Re: Whatever you do, don't mention the magnetic storm.

1

"If you do gift, it is desirable to bring something purely Russian when you visit the United States. But make it 'purely Russian' for modern America - not nesting dolls and samovar."

Does that mean it's no longer illegal to export samovars, or are they just assuming the law is being circumvented?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:43 AM
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Showing up at a business associate's home uninvited in the United States is not acceptable.

This reminds me of a thing that led to some culture shock for me after college. I don't know whether it was college or Austin, but in my early 20s, among people I knew, it was fine to knock on someone's door and see if they were home if you were in the neighborhood. I don't quite remember how this played in Chicago, but I remember when I was in NYC calling a friend and saying "oh hey, I'm sort of near your place so I thought I'd see if you were around" and getting this shifty, panicked response as if I'd suggested something outre and slightly unreasonable. It took me a while to figure out that this was just not done. I'm still kind of sad about it. I liked unpremeditated socializing.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:47 AM
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I am terrified of uninvited guests. Disrupting my plans, no matter how boring and stupid they may be, is severely deprecated. I need at least a week's notice before someone drops by.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:53 AM
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2: I read a thing a long time ago which don't remember about how one of the hilarious elements of Curb Your Enthusiasm was that all these rich people in LA were constantly just dropping by each other's houses, which was not a thing that people did in LA. This was useful to me to have heard when I lived in LA.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:58 AM
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I think it's ok when there's a level of intimacy where the host will feel comfortable saying "Hi! Bye! Go, now!" and know you'll take it well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 10:59 AM
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However, it would be wrong to believe that the Americans with their smiles only create the illusion of well-being and that their smiles are stretched with false joy. This is not so. Americans: they are a nation that truly feels happy.

Ha! We fooled another one.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:01 AM
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I had never actually seen a picture of a samovar before clicking through the mental floss link, having only read the word a bunch of times in Chekhov stories. They're very pretty.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:03 AM
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US etiquette also forbids lamenting the troubles of life, or sharing your problems with others.

All of you are BAD AMERICANS.

Do not ask the effect of a magnetic storm (not many Americans know what that is) on their well-being.

This is very weird. Russians are easily sickened by sunspots?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:04 AM
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9

"So. You are well, Chuck?"
"Sure, buddy! How are you?"
"Oh, fine. But my wife is suffering from a coronal mass ejection."
(Freeze frame)
INSTRUCTOR: OK, class. Now, can anyone tell me what Ivan is doing wrong here?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:06 AM
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I think there might be an actual samovar at the museum of jurassic technology. I always just knew of it as a thing that Russians wanted, along with their blankets, when it was cold.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:06 AM
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8.2 That has a my-hovercraft-is-full-of-eels ring to it


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:07 AM
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Now I wonder if some of the utterly bizarre mannerisms of one Russian guy I know, like insane-looking smiling almost all the time, are actually his attempt to conform to what an etiquette book told him he should do in America.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:09 AM
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9 is not mock Russian enough, try:

"Oh, fine. But wife is suffering from coronal mass ejection."

Like so.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:10 AM
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14

Partially enlightening, partially confusing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:12 AM
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15

R: "How is health?"
A: "I'm okay. How about you?"
R: "Is magnetic storm. I am having illness."
A: "I did notice my dog was shitting at the wrong angle yesterday."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:12 AM
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Now I recall learning what a samovar was when visiting the museum of jurassic technology! Memories are fun.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:14 AM
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17

9 and 15 both made me laugh.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:17 AM
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11: I imagine that said in the voice of one of those aliens in Mars Attacks! except for some reason the alien has hair on its triangular head, and eyes which look dead, rather than googly.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:20 AM
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I imagine 17 in the voice of someone who no longer pretends to be a poet.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:22 AM
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US etiquette also forbids lamenting the troubles of life, or sharing your problems with others.

All types of etiquette forbid this. This should be rephrased as "When asked 'How are you doing?', do not respond by telling them how you are doing."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:23 AM
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Apparently the Russians are all cyborgs, and are unaware that we are not. We must not let them know.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:23 AM
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17 I feel like my job here is done.

Have you ever seen SCTV's CCCP1 sketches?

"Do not adjust dial. This is Three C P One on your set."


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:23 AM
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This is very weird. Russians are easily sickened by sunspots?

Pretty much every country/culture has its own folk ailment that few if any other cultures recognise. I don't know about this one specifically, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a thing in Russia.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:33 AM
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And the belief that solar storms influence human activity was a calling card of heliobiology, which was in turn part of the Russian cosmism movement which deified space and science, and was something of a predecessor to transhumanism.

Awesomeness.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:40 AM
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I am terrified of uninvited guests. Disrupting my plans, no matter how boring and stupid they may be poetry masterpieces is severely deprecated


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:40 AM
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26

Pretty much every country/culture has its own folk ailment that few if any other cultures recognise.

What's the US one? Low self-esteem?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:41 AM
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It's funny because I think I've used the phrase, "bring me my tea and my samovar," which was actually redundant.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:48 AM
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28

Culture bound syndromes


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:51 AM
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29

Or maybe it was "blankets and samovar". But that wouldn't sound as good.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:53 AM
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30

26: Meritocracy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:53 AM
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31

28: Apparently not a thing in US and the right parts of Europe.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:55 AM
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32

31: Unless you're latino or American Indian.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:58 AM
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33

"Falling out" doesn't sound very culture bound, at least by the tiny Wikipedia entry.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 11:59 AM
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34

Right, I meant real Americans.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:00 PM
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35

Right, I meant real Americans.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:00 PM
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36

Pretty much every country/culture has its own folk ailment that few if any other cultures recognise.

Fan Death!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:00 PM
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37

36: First on the list in 29.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:01 PM
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I think it was "blankets and samovar". Oh well, hard to imagine why anyone would care whether I used "samovar" correctly on twitter.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:06 PM
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39

26. Paleo diet. Elaborate food-purity subcultures. Magnet bracelets. homeopathy (alos big in France and gaining in Mexico).

Less sardonically, few in the US recognize air pressure as a component of physical or mental well-being, aside from jokes about lumbago and old wounds.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:07 PM
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40

31. Crise de foie, uniquely French, "Man flu", UK and Ireland.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:11 PM
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41

To most Europeans, I think the uniquely American thing would be whatever it is that causes you to go into therapy all the time. We don't know if there's a name for it because we don't understand it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:14 PM
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28, 31: Dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personalities, seems borderline culture-bound at best.

DID is a controversial diagnosis and condition, with much of the literature on DID still being generated and published in North America, to the extent that it was once regarded as a phenomenon confined to that continent

Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:14 PM
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43

Not fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:16 PM
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44

To most Europeans, I think the uniquely American thing would be whatever it is that causes you to go into therapy all the time. We don't know if there's a name for it because we don't understand it.

"Being a movie character in the 1970s" is generally what we call it.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:20 PM
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45

39: Why would we want to be less sardonic? I would add to your list the reputations of certain litigators.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:21 PM
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46

I've never heard of "falling out". Is it really a southern US thing?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:37 PM
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47

|| Surely, this trolley problem article has been discussed, yes? http://science.time.com/2014/01/15/driving-over-your-best-friend-its-the-right-thing-to-do/

|>


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:38 PM
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48

46: It sounds to me like a description of being "at a loss for words," or simply "at a loss," which I would think exists across the globe.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:50 PM
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49

Morgellons.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:51 PM
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50

Among my more woo friends, "Mercury in retrograde" seems to function like the Russians' magnetic storms.

Also, I certainly got the message loud and clear in Russian class that you really don't want to ask a Russian "how are you doing?" in any more than a very perfunctory way (and even then...) unless you are prepared to hear a 20 minute sob story about all the ways that they are being hounded and betrayed and all the maladies they have suffered and are suffering from.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:55 PM
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50.1 We always just used that as a joke.

You can point your friends to this helpful site:

http://www.ismercuryinretrograde.com/


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 12:58 PM
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I thought about linking to this yesterday. It's sort of the same thing, except no Russians. I found it while playing around on Wikipedia after looking up "See a man about a horse."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:08 PM
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I've linked this before, though now the link is broken so this is to the Wayback Machine.

Russian (also jumping): I don't like your c.v., I don't like your background, and I don't even like your face. We have nothing for you. Out!

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:13 PM
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To most Europeans, I think the uniquely American thing would be whatever it is that causes you to go into therapy all the time. We don't know if there's a name for it because we don't understand it.

in international studies, America actually has the highest rate of depression and anxiety disorders of any nation. (France is second I think). But we also have among the highest rates of self-reported happiness of any nation, and (as the link points out) Americans smile all the time. I think there is a connection here.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:23 PM
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54, see 6.

The fact that the Russian writer thinks we are genuinely happy shows that they haven't really understood us.

Another self-promoted myth about americans other countries seem to fall for: We go to church and pray all the time.

We really are armed to the teeth though.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 1:53 PM
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40: There was just a bout of man flu in my house, and I think I've become a true believer in it. (Poor dear was off for a week, absolutely completely horribly sick. He gave it to me - I worked through most of it, took one day off, and am now probably feeling better than he does despite being closer to my days of bad illness.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:03 PM
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(Oh boy, non-programming talk!) I'd thought the implicit claim of "man flu" was that it was not to be believed in -- that "oh, he's got man flu" meant "he's being a complete puss about something he should be able to cope with."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:07 PM
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Don't be such a dupe, Parenthetical!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:09 PM
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Yeah, don't become a slave to patriwhinarchy!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:11 PM
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I never heard of man flu before. I would have guess it was a euphemism for hangover.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:11 PM
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My gender stereotype is that women whine more about having colds than men do, but that's because I'm a man aka the better and more awesome gender.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:13 PM
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The way I tend to hear it used is indeed in the sense "he should be able to cope with" it, but since men tend to be inferior to women (in dealing with illnesses), clearly they're unable to and are actually feeling that bad.

I just tease my husband about it; I don't know why but colds do a number on him. I assume it's down to differing immune responses.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:14 PM
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Meanwhile women blather on about their so-called "migraines". I bump my head on cabinets all the time, I don't complain.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:16 PM
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64

I hate being sick and am generally a big girl about it. So I guess I conform to a stereotype.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:17 PM
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65

What about "don't go swimming for an hour after you eat or you'll get cramps." Is that specific piece of American folk-medicine unique to the US?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:26 PM
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65. No.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:28 PM
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It seems a better fit than "falling out" which must not exist because I've never heard of it, or fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, which are conceivably real diseases that everyone thinks are basically fake bullshit.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:28 PM
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According to Wikipedia the don't swim after eating because of stomach cramps thing was invented by Baden-Powell, so maybe it's a big thing wherever there's scouting.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:44 PM
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I got wiped out by a flu shot last weekend and was accused of having man flu. Not fair! I had a fever, and it wasn't even a man flu shot.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:48 PM
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Hey Halford, you getting smoke or ash from the fire?

Our poor dry state.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 2:48 PM
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"Falling out" is southern black I think. I've heard it.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 3:23 PM
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Not really, but there was a noticeable cloud in the distance this morning.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 3:23 PM
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73

Low blood pressure is a thing in I think Germany.
French women are very concerned about tired legs and you can buy special refreshing lotions etc.
Ireland has euphemisms more than special illnesses.
She's bad with her nerves. (Any kind of chronic mental health fragility, He had a turn. (Acute episode of something. Could be a stroke, heart attack or breakdown.)
We have crazy folk cures though which I think I have commented on before.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 3:51 PM
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To most Europeans, I think the uniquely American thing would be whatever it is that causes you to go into therapy all the time. We don't know if there's a name for it because we don't understand it.

Ha. Totally true. I'm constantly being surprised by my American colleagues* when they drop therapy casually into the conversation, because to me therapy implies deep trauma or pathology.

* As in, properly culturally American, unlike me.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 4:36 PM
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Our poor dry state.

Given that there literally nothing at all I can do to make it rain, and nothing more I can do to conserve water (I'm not going to empty the pool, no, at least not yet, and we've got low-flow everything already) I'm going to celebrate the fact that it's been sunny and mild for...well, pretty much since forever. Sure, the drought is bad news, but it's fucking beautiful out there. Time to ride my bike!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 4:50 PM
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76

Low blood pressure is a thing in I think Germany.

Low blood pressure is a thing everywhere - it actually exists. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Blood-pressure-%28low%29/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Maybe Germans self-diagnose it more than others.

Ireland has euphemisms more than special illnesses.

Ireland is also, ISTR reading, a great place for having "a touch" of something. No one is ever seriously ill. "He's got cancer... but just a touch."

What about "don't go swimming for an hour after you eat or you'll get cramps."

You shouldn't do any kind of exercise for an hour after you eat, or you'll get cramps; swimming is particularly bad because if you get cramps swimming you might drown.

I'd thought the implicit claim of "man flu" was that it was not to be believed in -- that "oh, he's got man flu" meant "he's being a complete puss about something he should be able to cope with."

That's right. Basically, it's the folk belief (which doesn't survive any comparison of, eg, days off work sick or doctor's visits between men and women) that men are a bunch of hypochondriacs who make a huge fuss about conditions that women are able to ignore and endure.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-17-14 2:53 AM
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Re: 76.last

Yeah. Definitely not my experience, despite the folk belief. Or rather, I tend to moan about some things but treat colds as just a cold. My wife treats colds like ebola. She'll furiously argue that the illness we both have is clearly a cold in me, but some sort of near-fatal alien death virus in her.

Fwiw, empirical research on pain thresholds completely contradicts female folk wisdom thay they have higher pain thresholds. In one study the bell curves didn't even overlap.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-17-14 3:04 AM
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The Swiss believe that health and mood are bound up with the phases of the moon. If you ever feel ill around the full moon (or your students are unusually restless, or your roesti isn't as tasty as normal, or whatever), your Swiss friend will nod sagely and blame it on that. I was quite startled the first time it happened.

Also - talking of man flu and phases of the moon, I'll take the opportunity to air my own (possibly sexist?) pet theory, which is that many women have to put up with feeling vaguely ill and shitty every single month, thanks to their period, so it isn't such a big deal to come down with a mild cold or whatever. Whereas it comes as a complete shock to a healthy man - whose invisible backpack probably doesn't even contain ibuprofen - and they treat it like the end of the world.


Posted by: seeds | Link to this comment | 01-17-14 5:06 AM
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Or alternatively, because of that it's more socially acceptable for women to complain about feeling ill, and so they do it with less provocation than men, who aren't supposed to get ill at all and thus have to be pretty sick before they admit it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-17-14 7:15 AM
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