Re: Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Assholes

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(A) I don't know anything useful, but (b) they're not doomed to be assholes. They're, at this point, doomed to have grown up insanely coddled by my standards, and my standards are pretty UMC. (Well, neglectful, raised by wolves UMC, but you know what I mean.) But there are decent rich people out there -- think FDR. And there have to be others, but at least FDR. Where the incredible levels of privilege turn into a belief that you really don't need any more for yourself, and you can worry about other people.

(Practically, you probably don't have the kind of money that means they can count on living like this as adults. Not so much about not being assholes, but about not being miserable as adults, maybe you should start introducing more domesticity into their skill sets?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 7:55 AM
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naw, they probably need to get jobs. they need to learn to comb their hair, for sure. they go to code camp and stuff, they're smart, they're just...I mean, sure, it'd be nice if someone else put in the conditioner for my hair too, but...


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:00 AM
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they are good managers of their $6 a week allowance. actually, girl x has a great life plan: she's going to get an MBA, become a horrible investment banker, make a ton of money, and then retire after a short time to be an artist. she says everyone seems like they are doing it the wrong way around.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:03 AM
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I've been in email contact with Selah's mom for about 10 days (we're post-termination of her rights to Selah but still pre-adoption) and her birthday was this weekend and she wanted to know if Selah could call her. We did, and Selah said "hi!" and babbled and giggled appropriately and it made her mom cry, since they haven't seen each other in almost a year, but was also good. Meanwhile Nia laughed and encouraged her and Mara yelled "She loves you!" and "Happy birthday!" in the background. This is not at all like my childhood and their willingness to love blows my mind.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:26 AM
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But there are decent rich people out there -- think FDR.

Yes, if they can combine a strong sense of noblesse oblige with being some of the most charismatic people of their generation then I'm sure they will come across as decent.

. . . she says everyone seems like they are doing it the wrong way around.

This does speak to your point. Most people don't have the choice to take a job making a crazy salary early in life.* That doesn't make her an asshole, and it doesn't mean that it's a bad plan but it is slightly arrogant.

I don't have any advice, my own experience is with being the more privileged partner in a relationship and it makes me feel like an asshole sometimes -- and I don't think of myself as somebody with a great air of entitlement.

Robert Scheer, writing about the power dynamic between Kissenger and Nelson Rockefeller noted that there was a difference between people who know that they will never, ever bounce a check, and people who, no matter how much money they have, still have worry in the back of their mind that they might.

I've tried a couple of times to draw the parallel between that and the moments of assumption clash that I've found myself in, and I can't figure out a simple way to explain that doesn't seem overly personal. So I'll just leave it at that, even if it means that this comment risks being more belligerent than I wanted.

* (something I've mentioned before -- when I read Next Stop Reloville I was surprised at how low the salaries mentioned were. $120K is way more than I make, but it wouldn't be enough for me to willing to move every two years. Of course you thought that it would be reasonable.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:30 AM
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Most people don't have the choice to take a job making a crazy salary early in life.

That can't be right. People are supposed to start saving for retirement early in life, in order to take advantage of compounding interest. And since people also have large bills and debts early in life, they must all have big salaries so they can save for retirement.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:34 AM
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Do we have a nature/nurture line about asshole?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:36 AM
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So much so that at the very start I didn't want to hire a mother to be our maid.

My mom hired a mother as a maid and eventually gathered 6 kids (some the maids, some her nieces and nephews who are AIDS orphans) and the maids husband who works as a driver. She buys educational videos and books for the kids, has paid to get them into school (it's free in Botswana through 7th grade, but after that you pay unless you can get a scholarship). The gaggle of kids have benefitted enormously from the relationship, and the maid and family are very close to my mom. It's a really odd relationship but everyone seems to benefit. I consider the maid and family to be almost like cousins. Certainly I'm closer to them than to my actual cousins. The most recent addition to the family, a boy, was named after me, which makes me feel very strange. I hope he turns out alright. He seems to be bright and full of energy.

I have given a lot of thought to what needs to happen when eventually (a long time from now, please) my mom dies. I think that I bear considerable obligation to the people who have done so much for my mom and who have been so close to her. I think I will try to make sure that the kids all make it through high school, and give the maid and her husband a grubstake to give them a hand up in the next stage of their lives. I have no idea how I'll pull it off but I think it's important that I try.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:37 AM
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I dunno, I grew up pretty spoiled and am basically an asshole. I think the best you can do is to make people self-conscious and mildly depressed about their assholedom.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:47 AM
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I'm pretty sure you're not actually an asshole in any meaningful way, Halford.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:48 AM
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10: Allow Halford his shred of meaning.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:52 AM
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The traditional remedy for this sort of thing is to move to a moor and find a secret garden, isn't it?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:54 AM
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Hey, 9 is me, too.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:55 AM
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I think growing up rich can be pretty restrictive in that you have to make major life choices (career, partner, etc.) in ways that are compatible with your lifestyle. It's much easier for someone lower middle class to adapt to being rich than vice-versa. I have some good friends who I think really "need" to make 6 figures, and that's pretty restrictive.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:57 AM
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It seems like the biggest correlate of assholishness in rich people (at least those who were born wealthy) is the belief that they somehow earned their privileged status. The ultimate example, I suppose, would be George W. Bush claiming that he was a self-made man.

On the other hand, I don't suppose anything good comes of guilt tripping kids about how they don't deserve whatever kind of life they are growing up with. I guess the best you can do is model decent human being behavior for them and be ready to call in the reprogramming squad if that start getting seriously into Ayn Rand.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:04 AM
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I have to say that if any of my kids said they were planning to become investment bankers, I'd think that was a terrible plan. Fortunately so far they only seem to have plans to be paupers (Kid A - wants to do a Classics degree and do something theatre-y. Kid B wants to be a fucking journalist. Kid C has no idea, he's the maths whizz and is getting into coding. Kid D (although she's only 11) also thinks she might want to do a Classics degree! I asked her "where did I go wrong?" and she said that it was when I let Kid A learn to read.).

My children have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their arsitude, but it's not through a sense of entitlement. They feel like they're being spoiled if I give them a lift somewhere, because I usually don't. (They have bikes and bus passes.)

Combing hair etc would drive me fucking mental - but then I have 4 and no maid, so it would be a bit more of an imposition. I guess as long as they *know* they are spoilt in these ways and don't think it's actually normal for the rest of the world (and not only in comparison to servants' families), they won't necessarily be arseholes.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:05 AM
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12 is precisely what I was thinking!


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:11 AM
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I don't know if Jammies is lurking here, but this is something that, uh, his siblings struggle with.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:13 AM
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As in, they play the roles of girl x and girl y, not that they are parents trying to navigate Al's dilemma.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:13 AM
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Were they rich, or were their parents just coddlers?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:15 AM
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20: How was Jammies spared? Did you rescue him?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:15 AM
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21 should be addressed to 19.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:15 AM
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Jammies' mom kicked his biological father out, when Jammies was a baby. Then it was just the two of them for the next five years, living a very thrifty life on her nurse's salary. His parents married when he was five, so his three siblings are all substantially younger. Over the next decade, his father rose through the ranks at various oil companies, but Jammies was already in high school by the time the lifestyle started to reflect this.

I think that since both his parents grew up under modest circumstances, it never crossed their mind to worry about this dilemma. Also, I was being a little sarcastic by implying that his siblings "struggle" with this. Hopefully they struggle with this?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:22 AM
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I have no idea how to raise children not to be assholes, as currently I am struggling to raise children not to eat the speakers. I would hazard that a sense of compassion, a sense of justice, and a sense of comfort in their own skin are all critical, for most levels of privilege; that these can reinforce each other, but are separate entities; and that an understanding of privilege is helpful but guilt is not.

I don't think that the well-off are proportionally more assoholish than the poor, except by dint of structural position. I don't know who I've known who was waited on hand and foot, but Mrs. K-sky never did her own laundry until college; it didn't make her an asshole, but our kid will do her own laundry.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:33 AM
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This recent NPR piece "Who Had Richer Parents, Doctors Or Artists?" is somewhat relevant. Looks at percent change in median income as a child versus as an adult for people in various professions. This chart is probably the best representation.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:36 AM
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I don't think that the well-off are proportionally more assoholish than the poor, except by dint of structural position.

I agree with this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:40 AM
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26: Right, increased opportunities to express their assholishness in ways that have real consequences for other people outside of their own family.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:43 AM
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I don't think that the well-off are proportionally more assoholish than the poor, except by dint of structural position.

I disagree (even though I know that Heebie is always right. I don't think the well-off are more likely to be assholes in basic interpersonal interactions. But I think they are much more likely to be assholes in the as long as I'm not hurting anyone, I don't need to follow the rules sort of way.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:45 AM
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One of my siblings is a medium-conservative DINO, and the other is an Yglesias-Slate-liberal. Our family has generations of being passionate about true progressive values, and my cousins and second cousins all have their heads screwed on straight. I don't exactly know how my parents failed to transmit it as well the others, but I'd guess they were less dogmatic about it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:45 AM
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We watched La Faute à Fidel last night, and our kid was *riveted*, I really think it made my childhood so much more vivid to him. He knew my parents were of the marching/activist persuasion back in the day, but the movie got the milieu spot on, although of course I experienced the SF bay area version of this. Also no fall from Eden, no chateau in my background!

And his childhood is extremely privileged except also very similar to mine just not on the desperate shoestring my parents pulled off. He has the same immersion in music and voracious reading - dance he discovered on his own. The experience of being dedicated to and really part of an artistic tradition is the only part of my childhood that I feel strongly about him sharing so we're fine there.

I do think manners, adhered to consciously and strictly, constitute a formal practice of empathy that can help create relationships of mutual respect on an interpersonal level, and beyond that you have to educate your children politically.

It's also a priority for us to make sure he can cook well by the time he leaves home on the theory that his chances of romantic success can only be helped by being able to cook delicious food. I told him years ago that we were investing in the bilingual school and supporting the dance obsession in anticipation of the night when, age 24, he meets a beautiful woman in a small town high in the Andes, and sweeps her off her feet by reciting poetry in perfect French, dancing comme un ange, and then cooking her an amazing breakfast. At 6 he found this hilarious, but I do stand behind it as the only justifiable motivation.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:47 AM
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Now I'm getting a little worried about this, as well. Jammies and I are both outliers in our families, and I'm not sure what to conscientiously do differently than how I was raised.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:00 AM
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The answer is, I bet, "have blinders on about your grown children". But I'd rather just force them to not be assholes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:01 AM
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Gosh, I'm so not an asshole. How great to be me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:01 AM
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One of my siblings is a medium-conservative DINO, and the other is an Yglesias-Slate-liberal. Our family has generations of being passionate about true progressive values, and my cousins and second cousins all have their heads screwed on straight. I don't exactly know how my parents failed to transmit it as well the others, but I'd guess they were less dogmatic about it

I always feel I learned my values, political and social from my parents and the Canadian intellectual milieu, followed by large research places in Columbus where I was a teenager. It makes sense to me, but what doesn't is that both my older brother and younger sister are conservative R's.

We don't always receive the same transmission.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:13 AM
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I've kind of thought of the kids' schools as insurance against being some kinds of asshole. Not foolproof, nothing is, but they're not growing up in a bubble where everyone's white and not an immigrant and so on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:13 AM
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Mamas don't let your babies grow up to comment on unfogged. . . .

Part of the problem is figuring out how much is involved in not being an asshole. Does it just require having a basic sense of empathy and appreciation for other people (which is no small thing, but should be achievable) or does it require a willingness to try to change the structural inequalities in the world (which is, I think, a moral imperative, but also not one I, personally, have any idea how to act on).

Ultimately, all I can offer is this: accept the fact that people are assholes some of the time and to try to avoid thinking in binary terms of 100% asshole / not at all an asshole. If you are an asshole and are called on it, try to be gracious and correct your behavior, rather than getting defensive (and, yes, my way of thinking about it this is based on the various unfogged discussions of racism).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:15 AM
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23 suddenly makes every other Jammies-family anecdote make perfect sense.

In sort of a small way, that was my life too, in that my parents, both of fairly humble origins, though over-educated, were hella broke when I was a kid, but then by the time I got to jr high/hs, we started having more and more money (i.e. as much more money as a mid-level career federal civil service manager can have) so my sisters did without a lot less than me. But they're not too entitled.

Anyway, I'm sure alameida's kids will turn out fine, although personally I hope that at least one of them becomes a trustafarian anarchist Burner neo-pagan or something like that.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:17 AM
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I've kind of thought of the kids' schools as insurance against being some kinds of asshole.

But my brothers went to the same schools as I did!

I actually don't think this works very well as insurance - schools can be festering cesspools of class warfare. I bet you're doing a lot more transmitting than you acknowledge, just by your example.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:17 AM
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try to avoid thinking in binary terms of 100% asshole / not at all an asshole.

This, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:20 AM
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I think there's something to be said for making sure you/your kids run into people with varied lifestyles and incomes. My huge, moderately crappy public high school was great for this (and little else), although certainly the more privileged kids had cliques, but I think cliques tended to be more interest-based than straight class. I think the other thing is that when you have money, there are fewer tradeoffs, but you can explicitly tell your kids why you are making the choice you did. Like, we pay a cleaning service because we think it's more important to take long bike rides on the weekend than to clean the bathrooms, and we're lucky to get the choice.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:23 AM
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try to avoid thinking in binary terms of 100% asshole / not at all an asshole

For many/most people, it's not a character, it's a role in a situation.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:23 AM
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I don't know how you can transmit this as a parent but I think my personal path from asshole/know-it-all teenage to less-of-an-asshole adult involved just shutting up and listening to people. And not correcting them. And asking questions.

I'm thinking about this in the context of a student I'm around these days who keeps calling her old school U of M even though we live in another M state and I automatically think U of Canadian-M every time she says it. She is definitely coming off as an asshole ("Oh, U of M had this. This school doesn't? Oh, huh." Yes, asshole, your school was like 10 times as big as this one so...). I am being an asshole about this too and will probably 'forget' what M she's from next time I talk to her.

I'm still working on the 'not correcting people' part.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:23 AM
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9/13: We should start a club.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:27 AM
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My sister and I grew up doing a lot of chores, relative to city kids. (Not relative to farm kids.) My impression is that people can learn to do chores as adults, but if they wait that long to learn, they'll always resent doing them (because there was once a different baseline, of cartoons and cereal on the couch). They can do the dishes, but they'll dislike doing them. If that level of work is engrained all along, you can do the work without minding. It is just the work, which is always there.

That is a nice ability to have if it is likely that as adults they'll be responsible for maintaining their own place.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:33 AM
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Too rich, too beautiful, too many orgasms, and now this. Next week, "My vagina smells like strawberries, but my husband prefers steak!"

My answer to the asshole question is trite and glib, but right, I think: you avoid raising assholes by 1) making sure your kids feel genuinely loved and 2) ensuring they have a sense of empathy, which you inculcate by modeling empathetic behavior, by teaching them manners, and by explicitly instructing them to be aware of the circumstances and needs of other people.

That won't prevent every character flaw, but it'll keep them from being raging assholes. It also won't keep them from occupying the privileged white devil slot in the world, but there's not much you can do about structural villainy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:34 AM
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44: I dunno. I didn't do a lot of chores as a kid but I mostly like doing them as an adult (with a few exceptions like laundry folding/ironing); having podcasts helps.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:35 AM
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I kind of wish I'd had kids earlier when I was still more voracious about culture. Although who knows what transmits. My ex-wife and I used to joke that if we had kids we'd get a beach volleyball player and a Hasid.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:36 AM
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currently I am struggling to raise children not to eat the speakers.
Never bring carnivorous toddlers to a TED talk.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:37 AM
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But I think they are much more likely to be assholes in the as long as I'm not hurting anyone, I don't need to follow the rules sort of way.

Lord, what a tendentious piece of drivel the linked piece is. When you bend the rules in a way that gets you served in front of someone else, etc., that does hurt those who have to wait longer. It is a good thing for people to bend rules when strict application doesn't make sense. Yes, it often correlates with privilege of one sort or another, but the solution to that is to work at treating everyone the way Chet McPrivileged gets treated. Zero tolerance is not utopia.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:37 AM
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My impression is that people can learn to do chores as adults, but if they wait that long to learn, they'll always resent doing them (because there was once a different baseline, of cartoons and cereal on the couch).

This is me, exactly. Although I resented chores growing up, too. I resent my gas tank for slowly emptying.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:44 AM
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Kid B wants to be a fucking journalist.

I think they should set their sights higher than the Daily Sport.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:46 AM
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50: Not me. My chore tolerance has steadily increased over my adult life.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:48 AM
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I dunno, I'm a resentful slob, and we were supposed to do dishes and keep our rooms clean, at least. This wasn't effectively enforced, but my parents fought with us about it. (Lost. Repeatedly. But they stayed in there swinging until we both left for college.) I think there's as much innate personality in there as there is early training.

Come to think, the chores I mind least are the ones I wasn't expected to do at all at home. I hate tidying with a passion, but scrubbing the bathroom is fine. (I could probably do it more often and more thoroughly than I do, but I don't mind doing it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:51 AM
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Lord, what a tendentious piece of drivel the linked piece is.

I've linked to that piece before, and several other people felt the same way that you do. Personally, I think it's a good rant -- it isn't trying to be precise or systematic or offer a solution. But I do think it does a good job of describing a specific situation in which someone might honestly feel like they aren't doing any harm, while still pissing off the people around them. _Shrug_


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 10:51 AM
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My brilliant/stupid scheme at the moment regarding chores mostly consists of trying to remember to act gracious and grateful about any chore-like things my child does spontaneously even when it's kind of actually counter-productive in practice. And actually she fairly usefully cleaned the tub the other day! I was pretty stoked. But almost all actual useful chores I just do, unless she expresses an interest in doing them, though I guess I do make her put things away sometimes.

Getting her to clean her own room to a state of tidiness though? I don't even begin to bother to try. Whee.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 11:01 AM
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They don't feel like they're doing any harm because they're assholes.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 11:09 AM
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Is this really correct?

In 1967, with the Civil Rights movement still in full swing and Jim Crow still looming in the rearview mirror, median household income was 43% higher for white, non-Hispanic households than for black households. But things changed dramatically over the next half century, as legal segregation faded into history. By 2011, median white household income was 72% higher than median black household income, according to a Census report from that year.

That's incredibly depressing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 11:17 AM
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54: Fair enough. It's not that the examples don't describe a real thing, it's that the real thing that they describe isn't what they're being used as examples of.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 11:20 AM
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...which 56 gets exactly right.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 11:22 AM
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I like that piece, NickS, and I think 28 makes a fine point.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 11:32 AM
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57: That statistic can't be precisely right because they didn't separate out "white non-Hispanic" before 1972. I'm looking through the chart for a better apples-to-apples comparison.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 12:23 PM
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Continued: Not that things aren't objectively depressing, but I'm not sure where they got that statistic from.

Median household income, 1967: white (including Hispanic) 43,857, black 25,465. 72% gap.

Median household income, 1972: white non-Hispanic 49,608, black 28,549. 74% gap.

Median household income, 2011: white non-Hispanic 55,412, black alone 32,229. 72% gap.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 12:33 PM
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Thanks Minivet, I appreciate somebody digging into the numbers. Oddly, now that I look at the linked article their own chart looks closer to your numbers (the 19.4K gap in 1967 would be about 72%).

It's still awful. I think I've mentioned before that part of how I cope with the racial disparities in this country is to maintain some belief in the idea that things, while awful, are improving. So it's really disturbing to look at a chart like that and see things showing no improvement at all.

But, at least, the lede was inaccurate about the gap getting worse.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 12:38 PM
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I would totally have washed more dishes as a kid if my parents had (a) asked, and (b) not bought crap dish soap that smelled like rotten synthetic floral crap.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 3:51 PM
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I did take a bit of shit from my one sister this weekend about the highly-gendered split of kids' chores in our family growing up. And she's certainly not wrong.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 3:55 PM
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64: I got into a ridiculous fight with a roommate about dish soap. She's bought lemon-scented stuff for the dishwasher, and I was riffing to the other roommate about why such a thing existed. The first roommate ran out in tears when I asked why someone would buy scented dish soap, did they enjoy giving all their meals a note of lemon? I had no idea she'd take it quite so personally, although I was being kind of an asshole.

My mother was awful about chores. She'd get overwhelmed (say, washing dishes after dinner) and start muttering about how nobody helped, so we'd all jump up to help, which she'd either refuse or complain that we were doing everything all wrong. I have no idea why my sister and I were never assigned chores, but it was probably better that way, since any help we volunteered was never done "right."


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 4:08 PM
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Man, I love fancy nicely scented dish soap. Makes the whole thing more pleasant. Mrs Meyer's geranium stuff? Nice! Even the TJ's stuff that smells like a melted orange popsicle is nicer than the generic "clean scent" Joy stuff.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 4:12 PM
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My parents' practice of chores was remarkably similar to their practice of family vacations I detailed here the other day.

1. Nobody does any chores
2. Nobody ever talks about assigning any chores
3. Everybody gets more and more depressed about the state of the house
4. Somebody has a freak out about how messy things are
5. Nobody does any chores

Seriously. It was just weird. All this complaining and freakouts, and nobody ever just said "Hey Natilo, why don't you wash the dishes every night?" Which I totally would have done if someone had asked.

Additionally, there was a bunch of completely bizarre and arbitrary "you're not doing it right!" stuff around things like lawn-mowing or snow-shoveling that I was asked to do. "Don't throw our snow in the [rental house] neighbors' yard!" WTF? Who cares? There's snow all over the place. Renters are not going to give 2 shits about an extra few cubic feet of snow on their yard. Jeez.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 4:16 PM
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My mom said that she had to re-do the dishes every morning for the first several months that they made up clean up after dinner. I didn't know that for years. But it totally paid off for them. After dinner, Mom and Dad would head out to the garden and leave kitchen clean-up to us. I don't think they did any evening kitchen clean for at least ten years (my age 8 through 18, and they probably got another year out of my sister).


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 4:24 PM
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Best way to handle this sort of thing is to marry someone who's totally different from you, has different expectations of when and how pretty much anything is to be done, and is as stubborn as you are. It takes about 20 years of conflict, but eventually you get to a place that's more reasonable than what either of you grew up with.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 4:45 PM
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I knew I could count on you ogged. but you need to keep up; now I take horrible medicine for migraines that males me not able to have orgasms. hardly. sometimes. like once a week. this is objectively incredibly awful and lame and an actual real problem.

actually my husband's family is all very normal, and my children have (quite rightly) begun to associate the crazy, alcoholic side of the family with the rich side of the family. (who's paying for your international school though, hmmmm?). I'm trusting him to pass on the normal. girl x is being somewhat facetious about the investment banker things; I think she's saying it would make more sense to sell out to the man briefly, at the start, and then live securely in a garret than to struggle to live in a garret for ages before dropping out of your philosophy phd program and going to law school selling out to the man in desperation at the end. I always only ask you guys the asshole questions because who would do so in association with their actual name? no one.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:08 PM
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70: Yay, only ten years to go. If I'd just murdered her at the beginning, I'd be eligible for parole.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:10 PM
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I can think of two people I knew in high school who started out as bankers and then dropped out after making some $$ to become artists (well, actually, in both cases, writers, but same diff). It's definitely a reasonable plan in the "you have money" sense. Unfortunately they both suck at being writers.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:10 PM
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72: Not sure how broadly it generalizes, but I'm OK with how it's worked out for me. Didn't always seem OK along the way, but that's life.

Limited exposure to the homicide strategy, but what I've seen suggests a variety of complications beyond the prison time.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:17 PM
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In Missoula, if you stand on a street corner and throw a rock, you're likely to hit someone who was making money doing something somewhere else and has moved here to stop making money but pursue a better life.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:32 PM
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Sorry, Al. Or, should I say, Hey, woman...?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:37 PM
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than to struggle to live in a garret for ages

Not surprisingly, the chart I linked in 25 has "designers, musicians, artists, etc." as the category whose median income as adults is furthest below their family income as children. (Doctors have the largest increase.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:41 PM
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||maple bacon brittle update: I smashed up a few little chunks and stirred them into salted caramel ice cream. It was the best thing I've ever eaten in my life.|>


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:44 PM
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78: I'm actually trying to tap the Sugar Maple in my yard. Think I started late (but cold year) and don't think I will get very much, however.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:48 PM
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78: nb, I have a serious sweet tooth.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 5:55 PM
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two people I knew in high school who started out as bankers and then dropped out after making some $$ to become artists

And 98 others who had that plan but thought, "Eh, the money's pretty good."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:01 PM
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The kids are pretty good about chores, and can do almost all the household tasks, such as laundry to an acceptable standard. My son's home from college this week, and he and the friend who stayed for dinner are doing the dishes right now, well.

I did dishes from about age 12, and often prepared dinner too. So did my sister. My wife and her brothers were similar. I think, since she and I fell into a rhythm about these things almost immediately, that it was an important element of compatibility between us.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:08 PM
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My mom said that she had to re-do the dishes every morning for the first several months that they made up clean up after dinner. I didn't know that for years. But it totally paid off for them. After dinner, Mom and Dad would head out to the garden and leave kitchen clean-up to us. I don't think they did any evening kitchen clean for at least ten years (my age 8 through 18, and they probably got another year out of my sister).

This is a plan I endorse! I'm hoping to catch Jane in a weak moment when she's young enough to be into it but tall enough to actually do it. Age seven? eight? is when they started you?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:21 PM
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Also, Mrs. Meyers geranium is right on.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:21 PM
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I don't think that the well-off are proportionally more assoholish than the poor, except by dint of structural position.

Whatever. I patrolled the working class side of town by choice for five years and on the occasions that we were short handed and I had to venture up east I often had a powerful urge to punch someone in the neck.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:23 PM
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My older kid, under Montessori influence, will occasionally say "I want to wash dishes" or "It's a mess, let's clean up," and of course we let him. I don't know if it will keep up when he realizes it's not fun.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:25 PM
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86: That's the trick with lawn mowing as well. For a while they think operating the machine is awesome.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:27 PM
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under Montessori influence

Yessss. It is the best.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:42 PM
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I think I've been talking about how being a parent has made me feel from this place more than I ever did even though I was born here, but the history of this area is something we all share (though Lee arrived as an adult) and a way to feel rooted since family histories don't necessarily have the same resonance.

Lee was raised by grandparents who spoiled her and she'd like our girls to be raised the same way and is really bothered that I won't do things like cook alternate dinners for them if they don't want the main course, but I am adamant. I also don't like that she wants them to value objects ("I paid a lot of money for this sofa and I'm not going to have some child trying to poke holes in it and destroy it!") but she doesn't like my approach ("Please stop poking holes in the sofa, because other people need to use it too and it won't work for anyone if the stuffing comes out and you're sitting on hard wood.") because she thinks it's a "pansy" way to raise kids and doesn't include any discipline. Maybe I should sign them up for the Dairy Queen Lessons on How Manners Solve All Ills and see if that's a middle ground.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:47 PM
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They started me at seven, on one terrible day when my father had had enough. He came in with grocery bags and my sister and I made no offer of help, and he looked hard at us and our childhood was over.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:51 PM
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I had to stop Nia from doing dishes because she was used to running a household, so that was a mom job until she was 7. Now the girls set the table, clear their plates (to the sink; I load the dishwasher) and tidy up the living room and dining room before bed. Lee also wants them to do daily room cleaning, but that's enough of a point of contention that it doesn't factor into allowance money. We should probably start adding in more weekend chores, really.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:52 PM
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The elderly pot bellied German-speaking gentlemen tourists videoing the cable cars being run into the barn are adorable.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:58 PM
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The muni dudes are laying on extra warning whoops and hollers for them.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:59 PM
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I don't care if my kids value the object, but they should value their hides enough to not destroy my stuff. "Please stop poking holes in the sofa so that you don't end up in a shallow grave under the pine tree."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 6:59 PM
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94: We signed a discipline contract that forbids us to threaten foster children with death, among other things. And just to be fair, that applies to Mara too. (I am just annoyed about the sofa example because I'm in fact the one who bought and assembled the sofa, and said at the time that I know Lee would rather have something fancier but it's better to have one kids can destroy eventually and then when they're old enough, get something nice. But go ahead and take credit for it!)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 7:03 PM
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Are you allowed to buy them a cuddly pet and then threaten to kill the pet?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 7:29 PM
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There are toys in McDonald's Happy Meals I would have been excited to get as a legit toy when I was 6.

And here I thought successfully nagging my parents to get happy meals with toys in them was one of the ways I was spoiled. Don't get me wrong, we were somewhat spoiled and I guess those weren't, comparatively, legit toys. And I can't remember which ones I wanted. But there were definitely happy meals I wanted.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 7:48 PM
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96: Only if you're going to cook it up and make them eat it. Guinea pigs are good for this.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:20 PM
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We girls did the dishes, and at age four one of my sisters wanted to help so badly that we made it her job to wipe down the chairs with a damp spongy bottle brush.

Keeping things uncluttered does not come naturally to me, but bonus, today shiv complimented me on my office staying neat for a week and I got a hug.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:33 PM
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The real scandal here is that Unfogged is so tame that Al can let her daughter read it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 8:36 PM
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Good point. Pants off, everyone.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:08 PM
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Pants off, everyone.

It's probably a good idea to keep this well-separated from "Knives out, motherfuckers".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:16 PM
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100: And the most recent post implies, no doubt unintentionally, that all the readers have kids of their own.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-24-14 9:53 PM
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90 - I was talking with a couple of friends recently about online grocery shopping, and I laughed and said that I tried to schedule my delivery for a Tuesday evening because I was always out that night, so I didn't have to put it away. At which they both looked at me as if I were mental, and said that if they did that their husbands would just leave it. At which I looked at them as if *they* were mental. I'd trust that my kids would put the shopping away if it arrived when neither C nor I were home, but apparently the idea of their children doing it hadn't even occurred to them.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 12:57 AM
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re: 104

Heh. We used to sometimes get delivered groceries when I was in my early teens* and it was just understood that it was our job to unpack it if our parents weren't in. It wasn't even a terrible job, as you got to raid the snacks and stuff as you did it.

and said that if they did that their husbands would just leave it

That is mental. Then again, I'm often shocked at how little some men do, and I think of myself as basically a lazy bastard, by inclination.

* we didn't have a car, so we either got the shopping using a bodged-together trailer my Dad had for his bike, or, maybe once a month or so, we paid for the local Co-op to deliver.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 1:16 AM
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96, 98: I'm actually okay with no threats of violence/expulsion from the family and no corporal punishment.

I regret being an asshole toward Lee in this post, but I guess it gives the kids a good chance to surpass me in goodness. I am not getting enough sleep at all and each day I deal with it a little worse.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 6:53 AM
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||
Speaking of assholes -- these academics and their professional jealousies! Currently filtering the rage of one of our clients who insists that SHE AND ONLY SHE should have been consulted about a program we're putting together, because it relates DIRECTLY TO THE TOPIC OF HER RESEARCH. Gee, I wonder if people would be more interested in consulting you if you weren't so POMPOUS AND ABRASIVE all the goddamn time?!

Note, this is also the person who is a humanities prof who puts "Dr." on her checks.
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 7:16 AM
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Dr. Insecure, Ph.D., a giant in the subfield of kiss up-kick down interpersonal relations.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 7:20 AM
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Academics suck.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 7:29 AM
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Everyone sucks. Academics are just a subset of everyone.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 7:34 AM
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Recently I learned some of the local professors have organized a series of lunch meetings to discuss the latest developments in [field I work on] and never invited me. Whee!

A partially overlapping set of local professors wants to organize a discussion of [recent big discovery] this week, and I'm afraid that if I participate in it then I'll have to add one of their names to any papers I write about it because this person has a habit of insisting any idea they ever hear was originally theirs.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 7:41 AM
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Note, this is also the person who is a humanities prof who puts "Dr." on her checks

Where is she from?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 11:23 AM
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111: isn't the latter thing happening in like 10 minutes? Or is that different?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 11:48 AM
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113: No, I guess you mean the big thing that happened in the Science Center this afternoon? I was talking about a small informal meeting.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 4:17 PM
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this person has a habit of insisting any idea they ever hear was originally theirs

You work in Hollywood?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-25-14 4:35 PM
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