean "good".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:42 PM
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How much is never-having-to-bill-hours worth, in dollar terms? $10,000/yr?

At least.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:42 PM
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Did it occur to you that the idea of peace and family and all good things can only be adequately expressed in terms of a Christian holiday might be inoffensive to you for any particular reason having to do with what religion you were raised in?

I'm not saying it can "only be adequately expressed," just that something that seemed to be well on the road to being a basically pleasant secular/traditional holiday on the English model has increasingly become religiousized, to the point where the good cheer/family/pagn-traditional model of Christmas has become unthinkable for many without people feeling oppressed by Jesus. As I say, if it's oppressive to people, including you, it's rude, and it's become oppressive, so that's why it's on the way out, and that's fine I guess. But it's not like there's nothing lost.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:43 PM
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155: "Yeah, I'm stocking up on movies and Chinese food!"


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:44 PM
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124 is what I am trying to say!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:44 PM
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As for myself, I just say "¡Police Navidad!" and have done with it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:44 PM
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158: I suppose. But I've been asked this over the past 2-3 weeks. Am I ready to travel? Well, as ready 2-3 weeks in advance as I'd ever be, which is none. Am I ready to host? If I were hosting, I wouldn't be doing anything about it 2-3 weeks ahead of time, either.

I was being waaay too literal about the question, obviously, but the hosting/travelling also went through my head, and I wouldn't be doing anything for either of those in early December.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:45 PM
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136: They could not be more different. Hitchens was basically sort of an ass, and Taibbi is not. At least not yet and I don't think he'll become one.

Ah, thanks. That was my sense as well. The being-and-ass part of it all really is relevant.

Sorry to carry on about Hitchens just a bit more, but he basically lost his shit, and we watched his dissolution, even while he continued to write well. I found his death process painful to watch, and he was courageous about it. I'm fine with a R.I.P.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:45 PM
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But of course, it can't come back, precisely because it provokes reactions like the ones in this thread.

GUHHH. I am, again, basically fine with being wished Merry Christmas and have been known to wish the same to people who obviously celebrated it. I am way less fine with the idea that I am a heartless killjoy if I don't acknowledge the universality of Christmas.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:45 PM
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The nice thing about Christmas or Chinese New Year or Nowruz is that it allows scheduling various sorts of occasions at a definite time. People do various sorts of nice things they don't usually do. These holidays are almost always religious one way or another, or aggressively secular (USSR, revolutionary France) or patriotic (4th of July, Thanksgiving). Having that sort of coordinated and shared event is a good thing if possible, and if you can fudge the religious part (as nominal Christians do) that helps.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:45 PM
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163: but 124 puts it so much more elegantly! Let's run down some of its virtues:

- the allusion to Eco is just right for this liberal-arts crowd;
- it acknowledges that the merry-christmasing is directed only to a certain audience, thereby sidestepping perennially put-upon Josh's complaint;
- it acknowledges that even within that broader audience the issue only arises within some communities (as after all not everyone is familiar with Barbara Cartland).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:46 PM
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I am way less fine with the idea that I am a heartless killjoy if I don't acknowledge the universality of Christmas.

I don't think that's what Halford is trying to express.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:48 PM
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161: I think the only point of disagreement is that my sense is (and I could be wrong here, because I'm a Christmas celebrator so it wasn't happening to me) that twenty years ago, it still felt oppressive, people just weren't free to bitch about it. Christmas might have come off less Jesusy twenty years ago, but not less generally Christian.

So the loss isn't "Wishing people a Merry Christmas without hurting their feelings, drat Bill O'Reilly, everything was fine before he made a fuss." The loss is "Wishing people a Merry Christmas without having to know that I was hurting their feelings." Which, not that big a loss when you think about it in those terms.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:48 PM
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171. Yes.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:50 PM
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170: It's how I read 116.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:52 PM
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Right, Bill O'Reilly made a fuss because people started saying "Happy Holidays" because non-Christians finally got comfortable quietly saying "you know, now that you mention it, it's kind of weird to be wished merry christmas all the goddamned time at stores and everything when actually it doesn't mean anything to me" after decades of assimilationishly swallowing that thought.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:52 PM
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I think the issue should really be put like this: one can't quite say "Merry Christmas" even to one's fellow Christmas-celebrators, because people like Bill O'Reilly have made the obnoxious trumpeting of "Merry Christmas" into A Thing.

I mean, I think you shouldn't wish your friends who don't celebrate Christmas a merry Christmas, unless you mean something like, "have a nice day". But I can see someone not wanting to say "Merry Christmas" überhaupt, because of such persons as BOR.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:52 PM
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It's only rude to wish Merry Christmas to people who don't celebrate Christmas! I'm as atheist as the next guy, but I celebrate Christmas. If you know me well enough to know that then you can go ahead and wish me a merry christmas.

There are people who are religiously Christian who don't celebrate Christmas (because some verse can be interpreted to mean that you shouldn't celebrate holidays), and atheists who do. What's offensive is assuming that everyone has to celebrate Christmas, so unless you know don't assume.

It's really quite simple.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:53 PM
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If Halford is only talking about wishing people that he already know celebrate christmas a merry christmas, I'll eat my santa hat.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:54 PM
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The loss is "Wishing people a Merry Christmas without having to know that I was hurting their feelings." Which, not that big a loss when you think about it in those terms.

Excellent. Yes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:54 PM
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106: interns (especially female interns)

How can this be at all surprising or controversial? Find me a wealthy, famous, white male writer, and I will show you a sexist jerk who behaves badly toward women. (If they have solidly conservative politics, they are also probably chickenhawks.)


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:55 PM
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And even more, there probably aren't a lot of people who are going to be seriously offended or annoyed by a "Merry Christmas!" You just have to be open to the risk of an eyeroll or a "not really my thing" -- if it's not okay for someone to respond with "no, thanks" then you should be careful about who you're talking to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:55 PM
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Oh, just assimilate a tad and put up a tree and have a drink. Fuck the religious aspect but let's take some time off of work and give some presents and cook a leg of lamb.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:55 PM
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Fuck the religious aspect but let's take some time off of work and give some presents and cook a leg of lamb.

When? In March? How's March for you? It can be nominally greek easter! What kind of dickhead killjoy doesn't celebrate greek easteR?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:56 PM
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I'm down with having a drink, taking time off work, and cooking a leg of lamb.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:56 PM
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I'm pissed I don't have more holidays to celebrate. Bring on the Jewy holidays!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:56 PM
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Yeah, without the 124 issues Christmas would just be an array of pagan rituals enjoyed by people of all religions, with non-expected faith-specific add-ons for some people, and the "Christ" in the word "Christmas" would be essentially vestigial.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:57 PM
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(Like the "holy" in "holidays.")


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:58 PM
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And there's already a perfectly good way to wish people a generic non-religio-cultural affiliated celebration of the time off work in the end of December: Happy Holidays! What's wrong with euphemisms like "the holiday season" if you aren't attached to the specific religious and cultural associations of Christmas?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:58 PM
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Lamb at Christmas? I didn't think I was capable of being religiously offended, but I am. Beef, fine. Pork, fine. Poultry, fine. Lamb, what are you, weird?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:58 PM
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And I love lamb, but not in December for Christ's sake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 12:59 PM
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I'm bummed about Xmas this year, since my new tradition of the past 5 years or so of getting drunk at a dive bar on Xmas Eve is no longer viable, given that one of the main participants sobered up and is not speaking to me. I already hated Xmas Eve for all of the family hypocrisy inherent in it, but now I have to be doubly morose.

Other secular, raised-Xtian friends and I are going to do Jew Xmas on the 25th with dim sum and a movie though, so hopefully that will be fun anyhow.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:00 PM
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Jesus ate a lamb burger on brioche in the manger, LB.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:00 PM
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The Lamb of God was dressed out for Easter, not Christmas. The Christmas Lamb needed some fattening up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:01 PM
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It's only rude to wish Merry Christmas to people who don't celebrate Christmas! ...There are people who are religiously Christian who don't celebrate Christmas (because some verse can be interpreted to mean that you shouldn't celebrate holidays), and atheists who do. What's offensive is assuming that everyone has to celebrate Christmas, so unless you know don't assume.

Wait, what? If it's *not* about imposing a religious holiday on others, then the complaints really are sort of weird.** I don't often hear about anyone complaining when someone wishes them a happy new year, or a happy halloween, on the grounds that they don't do anything to celebrate either of those holidays.

**N.B.: I don't think the complaints are weird because I think it is basically about imposing a religious holiday on others.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:01 PM
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Honestly it already seems like a nice enough compromise on the part of jews to pretend that Hanukkah is a meaningful thing that anybody cares about where you should for some reason give presents. But NO MEETING HALFWAY! HAIL SANTA!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:02 PM
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188: Overthinking! There's nothing weird about lamb at Christmas, as long as you don't wash yourself in its blood. It's not traditional only because that's not the time of year lamb was commonly available.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:02 PM
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What's offensive is assuming that everyone has to celebrate Christmas

My issue is mostly Wolfson's -- almost everyone I know, including many Jews, do something for Christmas, but you can't say "merry Christmas" as a greeting anymore because it's become something of a culture war battle cry and makes you look like an asshole. I don't think now or 20 years ago people in my part of the world were going around wishing merry Christmas to the ultra-orthodox, and that would always have been rude.

that twenty years ago, it still felt oppressive, people just weren't free to bitch about it.

I just don't really agree with this, or at least not in the same way, in the locales that I'm thinking of (very dominantly secular and multicultural). In fact, I'd bet that were it not for the god-botherers, it wouldn't feel like an *oppressive* greeting,even if Christmas wasn't celebrated -- it was a traditional holiday, but not an exclusionary one. What LB said above was:

the Christmas is so thick around here you could cut it with a knife. It's not particularly religious Christmas, but it's sure as hell not-Jewish/not-Buddhist/not-Hindu/not-the-kind-of -atheist-who-disapproves-of-holidays-of-religious-origin.

But that's fine, as long as it's not an oppressively religious or exclusionary event! If people around you are celebrating it, you've got something like a national holiday with a mostly pagan origin and innocuous beliefs. Somehow folks were able to handle saying merry Christmas to one another without flying off the handle with a sense of cultural oppression, on any side.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:02 PM
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Somehow folks were able to handle saying merry Christmas to one another without flying off the handle with a sense of cultural oppression, on any side.

Well, people knew their place back then.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:03 PM
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193: Happy Halloween? Anti-semite.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:03 PM
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I celebrate Christmas but rarely on the actual 25th for various family travel related reasons. So I've enjoyed a bunch of traditional Jewish Christmas things recently: flying on Christmas for 4 or 5 years, and eating Chinese food the last couple years.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:04 PM
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Yeah, without the 124 issues Christmas would just be an array of pagan rituals enjoyed by people of all religions,

I can't tell if this is sarcastic or not. I certainly don't do anything for Christmas.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:04 PM
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Now, we do give the Muslim guys who run the bodega on the corner a fruitcake for Christmas, which is kind of culturally oppressive of us, but they do like the fruitcake, or at least say they do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:05 PM
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When? In March? How's March for you? It can be nominally greek easter!

Oh hey which brings us back around to my holiday that I don't wish everyone a happy! See, about five years ago after 15 years of vegetarianism, I went out one Sunday in April for a hamburger. All the burger places were empty because everyone else seemed to be celebrating some other holiday than Beefster. Now every year, I commemorate the miracle of Beefster (i.e. really short line at hamburger place) by having a hamburger. It can be a veggie burger, it should be said. Beefster is nothing if not inclusive.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:06 PM
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I wouldn't wish happy halloween to someone unless I was pretty sure they didn't think Haloween was satanic.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:06 PM
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FWIW: I was just talking about Halloween with Alameida, and Christian Halloween is for people who don't really believe in ghosts, whereas Chinese Halloween is a month long and is for people who very seriously believe in ghosts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:07 PM
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Christian Halloween is for people who don't really believe in ghosts,

Christian Halloween is for people who really believe in Hell.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:09 PM
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107: Seeking out the handicap slights the greater goal. If you're an essayist to find & share the truth, you don't handicap yourself. If it's really about showing off, you vaunt the handicap. Hitchens was doing what he lambasted Mother Teresa for, showing off how well he could leap stupid hurdles.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:09 PM
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Real Christians don't celebrate Halloween, dammit.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:09 PM
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Now every year, I commemorate the miracle of Beefster (i.e. really short line at hamburger place) by having a hamburger. It can be a veggie burger, it should be said. Beefster is nothing if not inclusive.

Maybe you need to make Halford feel included by explicitly saying that he doesn't need to eat the bun.



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:10 PM
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201: Well, honestly, who doesn't love fruitcake?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:10 PM
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196: It's funny. I don't think you're necessarily wrong about this -- that is, I think that a religious holiday that became secular enough that assuming everyone celebrates it isn't exclusionary toward anyone is something that could happen. But I do think you're actually wrong -- that people who weren't believers or cultural Christians did feel excluded by all the Christmas shit and a tiny bit oppressed at being expected to play along, even before Bill O'Reilly did his thing. And I don't know firsthand if I'm right, because I've only ever been a Christmas celebrator.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:11 PM
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I think you're allowed to give people gifts in celebration of a holiday whether or not they celebrate it. You giving the gift is part of your celebration, and they're getting a gift after all.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:12 PM
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Now, we do give the Muslim guys who run the bodega on the corner a fruitcake for Christmas, which is kind of culturally oppressive of us

Yeah, especially since they can't even eat it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:12 PM
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If those people who don't celebrate Christmas could be identified beforehand, this sort of awkwardness would be avoided. Perhaps an identifying mark on their clothing?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:12 PM
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196: If people around you are celebrating it, you've got something like a national holiday with a mostly pagan origin and innocuous beliefs. Somehow folks were able to handle saying merry Christmas to one another without flying off the handle with a sense of cultural oppression, on any side.

Halford, are you saying that you want Christmas to be a national holiday with a mostly pagan origin? So that then we could return to people innocuously saying "Merry Christmas" without flying off the handle?

Dude. Why is this so important? What's wrong with "Happy holidays"?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:13 PM
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almost everyone I know, including many Jews, do something for Christmas

Unless you're talking about Chinese and a movie for Jews, your friends are really an usual bunch. And the Chinese and a movie thing? Is not a Christmas celebration. I guess you're free to wish me "a gutes 'Jewish Christmas' un a zise yohr" or something while I'm having the crispy fried tofu at Grand Sichuan and I won't complain.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:14 PM
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But I do think you're actually wrong -- that people who weren't believers or cultural Christians did feel excluded by all the Christmas shit and a tiny bit oppressed at being expected to play along, even before Bill O'Reilly did his thing.

I know this because people have said as much to me about their own experience. That happened before this thread, of course, but look! Two people have said as much in this very thread. But that's ignoring Bill O'Reilly's temporal grinch vortex generator.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:15 PM
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What's not halal about fruitcakes? Citrons?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:15 PM
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212: They're not that Muslim -- they eat the fruitcake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:15 PM
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217: Booze.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:15 PM
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they eat the fruitcake

Or so the mullahs would have you believe.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:17 PM
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Halford what part of the country did you grow up in? I wouldn't be surprised if there's some significant regional variation on this point.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:19 PM
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200: You may notice I didn't say "by all people."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:20 PM
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If you accidentally offend someone with a "merry Christmas", you can make it up by offering a "Happy Yom Kippur" the next Fall. Or so an acquaintance of mine apparently believed.

Sadly, no Yom Kippur fruitcake.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:21 PM
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210: But I do think you're actually wrong -- that people who weren't believers or cultural Christians did feel excluded by all the Christmas shit and a tiny bit oppressed at being expected to play along, even before Bill O'Reilly did his thing.

Did feel excluded and annoyed, and still do. I'm a little astonished that Halford seems to want to make Christmas a sort of universal non-religiously-specific holiday, and doesn't notice how obnoxious that is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:22 PM
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179: Howard Zinn? (Sadly expecting disillusionment).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:22 PM
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223 is cracking me up. You should find that person and wish them a festive Good Friday.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:24 PM
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I agree that "Happy Holidays" is a little bland, and seems to explicitly fall in line with the reasoning in 131 (elevating a minor calendarically-close holiday).

I like wishing people a happy Solstice instead. It's a measurable astronomical happening; you don't get to not believe in it. Also, I think that the darkness of the time of year (at least here in the northern hemisphere) is an excellent reason all by itself to put up lights and/or drink a lot. The lights on my house will be up for at least as long after Solstice as they were before, which is nearly into February.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:25 PM
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It's especially obtuse coming from a practicing member of a dominant religious group, explaining to minorities how they should feel about something.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:26 PM
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224: I'm arguing with Halford, but while I think he's wrong, I don't think he's astonishingly wrong. There are people who don't come from any kind of Christian background who do celebrate secular Christmas as an American cultural holiday (I knew a couple of non-Christian Asian immigrant families who did Christmas trees when I was a kid), and there are non-Christians who don't feel excluded or oppressed by the Christmas stuff. Thinking that "Merry Christmas" shouldn't annoy anyone is overgeneralizing, but not nuts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:26 PM
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I'm an anti-Halford, who wishes that Christmas would being so universally non-religiously celebrated. Give us our holiday back, you heathens! If you aren't celebrating the birth of the god incarnate in the form of the blessed baby Jesus, stop pretending to celebrate Christmas.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:27 PM
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"Io Saturnalia" is surprisingly satisfying to say, and people generally let it pass without comment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:27 PM
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wishes that Christmas would *stop* being


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:28 PM
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230: That, I have a fair amount of sympathy for.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:28 PM
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Eh, I like holidays and Christmas seems like a great one to subvert into a universal non religious national holiday. Plus, the Mexicans are totally down with Christmas and looking to the future this is clearly important.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:29 PM
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So: celebrate christmas or don't, for whatever reasons you choose, don't make assumptions about other people, but trying to pretend it's not the shortest day of the year by using electric lights is a sin. I think we can all agree on that.

Also, since it's fucking sunset (and nobody's here) I'm leaving the office.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:29 PM
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Dear Lord Baby Jesus, or as our brothers in the South call you: 'Jee-suz'. We thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of Dominos, KFC, and the always delicious Taco Bell. I just want to take time to say thank you for my family: my two beautiful, beautiful, handsome striking sons, Walker: Texas Ranger, or TR as we call him. And, of course, my red hot smokin' wife Carley, who is a stone cold fox, who if you would rate her *** on 100, it would easily be a 94. I also want to thank you for my best friend and teammate, Cal Naughton Jr, who's got my back no matter what...Dear Lord Baby Jesus, we also thank you for my wife's father Chip. We hope that you can use your Baby Jesus powers to heal him and his horrible leg. It smells terrible and the dogs are always botherin' with it.


Posted by: Ricky Bobby | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:30 PM
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I'm sort-of Jewish, and am mostly in line with Halford. However, my Jewish family tree is agnostic and very assimilationist, which probably colors my thinking.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:31 PM
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I'm annoyed that Dec 25th is almost always time off work when election day isn't.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:31 PM
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The thing is, if I was living in India, and people wished me 'happy ' I would not be insulted. And I don't think most American Jews would be insulted in that circumstance either, even if they got huffy around Christmas. The difference must be around some perceived sense of being oppressed by Christianity here. But the truth is there has really never been significant Christian oppression of Jews in America. Europe yes, America no. So I'm happy to have my fellow citizens express a welcoming spirit around their religious holiday, even if it's not mine.

Plus, I really do like the Christmas spirit and all that stuff.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:33 PM
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damn, I used pointy brackets to indicate 'happy [joyous positive Hindu/Buddhist holiday]' and then html took it away


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:34 PM
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I don't see that the majority religion celebrating their holidays while entirely ignoring non-believers and other-believers is less exclusive than including these others in a sort of mushy generic-holiday sense. They're two ways of dealing with difference, and I don't see that the first is superior.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:34 PM
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But the truth is there has really never been significant Christian oppression of Jews in America.

I do believe that this is a controversial claim.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:35 PM
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It's simply not true that there's no history of Christian oppression of Jews in America.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:35 PM
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What is we added "compared to some of the places you hear about" to the end?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:36 PM
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"What if..."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:36 PM
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I see I am going to have to send the New Model Army after Halford. Most of Christmas tradition is pagan, ferchrisake.


Posted by: Zombie Oliver Cromwell | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:36 PM
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NMM to Joe Arpaio's sherriffhood!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:39 PM
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Yeah, especially since they can't even eat it.

Probably can: the ingredients that would make it haram would be brandy and suet. Hardly anybody uses suet any more, and if LB is primarily baking for her kids she probably leaves the brandy out too.

Io Sol Invicte!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:40 PM
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LB is primarily baking for her kids she probably leaves the brandy out too.

Nah, they can take it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:41 PM
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We've seen the recipe.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:41 PM
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If I am remembering the details of the story correctly, my mother, in school choir, used to silently mouth the words to Christmas carols, because no, it's never been just a joy that Christmas is for everyone. Bill O'Reilly may have been writing angry letters to the St. Brigid's School Gazette at that time, but his work was not well known in Dallas, so I'll assume my mother's discomfort was not motivated by the man or his work.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:42 PM
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Well at least she's raising her kids right.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:43 PM
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Hmm, or maybe not.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:43 PM
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I assume you could find halal suet if you put your mind to it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:43 PM
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I remember a conversation I had once with a taxi driver who was complaining about going down with a cold. He said, "After I drop you off I'm going to buy a small bottle of brandy and go to bed with it. It must only be a small bottle, cos I'm a Muslim."


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:46 PM
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Most of Christmas tradition is pagan, ferchrisake.

While true, and used by me above, these kinds of arguments only go so far. The signifier may have a non-Christian history without affecting the fact that its present-day signified is Christian. (The figure of Jesus has plenty of pagan roots too.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:47 PM
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But the truth is there has really never been significant Christian oppression of Jews in America.

It's like you don't even watch Mad Men!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:48 PM
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And you've never listened to Parade!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:51 PM
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239: The difference must be around some perceived sense of being oppressed by Christianity here.

The US has been sadly moving in a Christianist direction recently.

It's well and good for people to wish they could non-confrontationally and in merely good spirit wish someone a Merry Christmas, but it's a throwback to the sort of earlier time that we really need to move past. We don't need to backtrack. Sorry, Halford.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:51 PM
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Brandy's not halal, I knew it,
Apparently neither is suet,
Now there's nothing to do,
With this fruitcake for two,
Muslim clerks. I guess I blew it!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:52 PM
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My secular Spanish friends, brought up under Franco and not well disposed to Christian manifestations of any kind, simply wish each other a happy new year and have done. Seems reasonable to me.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:56 PM
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the truth is there has really never been significant Christian oppression of Jews in America


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:58 PM
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Halford's the pro-Christmas grinch,
But he's Jewish enough in a pinch,
While he gnaws his meat, nuts and berries,
Mumbling secular "Merries",
Uproarious blog? It's a cinch.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:59 PM
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That third line doesn't even come close to being metrical, dude.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 1:59 PM
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On the other hand, I'm currently listening to a radio programme of Christmas themed blues, which are all about not going to work and fucking your brains out instead. That seems reasonable to me, too,


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:01 PM
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What do I look like, some kind of Frog intellectual? I don't have any truck with metre.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:02 PM
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247 has been a long time coming. Today is just full of wonderful surprises!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:05 PM
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Parade was something awful, as I recall it. Can we say Gentlemen's Agreement instead since that at least has Celeste Holm going for it?

239 is kind of jaw-dropping, though. By the way, I am so nominally Jewish it is a joke between AWB and me that I am not in fact Jewish. My reaction does not spring from some deep need to see Hannukah Ascendant, though I have just settled on that as the title of my memoirs.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:05 PM
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Frog intellectuals have an even harder time becoming human.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:06 PM
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Hey, having to start your own country club is not real heavy-duty oppression. Neither is being limited to only 17 percent of the graduating class at Harvard.

America starts being Good for the Jews right away with George Washington .


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:09 PM
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Hannukah Ascendant

Hannukah Montannukah would be kind of an excellent, if fadingly topical, drag persona.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:10 PM
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268: How is 239 jaw-dropping?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:11 PM
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267: Except I might have been gulled. There doesn't seem to be a lot of independent confirmation out there.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:11 PM
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The whole controversy around "Merry Christmas" mystifies me. I'm puzzled by people who seem to want to abandon the phrase to the culture warriors; why should Bill O'Reilly get to decide whether saying it makes you look like an asshole or a fellow-traveller of his? I'm puzzled by people who seem to imagine "Happy Holidays" as a secular variant or accept the framing of it as inherently an attack on a fundamentalist mindset, since the phrase has been in widespread use since I was a child as a shorthand for "Happy [Christian] Holidays," a compact way of saying "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year." (It's handy that it can also fold in Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Festivus but hardly a built-in feature.)

I wonder if this all just really more fraught in the States than in Canuckistan somehow. I have very occasionally heard people complaining about how "you can't say Merry Christmas these days," but have yet to observe a single instance in the wild of actual conflict stemming from someone saying either "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" or "Compliments of the Season" to someone else. "Merry Christmas" seems to me entirely interchangeable with the latter two sentiments, and I'm with Halford in being mystified about its being any less anodyne than either of them.

97: This is the point at which I ask whether anybody defending her has actually *read* Hitchens' book on her

What I remember about Hitchens' book on her is that it's based largely around accusing the Missionaries of Charity of not being Doctors Without Borders and heavily implying that its founder was essentially running a racket. Neither of which accusation was unique to him, and the associated invective was distasteful -- but bracing to people who though "Mother Teresa, she's not all that" was some sort of stunning scoop. There is an interesting conversation to be had about Catholic dogma and the idea of a charity premised around assisting the end-of-life transition instead of around saving life. I don't think Hitch qualified as the person to have it with.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:12 PM
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Just to check, you're trolling, right PGD? Because I can't imagine why you would otherwise argue such an obviously false point.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:12 PM
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Why you should click through and not just believe every link you see on FB. Oh well, at least he's old.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:12 PM
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273: You got my hopes up. I want to believe.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:13 PM
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Bill O'Reilly get to decide whether saying it makes you look like an asshole or a fellow-traveller of his?

BOR doesn't get to decide that it does, but neither do you get to decide that it doesn't. Whether you look like an asshole or fellow-traveler depends on who's looking, not on your internal decision about the significance of your action.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:14 PM
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278: That seems like a circuitous way of in fact giving Bill O'Reilly ownership of the phrase without admitting to yourself that that's what you're doing.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:15 PM
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Redlining">http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBsQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FRedlining&ei=RqjvTuC4G83ZiQKPrOi7Cw&usg=AFQjCNH0ln0TKgvbrJcoDPjynC4klf5ZOQ">Redlining operated against Jews, too.

Also, freezing groups out of the power elite keeps the whole group from having powerful representatives. Harvard, etc., probably shouldn't be so important, but while it is quotas matter.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:15 PM
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There doesn't seem to be a lot of independent confirmation out there.

A lot? Is there any at all?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:18 PM
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279: not at all! You could try to change the way your saying "merry christmas" will seem, in part by saying it, but it's foolish to think that you can control how it seems right now.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:18 PM
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I'm not sure what position PGD is advancing. Sure, no one has been made into soap. But my grandmother, after being turned down for many steno pool jobs because she was Jewish, finally got one by disguising her background. When people found out, she was actively shunned and she kept her job only because her boss' boss was quite unusually tolerant. And this was in the East Village!

Oh, and to 196: I was growing up in the locales I think you are thinking of (i.e., west LA) about 20 years ago. And it felt oppressive to me. Not "we'll turn you into soap" and not because I was religious -- I was and am about as secular as you get -- but enough to make me feel like I was an outsider who should keep my head down to hide my outsiderness.


Posted by: Spysander Looner | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:19 PM
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Like, I might lament that "niggardly" has been tarnished by its much worse soundalike, but I can't just go around calling cheap people niggardly, secure in my knowledge of its etymology, and insist that it doesn't seem bad.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:20 PM
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Obviously, the hang-up here is "signficant". If you want to say that "significant" equals "frequent pogroms and other violent oppression" then no, Jews have not been significantly oppressed in the US. On the other hand, if a legacy of codified, broad-based anti-Semitism is "significant", then they have. Miaow-miaow, oppression olympics, miaow miaow miaow.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:21 PM
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But have you accepted that your Lord is a shoving leopard?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:21 PM
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286 to 283.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:21 PM
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||

Heads up to Emerson?

Latest article by Phillip Mirowski on economists being posted in multiple parts at Naked Capitalism

(I though I recognized the name;Mont Pelerin)

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:21 PM
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281: Right, no, none at all. Clearly it is a humor piece whose context becomes somewhat opaque the farther away from San Diego you get.

Did I link? This is what was up on a friend's FB wall:

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/almost-factual-news/2011/dec/16/arizonas-sheriff-joe-announces-retirement-decision/


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:23 PM
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288: economists being posted in multiple parts at Naked Capitalism

Look, I hate economists as much as the next guy, but this might be taking it a bit too far.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:24 PM
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Stranger at the Door: We just stopped by to see what church y'all go to.
My mom: We go to a synagogue. We're Jewish.
Stranger at the Door: Oh, a church is a church.

A joke I heard from a secular Jew in Germany: "What's the difference between Christians and Jews? Christians don't go to church, Jews don't go to synagogue."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:25 PM
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275: nope, not trolling. It seems as obviously true to me as it (apparently) seems obviously false to you. I think there is just a different definition of oppression at work. To some it's apparently anything that would be unacceptable / illegal / perceived as annoyingly unfair today. To me it's pogroms, ghettoes, systematic impoverishment, no ability to own property or compete economically or be fairly represented in teh courts, etc. etc. Blacks or Indians in America, Jews in Europe.

I would also take into account the general fact that in the past it was much more accepted for ethnic in-groups to organize to defend their privileges. I don't see that early 20th century Jewish immigrants were any more disadvantaged by this than other new immigrant out-groups from Catholic or Eastern/Southern European countries. (German Jews were actually doing great all through the 19th century). Personally I can't see that Jews were oppressed qua Jews when Irish, Italians, Poles, etc. faced many of the same barriers.

Final addition: Jewish claims of oppression tend to rest on the awesomeness of Jews, so that Jews are being kept down when we can't rise as high as we ought to given how incredibly smart we are. There's something to that. But I also can't help noticing that every Ivy League class percentage listed in Sifu's link in 262 exceeds the percentage of Jews in the population, sometimes very significantly. We haven't always been a self-conscious standardized test meritocracy like we are today.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:27 PM
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274: I wonder if this all just really more fraught in the States than in Canuckistan somehow.

Possibly. It's not great in our current environment when there are Muslims in the community.

I'm puzzled by people who seem to want to abandon the phrase to the culture warriors

I seriously dislike the notion that either the culture warriors or the PC police are controlling our discourse on this, and it's they who must be addressed. Forget them. (This is a form of endorsing various remarks in 274.1, I guess.) It's a pretty straightforward set of concerns: there are people in our communities who are not Christian and who do not want to assimilate to default Christianity, however stripped of meaning. I think we can handle the shift without freaking out.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:28 PM
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288: The piece starts off by recommending a chapter in a $288/ book which won't be available on ILL for a year or more.

But everyone should read the link! And Mirowski!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:28 PM
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I see we're back into "people like us matter and other 1st world problems."

Thought today during dog-walk:"Anybody can be President, as long as they have a Harvard Law degree, so the important thing is to get more (minority like me) into Harvard to get law degrees" is the whole fucking problem. It will lose.

Answer I had while dog-walking: I would take a crack dealer out of San Quentin and make her President. "Fuck the creds" is serious about egalitarianism and opposing meritocracy. Last shall be first.

Wooot! While writing this my new Cusinart came@

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:30 PM
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Which, however, will be substantially previewed at Naked Capitalism! Joy!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:30 PM
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282: Well, I mean, it's something I and pretty much everyone I know (regardless of political persuasion) say routinely, interchangeably with "Merry Ho-Ho" and "Happy Holidays" and so on. I guess I'm trying to figure out what weight the claims about how it supposedly "seems" actually has, and on what grounds I should care beyond "Bill O'Reilly says it, too."

I also think "controversy" over the word "niggardly" is idiotic, actually, but it's at least comprehensible in a way that this isn't.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:30 PM
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I guess I'm trying to figure out what weight the claims about how it supposedly "seems" actually has

Sure, but that's a different sort of question. (I don't really think that saying "Merry Christmas" makes one seem an ally of BOR.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:32 PM
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Yesterday my 5 year old kid was asking about why we don't celebrate Hanukkah. The answer: "Because Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, and we aren't Jewish?" So he says "What's Jewish?" And his mom says "Its a religion", so he says "Whats a religion?"

Which, crap. We've been dodging that question for years. Fortunately, we managed to distract him before we had to come up with an answer. But it will probably come up again....

I'd so much rather he asked us awkward questions about sex.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:32 PM
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Catholics were certainly treated pretty poorly here as well, and if we celebrated Martin Luther day (or whatever) that'd be rude to wish to catholics.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:34 PM
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297: I don't think you should care at all unless you're annoying people. On the other hand, I do think that you should pay attention to see if you are annoying people, and if you are, you shouldn't feel oppressed because they're messing with your Christmas spirit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:35 PM
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I'm surprised no one has mentioned Leo Frank. Horrible story. Anyway, I will drop this theme as it seems to be offending people. My perspective is probably affected by the fact that my parents on both sides and all my aunts and uncles were Holocaust survivors.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:36 PM
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297: It's not great in our current environment when there are Muslims in the community.

Why is it not great? It's really little different from saying "Happy Holidays," a phrase which is mainly a shorthand for the holidays of the Christian calendar, and it seems a bit bizarre to suggest that it's particularly urging anyone to assimilate to the Christian faith. Nor am I aware of Muslims being especially touchy about the holiday.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:39 PM
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Huh, I thought you were about my age. Am I wrong about that, or did your parents have kids late, or how'd that work?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:39 PM
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If the US of any era is compared to an imaginary completely-secular-pluralist country, it will come up short. The US today may be as close to that ideal as any nation has ever been. There's a certain degree of bigotry that comes with plurality itself and with any nation state, and really in any form of political organization of plurality.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:40 PM
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305- Mighty white of you to say so, JE.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:42 PM
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301: This is the thing. The people who seem to insist on feeling oppressed make no sense to me, because I see no sign that anyone is in fact stopping them from saying "Merry Christmas." The people who seem to be insisting that "Happy Holidays" is actually a secular alternative to the unacceptable Christian connotations of this phrase, by the same token, seem confused about the origins and implications of the phrase and about the likelihood that they're using it to battle some significant form of pressure-to-assimilate. Both perspectives seem to me to be staring at mirages.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:43 PM
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That's probably true, but it's not a reason not to improve. No one's calling Halford history's greatest monster for wanting to wish people a Merry Christmas, they're just pointing out that feeling excluded by it isn't something Bill O'Reilly made up, and so his self-consciousness about it is an improvement from some points of view.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:43 PM
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UPETGI referenced Leo Frank, metonymically.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:43 PM
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304: Well, I don't know your exact age and I don't want to say mine for anonymity reasons. Assume we are both generically mid-middle age that still gives 5-10 years possible age difference. I think it's less my parents age when I was born than their age during the Holocaust. They were both fairly young but had plenty of detailed memories, got to the USA well after the age of permanent memory formation. I grew up with a whole lot of stories.

Sometimes it really blows my mind when I think about how different the circumstances of my upbringing were than theirs. Every so often something my mom says will blow my mind again.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:46 PM
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That's probably true, but it's not a reason not to improve.

But "improve" towards what? There's no substitute for "Merry Christmas" that won't be recognizable as essentially saying "Merry Christmas" so long as the holiday exists and is being actively celebrated. So why pretend otherwise? Shouldn't we be trying to "improve" in the direction of less bullshit?


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:47 PM
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303: I meant that various US politicians of the right-wing persuasion have lately been mumbling about how they wouldn't allow a Muslim to become a staff member, or a Cabinet member, or nominate one for a judiciary position; and various politicians of a right-wing bent have been holding 'hearings' about whether Muslims are all jihadists or some such hogwash, and several US states have passed anti-Sharia laws. The environment is a little hostile here.

Does that make your average American Muslim touchy about "Merry Christmas"? I don't know. But I wouldn't try to insist that we should be able to say it, and we can't imagine why anyone would find it irritating.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:50 PM
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307.1: I think it's right that no one's stopping anyone from saying "Merry Christmas." My NYC office just had a holiday party that's clearly a Christmas party, and the fact that lots of the people here aren't Christmas celebrators didn't annoy anyone too much, because free wine. Halford was regretting that he's now slightly self-conscious about who he should say "Merry Christmas" to, because he worries that he'll sound like Bill O'Reilly. And honestly, I think that level of discomfort is right around the level of discomfort non-Christmas celebrators feel when it's assumed they're in the Christmas spirit. Nothing too terrible on either end, but it's a little more evenly distributed than it used to be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:50 PM
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311: Improve toward not annoying people who would rather not have it assumed that they want to participate in the whole Christmas thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:52 PM
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I agree completely with 305 and think it's important to distinguish between groups that are (temporarily) on the outside of the negotiated political distribution of group privileges, but free to work their way into it, and groups that are systematically disenfranchised and dehumanized.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:54 PM
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Well, I don't know your exact age and I don't want to say mine for anonymity reasons.

How many 47-year-olds could there be, after all?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:55 PM
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312: Yeah, but part and parcel of that Islamophobia -- which is also on a slow boil in Canada -- is an in-built and fallacious assumption that Muslims are a hostile force that despises other faiths, Christianity included. And what makes it fallacious is that most Muslims are not in fact this way, and that arguing that you ought to monitor your "Merry Christmas" output on account of how the Muslims might react in fact bolsters rather than challenging the Islamophobic depiction of Muslims as a hostile alien presence.

313: Okay.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:56 PM
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312: Ooo! People should totally start asking all the Repug candidates if they would nominate a Muslim to a position of trust and responsibility in the government. That would be awesome!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:57 PM
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318 would be interesting, indeed.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 2:58 PM
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318: Are you being sarcastic? Some Republican candidates have been asked that, and they had to hem and haw about it all. Herman Cain comes most readily to mind; I think Gingrich was asked at some point, but I don't recall what he said. I don't know about the other candidates, but we might as well put it on the list of questions. I don't see why not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:03 PM
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By and large I think that this is a fake controversy promoted by O'Reilly in order to maximize ill-will (Merry Christmas, Bill!) but suppose it deserves to be taken at face value. My trolley-car example.

Imagine a country X in two alternate states, one in which most members of the majority religious share their holiday, as such, with non-members, in a theologically sloppy way, while the more severe members of each group do not want to offer or accept sharing.

Alternatively, imagine a situation where the more severe members prevail on both sides, and each religion celebrates its holidays separately, shunnng the observances of the Other and barring their presence from their own ceremonies.

Which is the better situation? I say the first. And I say that the more so because I think that it means that a lot of the people on both sides of the line are theologically lax and maybe even ethnically vague.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:04 PM
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317.1: most Muslims are not in fact this way, and that arguing that you ought to monitor your "Merry Christmas" output on account of how the Muslims might react in fact bolsters rather than challenging the Islamophobic depiction of Muslims as a hostile alien presence.

Interesting, and I'll have to think about it. On a first pass, it sounds like granting that Muslims are potentially hostile alien presences, and they have to earn our trust that they aren't that, by gamely assimilating to our tendency to say "Merry Christmas". ? This is a weird argument, Cas. I'll have to think about it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:08 PM
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I'm curious where Christmas lights on streets and trees going up in public squares fall in this discussion.

I don't see how they can come across as any less exclusionary than saying "Merry Christmas" but I haven't heard anyone calling to do away with them.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:09 PM
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I'll do it. Halford is history's greatest monster.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:14 PM
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312, 318. I think that anti-Muslim sentiment is really widespread, and that fiddling around with shades-of-grey hypotheticals would be counterproductive. IMO the best way out is schlocky secular celebrity-- Aziz Ansari interviewing his folks or something. Earnest political discussion or even worse, documentaries, neither will make things better. I suspect that something that would appeal to middle-aged and older people would have the most traction where it's relevant, so Casey Kasem would be better.

It doesn't help that Pakistan and Bahrain are pretty fucked up.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:16 PM
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Islam has always accepted Judaism and Christianity (peoples of the Book) albeit in subordinate status. My guess is that in less-embattled parts of the Muslim world inclusiveness in holidays (sharing one another's holidays) is normal among friends and acquaintances. I would prefer that the US be one of the less-embattled parts of the Muslim world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:16 PM
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Apparently the SF City Hall tree is called the "Tree of Hope."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:17 PM
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322: It is a weird argument. But I really don't think there's any extra trust-earning implied in acknowledging that Muslims don't generally have a problem with Christmas, because generally, they don't. The Muslim faith in fact enjoins them specifically to respect the religious customs of Christians.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:21 PM
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Among the nations of the world the US is one of the most accepting of immigrants of all kinds (along with much of Latin America), and one of those with the fewest pogroms of immigrants. Native Americans and African Americans have suffered terribly, and Mexican Americans et al somewhat.

The attacks on Chinese ca 1900 and the Japanese relocations were the worst I know of, in terms of the numbers involved, and they don't suffice to put the US on any Top Ten lists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:32 PM
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It annoys me that 124, which so obviously Gets It Right, is being ignored.

If I knew what the hell "bzw." means, I might be able to get on board.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:33 PM
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321 is actually verging on a coherent argument, which is not what I wanted to start off by doing. I don't really think this is a big deal! Nonetheless, 321 seems right to me.

My original mention of the topic was prompted by concluding a telephone call with an opposing counsel, which concluded with him saying "Merry Christmas." It struck me that it's been many years since I've heard the phrase used in any remotely professional context; the usual sign-off is something like "enjoy the holiday" or "enjoy your days off" which to me is much less evocative and cheerful, and I felt like we've lost something in the process. Charles Dickens and traditionalism and all of that. Maybe we've gained something too, but in a very generalized sense being "in the Christmas spirit" seems an OK thing and I don't think there is necessary incompatibility, and wasn't for a long time, between that tradition and with recognizing that there are many people who don't celebrate Christmas and that this is just fine.

Doubtless my perspective on this is shaped by never, ever having lived in an area in which conservative Christians were anything but a laughingstock or remote scary other from someplace else.

But I don't think it's possible to use the phrase now (except in, say, church) without overtones of being oppressively religious.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:35 PM
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328: Mm. I don't know. I'm not comfortable with a wholly assimilationist perspective, and a Muslim respect for the religious customs involved in Christmas doesn't really extend to agreeing that "Merry Christmas" is appropriate for all at this particular time of year. (Sure, most people just don't care, but I'm serious about noticing cultural hegemony when it's staring me in the face.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:36 PM
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There has to be some assimilation. There's no obligation to produce sacrosanct zones where immigrants can practice their pristine native culture uncontominated by the local cooties, and ALSO a completely neutral public space where the will never be confronted with marks of the Other.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:40 PM
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Let me bring this all into perspective by saying that I've applied for a job at a place where I suspect a lot of people say, "Have a blessed day" on a regular basis. That, my friends, is the true face of religious oppression.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:46 PM
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332: Muslim respect for the religious customs involved in Christmas doesn't really extend to agreeing that "Merry Christmas" is appropriate for all at this particular time of year.

It mostly does, AFAICT, since it's seen as part of the custom.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:53 PM
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333: Yeah, but that really isn't what Halford's objecting to. Unless LA is very, very different from New York, there's Christmas stuff all over the place, and non-celebrators are dealing just fine. What's changed is that there's now a little more social space for non-celebrators to express that they're not themselves interested in or participating in the celebration.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 3:59 PM
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335: I don't think that works. I can respect the custom that you should be wished Happy Birthday on your birthday, without my believing that I should also be wished Happy Birthday on your birthday. A Muslim can respect the customs around Christmas without wanting to participate in them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:00 PM
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ere's now a little more social space for non-celebrators to express that they're not themselves interested in or participating in the celebration.

That's not what I'm objecting to, at all. My objection, such as it is, and as I say I don't really care about this very much, is that the phrase "merry Christmas" has become so tainted with the mark of oppressiveness it's no longer suitable for anything like common use. I don't see why that's in any way incompatible with people expressing that they personally are not interested in or don't wish to celebrate Christmas.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:03 PM
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337: Theoretically possible, I just don't see the evidence that actual Muslims are on the whole anywhere near that fastidious about the salutation in practice.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:04 PM
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there's Christmas stuff all over the place, and non-celebrators are dealing just fine.

That's certainly true here, although there's been a nice local controversy in that an atheist activist group won the lottery held by the city of Santa Monica for its holiday/nativity displays, and filled it up with signs saying things like "Which myths do you believe in?" Which I personally find pretty hilarious.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:06 PM
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(The issue of whether Muslims themselves can say it appears to be a livelier one.)


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:08 PM
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The Muslim family next door bought us a Christmas present they could ill afford last year. We were mortified as we hadn't even given them a card (we did for Eid ul Fitr). We gave them something back in January, when the shops opened, as a non-holiday, thought of you when we saw this present. But we still don't know what to do for the best if they do it again.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:09 PM
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338: Huh. I sort of assume that NYC is the center of the world oversensitivitywise, but I've never noticed feeling that "Merry Christmas" sounded problematic, as long as I'm talking to people who celebrate the holiday. Maybe the atmosphere is just different in LA.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:11 PM
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329:The attacks on Chinese ca 1900 and the Japanese relocations were the worst I know of, in terms of the numbers involved, and they don't suffice to put the US on any Top Ten lists.

I'm trying to put this and the oppressiveness of 'Merry Christmas' side by side with the fact that the Japanese have totally embraced Christmas. By embracing Christmas, I mean that in Japan, Xmas doesn't just involve consumerist madness, but consumerist madness is the reason for the season, climaxing on Xmas Day when everyone goes out and eats Christmas dinner at KFC.

On the other hand, the usual fascist assholes who were background noise when I grew up (Fox is basically the Confederate News Channel) are ever more obnoxious, so I guess I should just say 'Feliz Navidad' to ever white asshole with a Confederate flag on his truck I see. Given this town, maybe I should just say it to everybody! (For reasons I totally do not understand, ruralish white from the East Coast apparently really hate hispanics.)

188: Lamb, what are you, weird?

Yes. I have dealt with Baptists (not always specifically Baptists of course, but gosh, I can't tell all those Christians apart) all my life. I am totally having lamb probably with a yogurt sauce. In times past I've done quasi-Victorian style Xmas dinners and in fact, have done homemade Chinese food (with sweet potato pie on the side) when I was on that particular kick, so I have no problem profaning Xmas dinner in just about every way you can imagine. (Although I admit I haven't gone Mughal for an Xmas yet, which I totally should.) Thus I am totally with neb and g.

277: 273: You got my hopes up. I want to believe.

Dear Jesus Santa,
if Sheriff Arapio kicks it on Xmas and Tebow wins the Bills game with an endzone to endzone touchdown run after the clock has expired while wearing a cast, I promise to say a prayer for Mother Teresa and Christopher Hitchens.

sincerely, &c.

p.s. Also, if you could throw it in, please reveal that Willard Romney has been having a torrid gay relationship with a fundamentalist Baptist minister for the last twenty years, because I want to see the WaPo OpEd page have a stroke.

max
['Yea verily, true Christmas miracles.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:12 PM
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342: Nice box of chocolate in reserve as an emergency present?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:12 PM
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315: I can't for the life of me understand the point of making this a dichotomy so everyone can be filed under "has had it bad" or "has had it good." Am I being unfair? Is that not what you're doing?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:14 PM
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345. So we thought.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:15 PM
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Beating it to death: one immigrant or minority citizen might want to be included in Christmas (as such) just as much as another immigrant or minority citizen might want not to be included. The sensitivity part is tricky and goes both ways.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:17 PM
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334 nails it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:17 PM
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This "Something is lost" business just makes me feel like I'm having a conversation about southern charm and lawn jockeys. Not making any hysterical equivalences here, though I may end up having to ban myself anyway, but just that act of reverting to sentiment as a defense because then the question is who's a good sport and who's a bad sport.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:19 PM
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346: Speaking for myself but in probable agreement with PGD, because saying "Merry Christmas" to the wrong person has been enrolled on the list of ethnocentric American crimes against diversity, along with pogroms and so on, when the US has actually been extraordinarily accepting of immigrant cultures compared to most other nations.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:22 PM
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So he's actually a pretty lucky Jew, in the scheme of things, and should be thankful?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:25 PM
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351: Huh. I can respect the argument you were making before, that it's more inclusive to assume everyone wants to participate in the majority holidays -- I don't actually think it's correct, but it's not an immoral position to take (except in the face of a sufficient number of credible people saying that they actually don't like that assumption when it's applied to them.) But this just sounds like "Screw you, back in Russia they'd be burning your shetl down. Take what you can get and like it."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:26 PM
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(except in the face of a sufficient number of credible people saying that they actually don't like that assumption when it's applied to them.)

Such as we have in this case.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:27 PM
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Arguing that Jews have faced oppression in America is not grouping "Merry Christmas" with pogroms.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:28 PM
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(And I don't mean at all to pick on Halford by saying this, it's just because the conversation's turned to who's oversensitive. We're talking about this not because anyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas was seething with resentment at the presence of Christmassy stuff in public, but because a Christian was sad that he felt inhibited about being even more Christmassy than he is now. The sadness doesn't make him a bad person, but if we're analyzing who's feeling very minor hardships, it's not the members of ethnic minorities who started complaining.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:31 PM
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But I don't think it's possible to use the phrase now (except in, say, church) without overtones of being oppressively religious.

I don't think this is true, at least not in NYC. It seems like the "Merry Christmas"'s are thicker upon the ground as the actual holiday draws nearer. More than a week out, "Happy Holidays" is certainly more common but also more appropriate.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:32 PM
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Just to be clear, I'm not (I'm not sure if anyone else is) arguing that it's cool to say "Merry Christmas" to someone whom you affirmatively know doesn't celebrate Christmas and doesn't want the greeting. In my world, at least, however, the greeting has been tainted to the point to where (a) it is not commonly used even among people whom you know will celebrate Christmas for fear of seeming like a Christianist dick; (b) it's no longer used even as a fairly generic greeting among people whom you'd think, but don't know, are celebrating Christmas. It's basically just not used at all in common conversation. Maybe that's more true in my place and location than elsewhere.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:33 PM
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I wished a non-English-speaking cab driver "Feliz Navidad" last Friday -- we'd been chatting in my dozen words of Spanish and his two dozen of English.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:34 PM
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357 -- It's very possible that it is much thicker on the ground in NYC than here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:35 PM
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Mountain, molehill. There is a historical standard for human behavior with regard to immigrants and minority peoples, and the US far surpasses it. If we're fussing around about "Merry Christmas" that's evidence, pretty much.

We do not even know if a random stranger/ minority/ immigrant of unknown religion will be more hurt by someone not saying Merry Christmas as by someone saying Merry Christmas. "They say Merry Christmas to each other, but Happy Holidays to us".

I think that people should be respectful of individuals known not to want that greeting, but we're talking about a general rule for all strangers.

If I lived in China, or a Muslim country, or a Catholic country, or Israel, I would expect to be reminded during holidays that the vast majority there believed differently than me (just like in the US, actually).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:36 PM
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(a) it is not commonly used even among people whom you know will celebrate Christmas for fear of seeming like a Christianist dick; (b) it's no longer used even as a fairly generic greeting among people whom you'd think, but don't know, are celebrating Christmas.

(A) is totally strange to me -- I wouldn't think twice about saying "Merry Christmas" to someone who I knew celebrated it. (B), it's a judgment call. It probably wouldn't occur to me to say it unless something made me think it was appropriate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:38 PM
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Arguing that Jews have faced oppression in America is not grouping "Merry Christmas" with pogroms.

9 minutes before writing this you did group "Merry Christmas" with lawn jockeys.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:38 PM
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There has to be some threshold above which victimization and oppression can reasonably be regarded to begin. I say that "Merry Christmas" is below that threshold.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:39 PM
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If we're fussing around about "Merry Christmas" that's evidence, pretty much.

We, here, are fussing about "Merry Christmas" because a Christian was sad about the change in mores, not because any member of any minority group identified it as the most pressing problem they face.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:40 PM
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God damn it I specifically said that I do *not* feel oppressed by this issue and don't really care that much.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:41 PM
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Halford cares deeply and feels oppressed over this issue, you guys. He's just trying to deflect you from seeing that clearly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:42 PM
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And not only that but made fun of the idea that my mild nostalgic sentiment for the phrase could constitute a form of oppression.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:42 PM
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366: I'm sorry to pick on you, it's just that Emerson keeps on going to 'if that's the worst problem they have'. No one thought it was enough of a problem to bring up from the 'there's too much Christmas' side of the issue.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:43 PM
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Well, he said that someone said Merry Christmas, and he liked it, and it reminded him that it doesn't happen much any more because it is thought that some people might not like it, but he thought it was sort of nice.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:44 PM
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363 You're kidding, right? Because I could hardly have been clearer about not equating the two things.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:50 PM
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369 -- Oh, OK. 370 was basically the extent of what I was saying. I don't really endorse comparative victimology at all; just because the US is a longtime world leader on the not being antisemitic front doesn't mean we just write of US antisemitism tout court. I will say that antisemitism isn't the most pressing social issue in the world of Hollywood lawyers.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:51 PM
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363: so you're grouping lawn jockeys with pogroms?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:51 PM
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it is thought that some people might not like it

Allegedly. But there's no actual evidence of this being the case. I mean, sure, if people were to say that they didn't actually particularly appreciate being wished a merry christmas all the time, that'd be one thing. But that hasn't happened.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:53 PM
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Not read the whole thread, but, fwiw, all the Muslim friends I've ever had have celebrated Christmas. And last year, when the Mail or one of the other rightwing shitrags was doing their dinger about 'Winterval' and the 'War on Christmas', the Imam from one of the big Birmingham mosques was on the radio. His take, iirc, was:

'Christmas? Of course we celebrate Christmas. What kind of person doesn't like Christmas?'


Posted by: natttarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:55 PM
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What kind of person doesn't like Christmas?

Because that's the kind of person christians and muslims can unite against!

(I mean, c'mon now.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:56 PM
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In a random public situations, why should the ones who won't like it be the deciders, rather than the ones who will like it, especially when you don't know which group someone belongs to?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:57 PM
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"write off" and 372 last was perhaps an ill-advised joke in a possibly sensitive conversation.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 4:57 PM
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I can't for the life of me understand the point of making this a dichotomy so everyone can be filed under "has had it bad" or "has had it good." Am I being unfair? Is that not what you're doing?

I think you are being a little unfair, in that I didn't think of 315 as simply distinguishing people who got to complain from people who didn't, but trying to crudely get at a genuine sociological difference. Think of the types who point to the hard-luck stories of their white immigrant ancestors as reasons black folks should just suck it up. Well, there's a big difference in how open American society has been to social mobility for blacks and whites. I think historically American Jews fall pretty clearly among the white-but-not-WASP side of things as far as the openness of American society to them, and furthermore German Jews who came before the Eastern European migrations of the 1880-1920 probably fall closer to the WASP side.

It is true that I'm agreeing with Emerson that there's a certain baseline level of imperfection and not-fairness in human social arrangements and we should probably check our oppression claims in light of that. If you want to say that is a crude division, maybe, but in the case of American Jews you're looking at a group that has been phenomenally successful not just compared to other Jews, but compared to most every other ethnic group anywhere in the world.

So he's actually a pretty lucky Jew, in the scheme of things, and should be thankful?

Again, it's absolute success and not just relative to other Jews, it's not settling for second best because of your ethnicity. Certainly by post-WWII, as a group American Jews have become quite wealthy and influential by any reasonable standard of absolute comparison. Even before WWII I have the impression Jews were more successful than the average in American life, adjusting for recent immigration and including German Jews.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 5:00 PM
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One of the things that happens in a pluralistic society is that some people experience things that offend them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 5:01 PM
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Damn, 379 was way too long. I have a pith problem.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 5:03 PM
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They're called microaggressions , Emerson.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 5:07 PM
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381:That happens when you get old.

The proper unprejudiced holiday salutation, or response to being offered salutations, is "Fuck off". This works for all circumstances and ethnicities.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 5:14 PM
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You should find that person and wish them a festive Good Friday.

Hey, there's a reason it's called *Good* Friday, right?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 5:29 PM
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In my world, at least, however, the greeting has been tainted to the point to where (a) it is not commonly used even among people whom you know will celebrate Christmas for fear of seeming like a Christianist dick;

I don't think this is true "in my world," but it is true of me personally. I'm losing Christmas the way I lost the American flag a few decades ago.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 6:34 PM
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I prefer Schmutz Wednesday to Good Friday. That's the day we celebrate by walking up to people with schmutz on their foreheads and saying "hey hold still...you've got some schmutz on your forehead!"

377 is an argument I just don't believe you would generalize if you thought this were an important matter of offense which, as we've all agreed, it isn't. I'd like to re-re-reiterate that I don't think I have the right not to be Merry Christmased, nor does this upset me a lot, but I don't think that means it's a non-issue and I should just be a sport about it because gosh guys, those were the days.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:19 PM
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I'm liking Smearcase on these matters.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:29 PM
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I still don't really get it. Being a minority in any significant way has its inevitable disadvantages. The important ones should be eliminated, but they're never going to all disappear. The only solution I can think of is to be a majority, which isn't always possible. My aunt is the only one I've ever known who has a specific dislike for Lutherans. She's one of the few Congregationalists in a Lutheran town. She's often left out. My guess is that the vast majority of people saying Merry Christmas are well-intended. Why not just go with it?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:47 PM
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Interestingly, I just got back from the grocery store where a subcontinental-looking woman had brought a rack of gift cards to the checkout counter, apparently (from the brief snatches I overheard) because she was unable to find one that just said "Happy Holidays."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:49 PM
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I count Mexico and Central America as a subcontinent. I got pissed that there was only one so far as I could determine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:54 PM
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I typically say Merry Christmas to people who I know for certain celebrate Christmas. It's never occurred to me that I'm placating Bill O'Reilly at such moments. Nor have I considered that I'm irritating him when I say Happy Holidays to people who I know don't celebrate Christmas (including every single Jew, except two, that I've ever known in my life).

Also, my Holocaust-surviving mother (who, it should be said, could kick the crap out of PGD's Holocaust-surviving mother, because mom's just that much more authentic and moral-high-ground-having of a Jew) experienced plenty of antisemitism in this country, none of which I feel like talking about, because the tenor of this thread seems to be such that I'd then be playing the victim's role, which, as a member of a minority group (albeit, as I've said many times before, an incredibly powerful minority group) is never all that comfortable.

Finally, it's good to see both John and PGD getting their troll back on in one thread. That's the holiday spirit, guys!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:57 PM
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India.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:57 PM
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Getting off a plane at LGA recently, I overheard a flight attendant wish one of the egressers "Happy Holidays," and the egress lady absolutely and aggressively hissed "MERRY CHRISTMAS" at the flight attendant in response. Honestly, it's the only time in my life I've ever seen such a thing. *That* sort of thing, I think, is fairly recent and learned from the various Fox News troglodytes.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:58 PM
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My guess is that the vast majority of people saying Merry Christmas are well-intended. Why not just go with it?

Most people do just go with it. It wouldn't be be a bad thing, though, if we drifted away from it as the default.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 7:58 PM
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Why not just go with it?

See? This is what I mean. Awesome stuff, John!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:00 PM
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387: Well thanks.

388: What is meant by "just go with it" please? Fail to slug people for it? I'm already doing that.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:00 PM
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Mara and I ate at IHOP the other day (mostly because she finds both "I hop RESTAURANT???" and "HOUSE of Pancakes!" totally hilarious and I was willing to indulge her) and one of the servers wished the people at the table across from ours "a blessed holidays." I think that's my favorite awful-yet-well-intentiond version yet.

In other news, I think Lee and I are feuding because I've only said for several months now that I want to just do Chinese food and a movie on Christmas post-presents and now she's suddenly realizing I was telling the truth and don't want to devil her a half dozen eggs or eat turkey or anything. And no, I don't. If we do stuff with Mara's family, that's fine and I'll cook and participate, but after I've bought and wrapped the presents and made Christmas breakfast I should be allowed to take a happy atheist day of rest or something. This had not occurred to Lee, apparently.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:02 PM
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PGD and I disagree with the consensus here on some things. I used to troll other places, but I deny that I'm trolling here. Apparently PGD mostly stays away now, as I did for quite awhile.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:02 PM
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I deny that I'm trolling here.

Fair enough, then. I honestly meant no offense. This thread was going nowhere fast until first Halford, then PGD, and finally you goosed it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:05 PM
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Movie theaters are very crowded on Christmas evening. After dinner, the holiday is over and everyone wants to go to a movie or bar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:06 PM
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399: What am I, chopped fruitcake?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:07 PM
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You could take it as a friendly gesture, which is what it is intended as, rather than taking it as even more anti-Semitism. Or, you could take it as an inadvertent, unthinking offense of no significance, like someone playing a song you don'ty like. Or you could think that you are living in a country where most people are different than you in this respect, and shit happens.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:08 PM
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400: They're fine in the afternoon. We went with Rowan the year he was with us and by ourselves a Christmas before that. Just because last year Mara got to enjoy my grandmother's Lake Effect snow and a big dinner with various sorts of second cousins doesn't mean that's automatically our family tradition.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:08 PM
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All of those things are true, John. And while I could note in return that nobody seems to be saying that they're especially offended by being wished a Merry Christmas, nor that they read being wished a Merry Christmas as emblematic of antisemitism, I think the best response is probably just to note that you're absolutely right: what you say could apply equally well to all minority groups. So you really should just shut the fuck up about your political views, because dissent is so tedious and gets in the way of the mainstream having a good time.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:12 PM
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We never finish pie until 6:00 or so.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:12 PM
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What is 402 to?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:13 PM
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Come again? I got the STFU part. Is this not something that decent people can disagree about?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:15 PM
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I believe that locally there are around 10,000 of my denomination in a metro area of around 17 million. Definitely a tiny religious minority. WHO WILL SPEAK FOR THE EPISCOPALIANS??? We have a right to our muddled, genial, half-understood religious culture.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:17 PM
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Didn't we establish eight million comments ago that I for the most part take it as a friendly gesture and primarily just don't want to hear about how much of a drag it is that people occasionally feel disapproved of for saying it? Is it really super unreasonable to take it as a friendly gesture that is also slightly presumptuous and annoying? Can we have the conversation again about men telling women to smile, and you can maybe chime in with "shit happens, ladies"?

I AM BANNED!!! BANNED, I SAY!!!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:18 PM
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396.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:18 PM
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Well, I'm apparently banned too. Apparently the default should be Happy Holidays to everyone except people you know personally. I think that it could just as well be Merry Christmas, especially because the main holiday is Christmas, with Hannukah shoehorned in. In the same way, if someone wants to say Common Era instead of Christian Era instead of AD, OK. You's still dating from (nominal) Christmas.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:22 PM
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405: That should give me plenty of time to get to Pburgh after our breakfast is done, then. Or are you in the flatlands for the holiday in question? Your pie-hungry public is curious.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:23 PM
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412: In-laws' place this year. Probably cake, not pie. I can adapt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:25 PM
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409: Kind of some male privilege there thinking you're the one who gets to decide who's banned, eh? I see what you're up to!

(I'm up too late because Moby's saying people want to go to a bar made me want to go to a bar, which made me open a bottle of wine, which means I really need to drink the glass I poured before I go to bed even though I should sleep now while I briefly have my chance. Aughh!)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:25 PM
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They have giant bottles of scotch, so no problems.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:26 PM
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Smearcase is UNBANNED.

John, it's great to have to you back. That thing about how you disagree with the consensus here on some things: you know that not everybody commenting here agrees with the apparent consensus either. I'd have thought that was known.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:26 PM
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And wine. Wine is good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:26 PM
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There isn't a single religion or ethical system that has a problem with wine. It's universal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:31 PM
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Hannukah shoehorned in

You're killing it tonight, man.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:33 PM
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I really hope we can make this thread extremely acrimonious. That would be divinegood.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:37 PM
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I've been told that Hannukah is only an important Jewish holiday because it happens during the Christmas season and can be sort of merged or overlapped or something. Is that not true?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:37 PM
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OK, I'm out of here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:38 PM
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So 408 is sort of funny in the same way that the defeinding-the-jocks-against-the-no-good-very-bad-nerds comments are funny, yeah?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:40 PM
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What?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:43 PM
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From now on, I'm just wishing everybody a happy Hannakuh unless they are wearing a sweater with Santa or a clerical collar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:47 PM
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I don't wish people Happy Holidays because you should only get one holiday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:49 PM
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I thought arguing about Hitchens was good enough, but no.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:50 PM
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425: What about uncircumsized nudists? Might one assume?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:52 PM
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One looks people in the eye, I'm told, or be thought rude.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:54 PM
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428: You can never be too careful, Thorn. You all remember, I hope, that the rumor is that Catholic priests have to prove that they're not impotent. I don't know how they're to prove that, but it's a thing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:55 PM
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Goodnight moon internet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 8:56 PM
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What I remember about Hitchens' book on her is that it's based largely around accusing the Missionaries of Charity of not being Doctors Without Borders and heavily implying that its founder was essentially running a racket....There is an interesting conversation to be had about Catholic dogma and the idea of a charity premised around assisting the end-of-life transition instead of around saving life. I don't think Hitch qualified as the person to have it with.

I'm not going to argue that Hitchens' treatment of Mother Teresa was fair and impartial and dispassionate. Of course it was not: he was a polemicist with an axe to grind. But I do think he was basically right about Mother T: she was a horrible little fraud who exploited the sick and the dying in order to foster her creepy cult of sanctified suffering.

I'm fine with a Catholic approach to end-of-life transition, btw. But that approach does not typically preclude the provision of effective analgesics for those who are suffering great pain. Hitchens was not the first, and not the only critic to accuse Mother T. of withholding painkillers in order to give her patients the chance to participate in the sufferings of Christ. Which is not at all the established protocol at Catholic hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes in the west, btw.

Anyway, I guess I have to give the Vatican some credit for inviting Hitchens to testify as devil's advocate against the beatification of Mother T. But the fix was in; and John Paul II put her on the fast track to sainthood.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:00 PM
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John: come back. I just made Christmas cupcakes (dark chocolate cakes, with white chocolate-peppermint icing, sprinkled with crushed candy cane).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:07 PM
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Well, now that's settled, may I add that, as far as I'm concerned, anyone celebrating kwanzaa can fuck right off.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:13 PM
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I am not trolling. I really believe all this crazy shit I say here. Namaste, fellow Jewish people.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:21 PM
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Merry Christmas, PGD.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:27 PM
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It's kind of awesome to not even know if one is technically Jewish or not. It really is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:31 PM
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432: But I do think he was basically right about Mother T: she was a horrible little fraud

This actually is where I don't think he was right. She did not in fact claim her charity was something it wasn't; the question of whether they didn't use funds effectively to promote health is a live one, but the question of their essentially being money-launderers for dictators and the Vatican Bank veers much closer to conspiracy theory. "Oh ho! She totes had doubts about her faith!" looks to me like a submoronic gotcha that utterly misunderstands the nature of faith or what humanizes it. That her notion of what constituted humanitarian labor may have been awful and deformed is quite possible, even likely, but as you note, we didn't need Hitchens to get to that conclusion. What Hitchens contributed was mostly the ridiculousness and the over-the-top invective, not the content.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:39 PM
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You could take it as a friendly gesture, which is what it is intended as, rather than taking it as even more anti-Semitism.

"Merry Christmas" could be a friendly gesture, just as the Confederate flag doesn't have to be a symbol of racism. Context matters, though, and things are what they are.

American Christmas was always an expression of the dominant culture's dominance, but now it is being increasingly co-opted by outright bigots and nuts. The traditional "Merry Christmas" always contained two messages: "Happy Holidays," plus "We're Not Interested In Your Culture And Beliefs."

Nowadays, Bill O'Reilly can use "Merry Christmas" to convey the dual message, "Happy Holidays" plus "Fuck You." O'Reilly doesn't quite own Christmas yet, but it's only a matter of time.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:39 PM
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(What's most ironic, further to 438, is how obvious it is at this point how much of a fraud Hitchens was. It's the encomia that cite Orwell that annoy me most; he was exactly the kind of empty-headed, superficially-clever poseur that Orwell would have taken to the woodshed without hesitation. That he's getting such encomia is an unequivocal tribute to the corruption of reasoning in the times in which he lived.)


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:41 PM
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Something that I think Halford is pointing to (with the references to Dickens etc.), and which might be worth highlighting, is that, historically, Christmas for a time worked increasingly kind of differently to straightforwardly religious (+ random frivolity) holidays like Easter (random frivolity = chocolate eggs, obvs). The difference is that Christmas was increasingly used as a vehicle for highlighting the humanist aspect of Christianity.

Scrooge's nephew:
I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round - apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys

It's an expression of the same cast of mind that in the US gives you Unitarian Universalism and Charles Schulz (cf. A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the quote from Luke ending with 'good will to men').

From this perspective, wishing someone a Merry Christmas isn't like asking them to respond positively to an affirmation of the divinity of Jesus. Part of the whole idea is that it expresses universal ecumenical solidarity - it's all men (and women), not just Christians - so it throws a bit of cold water on the whole exercise when the liberal (cultural or credal) Christian has to take into account that the people to whom he or she would like to express liberal Christian goodwill might not appreciate being expected to participate in the vehicle the Christian would like to use to express that goodwill. I agree that it's a bit sad that it has to be that way.



Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:43 PM
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It's the encomia that cite Orwell that annoy me most

He wanted to be Orwell so bad and so totally wasn't. The tragedy of his life, except for the other ones.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:46 PM
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being-and-ass

Heidegger's eminently more readable follow-up book.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:46 PM
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441 posted without having read from about 300 on.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:48 PM
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Anyway, I guess I have to give the Vatican some credit for inviting Hitchens to testify as devil's advocate against the beatification of Mother T.

I didn't know this, and had to Google it to convince myself it was true.

Hitchens, the Catholic Church and procedural liberalism all have some serious problems, but they aren't completely useless.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:49 PM
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445 was me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:50 PM
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It's the encomia that cite Orwell that annoy me most; he was exactly the kind of empty-headed, superficially-clever poseur that Orwell would have taken to the woodshed without hesitation.

Yes, this, exactly. Comparing Hitchens to Orwell is a use of the language that is Orwellian


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:52 PM
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442: I just sold my nicest bike to someone in your neck of the woods. And then I turned around and bought a really beautiful fixed gear/single speed. Christmas really is the best time of the year!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:55 PM
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Sorry, that comment's relationship to Christmas was and is tenuous enough that I should have marked it as OT.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:56 PM
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It's an expression of the same cast of mind that in the US gives you Unitarian Universalism and Charles Schulz (cf. A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the quote from Luke ending with 'good will to men').

From this perspective, wishing someone a Merry Christmas isn't like asking them to respond positively to an affirmation of the divinity of Jesus. Part of the whole idea is that it expresses universal ecumenical solidarity - it's all men (and women), not just Christians

Funny you should use A Charlie Brown Christmas in this context, 'cause (as I've mentioned here before) watching it as a non-Christian was one of the most alienating experiences I've had in years. It sent me straight back to my childhood and the profound sense of disconnection and discomfort I felt this time of year.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:57 PM
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441: agree totally. I always responded to the humanist aspect of Christmas, which accords rather well with the American tradition (all our Deist founding fathers and so forth). Strangely enough, I sort of connect to Jesus as neither really Jewish nor really Christian -- he breaks free of the somewhat horrible tribal aspects of the Old Testament while still bringing a particularly Jewish ethic to bear, and he is also pre-Christian and distinguishable from the later Roman/Christian fusion that creates Catholicism. When I went to Israel and visited Qumran I felt like -- oh, he was one of these guys. Also Galilee, it really feels different from Jerusalem somehow. Of course I'm this is all personal projection and romanticism.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:58 PM
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448: road or mountain single?

(Santa wants to know.)

Also I bet I know who you sold the nicest bike to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:58 PM
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443: Stanley! I saw that after I'd posted it, and all this time people were kind enough not to notice.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 9:58 PM
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I'd really like to celebrate Diwali and Nohruz and Rosh Hashanah. Fireworks and delicious cookies! Fire-jumping and shrines of things that start with S! Shofars and honey cakes!

These are all good things.

(Yom Kippur, Lent, Ashura, and Ramadan kinda suck, though.)


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:00 PM
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452: road. And how do you know who bought it?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:02 PM
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Christians have insufficient holidays that involve the building of huts.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:02 PM
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455: oh, it's just a guess. But there's a guy around here who buys all the nicest bikes (I'm sure you know who I mean).

URL to new fixie, hipster?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:02 PM
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457.2.last gets it right. Is this to make up for your cob-logger's recumbent, VW?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:04 PM
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Hey I mean I have a fixed gear. They're really fun. And I'm sure VW has front and rear brakes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:06 PM
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457-458: here. But please note that the bike had been for sale for six months, and there you should know I didn't pay anything like his asking price (which was actually sort of fair, though obviously the incredibly depressed used bike market didn't agree).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:07 PM
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458: I don't think there's a way for me to make up for Eric's recumbent.

459: there's no rear brake as of now. But the bridge can be drilled if I want to go in that direction. And probably I'm going to run it as a single-speed rather than a fixed-gear, because I'm cowardly like that.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:09 PM
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there s/b therefore


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:09 PM
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That lugwork at the seat is ridiculous.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:11 PM
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you should know I didn't pay anything like his asking price

Thank God. I mean, that's a gorgeous bike and all, but I have a hard time picturing spending that much on a fixie. It kinda seems like missing the point.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:12 PM
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So it's running dual levers to the front? Love that. I might do that on my commuter.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:13 PM
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Oh wait, no, it has a dummy lever. Well, that's fine too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:14 PM
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At least the front brake is on the right bar. There's a special place in hell for people who put the front brake on the left bar.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:16 PM
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There's a special place in hell for people who put the front brake on the left bar.

You mean the normal way?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:19 PM
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That shit's a sick joke to play on motorcyclists. Last time I was on a bicycle I crashed in large part because I wasn't used to braking left-handed.

(BTW, if you haven't seen it, the video in this link is relevant to your interests.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:20 PM
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1) The shofar is lame and you have to sit there for hours before they even blow it. Just buy the shofar app for your iphone.

2) Every thread is, at its beating heart, a bike thread.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:21 PM
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It's the 100% normal standard way of doing it on bicycles in this country. I actually like it slightly less than the reverse (front right), but two of my three bikes are run the normal way because it's just easier to do it the same way as everybody else.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:22 PM
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Every thread is, at its beating heart, a bike thread.

Someday ogged will return and the rightful order of the universe will be restored and the word "bike" will turn to "swimming".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:23 PM
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Lovely bike.

I fail to fully get the thing about fixies and single speeds. (People have tried to explain it to me before.) I'm very glad my bike now has five speeds (up from one), and I look forward to adding a few more. Technology!


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:23 PM
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469.last: hah, man. Blume doesn't let me wear my leather jacket (bought in, uh, I guess '93 or '94) anymore. It's a sweet jacket, though. Kinda looks like the one the Rocketeer wore, but black. I got it at the V/anson outlet sale; at the same sale my friend got a floor-length lined black leather duster, which even then we knew was a little over-the-top.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:26 PM
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471: Yes, but I have Sheldon Brown on my side.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:26 PM
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but the question of their essentially being money-launderers for dictators and the Vatican Bank veers much closer to conspiracy theory.

Oh, okay, sure. 'Money-laundering for the Vatican' is a bit ridiculous, and sounds like the kind of anti-Papist conspiracy theory that got Al Smith defeated in 1928.

"Oh ho! She totes had doubts about her faith!" looks to me like a submoronic gotcha that utterly misunderstands the nature of faith or what humanizes it.

Agreed. But did Hitch really do that "gotcha"? This is a genuine question, btw.

What Hitchens contributed was mostly the ridiculousness and the over-the-top invective, not the content.

He was not a deep thinker, to be sure, and is not often to be credited with original content. But I do think he contributed something to the debate, even as polemicist and vulgar pamphleteer. 'Mother Teresa' as shorthand/byword for noble self-sacrifice and unworldly altruism has been circulating around the globe for about thirty years or forty years, I'd guess; it has long since attained the status of self-evident truism. It's not nothing to encourage a debunking of that mythology, even if the job is done somewhat crudely. If Hitchens inspired even a few readers to take a more sceptical stance toward Mother T., then in this instance he did good work, in my opinion.

Did the gleeful "oh ho!" response in certain American progressive circles, to his sometimes over-the-top invective against "sacred cows" and so on, sometimes smack of an earlier American tradition of know-nothing anti-Catholicism? Yes, almost undoubtedly. But I figure that's the penance that American Catholics must pay, for tacitly endorsing, if not actively cheering on, the stacking of the Supreme Court with a bunch of far-right Opus Dei wingnuts.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:28 PM
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475: oh, I know you do.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:29 PM
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I fail to fully get the thing about fixies and single speeds

I'm right there with you. I'm buying this bike for three reasons: 1) I want something that is very simple. I'm sick of constantly tinkering with my derailleur trim and whatnot, and now I'll only have to very occasionally worry about chainline. 2) I want to try something new. It's been ages since riding a bike has surprised me. Riding fixed or single speed might not do that, I know, but at least there's some hope. 3) I'm tired of commuting in the flattest place on earth on a bike that has twenty speeds. It's overkill and makes me feel silly.

That said, I'm not looking for the essence of cycling, the connectedness to the machine, that can only come from riding fixed. But I do think it's a very pretty bike, quite reminiscent in many ways of Jetpack's Waterford. And it should be fun to do fast rides without gears.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:29 PM
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Im sure I'm reading this wrong, but what is the 73° line there for on the front tire? It's the angle of the fork, right? Why not have it line up with the fork then? Its bottom isn't lining up with the bottom of the tire afterall. It makes it look like the front axle/hub is 43mm off center, which it can't be, can it? If so, 2500 is way too much. Though the tires are probably expensive.


Posted by: Alfrek MacSteinie | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:29 PM
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But I do think it's a very pretty bike, quite reminiscent in many ways of Jetpack's Waterford

And you said pretty lugs are for girls...


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:30 PM
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479: 73 degrees is the angle of the headtube on the frame. The fork (always) has a bit of rake beyond that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:31 PM
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480 cont'd: but man, that thing is just stunning. Really beautiful details.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:35 PM
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479: what 481 said. 73 degrees is the headtuble angle (and that's a very standard number for a neutral handling road bike -- as distinct from a track bike, which would have a much steeper angle). The 43 refers to the fork rake (and again, that's a very neutral number for a bike like this, which is designed to be an all-rounder on the road). The seattube angle is 73.5 degrees, you'll note, which is actually a bit steeper than I would have expected. But not enough that it should change the handling noticeably.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:36 PM
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It's been ages since riding a bike has surprised me.

Come ride in SF! There'll be plenty of surprises, I promise.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:36 PM
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Actually, now that I'm going to be working someplace inconvenient to drive to, I'm almost tempted to get a bike again. I dunno if my shoulders and neck will let me do it, though.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:37 PM
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485: the sky's the limit as far as handlebar height for geezers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:39 PM
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What is the best way for someone completely ignorant about bikes to get a decent, cheap road bike (used would be ideal).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:45 PM
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Semi-OT, unless we consider the topic "Halford's controversial views oppressing people through their hegemony in the public sphere," I snapped this photo in my local library (to be fair, in the Patent and Trademark Center thereof). It made me sad.

The text of this "educational" poster, for those not in the flickr group, began:

What is Intellectual Property?
Creativity at its best.
Intellectual property is the ownership of a dream, idea, improvement, or an emotion that we can touch, see, hear and feel. It is an asset just like your home, your car, or your bank account. ...

Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:47 PM
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487: craigslist can be great if you have a bit of a sense what you're looking for.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:47 PM
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486: There's also the fact that riding in the city terrifies me.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:49 PM
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I always found riding in SF freakier than riding in Boston. In Boston you can mostly keep speed with the traffic if you're quick. In SF that's less true. That said, you can do it!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:52 PM
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445: It is absolutely true. And what's more, Hitchens took the Vatican up on its invitation. He apparently described it as "representing the Evil One, as it were, pro bono," but I bet they put him up in high style, and plied him well with choice Italian wines.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:53 PM
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492: I'm sure playing the cheerful dupe came hard to him.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:54 PM
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if you have a bit of a sense what you're looking for.
Damn.
Actually, I went to Craigslist but found no sizes or condition listed. I suppose I could make a bunch of phone calls, but I was hoping there was some secret bike market.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:56 PM
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Ah, I see. It's interesting how some measurements are left unsaid. The peice from (sorry for my ignorance concerning terms) the pedal hub to the handle bars has no info, and I don't think is strictly figureoutable. Maybe it isn't important, but not in any way that is identifyable to me. And the distance from the seat to the pedal hub is stated, but is the seat not adjustable? Or is that the max?

OP: The DPRK official site is spectacular. Sorry, on a phone but kcna.kp/goHome.do?lang=eng


Posted by: Alfrek MacSteinie | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:56 PM
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476: But did Hitch really do that "gotcha"?

Made turgid use of it in God Is Not Great.

It's not nothing to encourage a debunking of that mythology, even if the job is done somewhat crudely.

This is what tends to strike me as a last-ditch defense of someone like Hitchens: sure he may have been a sonofabitch, sure he was inaccurate and crude and sometimes even sort of intellectually fraudulent and what have you, but by damn there were occasions when he could be construed as our sonofabitch, and isn't that at least something?

I don't think it is, really. Toxic personality is toxic. The currency of a commentator is credibility -- or should be, because as American politics vividly demonstrates, havoc ensues the more this ceases to be true -- and all his other bullshit and cankerousness inevitably undermines his authority to talk about what Mother Teresa was or wasn't or indeed to weigh in on anything else. Hitchens was simply not someone you could take at his word about Mother Teresa or about anyone; even if his target was sometimes criticism-worthy, his instance of the criticism was often wrong or sloppy or opportunistic. And I don't think he can be credited with single-handedly producing whatever punctures manifested in the legend of Mother Teresa. In a "what-if" world in which he hadn't existed, would the Lancet or the Guardian have been too fearful to confront the edifice of her accomplishments? I seriously doubt it.

I figure that's the penance that American Catholics must pay, for tacitly endorsing, if not actively cheering on, the stacking of the Supreme Court with a bunch of far-right Opus Dei wingnuts.

Abot the Catholic League I would buy this, about "American Catholics" no.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:58 PM
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343: I sort of assume that NYC is the center of the world oversensitivitywise

Hmmm.



Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 10:59 PM
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494: feel free to e-mail me. Depending on what you want and how much you to spend, I might be able to point you in the right direction.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:01 PM
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495.1: There's just one thing I don't understand: A single fucking thing you just wrote.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:01 PM
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495: the distance from the bottom bracket (what you're calling the "pedal hub") to the handlebars can be calculated from the seat tube angle, seat tube length, head tube length and stem length, which are listed (there will be different distances to different handlebar positions, but those are relatively standardized), but that's not generally a terribly important measurement for people (since it doesn't really correlate to anything anatomically important). The measurement from the bottom bracket to the seat is indeed adjustable, but that graphic is a spec sheet that the (custom) frame builder uses to communicate with the customer, so you can think of the seat height as either the optimal or recommended or customer-spec'd seat height, depending how you want to look at it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:02 PM
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I was hoping there was some secret bike market

Oh, there definitely is. And there are amazing bargains to be had. They just don't always count as "cheap" for people who aren't already somewhat obsessed with bikes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:04 PM
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the pedal hub to the handle bars

I'm not sure what this measurement would tell a rider. Maybe the length of the fork? Even then, assuming a capable builder working within industry standards, that's not information that's terribly useful. Instead, one wants to know about where one's contact points will be: how far from the seat to the bars, how far from the seat to the center of the bottom bracket, etc.

but is the seat not adjustable? Or is that the max?>

Yes, it's adjustable. But that's the ideal height.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:06 PM
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470: you have to sit there for hours before they even blow it

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that....


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:07 PM
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501: Heh, I thought as much. Any nascent bike-geekery I might've had disappeared when my last two bikes were stolen.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:09 PM
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(a) that is a very pretty bike.
(b) to the extent that I "get" fixies, it's entirely aesthetic, right? I mean zen-of-riding blah blah blah, but there's just so much less stuff on them.
(c) I thought more-or-less straight front forks on aluminum or carbon bikes were necessitated by the material, but that bike is steel (right?) and it has a more-or-less straight front fork. Is there some other advantage to them? Forks that are swept forward look so much nicer to me.
(d) I totally disapprove of having a dummy brake lever. I'm not (as we know) opposed to ornament as such, but this just seems stupid.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:18 PM
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I got my recent bike for less than $300 via craigslist, with advice from Sifu and Blume. I could have had one that's similarly workable (and not as old) for less, but I was a sucker for British lugs. Of course, now that I have a bike with a nice frame, I'm holding the parts I put on it to a certain standard, and that's going to cost a bit of money.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:20 PM
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but I was a sucker for British lugs

And, let it not be overlooked, British steel.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:22 PM
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505 (b): no, not entirely. Having less to think about when riding (that is, not having to think about shifting) can be very satisfying, and is noticeable. But (multimodal) aesthetics are a big part of it, yeah. (There are other reasons to ride a fixed gear in inclement weather, but they don't apply here).

505 (c): I think that fork design ends up being a bit stiffer and lighter, even with steel, but I don't actually know that for sure.

505 (d): I agree. The hood position is by far the most comfortable one for me, but if I was riding a bike with one brake and two levers I'd wire 'em in parallel, as mentioned above.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:22 PM
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I should have left off the question mark in (b). While I have never ridden either a fixie or a single speed, I find them attractive merely on aesthetic grounds. I admit that others can find them attractive for other reasons, especially when those others actually have some experience with them.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:26 PM
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I find them attractive merely on aesthetic grounds

Agreed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:33 PM
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The link in 469 was awesome, and the Julia Stiles bit linked therein was almost as good.


Posted by: trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:35 PM
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I've had enough trouble with derailleurs recently to make a single speed seem tempting, but since I most certainly do not live in the flattest place on earth, I'm resisting that temptation.


Posted by: trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:36 PM
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You could get one of these.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:39 PM
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$300 would be ideal. Is it worth emailing VW for $300?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:44 PM
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Sure, he might send you a check.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:45 PM
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513: Yeah, maybe I should; but then I'd start worrying about theft, and gah, the very idea of having an expensive bike stresses me out.

I'm easily stressed out.


Posted by: trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:46 PM
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514: sure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:49 PM
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514: no, probably not. The bike boards I frequent tend to have some screaming deals at this time of year, but the point of entry is usually at least double that. I know that probably seems obscene to many people, and I'm sorry about that.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:55 PM
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Fuck it. I'm buying some ice cream.


Posted by: trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:55 PM
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VW you should find me a cross bike for 6-700. That'll make eggplant feel better.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:56 PM
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That said, if you tell me your size, and you do e-mail me, I can at least look out for stuff for you. I'll send you a link if something cool is in the offing, and you can ignore the link when it leads to a bikes that's priced too dear for your druthers.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:57 PM
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520: do you actually want a cross bike? Or do you want a road bike that will take tires that can handle riding on dirt? Also, is that budget for a complete bike? Or for f/f/hs? If the former, I have my doubts. If the latter, no problem.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-19-11 11:58 PM
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522: my Waterford can take bigger tires. I want a cross bike. I know complete bike for that would be tough; a rad f/f would be... rad. We should talk about it offline.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:04 AM
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So that's where all the UC money went.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:06 AM
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I still have a floor-length black leather coat that buttons all the way to the top, that I got before the matrix came out, and fuck you. I have said "I love you madly" and dispute it's stanwyck-biological-trace-material-tainted status. fuck fixies. smearcase is the man. merry christmas and lighten the fuck up, halford. also, eating lamb on xmas is unclean. standing. rib. roast.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:21 AM
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just summing up my reactions to the thread. also, emerson and PDG deserve merit badges for returning to the fold. finally, anyone who wishes to celebrate all holidays should move to narnia. you will miss out a bit on jewish holidays, but, we're among friends here, are they the greatest holidays ever? bitter herbs much? "yay, we weren't slain like all those other innocent male children!" c'mon. weaksauce.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:24 AM
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Passover is the best holiday. Go down, Moses. I'm a big Christmas fan, but you can set your general wishes of good will towards men against my argumentative dinner table of liberation any night of the year.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:28 AM
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ever hear anyone saying, "I wish we celebrated rosh hashanah"?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:29 AM
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Goalpost mover. Also, Hanukah is cool because it's a guerilla warrior holiday. Hitchens was wrong about Hanukah.

Rosh Hashanah is nice in the way that new year's is nice, but not rotten in the way that new year's is rotten. But also no parties in the way that occasionally new year's is parties. The answer to your question is no.

I wish everybody Merry Christmas. I like Christmas because it's the last bastion of Yankee aesthetics in America. The rest of the country may be hopelessly Southern-fried (in the now-obsolete only-Southern-Democrats-can-piece-together-a-winning-coalition sense) but Christmas is all over the hills and through the woods and I like it. Even though I live in Los Angeles. I'm sorry Josh feels exclusion by it -- I just remember growing up where my cheeks used to get rosy, and pine indoors.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:37 AM
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Ok, go down moses. I'll give; it's a pretty awesome holiday.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:41 AM
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I pay extravagant amounts of money to have a live tree in narnia, and have to put anti-mosquito granules in the water so as to avoid giving us all festive dengue fever, but it's worth it for when at night only the tree lights are on, and everything else is dark, and the room smells like spruce. mmmm. I loooooove christmas. that's why it's been a little sad that I've been on actually flat on my back bedrest during my favorite season and thus unable to shop for stocking gifts, or fucking gifts generally. oh well; it's not as though I'm being made into soap after all.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:44 AM
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if you haven't got a haypenny, god bless you.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:48 AM
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god bless you too, k-sky*. thinking about it if we are going to go full dickens I suppose we should really have goose, but since my stepfather insisted on goose for Christmas when we actually wanted crown roast of beef I call anti-my-stepfather no backsies on the goose thing.

speaking strictly I do not possess "a haypenny" and thus qualify, but neither am I as strapped for cash as the rhyme indicates.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:32 AM
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Sir Kraab in 334:

Let me bring this all into perspective by saying that I've applied for a job at a place where I suspect a lot of people say, "Have a blessed day" on a regular basis. That, my friends, is the true face of religious oppression.

The only people I've heard that from are older African-American women in D.C. So, that makes it tricky, you know. White non-religious but nonetheless privileged person oppressed by religious member of an oppressed group.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 5:31 AM
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534: I can verify that "Have a blessed day" is most emphatically not "a black thing." There are loads and loads of evangelical white people in the US, and they tend to be far more aggressive and brow-twitching about their "have a blessed day"s than elderly ladies of any hue.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 5:38 AM
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I suppose you can always respond with, 'Cthulhu fhtagn, my brother/sister in darkness'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 5:41 AM
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Wow, so, finding a frame on Serotta Forums that has been for sale for six months is really the way to get a deal, eh? There needs to be a Bikes Under 52 cm Forum to fill my bike needs.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 6:10 AM
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I like Christmas because it's the last bastion of Yankee aesthetics in America. The rest of the country may be hopelessly Southern-fried . . . but Christmas is all over the hills and through the woods and I like it.

This is pretty much exactly why I like Christmas. Trees inside! Lights! Nice smells! Snow! Fireplaces! The aesthetics of cold weather and warming up from cold weather!

Bicycle.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 6:17 AM
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I like Christmas because it's the last bastion of Yankee aesthetics in America. The rest of the country may be hopelessly Southern-fried . . . but Christmas is all over the hills and through the woods and I like it.

Second to 538.1


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 6:30 AM
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I like Christmas because it reminds me of trips to Dallas when I was a kid, and walking around Highland Park with my sister and my cousin looking at ostentatious Christmas lights on then-million-dollar houses, and Austin when all the students were gone and Tower Records was the only thing open and I went down and bought a $8.99 scritchy old recording from the 40s of Tristan and sat on the floor of my largely unfinished studio and listened to it straight through. I'm sorry, did I not mention earlier that I like Christmas?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:09 AM
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I did think it was a bit odd when I was in a religious education class in church, and the priest said C.E. and B.C.E. instead of AD and BC. But maybe he had just gotten used to that when studying in a pluralistic school. And he thought it was important to model it for when people engaged in interfaith dialogue.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:06 AM
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375
What kind of person doesn't like Christmas?

Fuck it, I don't like Christmas. The holiday season in general is nice (except for the shopping; see below), what with the parties roughly twice a week and stuff, but Christmas itself? No thanks.

Gift-giving and gift-getting is a pain, at least when there are no little kids involved. I ask people what they want and they tell me and I go get it and then I worry and agonize anyway over whether it sends some bad message. (Too cheap? Too unoriginal?) It's almost always something that people could get for themselves and just haven't got around to yet.

I like my immediate family just fine. I could skip the gift-exchanging kabuki if it was socially acceptable and see them at any time of the year. As for the extended family, I can definitely imagine better ways to interact with them than our usual Christmas gatherings.

I hate Christmas letters and thank-you notes. I'm bad about keeping in touch in general, and the whole put-cards-in-the-mail thing is the worst.

Flying sucks, of course, but doing it in a time of year prone to crowds and bad weather makes it even worse.

As for the winter-weather thing, I admit that I do like winter in Vermont. It's cozy, it's pretty, it brings back nostalgic childhood memories, some winter sports/outdoor games are fun. All of which would be great reasons to go up to Vermont in late January or mid-February, when there's actually snow on the ground. Even where my parents live, we probably have really thoroughly white Christmases less than half the time.

My friends and family seem to be close enough to this to take the fun out of Christmas, but not close to enough to take the stress out.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 10:54 AM
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From the Beeb:

In 2000, a new food "invented" by Kim Jong-il called "Gogigyeopbbang" was introduced to North Koreans. It was described as "double bread with meat", but took on the uncanny appearance of a conventional hamburger. In 2006, another culinary revolution was introduced on Jong-il's orders in an attempt to alleviate food shortages - the breeding of giant rabbits.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:05 PM
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Solidarity, Cyrus. I love Thanksgiving for all the reasons that people say they love Christmas. But I'm thrilled every year to get Christmas over and done with.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:09 PM
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542 -- My 3 siblings and I had a drawing for maybe ten years and then, maybe 5 years ago, abandoned it completely. Kids get gifts. Reduces a lot of headache.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:12 PM
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542: Pretty much. Add to that the pressure, with kids, of making Christmas magical and wonderful. Which I'm all for, but it's stressy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:16 PM
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In my family, adults don't get each other gifts. In Jammies' family, adults submit a wishlist, complete with links to the exact product they want. It's totally materialistic and bizarre and I've come to love, love, love it. Although Jammies supplies my links, and it's usually gift certificates to websites I like, because I can never think of anything. Besides those green agate plates from the other day.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:17 PM
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We buy unprompted, thoughtful presents for everyone. It's grim.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:22 PM
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There has to be some threshold above which victimization and oppression can reasonably be regarded to begin. I say that "Merry Christmas" is below that threshold.

I can't believe this is actually being argued in good faith. Re-read the incident described in 142: a Jewish father complaining that "the non-religious school to which he sends his son had a supposedly non-religious holiday party which he attended and at which it turned out one of the primary organized events was very-religious Christmas caroling".

So, did he have cause to be irritated by that? If yes (and I assume your answer is yes), how many times do you think something like that would need to occur before your friendly "Merry Christmas!" would start to sound less like an innocent greeting and more like an aggravating reminder of the cultural hegemony of the majority religion?

In other words, sure, a standalone "Merry Christmas", in isolation, is probably below the threshold above which victimization and oppression can reasonably be regarded to begin. But most people don't experience a "Merry Christmas" in isolation (and those few who do probably aren't all that irritated by it). They experience life as religious minorities only a daily basis. Your "Merry Christmas" is but another straw on the camel's back.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:26 PM
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you can set your general wishes of good will towards men against my argumentative dinner table of liberation any night of the year

True, but being stuck at a Seder where people just read through a very traditional haggadah is a drag. Drinking plenty of red wine on an empty stomach helps, though.

(Firefox also doesn't know "haggadah." Boycott!)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:29 PM
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(I haven't actually read the last 100 comments or so, so that may have been completely preempted. I don't know.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:31 PM
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A seder, a drag? Pshaw! What is a seder but a old-stylee Greek dinner party?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:34 PM
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I can verify that "Have a blessed day" is most emphatically not "a black thing."

Yeah, not down here. (Nor, Halford, do people refrain from saying, "Merry Christmas." You need to get off that secular left coast.)

So, that makes it tricky, you know. White non-religious but nonetheless privileged person oppressed by religious member of an oppressed group.

No, it's not tricky. My being told to "have a blessed day" obviously isn't actually oppressive, but it's annoying and exclusionary regardless of the respective races or classes of the speaker and hearer.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:35 PM
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549 is very acontextual. There are all sorts of utterances that are proper (or at least not noticeably improper) in one setting but horrible in another. Or proper from one person but improper from another. If you weren't less sensitive around complete strangers than you were around people like teachers, you'd never get through the day without hitting strangers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:36 PM
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547. My sister and I exchange £50 Amazon vouchers, which I suppose is a version of that Dilbert thing. I've no idea why we bother.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:38 PM
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553: have you tried responding "blessed be"?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:38 PM
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555: Send her £51 and you win.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:40 PM
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I suppose £50 and ten pence would win it, but that might seem like petty one-up-manship.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:43 PM
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I'm on a streak of taking people to jail on Christmas day. Three years in a row. Last year was "sprinkles". But as holiday calls go that's not too bad. My brother had to work drug rip/shooting on Thanksgiving this year. The vic survived but I'm told there were bits of his face hanging from the ceiling of his car.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:44 PM
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556: Maybe I'll go with, "Bless your heart, you think that everyone shares your silly superstitions!"


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:45 PM
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there were bits of his face hanging from the ceiling of his car.

Once the headliner of the car starts to sag, there's not much you can do to fix it without paying more than the car is worth to an upholsterer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:47 PM
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I don't really follow 554. I thought urple's formulation in 549 was useful and basically about context.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:50 PM
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549: Sucks to be that one guy, but I don't think that people should be required to assume that every random person they sort of know is that one guy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:52 PM
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it's annoying and exclusionary

Annoying I can see, but it seems way more inclusive than ex. You get a blessing! And you get a blessing! And you get a blessing! Everybody gets blessings! </Oprah>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:54 PM
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So, since this thread is now dead, mostly, how about we return to 157, and you people be my career counselors? This is an in-house job that pays a reasonable amount more than my current job (a very slightly higher salary and MUCH better (on the order of tens of thousands of dollars better) benefits). In exchange for quite a bit less work. The downside being that there's much less in the way of potential for advancement (compared to my current job), so I'd be basically locking myself into that slightly higher salary for at least a good long while. And I'm not really sure it's a salary I'm comfortable being locked into for good. (At 20% more, it would be. But.) And also: no billables. On the other hand: I would be working for a health insurance company, which, meh.

Ideally, I'd hold out for a while and find something similar but at a slightly more senior position. But, you, know, ideally I'd also win the lottery.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:56 PM
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Once the headliner of the car starts to sag, there's not much you can do to fix it without paying more than the car is worth to an upholsterer.

Not true! The upholsterer charged me about $300 and it was totally worth it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:56 PM
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562: Saying that all of your saved-up holiday greetings should be combined into one big wad of irkhood seems fairly acontextual.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:58 PM
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560: Lee, who's both black and the kind of Christian you'd think might be in the demographic, gets so upset about "Have a blessed day." It's hilarious to see her whining about what the fuck does that even mean? and so on.

She's tried to tell her students that it's not really appropriate for voicemail or email signoffs in a business setting, but they're all planning to be entrepreneurs and are sure they'll be fine. It's a phrase that skews way heavily black and female here. All the women I've met in Mara's family use it and I just thank them.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:58 PM
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566: I may be better if your upholstery isn't made of face.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 12:59 PM
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142, 549 -- I'm an atheist, and I like singing some of the religious carols. It's just words rolling out of my mouth, but the ones that have survived (and are sung by Episcopalians) have satisfying cadences, and an upbeat tone. There's definitely an element of nostalgia as well. I'm a terrible singer, so there's little danger of my converting anyone to a religion I don't believe in. Your friend's kid's school's administrators probably don't even hear the religiosity of these songs.

I'm sorry your friend moved to a place where he doesn't feel like he fits in. I wouldn't live in most (95% maybe? More?) of the country for similar reasons. Because some aspects of a culture you can expect be able to change (slightly and slowly), in some degree, but most you really can't.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:01 PM
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Once the headliner of the car starts to sag, there's not much you can do to fix it without paying more than the car is worth to an upholsterer.

The car my mother had for a long time when I was a kid had the whole ceiling filled with thumbtacks, literally every square inch, holding in the lining. I thought it was beautiful. But every now and then you'd end up sitting on one that fell from the ceiling, which was a pain.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:01 PM
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I think I like 569 with the typo better than what I was trying to write.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:01 PM
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563: You can't really require anyone to assume anything. But there are a certain number of 'that one guy' out there, they are going to be on some level annoyed or depressed by the greeting, and it's worth thinking about if you give a damn whether you're annoying or depressing people. If you don't give a damn, you're golden. If you do, but you figure you're playing the odds and you'll cheer up more people than you annoy, go crazy, no one's stopping you. If you have any cues that someone is perhaps likely to be annoyed or depressed by a Christmas greeting, it might be nice to skip it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:01 PM
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565: Do it. More money, better benefits, and no billables -- what are you even thinking about?

If I had the impression that you loved your work and had a lot of focused ambition to move to the next level at your current job, I'd think harder, but I don't get the feeling that's the case.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:03 PM
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The car my mother had for a long time when I was a kid had the whole ceiling filled with thumbtacks, literally every square inch, holding in the lining. I thought it was beautiful. But every now and then you'd end up sitting on one that fell from the ceiling, which was a pain.

The reason I went ahead and got it reupholstered was that I found some thumbtacks in Hokey Pokey's lap.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:04 PM
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565: Does "quite a bit less work" mean you'd have time to freelance? If so, you could spend some portion of your newfound free time bumping up your expected lifetime earnings.

Also, just because the salary associated with this job is fixed doesn't mean yours is. How good would your prospects be for advancing by taking yet another better-paying job in 3 years or so (at which point the economy may have recovered)?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:05 PM
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No, I have no amibition at all. But I would nevertheless like to be paid more.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:05 PM
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No, I have no amibition at all. But I would nevertheless like to be paid more.

Permanent mouseover text, please.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:06 PM
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565 -- I wouldn't imagine that the in-house job would impede your ability to either (a) get a better in-house job after 12 months or so, or (b) go back to private practice if you find you just can't stand not accounting for every six minutes of your day. Time with young kids is irreplaceable.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:08 PM
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Your friend's kid's school's administrators probably don't even hear the religiosity of these songs.

I agree, but I'm not sure what that has to do with anything.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:08 PM
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581

The way you guys complain about having to bill your hours makes me think I'd go for it. What I want in a job is something that I don't dread going to, that pays enough that I don't feel anxiety around our lifestyle. (I've got zero ambition, too.) The billable hours part sounds like it would be soul-sucking.

OTOH, if a better opening is semi-likely within the next, say, 2 years, I'd be on the fence.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:09 PM
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582

Oh yeah, the "quite a lot less work" thing is HUGE. Do it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:10 PM
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583

582 was meant as an endorsement of 579, as sound logic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:11 PM
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584

581.2 is basically the hesitation.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:11 PM
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565. How old are your kids? Having to wrap up one more piece of work while you miss childhood is a huge opportunity cost, not worth an increment of poshness in the things you can buy.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:12 PM
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586

Would a more senior position also be less work?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:12 PM
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587

Why would this prevent you from going after that "better opening" when it becomes available?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:12 PM
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588

Free time is worth a lot. I'd say do it, but only if you have an interest in actually helping that business succeed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:13 PM
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586: Yes.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:13 PM
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only if you have an interest in actually helping that business succeed.

This too. Did I mention it's a health insurance company? By all accounts it's a great place to work, but, meh.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:14 PM
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570, 580: I decided not to push Val's kindergarten on their all-Christmas-all-the-time December, but I think I will do a lot of proactive pushing before enrolling Mara. On the other hand, one of Alex's Latina classmates was wearing an adorable Santa Lucia crown she'd clearly made at school and that part was cute. His daycare/preschool is very Santa-focused this month and explicitly has messages from elves commending kids for good behavior. His other public school preschool sent home a stocking full of candy and they seem to make a new ornament every day, but they're also sponsored by some megachurch and it may have been their influence. Plus it's hard to complain too much about free stuff for kids at schools with something like a 30+% poverty rate.

But today I have to go to Val's aftercare to hear the kids sing carols, which I'm sure will be secular but still seem unnecessary. And I'll pass the giant Christmas tree in the foyer, decorated with ornaments Val and the other kindergarteners made, just as they made ornaments that they hung on the giant tree at the city building as part of the tree-lighting celebration. They do feel like microaggressions and I'm biting my tongue every single day, but I've chosen my battles and blah blah blah.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:15 PM
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Which will cause you to spend more of your time procrastinating on Unfogged?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:15 PM
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580 -- I was expressing doubt that the folks who advertised a non-religious party at a non-religious school were engaging in an intentional act of bad faith. They were, quite possibly, acting within the mainstream of American culture generally, and far outside the mainstream of the regional religious culture where you are. If a thing like that annoyed me enough to complain about out loud, I'd move away.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:17 PM
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594

Would the more senior position also be at a "meh" company? And what about 587/579?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:17 PM
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590: Are you significantly fonder of your current clients than you would be of a health insurance company?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:17 PM
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explicitly has messages from elves commending kids for good behavior

So, I just learned about a month ago about this Elf On The Shelf phenomenon. What a creepy fucking idea that is. And just about everyone I know is doing it.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:17 PM
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Then I say no, especially b/c you think something better could come along reasonably soon. I think a lot of lawyers thinking about going in house underestimate just how much you're a business person. If you don't get even a mild joy out of growing the business, then you're likely to not be super happy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:18 PM
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There's also the 'bird in the hand' consideration. When you say something more desirable could come along soon, does that mean you think it's a 85% chance in the next two years, or just that it's something that could maybe happen?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:20 PM
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For profit or non? It would be much easier to work for a regular non health insurance co.

I know someone who was in-house for Dig/it/al and then went to a firm as a partner. Given the name of the firm, which you are quite familiar with, I was surprised.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:23 PM
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And what about 587/579?

I think I'd be much less likely to run across it, for one thing. The most likely avenue for me to move in house is a client (or a friend of a client or a client of a friend, etc.) who wants to add a lawyer to their team. I wouldn't be in front of those people anymore, for the most part.

Also, right now I have a relatively diverse transactional skill set. After a year or two in this job, I'd clearly be a "healthcare attorney". So I'd be limited to other job openings in that field, mostly.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:23 PM
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Also, right now I have a relatively diverse transactional skill set.

Laydeez.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:24 PM
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602

When you say something more desirable could come along soon, does that mean you think it's a 85% chance in the next two years, or just that it's something that could maybe happen?

I'm not sure I have a great sense of the odds. Although, going in house in some form or another is something that happens to most big firm associates, right? Opportunities of one sort or another pop up all the time. I don't know how likely it is that any of them would be better than this, though, although clearly at least some are.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:27 PM
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This is the type of situation where I'm very risk-averse, and highly value my free time, and so I'd probably just jump on it and sit tight.

But it's not crazy to wait another year or two, either.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:27 PM
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Here's how I make a decision: Pick a course of action, and just decide that that's your answer, and start mapping out consequences. Then check whether or not you're clutching inside or relieved inside.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:28 PM
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Are you significantly fonder of your current clients than you would be of a health insurance company?

Some of them. Not others.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:30 PM
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I have he impression that in-house experience is considered a plus for in-house jobs. Whether it's enough to offset specialization, I have less of a handle on. But how specialized, really, is the hc job going to be? HC companies do lots of things that don't have anything to do with the special laws governing health care.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:30 PM
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607

HC companies do lots of things that don't have anything to do with the special laws governing health care.

Yes, but this job deals almost exclusively with those laws.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:31 PM
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608

604 seems like good advice.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:32 PM
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Not so much for litigators -- people do go inhouse, but not with the same frequency as transactional people.

Usually, I'd expect inhouse to be a pay cut, not a raise, so the combination of less work, better benefits, and slightly more money sounds like something to snap at. But you do sound conflicted about it -- maybe think of a number that you'd want to take the job at, go back to him and say "Look, I'd love to work for you, but given the probable future salary trajectory I've got here I couldn't afford to do it for less than [X]." So if he says yes, you're happy, and if he says no, the decision's out of your hands and you were leaning that way anyway.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:32 PM
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610

And maybe you could use some of your free time to develop relationships with folks you're not seeing regularly professionally. Ball games, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, whatever makes sense. You don't have to see them all that often for them to see you in a positive light, if an opening comes up.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:32 PM
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611

536: I suppose you can always respond with, 'Cthulhu fhtagn, my brother/sister in darkness'.

A little too on-the-nose there, ttaM.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:33 PM
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612

A PSYCHOLOGICAL TIP

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No -- not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.


Posted by: Piet Hein | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:33 PM
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613

612 to 604.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:37 PM
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604, 612: That doesn't work if you have to pick between an option with high odds of getting something your want and an option with worse odds of getting something you want even more. You won't learn what you're hoping so much as whether or not you're an optimist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:44 PM
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615

Well, my hopes for leaving my job this calendar year were just dashed, goddammit. Keep your fingers crossed for January. Go for it, urple!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:51 PM
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616

Pick a course of action, and just decide that that's your answer, and start mapping out consequences. Then check whether or not you're clutching inside or relieved inside.

I think I probably need to talk to a therapist about the fact that a huge amount of my own reaction, clutching vs. relieved, turns on what I imagine my father's reaction to the news would be.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:51 PM
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617

Things like 616 are why I so rarely evaluate things based on my own emotional reactions to them.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:52 PM
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618

I've been reading a few books lately by a therapist who my late therapist liked a lot, and it freshly reminds me how valuable I believe family-of-origin work to be.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:54 PM
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616: Tell your dad you took the job and then see what his reaction is. Therapy is nice, but emperical research is easier.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 1:57 PM
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619: The point of therapy instead of empirical research is that I'm not sure his opinion should be driving my reaction.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:01 PM
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621

Can't get from is to ought.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:02 PM
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622

You mean you're not supposed to be pursuing an elusive dream of finally pleasing your parents futilely into middle age?

Huh. Who knew?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:02 PM
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623

618: Titles/author? If it's not too intrusive, that is.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:03 PM
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620: Just ask him if you're old enough to not need consider his opinion about professional matters.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:14 PM
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625

Have a notary ready to document things in case he says you don't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:18 PM
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623: The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner. It's really fantastic. She has a lot of similarly titled books, but that one in particular made a big impression on me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:26 PM
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think of a number that you'd want to take the job at

I already know that number won't fly. It's about 25% above what he suggested.

(That's also the point at which, as heebie suggested, I think I would cease feeling anxiety around our lifestyle, which as she said is key. And yes, of course, my current job is also below that threshold, but it's more endurable because there's some sense that the pay will increase over time. Although that is far from guaranteed and hasn't really panned out so far, in the two years I've been here. So I think part of my reluctance is that it would probably require a reassessment of that lifestyle, which has proven disasterous when it's been attempted in the past.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:41 PM
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If you only need 25%, take the job and every April 15th send in a note about how Ohio wasn't properly admitted to the union when the 16th Amendment was "ratified."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 2:51 PM
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629

Also, gold fringe on the flag.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:11 PM
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630

And a President born in Kenya.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:13 PM
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631

Still, if you don't want the job for less than the offer +25%, there's no downside to asking. If it doesn't fly, you didn't want it. If it does fly, you're golden. (Admittedly, you need to have a reaction ready for an intermediate counteroffer, but all you have to do is say no to anything under your cutoff.)

And yes, of course, my current job is also below that threshold, but it's more endurable because there's some sense that the pay will increase over time. Although that is far from guaranteed and hasn't really panned out so far, in the two years I've been here. So I think part of my reluctance is that it would probably require a reassessment of that lifestyle, which has proven disasterous when it's been attempted in the past.

God knows I'm the last person to be touting sane career/financial management, but this does kind of sound as if reassessment of the lifestyle will become non-optional sometime fairly soon.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:15 PM
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Sure, but not in the short term.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:25 PM
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The fact that I've literally spend the entire fucking afternoon doing my damn time entries, instead of working, and will now be here all damn evening, working, does make the idea attractive at the moment, I have to say.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:27 PM
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You need a meta-client to pay you to do your time entries.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:29 PM
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Seriously, I've had a cranky, unpleasant fall at work, but I haven't forgotten how great it was to stop having to bill my time. It's a huge load off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:29 PM
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636

Dude I'm like the worst person to be advising you on this, but just use that program that runs a timer automatically while you're working.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:29 PM
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637

You do have to remember to click pause before clicking on Unfogged, of course.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:30 PM
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And then restart. Pause. Restart. Pause. Restart.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:32 PM
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The IRS apparently keeps a list of tax reducing ideas that are so stupid they call for a $5,000 file.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:34 PM
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640

Does someone have to bring it to you baked into a cake?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:45 PM
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It may be a fine. I'm not sure.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 3:46 PM
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636: I hate that software, but I'm actually usually fairly good about recording my time on a real-time basis, so I don't end up wasting an afternoon reconstructing it. This week was an aberration because last week was both unusually busy and unusually full of starts and stops and interruptions from many of different clients.

But really, recording the time isn't my problem with billing, fundamentally. My problem with billing is that I feel like I'm an extreme case of this general phenomenon:

Two people of equal skill work in the same office. For the sake of comparison, let's say both arrive at work at 9am each day, and leave at 7pm. In truth, a 10-hour workday is too long, but in most companies long hours are the norm at the management level. Bill works his 10 hours essentially without stopping, juggling tasks at his desk and running between meetings all day long. He even eats lunch at his desk. Sound familiar?
Nick, by contrast, works intensely for approximately 90 minutes at a stretch, and then takes a 15-minute break before resuming work. At 12:15, he goes out for lunch for 45 minutes, or works out in a nearby gym.
At 3pm, he closes his eyes at his desk and takes a rest. Sometimes it turns into a 15- or 20-minute nap. Finally, between 4:30 and 5pm, Nick takes a 15-minute walk outside.
Bill spends 10 hours on the job. He begins work at about 80% of his capacity, instinctively pacing himself rather than pushing all out, because he knows he's got a long day ahead.
By 1pm, Bill is feeling some fatigue. He's dropped to 60% of his capacity and he's inexorably losing steam. Between 4 and 7pm, he's averaging about 40% of his capacity.
"By 1pm, Bill is feeling some fatigue. He's dropped to 60% of his capacity and he's inexorably losing steam."
It's called the law of diminishing returns. Bill's average over 10 hours is 60% of his capacity, which means he effectively delivers 6 hours of work.
Nick puts in the same 10 hours. He feels comfortable working at 90% of his capacity, because he knows he's going to have a break before too long. He slows a little as the day wears on, but after a midday lunch or workout, and a midafternoon rest, he's still at 70% during the last three hours of the day.
Nick takes off a total of 2 hours during his 10 at work, so he only puts in 8 hours. During that time, he's working at an average of 80% of his capacity, so he's delivering just under 6 ½ hours of work - a half hour more than Bill.
Because Nick is more focused and alert than Bill, he also makes fewer mistakes, and when he returns home at night, he has more energy left for his family.

What the article doesn't say is that if Nick and Bill were lawyers, Bill just billed 10 hours, while Nick only billed 8, and so Nick won't get a bonus this year. And, as I said, I feel like an extreme example of this--the difference in my overall output and mental wellbeing when working in chunks with breaks is dramatically better than if I try to grind through continuously. Which I think basically makes me fundamentally unsuited for any job that requires that I bill my time.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 4:03 PM
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643

That was a longer blockquote than I intended.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 4:16 PM
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644

Nice I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter, let me be the first to say "Merry Christmas" to you.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 4:18 PM
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645

..Mr. Lawrence.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 4:24 PM
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646

My problem with billing is that I feel like I'm an extreme case of this general phenomenon

Personally I'm inclined to think that Nick is a fantasy just like Bill. I really doubt that people can reliably work at 80% of their full capacity for 8 out of 10 hours.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 4:31 PM
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647

646: well, sure, the numbers are contrived, but the general point is valid.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 4:40 PM
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well, sure, the numbers are contrived, but the general point is valid.

Oh, absolutely. I've made similar comments myself in the archives.

I just remember vividly hearing a speaker at an SF convention describe her experience working at Microsoft and say that, on average, she did 2-3 hours of focused, concentrated work per day -- and that she was considered one of the more productive/harder workers by her peers.

I've since come around to believing that this doesn't tell the whole story; that meetings/brainstorming/conversations are a vital part of the work process and have to be included in any accounting of time spent "actually working." At the time, however, it made an impression because it felt like somebody finally being honest about the standard work-day experience.

So I try to push back at the conventions of people casually overstating the work they do.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 4:51 PM
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That's a fairly basic management principle. Even 15 minute breaks increase total production.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 5:09 PM
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650

648: I'd say the corollary to 642 is that most people are actively undermining the productive capacity of themselves and others by having to "look busy" for a certain amount of time every shift.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 5:15 PM
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651

||

A wealthy board member just gave me a bunch of fancy cookies and a bottle of wine for a "holiday"* gift.

*I think she said "Merry Christmas" and the card is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer-themed. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, ghost of Christopher Hitchens!

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 5:17 PM
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652

More overheards: at a restaurant today, what seems to me a model exchange.

Person 1: "Merry Christmas!"
Person 2: "Happy holidays!"
Person 1 (even more warmly and with special emphasis): "Happy holidays!"


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 5:37 PM
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653

650: That is the whole point of the internet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 5:43 PM
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654

Person 2: (headbutts Person 1) "Fuck you clown!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 6:03 PM
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655

652: "Hey there, Mr. Muslim/Hinduist/Shintoist! Merry fuckin' Christmas!"

In unrelated news, the Met's Neapolitan Nativity display really ought to come with a more complete explanatory apparatus for younger visitors ("How did the elephant get there?").


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 6:07 PM
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The thing is, I dislike my current job so much that I feel like almost no change (that continued to pay enough) could possibly be a bad one. A different job could easily be as bad in different ways, but probably no worse on net.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:01 PM
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657

urple take the job.

Now that's settled!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:02 PM
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658

But a different job that was no better and felt like it had fewer potential avenues for changing jobs (or having conditions on that job improve) would be discouraging.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:02 PM
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659

6 5 8 :   T A K E   T H E   J O B.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:05 PM
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660

Or start a diligent and thorough search for something else. But since I cannot conceive of myself undertaking something diligent and thorough enough to count, I project that onto you and end up back at TAKE THE JOB.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:09 PM
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661

Or start a diligent and thorough search for something else.

I've already got a linkedin profile that indicates that I'm open to being contacted about potential job offers. Is there something more I could be doing?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:14 PM
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660.last -> 661. (but you knew that).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:15 PM
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OT: I predict the news that's all over the blogosphere today about how government research and funds were critical to the development of the current boom in "fracking" as a method of natural gas extraction, which seems to be written with an eye towards "look, governments can do something good after all!", will, after today's newscycle, be completely forgotten and ignored and of zero consequence, until the inevitable day that it's proven that fracking actually does have negative environmental and health consequences (as some currently suspect), when suddenly this factoid will be drug back out by every right-of-center pundit in the country, to show how incompetent/nefarious big government is.

But that's obvious, isn't it?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:23 PM
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664

Don't change the subject.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:24 PM
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665

Oh, I'm happy to keep talking to you (collectively) as my career counselors. I just thought you were growing tired of it.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:25 PM
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666

We're just waiting for closure. Go on and accept that job and then come back and let us know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:33 PM
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667

Your "Merry Christmas" is but another straw on the camel's back.

This may be the holiday season where the accumulated straws (to be fair, mostly generated by extended family rather than the culture-at-large) finally push us over the mixed metaphorical brink. We used to have a nice balance of Thanksgiving with the Jews and Christmas with the Gentiles but that has been gone for the last half-decade or so, plus kids getting older, and a series of Christmas festivity program-related misunderstandings (each more petty and trivial than the last) have made me dream of doing some nuclear-family two-week ski (or similar) extravaganza next year that takes far away. ("Love to come, but opportunities to cross the Greenland Ice Cap are so rare.") Expensive though, but I have to confront the fact that I seem to have reached the point where the answer to, "How much would I spend to not spend Christmas with my extended family?" is "A lot."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:35 PM
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668

Don't listen to that Beast, Sifu Tweety.


Posted by: You Could Be Rich | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:36 PM
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669

Don't blame Jesus for this, JP.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:38 PM
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667: Actually a number of individual elements of the thing are fine--for instance am getting my daughter a 6-month Ancestry.com membership effective 12/22 and anticipate her and my mom having a good time with that (my daughter has digitally extended a lot of my mother's good genealogy legwork from 30 years back). In its totality it has become annoying and we all need a break--maybe from me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:43 PM
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671

Jesus was born for somebody's fun but not mi-ine.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:45 PM
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672

</pathetic old guy whine>

Who's died recently that we could talk about?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:46 PM
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673

Who's died recently that we could talk about?

Li'l Kim?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:47 PM
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674

I don't see that being annoyed at one's extended family is particularly a pathetic old guy whine. Seems pretty universal.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:47 PM
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675

My genealogy has been loads of fun. All ancestors but one with any distinguishing features at all are disreputable> Even the one came to American and was wealthy when he got here, but left no record whatsoever in England or Holland.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:48 PM
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676

How does ancestry.com work? Are you just putting family trees together in a giant wiki? Or have they digitized every ship's manifest for the Hamburg-New York route from 1830 to the present or something?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:50 PM
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677

I find it pathetic that I have not settled into a detached state of calm wisdom, slightly bemused but fundamentally unmoved by the foibles of those around me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:50 PM
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678

I could have perhaps best answered 676 by visiting the Ancestry.com website, but fuck it. I'm limiting myself to knowledge that I learn here, from my trusted sources. Unfogged or it didn't happen.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:53 PM
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676: They have a lot of stuff digitized and available including ship manifests*, Civil War records etc. Some of it is not only available on their site, but they bring it together and front it with decent search. Plus the giant Wiki (we've also used Geni, but my daughter feels it is too "noisy"--people making unlikely matches based only wishes and good intentions).

For instance, found the record of my great-grandfather's first passport application in Boston the 1890s and his passage on the ship coming back to Boston from Jamaica after the journey which prompted him to get the passport (he worked on hydraulic power plant equipment).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:56 PM
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680

+from somewhere in there


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 7:57 PM
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681

I just realized I'd never looked up the ancestor from whence my surname derived. Second son of a physician, came over in 1634. Did fine. Well that isn't a bit surprising. Oh well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:06 PM
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682

At some point my daughter and I need/want to do a sweep through Upper Silesia, Lublin, former Volhynia and Galicia and Yekaterinoslav. A lot of prep work needed beforehand ... not to mention um, languages. I assume everything will be illuminated, however.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:20 PM
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683

672: Russell Hoban and Cesaria Evora, apparently.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:28 PM
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684

Rumored death: Bon Jovi.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:31 PM
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685

Francisco Franco.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:35 PM
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686

Speaking of pigfuckers--Bill McKinney (hint: the man behind Ned Beatty).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:37 PM
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687

681 -- I'm descended from that fellow as well. The more interesting story has to be how he ended up in RI. He was there early enough for it to be a religious thing.

And the doctor's medical theories dealing with [redacted].


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:50 PM
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688

687.2: oh I know! That has to be weird. Plus he got censured for practicing without a license.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:51 PM
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689

The ancestor from which my surname was derived grew potatoes in Galway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:52 PM
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690

Ancestry.com is based on the Mormon genealogy databases, important for them since current converts can have their ancestors posthumously converted and lists are necessary. They index and in some cases scan and digitize primary records that are otherwise opaque (census records by name rather than by census block, for instance).


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:57 PM
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691

Probably some onions and other stuff like that, but I think the potatoes were the big thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 8:58 PM
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692

Actually, I'm twice descended from that immigrant: from his oldest daughter and from his youngest son.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:06 PM
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693

692: Hott.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:12 PM
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694

I wonder if there are more than the two unfogged commenters that I know of who I'm distantly related to?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:14 PM
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695

692: Quite a predatory lady, it seems. How much older was she?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:15 PM
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694: I've got a Mayflower ancestor and, of course, a bunch of other 17th-18th century ancestors. So probably. My mom's the genealogy boffin in our family though.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:18 PM
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697

I suspect that everyone with old New England descent is related.

There's a hobby finding descendants of Charlemagne. The farther back you go the better the odds.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:18 PM
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698

All white people are at least twenty-third cousins.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:20 PM
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699

Genealogists have mathematically demonstrated how all Americans of European descent must be related to Charlemagne. In this regard, genealogists have established the exact lines of descent from Charlemagne for 14 U.S. Presidents. Two of these are President George W. Bush and his father President George H.W. Bush. Other Presidents whose descent from Charlemagne have been traced include: George Washington, Ulysses Grant, Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, and Gerald Ford. To demonstrate how we are all related, the New England Historical Society has researched the genealogy of Barack Obama and determined that on his mother's side he is related to six other previous presidents: George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, and James Madison. Presumably, if Barack Obama's ancestry on his mother's side could be traced far enough back, he also would be shown to be descended from Charlemagne.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:20 PM
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700

Nice try, John. But Charlemagne never visited Kenya.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:22 PM
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701

698 was me inventing numbers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:23 PM
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702

Hate to burst your bubble, but 23 had already been invented.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:25 PM
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703

704 hasn't been invented yet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:27 PM
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704

Frist!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:28 PM
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705

23: a neglected prime.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:30 PM
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706

Jesus, you people: they married and had children with other people.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:30 PM
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707

The stigma of incest is erased after seven generations, Charlie. No worries.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:32 PM
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708

That's a complicated family.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:33 PM
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709

Incest and bigamy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:34 PM
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710

In most cases, couples marry and have children with each other. I suppose they had children with other people to avoid birth defects, etc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:35 PM
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711

Maybe it's 13 generations.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:35 PM
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712

The one completely firm line we have going through early Mass. moved up to New Hampshire fairly early on. Another descendant eventually ended up out in California and lent the surname (not mine) to town/prison/shooting for voyeuristic explorations of our mortality.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:35 PM
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713

My family tree crosses here and there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:36 PM
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714

I have read (Bruce Lincoln) that New Hampshire was the nuthouse of the colonies.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:37 PM
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715

714: So all those people moved to Arizona?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 9:38 PM
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716

I can trace to Charlemagne by way of the House of Plantagenet. My wife can get to Charlemagne by way of Robert the Bruce. So, you know, inbreeding.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 10:08 PM
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Question: Is inbreeding more likely amongst nobility or the rural poor? Example 1: Royal hemophilia. Example 2: West Virginia. Which is actually more prevalent? Or is it a U-shaped curve?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 10:14 PM
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718

West Virginia's got nothing on European royalty.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 10:20 PM
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719

My oldest living great-aunt (therefore current bearer of the geneaology) has taken this one step further, by deciding that we are all descended from King Arthur and should sign our correspondence 'Of the Blood'. Other than that, perfectly pleasant, and takes it as noblesse further obliging, so not even creepy.

Except... wasn't Mordred Arthur's only child?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 10:34 PM
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720

When I was in high school my father saw an ad in a JC Penny catalog that if you sent them your last name, they would do some research and send you your family seal, emblazoned upon a glass goblet. My dad thought it would be hilarious to do this since our ancestors were, as they saying goes, busy being raped by Cossacks and probably did not go in much for heraldry.

I think it came back a hat sitting on a pillow or something dumb like that.

Someone on my mom's side has done some genealogy but I don't know what you really do four generations back when the shtetl is just 100% not there anymore. (The family story is that one day the Tsar sent them Christmas greetings and they salted the earth and fled, lest such an injustice ever happen again.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 10:38 PM
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721

627

I already know that number won't fly. It's about 25% above what he suggested

So what? Are you a man or a timid little girl? See here . (Not that I've ever asked for more.)


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 10:56 PM
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722

719: Apparently there's another species of genealogy nutter who traces their family back to Alfred the Cake, which means that, eventually, they're descended from Odin. We have a very distant cousin of this bent.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 11:05 PM
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723

720: I think it came back a hat sitting on a pillow or something dumb like that.

Hats. Okay? Hats. If I ever see a hat on a bed in this house, man, like you'll never see me again. I'm gone.


Posted by: Opinionated Drugstore Cowboy | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 11:09 PM
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724

Ancestry.com is run by Mormons, who are both the most clear-headed and the most insane about this kind of thing. It's interesting and complicated why anyone cares past a couple generations back, but most of us do.

I'm apparently (according to my Mormon grandmother, who's punctilious about this stuff except in her admittedly speculative moments) descended from William Bradford of the Mayflower, and also from some other semi-notable New England types. At some point various ancestors all caught the migration bug and moved west (or else they wouldn't be in my family tree), and of course I was raised where the New Englad settlements had nothing on Santa Fe and others.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 11:18 PM
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725

And then there's descent from Genghis Khan, practically scientific. (And since royalty intermarries, why not be descended from all of them *and* the statutory Iroquois princess?)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-20-11 11:58 PM
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726

I recently learned that only two of my 8 great grandparents (and none of my more recent ancestors) were born outside of the US, which didn't seem all that few, but I guess maybe it's fewer than average. Or maybe it was two of 16 great-great-grand-parents. Oh well.


Posted by: trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:42 AM
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727

re: 611

Erk. I knew he was a raving anti-Semite, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised he was also a racist, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:02 AM
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728

723: I take that superstition very seriously, along with a couple of others. I told my children they didn't have to believe it, they just have to do it.
I think I already know I'm related to bostoniangirl, and almost certainly related to jetpack.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:06 AM
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729

ergo cc, apparently.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:07 AM
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730

I checked one of the Habsburgs on Wiki and in the 6th generation back they had 16 ancestors where the maximum without inbreeding is 64.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 4:12 AM
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731

681: I think Buck's family had someone come over that same year -- they have all sorts of family history.

Half of my family immigrated from Ireland in the first half of the twentieth century. The other half disappears into the mists of Queens around the same time: the decades my great grandmother spent moving from neighborhood to neighborhood so her alcoholic husband couldn't find her and start beating her up again were hell on recordkeeping.

There are legends on that side of an ancestor in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century whose mission in life was to make a fortune selling pork pies in Queens. He lost his shirt three or four times, and had to move back to Canada to make a stake to try starting the business again. If pork pies had become a conventional US snack food, I'd be an heiress.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 4:43 AM
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732

724 -- It's an interesting puzzle, maybe not any more meaningful, really, than a crossword. But you end up learning a lot about the history of wherever trying to figure out who people were and what their lives were like.

About 10 years ago, I switched over from going back into the past, to going forward to the present: starting from the 5 generation, 32 person level, I worked towards living people. Anyone five generations ahead of any of the 16 couples is my fourth cousin. The 32 were born between the 1790s and the 1820s, and 4 of the 16 couples lived their lives completely outside the US -- 2 from Quebec, 2 from Scotland. It's been tremendous fun, finding people all over the Anglo-sphere, a great many of whom have become friends.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 4:52 AM
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733

731 -- Your great grandmother would appear in the 1900 (?) census as a child with her parents. As would her eventual husband. And their parents would be in city directories for NYC through the 1890s.

Or maybe the '91 and '01 Canadian censuses, I suppose.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:01 AM
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734

As I've said before, I've no idea. I'm not even sure if the name is Irish or Scottish [to the extent that you can even distinguish], as it seems to be common in both Ulster and western lowland Scotland. Lots of migration of people back and forth, but also, possibly two entirely independent surname origins, one in Lanarkshire/Ayrshire and one in Ireland. Also, there's adoptions a generation or two back, so if I was someone who cared about blood ancestry rather than general family history, as such, that'd be a confounding factor.

Dad's side of the family definitely in Glasgow from mid-19th century, with a strong likelihood of one or more great-grandfathers from Ulster.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:09 AM
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735

When I worked backward in my genealogy I realized that the reason why I got along with my three living grandparents as well as I did was that I was a cute little kid and they were my grandparents. They were 60+ years older than me and its almost impossible to construct a scenario when an adult could have met them except as family.

The further back you go, the less there is in common. But it is interesting as your own personal slice of American and human history. One great grandfather and his family probably worked on the Erie Canal, etc. It makes it a little bit more real, and less something you read about in 6th grade American History.

Coming back this direction even the most recent generations are unpromising. My dad's cousins I know of are fundamentalists in Arkansas and Missouri. (His uncle migrated into the Ozarks, quite a contrarian there.) My own cousins on that side are fundamentalists in Iowa. My cousins on the other side that I know are mostly-Republican suburbanites, though some of them have been changing. In a way my ancestry is my father and mother and that's it. They made something better than their background.

It's still fun as a source of anecdotes of the type that I like. One of my Mayflower ancestors died owning two barrels of tar and a slaughtered hog. How many of us can say that?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:11 AM
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736

"I could have met them as an adult"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:13 AM
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737

How many of us can say that?

Hundreds of thousands, that far back.

There's a black sheep or two in any extended fundamentalist family, surely.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:17 AM
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738

One lesson I draw is how much better the Lutheran and Catholic churches are than the fundamentalist British Protestant ones. They're both global churches with well-developed university systems, whereas any given fundamentalist church can tell you that the only worthwhile part of the human race is some believers in the rural US, anywhere from ten million or so down to a few dozen.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:18 AM
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739

There are thousands who could say that their ancestor died owning the tar and the hog, but they can't because they don't know. But I am secure in my knowledge.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:20 AM
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740

738 doesn't really reflect actual protestant churches, in Britain, naturally. I think you are talking more of fundamentalist US distant descendents of ... British, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:21 AM
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741

Yeah, I was thinking of the US, and Episcopals don't count as Protestant. But, Ian Paisley.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:29 AM
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742

Without the 19th c. immigration I think that the US would be a horrible place without the redeeming qualities it now has. The US share of Britishness, North and South, was a somewhat unfavorable one.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:32 AM
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743

But Charlemagne never visited Kenya.

No, Charlemagne is an inhabited region of Antarctica (bonus points for anybody who gets that one).

742. I think this is right, but then it's a curiosity how US national mythology places so much emphasis on the ideology of 18th century Brits (Jefferson, Madison, etc.) and their descendents (the Adams dynasty, James) and on, dare I say it, Emerson, while completely eliding the contribution of the 19th century immigration because it was in large part socialist.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:52 AM
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744

I've recently read a few things by Henry Adams, and my overall impression is that he was a very sick puppy. His autobiography, stiffly written entirely in the third person, sounds like the self-report of some kind of schizoid. And while by all accounts he dearly loved his free-spirited wife, he seems to have suffocated her with conventional imperatives (a lady does not have a career) and, after she committed suicide, left her entirely out of his autobiography and destroyed as much of her correspondence as he could lay hands on.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 5:58 AM
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745

724 I'm apparently... descended from William Bradford of the Mayflower

Bave is my wife's cousin through William Bradford.
Also descended from William Bradford: Hugh Hefner.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 6:31 AM
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746

As I was saying, the passage of time can be as estranging as ethnicity or religion. Adams is of my ethnicity, more or less, and he wasn't terribly strange for his time and place, but to me his totally opaque and bizarre.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 6:36 AM
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747

The past is a foreign country. They have absurdly difficult immigration policies there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 6:44 AM
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748

744: Not to dispute, John, but that is the sort of thing done also by people who are very, very sad, not just mean ol' oppressors.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 6:47 AM
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749

It was the ensemble of everything. Henry James also tried to destroy his sister Alice's diary, the only product of a sad life, and the diary only survived because Alice's caretaker and companion had a copy.

To me it looks more like the propriety about ladies never appearing in the newspapers, etc., and preserving the reputation of the family.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 6:59 AM
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750

That case seems worse. Still, not everyone is Ruskin burning Turner's naughty drawings.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:02 AM
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751

sexist!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:08 AM
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752

751: The poor man was just afraid of pubic hair. He is more to be pitied than censured.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:09 AM
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753

Ruskin would be happy with the waxed porn of today. Or "Ruskin porn", as they call it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:13 AM
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754

Or "Ruskin porn", as they call it.

I am sure I wouldn't know.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:14 AM
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755

753 pleases me exceedingly.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:14 AM
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756

I've always wanted to start an internet meme. Probably "Ruskin porn" won't be it, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:18 AM
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757

Keep Ruskin', bro.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:20 AM
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758

753 is funny.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:30 AM
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759

Poor Effie Gray. Her look is very much ascendant right now, you know.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:55 AM
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760

She came out OK after Ruskin. She wasn't allowed in the presence of Queen Victoria until near the end of their two lives, but that's a FWP in a big way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:06 AM
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761

759 Oh dear, are we about to undergo another pre-raphaelite revival?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:14 AM
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762

I had the impression that her marriage to Millais was a rare Victorian triumph of love, admission to the presence of the Queen notwithstanding.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:15 AM
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763

761: With respect to pubes, yes.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:20 AM
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764

Perhaps the two movies currently shooting about her will reveal?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:20 AM
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765

No one is interested in your wacky Victorian-era pr0n, Sifu.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:23 AM
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766

One wonders what grooming rituals Dakota Fanning and Keira Knightley underwent prior to taking the role(s).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:26 AM
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767

763. Oh is that all? Well, whatever.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:32 AM
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768

With respect to pubes

RESPECT THE PUBES.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:35 AM
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769

767: I feel like the last Pre-Raph revival was mid-90s? Lots of long curls, pasty skin, red lips. Everything in the 90s is making its way back, so hey. It'll happen.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:47 AM
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770

Lots of long curls, pasty skin, red lips.

Oh, heaven forfend. No one wants that.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:49 AM
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771

One wonders what grooming rituals Dakota Fanning and Keira Knightley underwent prior to taking the role(s).

Alternatively.

Sienna Miller had to have her pubic hair digitally enhanced for her latest acting role. The actress, who has just finished filiming Hippie Hippie Shake, was lacking in the 'lady garden' department when starring in the 60s film, reports the mirror.

"The film is set in the swinging 60s when fashion was wild and body hair even wilder," an insider told the newspaper, "Sienna was an absolute star throughout filming and her performance was flawless. The only slight problem being that she's very much a girl of the Noughties - and this extends to her personal upkeep. Unfortunately, Brazilians weren't common in the 60s and Sienna's part involved one or two nude scenes - meaning that her grooming habits were on full display."

The source went on to tell how a merkin- or pubic wig- was not realistic enough so the production team turned to digital enhancement to solve the problem.

"Sienna's private parts were digitally enhanced, giving her a rather unruly, loud and proud bush," he added.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:52 AM
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772

How long does it take pubic hair to grow back? That doesn't seem like an unreasonable thing to do for a role.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:56 AM
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773

Brando grew pubic hair to play a role.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:57 AM
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774

Insiders can always tell when pubic hair is digitally enhanced, and they're not shy about telling you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:04 AM
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775

It's not regarded as polite to comment on a lady's enhancement unless you know her quite well, however.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:05 AM
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776

How long does it take pubic hair to grow back?

This is a quite popular question on Yahoo Answers. The consensus answer seems to be about two months.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:07 AM
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777

the production team turned to digital enhancement to solve the problem

I'm imagining teensy ones and zeros, drawn with a sharpie.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:09 AM
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778

770: Flippanter loooooooves me.

TRUE FACT: All these actresses need to wear merkins, because once you spend a number of years waxing, it doesn't at all grow back with the same abundance.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:13 AM
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779

777: Rule 34 means you need google, not imagination.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:15 AM
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780

TRUE FACT: All these actresses need to wear merkins, because once you spend a number of years waxing , having sex with Jude Law it doesn't at all grow back with the same abundance it loses its will to live.



Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:18 AM
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781

Insiders can always tell when pubic hair is digitally enhanced, and they're not shy about telling you.

But their voice will be muffled.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:25 AM
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782

If our oudemia suffers from deforestation, perhaps we could start up a Locks-of-Love style drive to help her out. Everybody mail their pubes to nosflow.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:25 AM
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783

780: I'll ask you not to defame Kate Winslet, Moby.

"The film is set in the 50s, I couldn't have just had a landing strip! I had to grow the hair down there. But because of years of waxing, as all of us girls know, it doesn't come back quite the way it used to. They even made me a merkin - a wig - because they were so concerned that I might not be able to grow enough."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:25 AM
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784

This seems rather a lot of merkin talk for Advent.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:27 AM
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785

There'll be much camel-toeing
And pubes will be growing
Where once they were sheeeared
It's the most wonderful time of the year!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:30 AM
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786

If we haven't already, soon we will be hearing of a bold new bushy starlet who's driving all the old waxed hags out to pasture (i.e., to Redbook covers.) The youngest of the waxed cohort will look down at themselves and bemoan their bitter lot.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:33 AM
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787

748: Don't know about the Henrys but I've had the urge to make the DE vanish on occasion. Sometimes it's because I'm angry she left before I did and that wasn't at all the plan, sometimes because the memories elicited by her writings, pictures, keepsakes, this very apartment's layout, are too damned sad to live with.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:36 AM
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788

I can see that. Have you thought about packing her stuff away and redecorating? You'd still have the stuff (and it'd be there for the Offspring if/when he wanted it) but it wouldn't be in your face all the time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:04 AM
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789

That's some unexpected thread merge.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:15 AM
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790

"The film is set in the swinging 60s when fashion was wild and body hair even wilder," an insider told the newspaper,

As I understand it, the wild body hair was part of the "hippie 60s", not the "swinging 60s". Those two women frolicking with David Hemmings in Blow-Up were pretty carefully groomed.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:16 AM
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791

790: Yes, it was a hippie rebellion against Schick/Gillette/Ban/Sure hegemony.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:35 AM
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792

Anybody here descended from Edward Winslow?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:43 AM
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793

791: Although, even someone 'well-groomed' in the sixties would have had substantially uninterfered-with pubic hair, wouldn't they? Hippies weren't rejecting pubic grooming, it just mostly wasn't a thing at all yet, AFAIK (and subject to correction from people who were there). Wild hippie body hair was legs and armpits.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:48 AM
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794

793 is right as far as I know. I wasn't old enough to see many young women naked in the early 60s, but I'm not aware of any "Western" fashion for genital depilation before the last 20 years or so. Ever. Other parts of the world, maybe.

Also, 2nd wave feminists rejected body shaving as well as hippies. There was an overlap but neither category entirely included the other.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:54 AM
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795

793: I remember angst about pubic hair showing outside bikinis or panties, and the "freshness" thing was big. There was even a short story about the mandated removal of underarm sweat glands and the installation of fart filters and so on in one of the SF magazines but that might have been late Fifties.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:55 AM
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796

788: I'm working on that. Slowly.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:56 AM
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797

Edward Winslow sounds familiar. I think I am, but I'd have to confirm it with my mother.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:56 AM
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798

I kind of wonder what the market penetration (heh) of pubic shaving/waxing is. I got a bikini wax once, but other than that I've been in the same relationship since before the fashion started, and it always seemed like way too much of a hassle, given the manifest disinterest of the expected audience.

Articles people link about it seem to often refer to young men who react like Ruskin to pubic hair, and it kind of surprises me that anything like a majority of sexually active women, whatever the age group, actually shave or wax religiously enough that pubic hair would be surprising.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:00 AM
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799

(Before the fashion started should be 'before the fashion became mainstream enough that it occurred to me it could possibly be my problem.')


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:03 AM
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800

I was pouring wine at a wine event when a woman and her bf walked up. When she found out that a family member's profession was not full-time wine-making, but rather something involving some knowledge of this topic, she proceeded to tell me (in graphic detail) about how her bf (standing next to her) wanted her to have a bushy jungle look. She then quized my family member about the current styles.

I kept trying to move her along as the other people walking up to our table were slightly scandalized.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:03 AM
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801

When I was in Boy Scout Camp, the insult was "that kid has a bald eagle!", meaning he hadn't sprouted pubes yet.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:04 AM
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802

792: Nope, John Howland -- the proletarian Mayflower passenger.

RE: Pubes
Surely a studious perusal of old Playboys could settle much of this controversy. As I remember it, the naked ladies from the 70s and early 80s were almost all trimmed, and the trimming got shorter and shorter as the years went by.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:04 AM
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803

793 is right as far as I know. I wasn't old enough to see many young women naked in the early 60s, but I'm not aware of any "Western" fashion for genital depilation before the last 20 years or so. Ever. Other parts of the world, maybe.

Honestly, I think it's more like the last five years. Back when I was in college I didn't encounter any delapidation. It was associated exclusively with what my friends liked to call "sorostitutes".

Remember that movie "The Cooler"? There was a lot of talk about the erotic nature of a scene where we see Maria Bello's pubic hair. No talk about how she was consciously choosing to have prominent pubic hair. This was 2003.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:05 AM
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804

800: The only aesthetician I know is very refined (in a punk way) and has a girlfriend who could beat me up pretty easily, so I'm not sure I would want to ask her about current styles in pubic hair, lest it be taken the wrong way.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:07 AM
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805

798:Atlantic December 13

Indiana University researchers Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick found in a recent study that nearly 60 percent of American women between 18 and 24 are sometimes or always completely bare down there, while almost half of women in the U.S. between 25 and 29 reported similar habits. Herbenick's numbers show a clear-cut trend: More women lack pubic hair than ever before.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:07 AM
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806

I am told by several knowledgable people that it breaks down as follows:

under 30 - no hair

30-40- vast majority have little to no hair


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:07 AM
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807

Articles people link about it seem to often refer to young men who react like Ruskin to pubic hair, and it kind of surprises me that anything like a majority of sexually active women, whatever the age group, actually shave or wax religiously enough that pubic hair would be surprising.

My strong impression is that it's very possible that a sexually active man under the age of 25 or so may never have seen pubic hair on a sexual partner, and that it's positively unlikely he would have seen pubic hair that wasn't quite substantially trimmed.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:10 AM
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808

The earliest Playmates mat have been trimmed, or perhaps airbrushed, but they didn't show anything at all down there either. Then can untrimmed and unairbrushed. Then trimmed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:10 AM
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809

Surely a studious perusal of old Playboys could settle much of this controversy.

Not if you're arguing about the early 60s. Playboy hadn't been invented and what there was was airbrushed (as was early Playboy).


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:11 AM
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810

807 should have had a 'heterosexual' thrown in there somewhere. I'm not up on current gay male pubic fashions.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:12 AM
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811

802: There's also porn as distinct from non-professional practice; while there may have been trends you can see in Playboy, that's not going to tell you anything conclusive about amateur grooming.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:13 AM
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812

Oh, I have asked. In the past several years the amount being left behind has increased. Right now, the waxing ladies are suggesting a decent-sized triangle on top. This is up from nothing at all or "Hitler mustache."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:14 AM
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813

807: If that's the case (and it does seem in accordance with the way people talk about it), I am surprised by the commitment of young women to grooming. I mean, I was what could probably be best described as unsuccessfully promiscuous in college -- keeping shaved/waxed at all times in the hopes of getting laid seems as if it would have been an awful lot of wasted effort.

Of course, thinking along those lines may have been a partial explanation for why my college years were generally kind of bleak, sexuality-wise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:16 AM
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814

keeping shaved/waxed at all times in the hopes of getting laid seems as if it would have been an awful lot of wasted effort.

I dont think that shaving and/or waxing is done just to get laid.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:23 AM
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815

809: Maybe not across the pond, 1953 in the US.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:25 AM
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816

Yeah, yeah, there are always quotes from people saying that they're waxing because they just feel cleaner or more comfortable. It's still an awful lot of trouble unless you're expecting someone else to see the results.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:27 AM
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817

If you say so, but I bet it was airbrushed until the mid 70s.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:27 AM
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818

In fact, in this marvellous book, the Hefner character is specifically described as not knowing what a woman's genitals look like, having only ever seen airbrushed photos.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:30 AM
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819

The subject is ripe for a parody of that "Sexual intercourse began..." Larkin poem, if anyone's up for it.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:35 AM
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820

I will have to check Netflix for their huge collection of sexploitation flicks from the Sixties & Seventies and do the research. Unless Bob already has done it and reports his findings.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:36 AM
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821

792 -- A couple of his brothers, but not Ed.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:36 AM
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822

792: I checked with my mom. Not Edward Winslow. The official list is "William, Mary and Love Brewster, Francis Cooke, and Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:45 AM
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823

So we've found the dramatic fashion change since 1992.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:46 AM
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824

820: Your sacrifice moves us all, Bio.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:46 AM
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825

Unless Bob already has done it and reports his findings.

Sixties & Seventies sexploitation flicks had pubes, but not in a way we can understand anymore.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:49 AM
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826

Disturbingly, they also frequently had squirrels.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:53 AM
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827

How much extra work is it to wax/shave pubes if you're already wax/shaving your legs on a regular basis? A little or a lot?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:53 AM
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828

827: A lady of one's acquaintance devotedly waxed --- arms, legs and everything -- and, despite her commitment to the anti-democratically feminine, remarked on occasion about the pain of waxing her nether parts. Still, il faut something pour être‎ something, as she used to say.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:00 PM
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829

827: I mostly haven't, so I'm not the best reporter -- it's probably much less of a hassle than I think once it's routine. But at least a significant increment. Legs are a mostly flat (at the relevant scale) surface that aren't awkward to reach, and because of the flatness of the surface having a couple of days stubble isn't an issue itchiness-wise. Pubic hair, waxing is a professional matter (home waxing is possible but I don't think many people are up for it) and expensive, and shaving is fiddly and difficult, with stubble being distinctly uncomfortable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:01 PM
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830

828: At least she wasn't mumbling.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:02 PM
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831

There is of course a irreducibly speculative* element to almost every one of these genealogies. For instance the tie-back in my family to early Mass. goes through my great-grandfather for whom some pretty good circumstantial evidence exists that he was not fathered by his putative father [who is the connection]. Not just "cheating" in a marriage, but a likely completely fictitious one where the mother left her small upstate New York town to get married in Massachusetts in 1869 and shows up with an infant the next year (both in her hometown and at a relatives in Vermont).

*OK, Genetic analysis can help.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:03 PM
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832

830: Racist.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:05 PM
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833

There are as I remember two doubtful links in my Emerson genealogy. And the genealogy taking me back to Bad King John's time is even shakier.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:10 PM
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834

Isn't the stat that one in ten children are not fathered by the putative father? Doesn't take a lot of generations for genealogy to go to hell.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:15 PM
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835

King John gets a bad rap. His reign was wasted because he had to clean up the mess Richard the Lionhart's left behind. Like Obama to George W. Bush.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:18 PM
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836

The dude lost the crown jewels in the wash. That's just careless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:20 PM
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837

Sixties & Seventies sexploitation flicks had pubes, but not in a way we can understand anymore.

They're pubes, Jim, but not as we know them.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:21 PM
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838

w s/b W.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:21 PM
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839

835: Whoa there. Robin Hood wouldn't split an arrow under the Sheriff of Nottingham's nose to ransom George W. Bush.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:22 PM
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840

822 -- Cooke is one of mine.

834 -- That stat seems high, and one would not expect it to be evenly distributed across various cultures/regions/time periods.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:23 PM
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841

836: Lots of people let their cell phones go through the wash. Crown jewels aren't so different. It happens.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:27 PM
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842

835. As I understand it the consensus is that King John was every bit as bad as he's painted. Richard was useless too, but two bad kings don't make a good thing. He started being that incompetent before Richard died and carried right on. If he hadn't died when he did he'd have been deposed in favour of a son of the king of France who already had the support of most of the ruling class.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:30 PM
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843

839: He might. Dude was showboating for Maid Marrion.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:34 PM
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844

Lots of people with British ancestry are descendants of Edward I, and thus of John. I read maybe 25 years ago that something like 125 New England immigrants in the early/mid 17th century can be traced to Edward, or his father or grandfather. Taken as a percentage of, what, 40,000 immigrants, this is miniscule. Now, though, 13 or 14 generations on, it's quite common to find someone who can trace to one of the 125. (My mom and dad can each trace to one).

Most of those cases have been pretty rigorously researched, using land records and the like. Some get proven or disproven as the years go by. Obviously, there's always the risk of extra-marital affair, but I have the sense that there would also always be folks pretty highly attuned to an opportunity to disinherit someone, if there was any chance at proving it in real time.

A bunch of people with my last name are participating in a DNA study -- I don't know of any significant lapses, although I suppose it wouldn't be shocking if folks kept those pretty quiet.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:35 PM
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845

834: No, that is way too high (for early modern England, at any rate).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:37 PM
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846

Related to this subject, the Ridley Scott Robin Hood movie is actually a good movie if you ignore the title and imagine that it's actually called "Nottingham", as it was supposed to be called early in production.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:38 PM
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847

My impression is that Richard went of on an ill-advised crusade and got himself held captive for a huge ransom, and everybody hated John for collecting the taxes to pay for it. So the nobility revolt, and you have the Magna Carta. Then, when it come time to write the history books, John gets no love because the royal family remembers him as the one who gave up all their sweet, sweet prerogatives.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:40 PM
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848

Sweet prerogatives, dude!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:45 PM
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849

847. I don't think his tax policies endeared him to anybody, but he had a track record of rebellion (so had Richard against his father, Henry II) and he was notoriously militarily incompetent. Not a good mix. He would have faced down any unrest if he hadn't lost control of the Duchy of Normandy, where a lot of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy still had interests - most of the unpopular taxes were in fact paying for the losing war in France.

Plus the stuff in Magna Carta about not selling justice and fining people to ruin was addressing actual grievances. High taxation was one thing, arbitrary abuse of the law was another.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:54 PM
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850

A lot of the meat of Magna Carta was lifted from the accession charter of Henry I (1100), who lifted it from the accession charter of Edward the Confessor (1042). He wasn't giving away any prerogatives that anybody endorsed, just pushing his luck.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 12:58 PM
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851

849: Chris Y is a hireling of the barons. Pay him no heed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:04 PM
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852

Down with the running dogs of Runnymede!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:10 PM
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853

Tyranny puts us alarmingly back on target.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:17 PM
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854

That is, on topic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:18 PM
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855

I've mentioned before, someone came to the door at work once, when everyone else was out of the office. With a cardboard box for someone who was out for lunch. When she came back we opened it, to find a Magna Carta.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:20 PM
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856

Moby is planning to start charging for favourable court rulings.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:21 PM
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857

855. Which copy? There aren't that many.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:24 PM
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858

My guess is that King John's pubes were not trimmed, and were pretty nasty.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:27 PM
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859

856: It's more "access" than actual rulings these days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:29 PM
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860

||

Hey lawyers, I need advice. I've agreed as a courtesy to do some minor editorial work for researcher. His assistant has sent me a slew of forms, the gist of which appears to be that the university needs me to swear up and down that I am really truly an independent contractor and not secretly (or secretly hoping to be) a university employee.

That's basically fine with me. Since he's paying me $1500, the amount is over the $600 threshold, and I assume I'll just get a 1099-MISC tax form.

The thing is that among all the forms are a few questions that are kind of hard to answer. For example, "[Witt's real name] declares that [Witt] is engaged in the same or similar activities for other client's and that [University] is not [Witt's] sole and only client or customer."

Well, the truth is, they ARE my only customer. I have a day job, and the 50+ hours a week I put into that really don't leave a lot of time for freelance work.

I've done editorial work in the past as a freelancer, and would probably not turn down other paying customers these days, but I don't actually HAVE any other customers, nor am I actively soliciting work. Am I being too literal here?

There are also questions like "Do you market your services to the public?" and "Do you provide your services to clients other than the University?"

Advice appreciated. I want to make this as painless as possible, but not in a way that's going to cause me a headache at tax time.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:38 PM
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861

King James had some repulsive pubes.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:38 PM
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862

Was it apocryphal when I heard that the Magna Carta banned jesters? It doesn't seem to be anywhere here.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:46 PM
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863

I don't think, Witt, the question is asking if you literally have another project in-house. You are engaged in the same business, as a general matter.

IANAPL. IANYL.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:49 PM
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864

IANAPL.

"I Am Not A 'Ployment Lawyer"?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:55 PM
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865

IANYL.

"I Am Now Your Lawyer"?



Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:56 PM
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866

To the tune of Jingle Bells:

Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Il
Hitchens' old essays
Christmas cheer and genocide
And the PC style today
Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Il
Pubes not on display
Bad King John and Puritans
And Witt's 1040a


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:57 PM
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867

860: The forms sound like they are trying to make sure somebody isn't calling you an independent contractor to save the employer from paying their portion of the payroll tax or to avoid paying benefits. I have no idea what the rules are, but I applaud the general sentiment behind the forms having been stuck by that ruse in my younger days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:58 PM
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868

"I Am Naked and PubeLess".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 1:58 PM
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869

Witt, I'm not a lawyer, but I think you can claim your day job as "another client."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:00 PM
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870

I Have No Pubes, And I Must Scream.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:01 PM
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871

In my country there is but one Bunghole.


Posted by: Opinionated Cornholio | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:03 PM
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872

860: Witt, is there any way for you to just answer those questions "no", or will that cause too much headache all around?

They ought to be able to take the true facts that you give them and make their own determination of whether you're an employee or a contractor (which is their responsbility anyway). And it sounds like you're clearly a contractor, in fact, so there shouldn't be an issue. I understand why they're asking them (because if you can check all those boxes they have the clearest possible record supporting their determination that you're a contractor, and they don't want to have to talk to legal counsel about it), but it's not as if it's not possible for an independant contractor to only have one client at a particular time. So I'd just answer the questions honestly and send it back and see what happens. Especially if you're doing the work mostly as a courtesy anyway; if they won't let you do it, hey, at least you tried. (If you really needed the money, in contrast, I'd probably say just go ahead and check all the boxes, because trying to fight with them about it may be a headache.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:03 PM
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873

862. Unless they were kinsmen of Gerard de Athée (see Clause 50), I think jesters' employment was pretty secure under Magna Carta.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:08 PM
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874

Thanks, Charley and Urple. I'm going with "answer honestly and let them come back to me if it's a problem." Hopefully the admin staff of a very large university will have WAY too much to do to bother about my paltry little fee.

And to 867, I suspect that the reason beyond all the questions is both to protect the university and to ferret out if someone has been let go from a university job only to be re-hired for the exact same job as a so-called independent contractor. Probably a wise idea to have some safeguards in place to prevent this, although I suspect it's only self-interest that causes the university to care.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:30 PM
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875

re: 857

One of the 1217 ones, I think. We have four. We photographed them all in advance of the auction that there was for one [not ours] a few years back. I'm no longer sitting in the same room as the cameras, so I don't see that stuff as much any more, unfortunately.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:33 PM
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876

I keep my Magna Cartas in a shoebox under my bed. I was thinking about maybe getting a safe deposit box for them, or something.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:40 PM
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877

803: Last 5 years? A few years ago there was an article in some fashion magazine purporting that pubic hair was back in and the Brazilian was dead.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:40 PM
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878

My brother-in-law just saw Obama shopping at a Best Buy in Alexandria.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:44 PM
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879

My brother-in-law just saw Obama shopping at a Best Buy in Alexandria.

The last thing the Egyptians need right now is some American interfering in their election process.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:47 PM
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880

827: You may need a separate razor. The thing about shaving the pubes is that you're likely to get ingrown hairs and red bumps. Even with waxing, you're supposed to exfoliate some.

Trimming is helpful if you wear a bikini unless you go for the awesome Esther Williams style one that alameida pointed me to.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:47 PM
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881

876 s/b Magnas Carta by local convention.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:49 PM
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882

879: Ignorance of DC suburbs is a great thing, so I hope you can continue it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 2:52 PM
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883

If you google-image "Brazilian" or "Brazilians", you get people from Brazil. If you google-image "peach", "peaches", or "Georgia peaches" you get peaches. If you google "Georgia peach", however, you get NSFW.

I'm just a scientist. The scientist does not ask why.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 3:13 PM
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884

That line only worked for Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, John.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 3:17 PM
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885

The google image search for my name still has the picture of the guy with the ginormous cock. His pubes are looking rather trim.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 3:27 PM
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886

He talked about NSFW Georgia peaches?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 3:29 PM
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887

I was very proud of 866, but on further review it totally sucks. Story of my life.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 4:29 PM
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888

887: I thought it was pretty good, actually.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:18 PM
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889

887: I chuckled, but that might actually be a strike against. Sorry, caveman friend.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:27 PM
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890

since I am asleep at these ungodly times I must sometimes respond in bulk.
1. my vast collection of 60s and 70s playboys and penthouses told me [before it was given away so as not to be seized by narnian censors en route] women had luxuriant, voluminous pubic hair in [the porn magazines of] that era, which might have ben touched up on the sides to accord with some putative bikini line but dag, it would have to be a powerful bikini to restrain strays from pubic hair like that.
2. further and further depilation became the norm in porn through the 80s and 90s (or so some say) such that in 1998 I had a landing strip, being fashion forward, and was tanning nude at my granddad's pool, and my mother was like what on earth have you done to yourself? my mom, being a hippie/feminist, usually does not shave her armpit hair, though she goes through periods where she does so.
2. shaving your pubes is better than waxing because you have to let it grow out in order to be waxed and then it looks scruffy. definitive refutation: strippers shave. they have to look perfect every night. whether it's a huge pain depends on how fully one depilates, and exfoliation to avoid ingrown hair is needed etc. cogent objection: stubble: it doesn't merely annoy women and gay men anymore, but also important people. (I realize now that lb was referring above to the women themselves experiencing discomfort from stubble, but apparently sensitivity varies.)
3. I think the hitler mustache is too hilarious to wear because, christ, it really looks like a hitler moustache and, c'mon, then I just start laughing. my sister has worn them to WWII reenactments, but then she and I cast ourselves about laughing and weeping. the reactions from any fortunate male reenactors have been unanimously positive but I maintain there are confounding factors.
4. one is constantly hearing about actresses who have to grow out their pubes to play roles, see NYC coverage of the latest "hair" revival, passim.
5. chopper's "1 in 10 children not the genetic offspring of the named parent" stat is, IIRC, thinly sourced and from a single NHS study of low-income women, those being the ones whom you could apparently force to get a bunch of dna tests they might not have wanted. so, iffish.
6. south carolina peaches are superior to georgia peaches qua actual fruit which one eats but I am unaware of a "sc peach" look for genital grooming.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:53 PM
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891

887: Maybe rework the rhythm a bit?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 7:59 PM
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892

South Carolina peaches are SFW.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:04 PM
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893

OT: The Ex and I just discussed whether the three little kittens of the nursery rhyme are denied, for mitten-losing, the pie containing four-and-twenty blackbirds. Conclusion: Having heard the secret harmony, one cannot hear the rhyme again in ignorance.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:18 PM
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894

860, 874: I'm sort of freaking out about how $1500 is a paltry little fee. This nonetheless has nothing to do with the original question(s) in 860.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:25 PM
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895

887: I, Arthur, King of the Britons, certify that this was a good bit of doggerel. For some reason I started out reciting it to the tune of "Frere Jacques", which didn't work so well, but "Jingle Bells" was fine.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:25 PM
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896

Also, I am disappointed with the renditions of "Alouette" and "Frere Jacques" on YouTube. The only way to sing these is in the style of a drunken voyageur.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:27 PM
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897

Cecil Adams column reviewing the cuckoldry rate claims (somehow I think it has been linked here before). 1-3 percent seems to be a more likely range.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:32 PM
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898

890.5 is interesting. I've seen that 1 in 10 number before (but only in the blogosphere, I think), and wondered where it came from, and why it was being cited as some kind of universal genealogical-historical law. As Mr Carp points out above, there are questions of specific regions and cultures and time periods to be considered, after all.

I guess I take it (the very thinly sourced 1 in 10 citation, that is) as a sort of debunking impulse that goes too far. (A debunking of the myth of a staid and stable past, I mean, where everyone lived in cheerful obedience to a contemporary standard of a lost ideal of 'American family values,' which is obviously false). For those seeking information about their 'sailed on the Mayflower' ancestors (a not insignificant percentage of the unfogged commentariat, apparently), 1 in 10 does not sound credible to me at all. Admittedly, Emerson's white-trash Puritan lineage might skew the data somewhat.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:41 PM
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899

860, 874: I'm sort of freaking out about how $1500 is a paltry little fee.

Yeah, Witt Romney. We know you can buy and sell us all, stop lording it over us so flippantly.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:45 PM
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900

898: I'm pretty sure it is one of the studies that Adams leads with in his column and points out the flaws. However, I will say that the rate of actual "cuckoldry" at the time does not necessarily translate to the rate of correct attribution relying on documents of the past. Especially if you get out of the blueblood/Mayfloweresque lines that all of us class criminals are so proud of.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:50 PM
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901

flippanter, this is kind of presumptuous, but if a person really wished to "get over" (for whatever value of "get over") his beloved ex, might it possibly be a good idea to spend less time talking to/having furtive coffee with/etc. the young lady in question? I don't mean to cast aspersions on the young lady by any means, but having been in what I may (wrongly) imagine to be a similar situation, I was doing my ex a wrong in talking to/seeing him so often, even though I found it pleasant, because a clean break would have been the better thing from his side, but he was unable to make the break on his own. not because I was a moral monster or anything, just unhappy, and crazy, and so forth, and I enjoyed his company and guaranteed attention. I am probably totally wrong and you are talking about a different ex altogether.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:51 PM
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902

899: Sorry. I know of too many people who are having a really hard time over $150. I find it a strain these days to hear anything different. Would that it weren't so.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 8:54 PM
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903

$1500 isn't that much, about a month's pay at a bit more than minimum wage. She didn't say how much work was involved.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:03 PM
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904

901: One is not unaware of one's dysfunction.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:05 PM
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905

No further comment, given that Witt was asking about something tangential to this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:14 PM
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906

890.5: James Nicoll's commenters tried to track down that statistic sometime within the past year, and (IIRC) got into one of the usual chains of citations to other references which were not the original study, with the most plausible candidate being some incredibly thinly-sourced thin from the 1940s based solely on blood types at one hospital in LA, or something equally archaic. Unfortunately, trying to search his archives is hopeless, so it's the scholarly misconstruction of reality all around.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:16 PM
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907

mmmm, ok. far be it from me to give people good advice which I subsequently expect them to follow, having a rejected-sensible-advice/body-weight ratio considered to be among the world's highest.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:25 PM
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908

907: You know, if you controlled for bits-of-advice per advisee, I bet I would be way over on the other end of the scale. Of course, dispensing sensible advice successfully is no guarantor of advice-following on my own part.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:29 PM
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909

||
Fuck, why don't I ever go to sleep on time? It's either the internet, or hanging out with so many actors. Or both.
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:30 PM
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910

I always took the 1 in 10 number as aspirational.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:30 PM
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911

907: The quality of the advice is not disputed. The capacities of the recipient are severely lacking.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:34 PM
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912

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/4586120/Scientists-debunk-myth-of-one-in-10-children-born-to-wrong-father.html


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:39 PM
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913

909: ooh, ooh, I know this one: it's the internet!!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:51 PM
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914

913: If Wikipedia had been around when I was growing up, I don't think I would have slept a wink from the age of 4 on.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:54 PM
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915

912: That only proves what it says if you think women don't cheat with their husband's relatives!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 9:57 PM
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916

906: We discussed this here recently and it ended up with Emerson calling me a bastard. Here's the thread.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:02 PM
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917

Why, back on the veldt when we lived in isolated clans, you probably couldn't get through a week without cheating with your husband's relatives.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:02 PM
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918

912: In the Straight Dope column linked in 897, Adams cites a similar study using the Sykes surname. the potential problem in 915 still holds.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:04 PM
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919

916: Ah, I knew this had come up here. Forgot it was so recent and part of the Jared Diamond brouhaha.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:17 PM
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920

I am unaware of a "sc peach" look for genital grooming

Pubic mullet? Shaved on top and long on the bottom?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:26 PM
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921

920: oh snap! 10 points to NC. actually I think the SC peach should be something more like, you been meaning to get around for it for ages, started on one side and lost interest, then set the other side on fire with everclear and a dropped fire-cracker.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:53 PM
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922

If I remember correctly, the other thread firmly established that the 1 in 10 statistic must be wrong because parts of the Fertile Crescent have microclimates.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:54 PM
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923

911: The capacities of the recipient are severely lacking.
I saved for years but then mercifully lost a sheet I got on discharge from the ER for an acute hepatic episode brought on by sharing needles, and it had post-discharge advice which included: "stop I.V.D.A." (intra-venous drug abuse). like, thanks a fucking lot guys. why didn't I think of that? why not just stop?! I understand why they were obliged to say it, but it struck me as of but meager utility.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 10:58 PM
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924

912, 916: thanks.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 12-21-11 11:04 PM
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925

I quite liked 866 and was planning to say so when I finally got to the end of this thread. Like now.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:54 AM
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926

901, 911: I have had the same thought as 901; the fact that her mother's baking you brownies for your birthday a couple of years after the breakup must make the whole situation even more difficult. It's a shame that the whole 'going to the colonies to shoot big game' as a means of handling a breakup only ever worked if you were a Wodehouse character or a bit of background color in Cold Comfort Farm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 5:47 AM
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927

OT: Ouch:

But it will always be "too soon" for Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, which processes the immense grief of a city and a family through a conceit so nauseatingly precious that it's somehow both too literary and too sentimental, cloying yet aestheticized within an inch of its life. It's 9/11 through the eyes of a caffeinated 9-year-old Harper's contributor.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 5:55 AM
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928

923, 926: I bow to no man in my enthusiasm for making a huge theater-of-cruelty deal of ordinary things distinguished solely by happening to me, but I would be embarrassed to compare my tiresome personal disappointment to IV drug use. Certainly it doesn't rise to the level of needing Jeeves (mumble tender goddess, Bertie something).


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 6:11 AM
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929

If you couldn't complain about tiresome personal problems involving no actual physical hardship or health risk here, we'd have to shut the blog down.

(I don't think Bertie ever considered shooting big game after a romantic disappointment; more a Spode kind of thing to do.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 6:45 AM
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930

929: Self-knowledge is a curse!

Does Bertie do much but play golf, compose the odd "What the Well-Dressed Man Is Wearing" page and stumble into situations requiring Jeevine intervention? He's not much of a sportsman, in the hunt-shoot-fish line.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 6:53 AM
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931

Swings from ring to ring over the swimming bath at the Drones?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 7:06 AM
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932

One weeps at the plight of the poor Drones staff. Shoes in the pool, rolls in the fans, God knows what under the billiards table.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 7:13 AM
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933

I would be embarrassed to compare my tiresome personal disappointment to IV drug use

Go get you some Vitamin B12 injections and fake it 'til you make it, Flippanter.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 7:15 AM
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934

Thank you, Dr. Feelgood.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 7:26 AM
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935

The judgement of history on King John.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 9:47 AM
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936

Likewise, topically.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 9:49 AM
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937

936: Exactly what 935 made me think of. But I think you might owe all your future earnings to Disney for linking that (or did they not get the poems?).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 10:12 AM
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938

Here's my problem with this job, I think: I'll still have to go through the formal interview process, and even though my friend, who would become my boss (possibly awkward but I'm willing to look beyond that), says he's 90% sure the job is mine if I want it (since he's the primary decisionmaker in that regard), there's still this big problem: I don't think I can be scrupulously honest when asked "so, why do you want this job?" I think if I answer that question honestly, I won't get the job. So that's my big hesitation.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:09 AM
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939

I don't think I can be scrupulously honest when asked "so, why do you want this job?"

That's the fucking stupidest thing I've read on the internet today.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:12 AM
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940

YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE SCRUPULOUSLY HONEST WHEN ASKED ABOUT YOUR MOTIVATIONS IN AN INTERVIEW. ANYONE ASKING THAT QUESTION KNOWS THEY ARE GETTING A SITUATIONALLY-NUANCED ANSWER.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:14 AM
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941

Or what Moby said.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:14 AM
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942

Surely you can come up with answers that are socially appropriate and not actually untrue but still not your salient motivators.

Also you said above it's supposed to be a great place to work - try slipping that in after the above?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:14 AM
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943

Because you want to go inhouse. With all sorts of cheerful and non-false bullshit about how your skills make you peculiarly valuable to a business working from inside, rather than as a law-firm lawyer.

But honestly, Urple, are you really worrying about whether things you say in a job interview truly and fairly represent your emotional state with regard to the possibility of getting the job? Scrupulosity is all very well, but there's got to be something nonfalse you can say that won't tank your application.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:14 AM
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944

Is urple right and everybody is saying, "So that I can buy shit and not starve" during job interviews?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:15 AM
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945

I didn't realize it was possible to answer that question honestly. "Well, I like money, and I don't want to work super hard, and you people don't seem completely hateful, so this is close enough to the best I'll be able to do that I thought 'eh, why not'."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:15 AM
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946

Crossed with 939 through 941. Thorn lives somewhere near you, right? Don't make us ask her to show up at your office and slap some sense into you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:16 AM
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947

"Where do you see yourself in five years?"

"Having sex with your secretary on this very desk while you wait outside with a status report."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:16 AM
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948

"Here's your status report, sir."

"Oh thanks, let's see... goddamit not the status of my sex with your secretary, you nimrod! The status of everything else!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:18 AM
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949

938. Has anybody in the history of corporate interview processes ever answered this question honestly? Honest answers would be: Money/Location, 40%; I'm going mad where I am, 30%; Might be fun, 20%; other 10% (usually, I think I'm going to be redundant in my current job).

What interviewers want to hear is some BS about opportunities for personal growth and/or being uniquely able to make the opportunity into a big deal for the company and for myself and yadda yadda. You know this and they know this. Play the game and calm down.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:18 AM
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950

Has Urple just deployed his truly awesome ninja trolling skills again?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:20 AM
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951

but there's got to be something nonfalse you can say that won't tank your application.

Well, okay, maybe the word 'scrupulously' in 938 was inappropriate, because no one's ever going to be scrupulously honest in that situation. What I meant was that I'm having a lot more trouble coming up with nonfalse bullshit responses that wouldn't tank my application than I ever have for any other job I was considering. 943.1 seems false, rather than nonfalse.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:20 AM
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952

opportunities for personal growth and/or being uniquely able to make the opportunity into a big deal for the company and for myself

False rather than nonfalse.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:22 AM
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953

951: Why don't you give us the succinct scrupulously honest version here--I'm not recalling precisely other than hateful current job--and we'll gussy it up for you.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:23 AM
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954

951. OK, let's start with why you might actually, "honestly", want the damn job. The floor is yours


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:23 AM
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955

pwned again.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:25 AM
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956

"Opportunities for personal growth" and its ilk are actually answers that I'm worried would tank the application. It's clearly not an opportunity for personal growth. In any objective sense it's a demotion. I feel like I'm trying to answer the question 'why are you voluntarily applying for a demotion', in circumstances where both (1) "it's less work, and I'm lazy," and (2) "sure, it's a demotion, but it happens to have higher pay" are unacceptable answers.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:28 AM
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957

Just got wished a "blessed winter break." At that point you should really just go for the Merry Christmas.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:31 AM
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958

953/954:

1) "hoping for a better work/life balance";
2) "pay is a little bit better";
3) "I don't feel like my current job is a place where I'll thrive long-term".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:31 AM
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959

Also 4) "I have to spend way too much of my time pretending to like rich assholes, and putting up with their bullshit, and I've been led to believe there's going to be less of that here".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:34 AM
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960

956. Then you need to pick an aspect of the new job, any aspect, and get hysterically excited about it.

Also: "It's less work and I'm lazy" s/b "It offers opportunities for me to develop further my abilities to process detail";

"Sure it's a demotion, but it happens to have higher pay" s/b "I see this as a move sideways, sure, but it will develop my portfolio usefully in areas I haven't been able to concentrate on lately."


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:36 AM
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961

Why do you think it's a demotion? You're a law-firm associate now, right? (Of counsel? I figure you would have mentioned making partner.) I can't think of a plausible inhouse job that I'd call a demotion from associate -- it's just really different tracks. If you spell out what makes it a demotion, maybe that will explain why you're unenthusiastic about it (because from everything you've said, I'd think you'd be doing little skippy dances, rather than being all droopy and sad about it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:38 AM
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962

1, 3, and 4 can be summarized as "I think this workplace has a better environment" or something similar.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:38 AM
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963

Those aren't bad. I'm not sure I could say them without feeling false inside, but I could try.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:38 AM
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964

959 suggests and 963 might be a bit less of a problem if you applied yourself to it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:40 AM
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965

961: yes, I'm an associate, but this is really a job aimed more at a 3rd-5th year associate than someone at my level. For them, I agree it would be a step sideways.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:42 AM
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966

That sounds like hairsplitting to me -- sideways for a fifth-year is sideways for any associate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:43 AM
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967

966: Okay, call it a sideways move. But it's clearly not a promotion to a more prestigious position.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:45 AM
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968

Is there something plausible that could be different about the job that would make you think it was commensurate with your skills and experience?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:46 AM
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969

But surely associates bailing out on the partner lottery* is a common job trajectory? Or am I misunderstanding the legal job market yet again?

*After any number of years.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:48 AM
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970

(To be fair, they were hiring two people for the position, and the other position was filled by someone else from my current firm who is (was?) in my same year or seniority. So there's obvious precedent. But I think she was able to more credibly claim to have interest in the job itself, based on her experience.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:48 AM
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971

968: if it used any of the skills I didn't have after 2 years of practicing law?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:49 AM
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972

Thorn? Are you around? And available to drive by Urple's office?

Any other commenters or lurkers in Unidentified Bluegrass State?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:50 AM
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973

I will be in a slightly more northern portion of SW Ohio starting Friday evening. I will volunteer (plus bonus facetime reduction with the whole fam damily).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:54 AM
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974

959 suggests and 963 might be a bit less of a problem if you applied yourself to it.

Well, no, not really. I didn't say I was especially good at 959. 959 and 958.3 aren't entirely unrelated.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:57 AM
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975

958/59 were literal answers I gave in the interview for my current job, except that the pay was slightly less than my previous one. And I got the job. But that may not have been the best strategy.

Anyhow, aren't your answers those of essentially every big firm associate who goes in house?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 11:58 AM
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976

Ok, not "literal." I didn't use the term "assholes." But I did literally say 959.1 and 959.3.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:00 PM
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977

Okay, trying to be sympathetic rather than just soliciting violence: so, the problem, maybe, is that the duties of the job are so limited that you feel as though if you take it you'll be deadended forever, giving up on doing any more interesting or skilled lawyering?

I could see that as a problem, except that it assumes that in this economy, the people doing the hiring are hapless morons -- they're hiring a senior lawyer at a better-than-local-bigfirm salary to do monkey work. It's not impossible, but it seems unlikely; maybe you'd feel better if you talked to your buddy about the potential for expanding your role into more interesting stuff? (This not only might make you feel better, it also makes you sound like an up-and-at-'em gogetter.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:00 PM
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978

975: maybe, I don't know. I figured they were looking more for answers like "I just love this particular subspeciality of the law, and I want to be able to spend 100% of my time on it", or something.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:02 PM
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979

Urple, what would you do if they cut to the chase and asked how you would feel about being an in-house lawyer for a health insurance company? Whether you're enthusiastic about the company mission, say? At this point in time, it's no secret that there's a battle going on in public policy in this arena.

I'm a little surprised that your concerns seem chiefly to do with whether this is a good career move, rather than whether you could stomach it ethically. That's just me, of course; and we don't know the nature of this health insurance company.

Apologies if this is an impertinent question.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:03 PM
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980

978 -- I think the answer they're looking for is more like "I want the opportunity to help really grow a business as opposed to just being a pure lawyer," because that's more like your job. Not that I speak from having actual in house experience.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:04 PM
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978: I figured they were looking more for answers like [my spectacular capacity for sycophancy, let me show it to you]

Then they would in fact be morons.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:07 PM
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982

maybe you'd feel better if you talked to your buddy about the potential for expanding your role into more interesting stuff? (This not only might make you feel better, it also makes you sound like an up-and-at-'em gogetter.)

Maybe. I was thinking I might try to go there in the interview itself, but I was worried they might not be willing to hire someone who expressed that sort of potential ambition, as they might think that person wasn't a good fit for the job.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:07 PM
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983

I have a blackened, empty heart and my ethical core is severely limited, but I also endorse thinking about the questions in 979 seriously. Not just in a general "principles of ethics" sense but in the sense of "my job, on a day to day basis, will be to save a giant health insurer money. Am I OK with this?" If the answer is yes, awesome, if the answer is no, the job may be less ultimately satisfying than you think, even if the hours are fewer.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:07 PM
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984

979: I don't know if it's impertinent, but it is puzzling. Back when I was representing tobacco companies, the ethical issue was pretty clear -- "Should I be providing services for companies who make their money selling addictive poison?" And the answer was "Ideally, no."

I don't quite see what's wrong with providing health insurance. Politically support single payer, sure, but in the absence of single payer, which isn't going to happen in the next couple of years, what's the issue with working for a health insurance company generally?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:08 PM
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985

what would you do if they cut to the chase and asked how you would feel about being an in-house lawyer for a health insurance company?

I can answer honestly that I would feel no more morally compromised about advancing their mission than I do advancing the mission of many of my current clients.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:09 PM
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986

982: but I was worried they might not be willing to hire someone who expressed that sort of potential ambition

I'm beating a dead horse here, but if that were in fact the case, Run Away! Remember that the interview is also you assessing the job/firm.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:10 PM
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987

Now, if the job were specifically in some area like "finding excuses to deny claims", then the ethical problem snaps into focus. If not, though?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:10 PM
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988

It's definitely not 987.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:11 PM
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989

986: well, right. That's sort of what I'm trying to work through. But, also, as I said upthread, I don't actually have any ambition, so I'm not sure a job that rewards ambition is necessarily the best fit.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:13 PM
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990

How about "I'm tired of having my labor go to support the lawyer class rather than valuable stake/shareholders$."


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:19 PM
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991

Politically support single payer, sure,

I suspect this would be an unpopular position around the office.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:20 PM
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992

989: You don't need to actually have ambition, just to ask the question to find out whether, if you ever did develop some ambition, there'd be any scope for it. If you don't have any ambition, being dead-ended is peachy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:21 PM
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993

985: Okay -- I figured that was the situation.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:21 PM
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994

991: So don't bring it up at work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:21 PM
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995

Unfogged: Your 24x7 alternate channel for situationally unacceptable thoughts.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:28 PM
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996

I have submitted a resume. We shall see. The whole affair fills me with angst and despair.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:28 PM
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997

I know; those situations where you have a chance to leave a job you don't like for another with less work, and better pay and benefits, are so wrenching.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:33 PM
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998

Thorn? Are you around? And available to drive by Urple's office?

Either I'm confused or this would be a 90-minute+ drive.

If I'm not confused, I'm nearer but don't really have unfettered access to a car at the moment.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:33 PM
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999

"I want the opportunity to help really grow a business as opposed to just being a pure lawyer," because that's more like your job.

This is completely backwards. I actually do this quite a bit now, since I provide pretty in-depth counseling on a variety of issues, plus tons of general hand-holding and other assistance, to lots of different start-up companies. That's a big part of my current job. Whereas in-house I will be on the bottom of the totem-pole reviewing contracts and more or less making no difference to anyone or anything. And again, that's not necessarily bad, but it makes answers like what you've written above pretty nonsensical.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:33 PM
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1000

What would you do if you were asked to represent 10 Kobes in 10 rape trials?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:35 PM
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1001

I see no reason for angst and despair. As you frame it the worst case outcome is no worse than your present situation. And it might be surprisingly better.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:35 PM
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1002

FIRST!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:35 PM
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1003

In light of the angst and despair, don't worry about it too much if you don't get it. Some of us would like health insurance companies to become vastly less powerful and profitable anyway, so throwing your lot in with them is a risky proposition, unless you suppose that a single-payer system has no chance in our lifetimes, so you (one) might as well be on the winning side while you can be. Conflict of interest is a bitch.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:36 PM
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1004

996 The whole affair fills me with angst and despair.

Show me a job market that doesn't.

Please.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:37 PM
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1005

As you frame it the worst case outcome is no worse than your present situation.

Outcomes worse than my present situation: (1) not getting the job, and becoming convinced in retrospect that it was a great opportunity, and hating myself for that, and then ultimately losing my current job, becoming late on my mortgage and losing my home, and my wife taking the kids and moving in with her parents. (2) Taking the job and finding out it's worse than I can presently imagine, and missing this job, and hating myself for that, and then ultimately losing that new job, becoming late on my mortgage and losing my home, and my wife taking the kids and moving in with her parents.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:39 PM
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1006

1004: Agricultural engineer! :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

Also, truck repair in North Dakota.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:41 PM
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1007

Either of those alternatives seems completely plausible in a way that neither did only a week ago, before I'd ever heard of this cursed job opening. Hence the angst and despair.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:41 PM
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1008

Well, get yourself to Ag Eng school, my friend!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:43 PM
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1009

truck repair in North Dakota

Hogwash. You have no idea of the competition. One of my extended family members has been in car repair in rural-ish New Hampshire, and you'd think that would be pretty safe, but not really, as it turns out. There's downsizing everywhere!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:47 PM
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1009: ND is having a huge boom because of oil-related stuff.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:49 PM
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1011

1005: Take the new job and get a therapist. Problem solved!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:52 PM
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1012

(or maybe natural gas? I mean, that is oil-related, sorta)


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:52 PM
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1013

1005: Sell the house and get a divorce? If that's what you're worried about, might as well rip the old bandaid off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 12:55 PM
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1007: "Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the thought! --Tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the dubious lure of this cursed job."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 1:02 PM
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1015

1005. You forgot the possibility of bubonic plague carrying off everyone you love and leaving you bereft. Look, if you take the new job and it doesn't work out perfectly, you'll never know whether it would have been better or worse to stay in the old one; equally, if you stay in the old job, you'll never know that the other wouldn't have been a pile of shit.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 1:11 PM
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1016

1013: Lease the house out for a year and get a mistress. You may as well get some idea before you get stuck.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 1:12 PM
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1017

1105, 1007: Predictions are in the other tread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 1:14 PM
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1018

1015: You laugh but plague is endemic in the western U.S.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 1:14 PM
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1019

+h


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 1:20 PM
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1018: My impression was that urple is only in the Western U.S. if you go back to the 18th century.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 1:21 PM
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1021

I don't know where urple is but certainly anyone in the continental US should figure they have better than even odds of contracting plague in any given year.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 1:28 PM
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1022

if you go back to the 18th century.

The difficulty Urple had with knee-breeches was epic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 1:28 PM
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1023

This might be the most comitous 1000+ thread I've ever seen.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 2:26 PM
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1024

Is not.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 2:35 PM
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1025

Merry Christmas, assholes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 2:38 PM
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1026

I'm told there are some fine benefits to being an Agricultural Engineer.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 2:43 PM
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1027

998: You're right, of course. Plus I'm the kind of boring pacifist who doesn't slap people (though I did once in 191, I confess) and need to be scrupulously honest about how bad I'd be at that job. My littlest bro is in non-agricultural engineering school in Urpleville and I'm sure he'd be willing to do a lot for a pizza.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 2:55 PM
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1028

I should probably apologize for having cast you as the muscle in this piece. You could drive up and be the voice of sweet reason instead?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:05 PM
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1029

Drive down.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:08 PM
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1030

Drive down and to the left?

Float downstream.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:10 PM
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1031

"Left" and "West" are not synonyms.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:11 PM
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1032

Look, I have a lot of image invested in being very confused about any geography that I'd have to cross water to get to from here. I'll figure out the rest of the continental US after I've got Queens straight.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:11 PM
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1033

Whereas "down" and South" are.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:11 PM
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1034

after I've got Queens straight

Homophobe.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:13 PM
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1035

I don't have time to get there and back before it's time to retrieve Val and Alex from their grandma's. Instead I get to distract Mara while her favorite super-racist Christmas cartoon is on. (Netflix is helpfully streaming Christmas Classics that start with Rudolph, then have a bunch of racist caricatures head to the North Pole, then proceed to how miserable the waifs in an orphanage are at Christmas. She loves these so much.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:22 PM
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1030, 1031, 1033: If one bothered to look at a map before opining in public forums (and why would one?), one would note that the direction is as much south as west, and has the added benefit of being wholly in the downstream direction of the big ass river that dominates both locations. The net effect is that "down" is doubly correct as the signifier and no one but a fool or a Frenchman (or a New Yorker*) would say "drive up".

*1032: LB displays the proper humility. You two can run around your little river city there and try to find one person who would dispute the analysis above. I await the results. Cassius Clay and Hunter Thompson wept.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:22 PM
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1037

Christmas Classics that start with Rudolph

And if ever there was an abusive situation of scapegoating sanctioned by an authority figure this is it. Rudy should have flown that whole fuckin' crew, sled and all, into the nearest mountain and then gone off to join Dumbo.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:29 PM
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1036: I'm not sure in what way 1030 is supposed to evince a lack of understanding of the relevant geography. And I'll see your Cassius Clay and Hunter Thompson and raise you a Louis D Brandeis, Diane Sawyer, and Colonel Sanders.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:37 PM
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1039

Ned Beatty! Pee Wee Reese! Phil Simms! Johnny Unitas! And arguably Tom Cruise! And William Clark's (of Lewis & Clark fame) slave "York".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 3:45 PM
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1040

1038: Oops, sorry. I attacked too broadly. I'm practising for Christmas.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 4:13 PM
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1041

1039: Ah, college for Johnny U--he's always touted as one of the P'burgh area QB crew.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 4:16 PM
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1042

1041: Well, yeah, that's more fair. It's overreaching IMO to include him here.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 4:21 PM
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1043

686 -> 1039.1 (but Bill McKinney was from Chattanooga, Tennessee). And he also just completed this rather objectionable Doritos commercial only weeks before he died.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-11 4:30 PM
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1044

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Posted by: cheapreligionjeans.org | Link to this comment | 07-22-12 2:00 AM
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Excellent blog here! Additionally your web site quite a bit up fast! What host are you the use of? Can I am getting your affiliate hyperlink in your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol


Posted by: Adoption Agencies Guide | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:58 PM
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