Re: Meet The Parents

1

Does anybody else see those jokes around a lot about how recent fathers dread the day their daughter starts to date, etc. and find them really weird and creepy?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 1:41 PM
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Because it's such a terrible time to find out that one of your parents is gay.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 1:41 PM
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I haven't found this to be much of a problem, actually. In fact, my girlfriend and I are going over to my mom's house this evening to watch John Adams. Maybe it's a bigger deal when it comes to boyfriends and fathers.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 1:42 PM
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There's something peculiar about same gender introductions, Becks, but I wonder if it's more that the same gender parent is going to have Views about who is acceptable for their son/daughter in a way the other parent won't. Like, the mother judges the new girlfriend not just as a potential mate for her son, but as a woman.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 1:47 PM
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I've only met a couple of boyfriends' families, but the dads seemed mostly concerned with whether I was attractive or not, on a sort of yes/no basis. Boyfriends' moms tended not only to be interested in attractiveness, but also in whether I was classy, well-bred, intelligent, nice, womanly, moral, etc, etc. Even the attractiveness evaluation, from a mom, isn't "Yeah, I'd do her" but a more creepy "Does she have fine genetics?" thing.

When I met one ex's mom, who was pushing 80, she didn't even say hello; she reached out to tilt my chin down, surveyed my face with a steely glare, and declared, coldly, "Pretty. Quite pretty." She was my favorite.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 1:54 PM
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Sounds like an Isak Dineson story.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 1:55 PM
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What's especially fun is when your parents meet their parents.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 1:58 PM
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"Does she have fine genetics?" thing.

When my dad and I were driving me up to start college, he said, "Heebie, in college you'll be meeting lots of boys, and getting into relationships. And if you find yourself getting serious, be sure to meet and check out his parents. Sometimes quirks skip a generation."

I felt that was unromantic, and told him that love would save the day.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:03 PM
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My mom had a very weird reaction to meeting the woman who would become my brother's wife. She pulled me aside and said, "But she's not even as pretty as you! Shouldn't a man look for a woman at least as pretty as his sister?" I said that was a creepy thing to say, but Mom explained that she thought sibling-level attractiveness was a good standard to shoot for.

My mom has found all the boyfriends of mine she's met terribly attractive and charming, even if she didn't particularly like them. My dad has hated them all, and, when possible, has avoided meeting them. Both reactions are sort of weird to me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:08 PM
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Everytime Jammies comes up in a conversation between my mom and I, she says, "He's the type who will wear well over time." It strikes me as weirdly overly tactful, and makes me curious as to what she's not saying.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:16 PM
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"Not even as pretty as you. Not a dog, exactly....."

One of my son's relationships got so far that they knew one another's whole families. I met her parents, aunt, uncle, grandparents, and brother. Then it fizzled. I think that it was between the two of them, but there was a slight hint that her family, specifically her parents, didn't approve of his family, specifically his parents.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:16 PM
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And her parents were atheists, too. I so want him to marry within the unchurch.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:17 PM
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I only ever had the opportunity to introduce one serious girlfriend to my mom, and although she (mom) claimed to like her (gf) well enough, she consistently mis-pronounced her name. I guess maybe she subtly didn't approve.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:18 PM
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10: It sounds like she's saying "Get married, bitch!" A lot better than her saying "He they kind of guy who initially makes a good impression."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:19 PM
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"He's the"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:20 PM
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16

What is this "introducing to parents" of which you speak? It sounds awful.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:21 PM
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OK, here's a theory:

Parents who are the same sex as the new partner are especially critical because they see the choice of a partner as the most explicit rejection or acceptance of themselves. A mother who finds her son chooses to date women who are very different from herself wonders if some hostility against herself is implied, and vice versa with dads and new boyfriends. Even more than career choices and political or religious affiliations, the son or daughter's choice of a partner is seen as either an acceptance or a rejection of themselves as parents. Like, I might be a backslid-Christian liberal academic, but if I brought home a working-class guy from the midwest who grew up in church and knows how to fish, they'd be triumphant. When I date Europeans, New Yorkers, atheists, Jews, academics, upper-class guys, etc., my parents say what they'd never say about my other life choices. They say, "Why do you hate us so much?"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:22 PM
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(I feel like I've shared this story here before. Apparently I have a finite playlist.)

I knew an orthodox Jewish guy in college who dated a WASPy girl. Her parents were fine with them dating; his parents disapproved of him dating someone who wasn't Jewish.

This is the funny part: her parents were outraged that his parents disapproved. Because, of course, the WASPs were entitled to disapprove, even if they weren't exercising their rights, whereas the Jews should realize they were getting lucky.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:23 PM
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1: Yes.

In general, I think that the reason is Freudian, sort of; which is to say that I think a lot of the time (obviously not always) the mom/son, dad/daughter relationship is easier because, in part, neither party really has to get over the semi-romantic affection that's often part of those relationships.

So yeah, I think that for straight kids there's a certain aspect of introducing the gf to mom/introducing the bf to dad that *does* actually signal a change in the parent/kid relationship; a change that's often worked out a lot earlier between fathers and sons or mothers and daughters, and over different kinds of issues.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:24 PM
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10: I think she's saying "I approve."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:26 PM
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It sounds like she's saying "Get married, bitch!" A lot better than her saying "He they kind of guy who initially makes a good impression."

Aw, that makes me feel loving towards old Mommy-pants.

(Actually, my oldest brother set the bar so low on spousal sanity that my parents are ecstatic that the rest of us have settled down with the Sane.)(How can you tell the difference? We've got a big red rubber stamp that says INSANE.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:27 PM
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I have not heard 18 before. Jeez, some people are kind of smug assholes, aren't they?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:29 PM
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23

Hm, anecdatally, only one boyfriend met my dad before my dad died. Dad was deeply resistant, because said boyfriend had long hair and an earring, was in a band, and was somewhat effeminate (though manly, of course). My father called him nothing but "he" or "him" for several years, until the boyfriend helped rebuild/paint the deck on our house, and maybe watched a baseball game on tv with him.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:32 PM
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her parents were outraged that his parents disapproved.

Isn't that a minor revelation in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Hepburn and Tracy are like, Wait! They don't approve of our daughter, either!?

Speaking of which, I am now remembering that Gawker last year had a contest of sorts to come up with what bad "black culture" based pun the media would bust out to announce that Obama had won the dem nomination. The best was undoubtably "Guess who's coming to Denver!"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:33 PM
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25

I think it is Freudian int he sense that Freudian is short for explainable via psychoanalytic rubrics and not necessarily Oedipal. Basically, what I think is going on is that one assumes the same gender parent (e.g. a woman assumes her mom) judges the partner on the basis of comparison to her own partner and partners at the same age (my mom will make a comparison to her husband or boyfriend at 22 to assess my boyfriend at 22). I think one assumes the other gendered parent (e.g. a woman's dad) assesses on the basis of comparison to himself (my dad judges my boyfriend by comparing him to himself) and that is a much trickier reflection to negotiate gracefully,or to hope to come out of without having made a bad impression.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:34 PM
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25 is very smart.

When I started dating Max, who is 19 years older than me, I was 24. I didn't tell my parents about it for a very long time, because I knew it would freak them out. My mom was initially shocked, but seemed to be getting used to it, until my dad (apparently) told her this seemed like a choice made by someone who had been the victim of father-daughter-incest. He couldn't address this with me directly (it being far too creepy to discuss), but my mother did. A lot. "Do you think your father abused you or something?" Horrible, horrible time, that.

I think meeting him dispelled a lot of that awkwardness for her because he's so completely unlike my father in any way. But I think knowing that made my dad hate him even more.

GOOD TIMES.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:40 PM
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17: if I brought home a working-class guy from the midwest who grew up in church and knows how to fish, they'd be triumphant. When I date Europeans, New Yorkers, atheists, Jews, academics, upper-class guys, etc., my parents say what they'd never say about my other life choices. They say, "Why do you hate us so much?"

I'd go with this explanation over the Freudian. I'm not sure about the triumph, but the comfort, certainly. My family is happier with boyfriends of mine who know how to wield a hammer than they are with academics. (Actually they've never met the academic ones.)

There will be difference in reported experience in all this between people who now live in the same social class they were born into, and those who don't.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:42 PM
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28

I think it stems from this notion that you put your opposite sex kid on a pedestal. You finally got full access to a member of the opposite sex, and you got to shape them and mold them and project all your issues onto them.

Then their date comes along, and it's a member of your own, dirty, pathetic gender. You know all the ins and outs of these sneaky jokesters. (Do we all have some gender shame, boy-people and girl-people alike?)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:44 PM
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29

Addendum to 28: I'm not saying this tension exists necessarily on a regular basis. But I think this is the explanation that Hollywood bows to.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:45 PM
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28: It's very common for fathers of daughters to talk about how jerkish and predatory they were when they were their daughter's age. Norman Mailer did a big production of that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:46 PM
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I'm surprised no-one seems to have brought up what I'd have guessed was the most common theory: viz, that the parent is more likely to activate all the bad stereotypes about their own gender when evaluating the person their son or daughter has dragged home. Hence the Dad is more likely to think "This little fucker is just in it for the sex," and Mom is more likely to think "Who is this gold-digging skank?"


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:55 PM
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32

Now of course pwnd by 28.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:55 PM
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33

I'm surprised no-one seems to have brought up what I'd have guessed was the most common theory:

I bring burstings of surprise.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:56 PM
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34

19 is smart.

28 is BRILLIANT.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 2:58 PM
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What makes 28 so brilliant, and better than e.g. the version in 31, is it captures both the quasi-romantic luminosity we cast around the opposite sex as other, and the gender shame that fuels it. In two pithy and well-written paragraphs.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:00 PM
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Katrina Van den Heuvel roomed with Norman Mailer's second daughter. Most of Mailer's eight children seem to have gone into the arts one way or another, except for his first daughter by his first wife, about whom I can find nothing, and a "mentally-challenged" daughter.

You're very welcome.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:01 PM
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37

28 is BRILLIANT.

It's merely outstanding, PGD. Let's not feed my ego unduly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:02 PM
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38

Oh just give me a paper cut and rub lemon juice on it why don't you.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:02 PM
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39

I knew an orthodox Jewish guy in college who dated a WASPy girl. Her parents were fine with them dating; his parents disapproved of him dating someone who wasn't Jewish.

We had a "Bridget Loves Bernie" episode when my oldest sister got engaged to her Jewish boyfriend. My parents were upset because it was the first inter-religious marriage in our Catholic family, but then they found out that his parents, who had had to conceal their identities as children when they were taken in by Catholic families in Poland during the Holocaust, were even more upset. Both sets of parents upset? Comity! Everything went just fine after that.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:02 PM
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40

Gonerill is Norman Mailer's first daughter?


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:03 PM
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41

And then Out me as well. Great.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:04 PM
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28 is dynamic and capable of extending in any direction. 28 is made of metal and taller than average. 28 is four times more likely and yet concise by accepted standards!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:04 PM
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39 is funny, and I think pretty true in general. As long as both families oppose the marriage, everything's fine. When one set approves and the other disapproves, disaster unfolds.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:05 PM
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I don't know, for young people of a certain age, it would seem, for the parents, to be a question of the suitability of the bf/gf as spousal and parenting material. Sure, you can write in all the freudian stuff you want. I'm not sure my father was so stupid as to think that he'd turned me into his ideal female type (despite his trying); he was struggling with the fact that he hadn't done so, as was apparent to anyone but a complete idiot, and my father wasn't that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:06 PM
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37: you're right. The caps were uncalled for, and unduly self-revelatory about my own memories of gender shame.

38: salt. I was attempting to use salt. Although as H-G points out, inferior to brilliant is merely outstanding.

Norman Mailer took an ideological stand on always having sex without birth control. Although for arsy DH Laurence type communing-with-life's-essence reasons rather than Catholic ones.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:06 PM
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46

Norman Mailer was a gold mine of annoying attitudes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:08 PM
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47

artsy!

When/if I have kids, I will try to restrict my hopes to A) they are happy, B) they outlive me. I'm sure I won't succeed though.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:09 PM
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48

His born-name was Mormon Nail-her. He had a rough childhood.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:09 PM
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49

Our families met and it surprisingly didn't end in fireworks. My mom loves shivbunny, and my dad resigned himself to his existence once the approval of the fiancee visa dashed any secret hopes he had that he wouldn't actually have to acknowledge a boyfriend. And I get along well with his family. But we were justifiedly worried that his dad would think my dad was a snobbish poufta, and that my dad would think his dad was an ignorant redneck.

They ended up finding common ground because both of them smoke, like cars, and have similar Views once you scratch the surface.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:09 PM
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47: Just kill yourself at the wedding and you've got 50% right there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:10 PM
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51

47: "arsy" made more sense.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:11 PM
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52

I spend my time playing for the other team on this one. But I'm a lot easier on daughter's boyfriends than my wife is. They only have to answer some simple questions about their intentions, prospects, lineage, upbringing, political views, and medical history.

I spoke by phone with one boyfriend's father -- we have some things in common, and indeed, he'd just coincidentally hired folks in a different office of my firm to do some legal work. Neither of us was sorry to see the relationship end, I don't think.

Meeting my father-in-law was interesting. My brother-in-law had already married a French woman, which presented both challenge and opportunity. F-i-l wondered why it was that there was no one in the entire country for his children to marry. On the other hand, the d-i-l was kind of stuck up -- and, did I mention it, French -- so I had an easier time of it.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:31 PM
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46: I love Norman Mailer. I just finished "Harlot's Ghost", his 1000+ page "novel of the CIA". Giant chunks are almost unreadable (novels are clearly not his strength), but I kept skimming it for the terrific little observational gems contained within.

His "left conservatism" still has something to say. He's attuned to the spiritual drift of things, even if he sometimes exaggerates it to a clownish extent. A certain kind of liberal doesn't even like to acknowledge the spiritual dimension. For instance, one would have to be a fool not to acknowledge that contraception profoundly changed the nature and meaning of sex.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:31 PM
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52 con't -- And obviously, boyfriends need to be ready to discuss Melville, Pynchon, Garcia, and Peckinpah.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:34 PM
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55

I am sympathetic to Nápi. There's a lot the SO of a child has to prove to you, and being of a similar gender might provide additional insight into when they're being straightforward. Reasonable enough that you should want to grill the ingrates.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:35 PM
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There's a lot the SO of a child has to prove to you,

Until you have a child marry someone who is straight up off their rocker. Then you focus on the basics for the rest of your kids.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:38 PM
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I had a housemate, back in the Middle Ages, who's father would greet girlfriends by gripping their elbows and shaking them back and forth. Quickly and briefly, but long enough, apparently (I never saw this) to make their breasts waggle. It made my dad's habit of feeding girlfriends raw oysters seem almost civilized.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:39 PM
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Here's a fine interview with Mr. Mailer from a few months prior to the start of the war in Iraq:

http://www.amconmag.com/2002/2002_12_02/mailer.html


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:39 PM
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59

Novels are clearly not his strength

For a novelist that's an impediment.

We will have to agree to disagree otherwise.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:39 PM
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60

Heebie's a lucky girl. But her poor bother!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:41 PM
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I've been resisting the urge to tell stories about families meeting. But what.

First boyfriend families meeting: his family had a reputation around town for raising chickens in their kitchen cabinets (no kidding, my father told me this), because the mother worked with Laotian immigrants, and they had all lived in Puerto Rico for a few years when the kids were young. And they listened to NPR. Well, our families never had a formal sit-down, though they'd run into one another around town. Generally polite mutual incomprehension. My parents figured boyfriend's people were weirdly cosmopolitan or third world.

Second (serious) boyfriend family meeting, my father had died by now: very nice! My mom and brother and his parents in their study, a nice fire and crudites. All very civilized. It went nicely. His family was puzzled and sad when it didn't work out; my mother said she never thought he was very good-looking anyway, which was absurd.

It's all about class, if you play across class boundaries at all.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:41 PM
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59: I'm with you, John. Too bad you don't have a daughter.

If only it weren't a terribly terrible idea to discuss my own current and pending experiences meeting, and introducing the as-above. You all might find it funny. But you'll never know.

Too bad!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:42 PM
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I find it highly unlikely that you have an experiences meeting Norman Mailer pending, Sifu, unless you're getting into the resurrectionist business.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:45 PM
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For a novelist that's an impediment.

He liked to think of himself as a novelist because he thought it was the highest calling. But he's an essayist, provocateur, great conversationalist, etc. And a non-fiction writer -- "The Executioner's Song" had the character of a great novel. He badly needed the discipline of reality to do something great.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:46 PM
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Meeting even the dead Mailer is so overpowering that one can only call it "an experiences".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:46 PM
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63: I can say no more.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:48 PM
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50: Maybe 100%, if you play your cards right.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:48 PM
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Mailer can pontificate annoyingly from beyond the grave, I'm sure. There are probably already houses where overnight guests wake up dripping sweat after dreaming of 10,000 word lectures on sexual politics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:48 PM
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Norman Mailer took an ideological stand on always having sex without birth control.

This reminds me that I recently learned that Plan B is much easier to get in NM than in Colorado. Go us!

novels are clearly not his strength

Good thing he didn't devote his life to writing them or anything, then.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:51 PM
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70

Please, say no more.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:51 PM
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17 is exactly right. I keep (well, not that often) bringing home independent liberal girls from better-off backgrounds and when it first happened I think my parents took it badly. Especially cos I seemed to like her parents more. But on the other hand, my brother has been with this girl for a while now who pretty much exactly matches my parents at her age in terms of taste/class, and I think they're kind of disappointed he doesn't "date up" the way I do.

In short, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.


Posted by: RobDP | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:53 PM
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70 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:55 PM
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73

PPS "Armies of the Night" sucks.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:55 PM
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his family had a reputation around town for raising chickens in their kitchen cabinets

Wow.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:56 PM
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73: That's the one that finally turned me against Mailer, possibly for different reasons than yours. But his sexual ideology stuff and his self-obsession had already immensely annoyed me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 3:58 PM
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shivbunny apparently warned his mother that "she and her sisters squabble, but don't worry, they've all forgotten about it five minutes later." It's weird to discover that he thought that worthy of note.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:02 PM
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77

Mortgage Bankers Association finding it harder to pay its own mortgage.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:02 PM
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78

NOT THE ONION!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:03 PM
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76: Is he the Canadian? The last recorded Canadian squabble was in 1932.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:04 PM
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I confess: I don't understand how anyone has read Mailer. You people are raising chickens in your cabinets or something.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:05 PM
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79: The thing is, she and her sisters squabble, so she should be used to it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:12 PM
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Raising chickens at home is good sense. You can feed them on table scraps.

Chickens are not appealing creatures and you don't have to worry about getting attached. Often it takes all of your self control to keep yourself from harvesting them before maturity.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:12 PM
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83

Is she a real Canadian?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:12 PM
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84

I would rather raise chickens in my kitchen cabinets than read Mailer. Plus, I could use the eggs.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:14 PM
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84: It would be a hard choice. In the cabinets means shitting on the counters and floors. I'll read Mailer first, but I won't be happy.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:17 PM
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86

I'll be off alone in the corner here, rereading "The Prisoner of Sex" and raising my chickens.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:25 PM
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Why the cabinets specifically? Did they not have a yard or something?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:27 PM
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Maybe they kept their kitchen cabinets in the yard.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:29 PM
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Their pots and pans, more likely.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:30 PM
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90

I am sad. this guy was the best.

He hated me like omg he hated me so much.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:30 PM
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In PGD's native culture, Norman Mailer and kitchen chickens are completely normal. We shouldn't ridicule him, unless he proposes to one of our daughters.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:30 PM
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They had a yard, a very big one, with a winding brook through the trees, and boulders situated here and there that they'd painstakingly dragged out of the brook, and a suspended rope bridge over the larger creek behind the property into the woods, and hewn log benches within, for reading.

I believe there was a rumor that they had no doors on their kitchen cabinets, which was true. Just open shelving.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:36 PM
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In the cabinets means shitting on the counters and floors

If you can't take the heat, get out of the chickens


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:40 PM
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Just open shelving.

And chickens.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:41 PM
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The father of a friend ran one of those big chicken factories. One day at work he dropped his gum, and he thought he found it three times.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:47 PM
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L.!


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:56 PM
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M.!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 4:57 PM
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N!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 5:01 PM
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B(itter)M(andel)W(asser)!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 5:05 PM
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M.F.T.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 5:07 PM
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I will take just a moment to observe the you all are making me thankful now for my own cold, distant family. It would never have occurred to my parents to express any significant opinions about anyone I dated any more than it would have occurred to me that something like that would be an appropriate topic of conversation. I believe they've been guardedly positive about one or two, in passing, although they didn't give any details.

On the other hand, they did think I was sleeping with every single one of my male friends in college, possibly simultaneously and definitely including the gay ones, and they let me know in a distant sort of way that they disapproved.

A casual acquaintance of mine is building a chicken coop right here in Minneapolis. I have a probably unrealistic vision of cadging fresh eggs once he's done all the work of getting things set up.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 5:28 PM
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My SO thinks unwaveringly that my mom dislikes her and that she's not good enough by some weird standard she perceives (or projects?) from (onto) my mom.

I try to convince her that, no, really: she really likes you. Recently my mom invited her to a French Film Festival (both of them speak French); I think the SO's finally starting to come around to realizing that mom does, in fact, quite like her.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 5:33 PM
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With luck their hens will produce more eggs than they can eat. My brother does give away eggs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 5:36 PM
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Stanley:

Dont even tell me that you were at the French film fest? Bastard!

Plus, eekbeat is WAY too good for you.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 5:53 PM
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Also, on topic, BR and I have been together for over 4 years.


I still havent met her mother. We've spent lots of time with her dad, and my parents


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 5:54 PM
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Plus, eekbeat is WAY too good for you.

Dude, I know! My mom knows, too, and likes her immensely.

(No film fest; we had to politely decline, but the invitation meant a lot to the SO.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 5:56 PM
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Yea. Tell her that she can come play with us anytime.

Want to plant grapes the last weekend of April?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:03 PM
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Has anyone other than Kate Millett actually read Prisoner of Sex?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:03 PM
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Want to plant grapes the last weekend of April?

Now there's a new euphemism.

(Um, maybe? E-mail me.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:08 PM
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PGD, apparently.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:10 PM
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I have had nightmares about my parents meeting my honey's parents. I think it would go fine, in the long run, but what I'm really afraid of is that I would go ballistic if his mom condescended at my mom. (If---ha! It's fucking inevitable. I doubt my mom would really notice.)


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:16 PM
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JM, just imagine that his mom is Ogged, and keep in mind her bizarre Journey fetish.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:24 PM
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Because, of course, the WASPs were entitled to disapprove, even if they weren't exercising their rights, whereas the Jews should realize they were getting lucky.

C'mon, the nice Jewish boy scored a shiksa. Of *course* the Jews should have realized they were getting lucky.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:31 PM
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I confess: I don't understand how anyone has read Mailer. You people are raising chickens in your cabinets or something.

Exactly. Anyone who can claim that a man who had "ideological reasons" for refusing to use birth control has "deeply spiritual" or wise anything to say about sex is insane. And yes, I mean you, PGD.

(Disagreed that Eekbeat is too good for Stanley. Not that Eekbeat isn't fabulous; she is. But so is Stanley.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:33 PM
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Yes, as Phillip Roth reports, those shiksa wives always turn out well.

I just saw the Simpsons episode when Marge runs off with an Associate Professor and Homer becomes a grunge star.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:34 PM
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Thanks for sharing, John.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:35 PM
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The last recorded Canadian squabble was in 1932.

Actually, it was 1926. The King-Byng Affair.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:38 PM
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Don't be mean to the senescent, B.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:38 PM
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Have I not explained to you that everybody whatsoever is too good for anybody else at all?

Respect yourself! You are somebody! Fight the Power!

People don't understand that my message is a positive one, a message of pride and affirmation of self.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:38 PM
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(Disagreed that Eekbeat is too good for Stanley. Not that Eekbeat isn't fabulous; she is. But so is Stanley.)

Aw, shucks.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:38 PM
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114:

Oh, please! Stanley is certainly fine. But, eekbeat is EEKBEAT!!!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:38 PM
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B must have been an Associate Professor before her demise.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:39 PM
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And Stanley is himself. Seriously. They're like the most fabulously fabulous couple.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:41 PM
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The King-Byng Affair is occasionally called the "King Byng Thing" or "King Byng Wing-Ding" by Canadian political scientists and historians in casual conversation or informal writing.

Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:41 PM
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118: You would prefer I condescend to you? "There, there, John, I'm glad to hear it. Drink your metamucil."

122: Nope, never got that far.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:42 PM
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Will is being sexist in some way, as B. has not pointed out.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:42 PM
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My stools are quite wonderful, thank you. I do have acid reflux at times.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:43 PM
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See? I'm mellowing in my own dotage.

(Actually I just got called "young people" by a guy at the grocery store who was probably no more than 5 years older than I am. I wasn't sure whether to take it as a genuine albeit unintentional compliment, or to be irritated by him for being sexist.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:44 PM
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Sure. They are a great couple. For two people who have never been divorced.

I did hear that Stanley gave her a bunch of rings recently.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:44 PM
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No divorce without marriage, Will. And it takes as many as six or eight marriages to convert some to the no-relationship policy. My neighbor is of 4 or 5 right now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:46 PM
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You would prefer I condescend to you?

Either this is a typo, or you're growing forgetful in your old age.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:47 PM
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BR just said that families are much more forgiving and understanding after your first divorce.

All I had to be was not gay. "He likes vaginas??? Sweet!!" said her dad.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:48 PM
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Oddly enough, as far as I know my parents liked all their kids-in-law. And they were almost always wrong.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:49 PM
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I did hear that Stanley gave her a bunch of rings recently.

Oh yeah, thanks again for that. You guys rock.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:50 PM
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According to a link at Talking Points Memo, Hillary snubbed Canada almost entirely during her time as first lady. Just sayin'.

Almost completely.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 6:59 PM
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131: The second.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:01 PM
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No offense, young lady.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:01 PM
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My dad liked Mr. B. solely (he says) b/c Mr. B. was "an officer, but he calls me Sir!" That's the kind of stupid-ass shit my dad says in a kind of kidding-on-the-square way. Really, he liked Mr. B. b/c Mr. B. had somewhat old-fashioned manners where parental units are concerned, and b/c Mr. B. wasn't a skinny obvious geek like most of my former boyfriends.

My mom always liked my boyfriends just fine, including Mr. B. Who to this day she responds to *way* better than she does me. I think her narcissism is related to the fact that she's always been a little (once a lot, which was a bit disturbing) flirty with the guys I've dated, and she wants to be able to maintain that so she won't push Mr. B. as far as she will me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:05 PM
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137: I really have no idea what you're talking about, John. Fill me in? (Yeah, yeah, low hanging fruit, blah blah.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:06 PM
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According to a link at Talking Points Memo, Hillary snubbed Canada almost entirely during her time as first lady. Just sayin'.

"Snubbed" how? I certainly recall her visiting at least once. Anyway, nobody cares about Canada, John. Except for B, of course, who actively hates us.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:13 PM
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She visited the rest of the world hundreds of times, and Canada only once or twice. Our nearest neighbor, with the most square miles of anyone!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:20 PM
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Our nearest neighbor, with the most square miles of anyone!

Also your biggest trading partner, and with lots of water and oil that you increasingly need, though you can probably get by without the cedar shakes and shingles. But most Americans don't know this, so: not a campaign issue.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:34 PM
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nobody cares about Canada, John. Except for B, of course, who actively hates us.

See? I'm the only one who pays you people any attention at all. You should be grateful.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:41 PM
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Someone should interview B's neighbors from her time in Canuckistan. One suspects that there's more to this story than she's telling us. Shenanigans of some un-Canadian sort.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:43 PM
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with lots of water and oil that you increasingly need

And affordable pharmaceuticals.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:46 PM
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And Celine Dion. And frozen walleyes. And cod, before they went extinct. And Screech.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:48 PM
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Anyone who can claim that a man who had "ideological reasons" for refusing to use birth control has "deeply spiritual" or wise anything to say about sex is insane. And yes, I mean you, PGD.

nature is crazy and insane. When human beings tame it our lives become more convenient, neatly packaged, safer but we are distanced from certain things we were once close to. As a literary type Mailer is speaking up for what is lost. Which is fine, he's not a sex ed teacher or a Planned Parenthood counselor.

You may prefer your sex life to be just another technologically controlled exchange of pleasures rather than a precarious thrill ride through the borderlands between birth and death. Frankly, I share your preference, but an English professor should be willing to at least give imaginative space to the craziness of nature.

I do realize women have greater cause then men for uncompromising denunciation of nature's insanity, they bear more of the brunt of it. Of course Mailer commented that this led feminists to become the Jacobins of the literary imagination.

It is also inarguably correct that the introduction of birth control has led to a profound and in certain ways spiritual transformation in the nature and meaning of sex. One that is still ongoing -- "The Prisoner of Sex" is rather prophetic in its analysis of how the separation of sex from nature destroys patriarchal ideology (of course, Mailer mourns this, but it's still a good point. He also doesn't quite see the ways in which machismo will be reinvented as a new creation of the technological imagination).

In most of his work, Mailer was just a really skilled troll. A great troll takes uncomfortable and underacknowledged truths (or half-truths) and forces attention to them through flamboyant exaggerations that annoy everybody. As I've said many times in the Unfogged context, I respect and admire good trolls, and Mailer is no exception.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:50 PM
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147 came off wrong, the length made it seem like I was annoyed at being called insane. I'm fine with being insane, I just felt like speechifying.

I glanced at the web to see if there was anything from Mailer's Town Hall showdown with Germaine Greer et. al., one of the great troll performances of all time on both sides. Unfortunately, nothing. The best moment is when the lesbians storm the stage and begin making out, which finally causes Mailer to shut up.

You can immediately see that Mailer is so obsessed with masculinity and machismo because he's a nervous, effeminate guy with a massive ego. This is the perfect type to be obsessed with masculinity.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 7:58 PM
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oh, for fuck's sake. birth control has been around for a very long time. the ancient egyptians were using lamb bladders as condoms.

also, people continue, even now, to have procreative sex with all the uncertainty and the thrills.

something changed in the 60s, but it's not what Norman Mailer thinks it is.


Posted by: mrmf | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:00 PM
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I liked Mailer's Hitler book. Only one of his I ever read.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:01 PM
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Did Mailer object to his female partners' using birth control?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:02 PM
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Well said, PGD. Mailer's not on my reading list (not because I hate him, he's just not on my radar), but thank you for the summary.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:03 PM
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To continue my conversation with myself, one of the reasons I liked Mailer's Hitler book was its description of male sexuality in all its rampaging feebleness. Hitler's dad is depicted as a kind of stupid Casanova, oversexed precisely because of his sense of inadequacy. I don't know how much of any of the book had to do with Hitler, but I was certainly moved by the pathos of the penis that wishes it were a phallus.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:06 PM
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Mailer had that gift for finding penises everywhere.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:07 PM
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Well, if you look at world history the dramatics of male inadequacy do seem to be kind of significant.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:10 PM
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And Celine Dion. And frozen walleyes. And cod, before they went extinct. And Screech.

One of these things is not like the other. Hint: it's either the walleye or the cod.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:11 PM
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Walleye is wonderfully delicate, flaky and tasty, and less problematic than cod (which can also be very good if cooked right). Screech is OK if you like that kind of thing. And then there's Celine.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:14 PM
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I like cod.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:17 PM
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I like cod.

You misspelled "cock", ben.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:21 PM
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I despise Mailer for being a misogynistic egotistical arsehole who almost murdered his second wife. But PGD raises interesting issues, regardless of what Mailer had to say, and 147 is very good.

Emerson, to mention Céline Dion is really only to scratch the surface. Canada has exported a lot of truly cheesy pop music. Though some of it we manage to keep to ourselves. Bonus points for anyone (anyone who is not a Canuck, that is) who has ever heard of René Simard (no googling...). Points also for having heard of Stompin' Tom Connors, though he's not cheesy.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:22 PM
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Look, it's a penis! Under the chair! In the light fixture! On top of the subwoofer!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:22 PM
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I've heard of Stompin' Tom Connors, but not Simard.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:23 PM
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(Actually, I'd only heard of STC because I read this comic strip.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:24 PM
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And Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Robbie Robertson, and Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Er.....


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:29 PM
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Quit being nice to PGD, MC-Canada. That's inappropriate.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:31 PM
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153, 155: (Once posted, apparently lost.)

We need more descriptions of male sexuality. Ogged raises the issue here from time to time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:32 PM
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Someone should interview B's neighbors from her time in Canuckistan.

Our neighbors back then were awesome. We're still in touch, actually.

You may prefer your sex life to be just another technologically controlled exchange of pleasures rather than a precarious thrill ride through the borderlands between birth and death. Frankly, I share your preference, but an English professor should be willing to at least give imaginative space to the craziness of nature.

*As* a former English professor, I hereby declare this a completely overwrought mixed metaphor of the type that sounds profound but lacks any meaningful content whatsoever.

Mailer is so obsessed with masculinity and machismo because he's a nervous, effeminate guy with a massive ego.

Men like that are a dime a dozen.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:34 PM
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We need more descriptions of male sexuality

Um, "I'm horny."

Will that do?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:35 PM
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We need more descriptions of male sexuality.

What, you mean in addition to hundreds of years of literary production, visual art, and a good half-century or more of film, photography, and recorded music?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:36 PM
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Sexuality is an unnecessary paleolithic vestige, you know. Foucault didn't know the half of it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:37 PM
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Back on the veldt, everyone had sex a lot.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:39 PM
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Men seem to be saying that they're oppressed by a felt need to perform, no? And so they're nervous, and they overcompensate. That's the story, and we can go with that. Possibly there's more to be said.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:41 PM
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But why didn't Mailer turn into Hitler? Prejudice, I suppose. The poor bastard.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:43 PM
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169: yes, exactly.

Wherever you go these days it's nothing but Colette, Colette, Colette.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:44 PM
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173.---And an evil spirit. And inbreeding. Bees were also implausibly involved. But we don't really know the causes for certain because it was supposed to be a trilogy, and Mailer died shortly after vol. 1.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:47 PM
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Not a lot else to do, Stanley. Sex, antelope, sex, wildebeast, sex, raid nearby tribe, bath, sex, death in family, sex, antelope, chip flint, sex, warthog, sex. No movies, no youth center, no mall, no nothing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:47 PM
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What pisses me off most about Mailer is that he chose to die about a week before I was to have the opportunity to meet him. Actually, though, Armies of the Night, "The White Negro" and parts of The Executioner's Song are the only works of his I've ever read. Life is too short for Norman Mailer. But I have always wondered if Mailer and Miller discussed Marilyn together.

It would never have occurred to my parents to express any significant opinions about anyone I dated any more than it would have occurred to me that something like that would be an appropriate topic of conversation.

Apparently, Frowner and I were raised by the same kind of people. Probably the last time either of my parents and I had any kind of discussion of anything involving sex or romance was when they sat me down to watch My Mom's having a baby. But they were always unfailingly polite to anyone--friend, romantic interest, homeless person--whom we brought home. What they actually thought of them, I can only infer.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:53 PM
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176 made me smile.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:54 PM
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My ex-wife was unnerved by how easily she was accepted. She never quite believed it. In her family everybody was evaluated weekly, even those born into the family.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:55 PM
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174: I don't understand this. Is it that the male-dominated culture has offered an accurate picture of its members? I'm tired, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 8:57 PM
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Is it that the male-dominated culture has offered an accurate picture of its members

Probably exaggerated by at least an inch or two.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:02 PM
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the male-dominated culture has offered an accurate picture of its members

Ben would know. He manages cock@unfogged.com for that very purpose.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:03 PM
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DAH! Gswift-pwned!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:03 PM
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Possibly there's more to be said.

Again, I refer you to the veritable pile of material now available in the libraries and museums of the world, just for starters.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:07 PM
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c0ck@unfogged.com has been decommissioned. The new, gender-neutral address is g3nitalia@unfogged.com.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:07 PM
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AWB, I'm impressed that you knew about Stompin' Tom.

Bonus points if you had heard of the Byrd family before clicking on this link. My God, yer Honour, shure there's worse out there than my crowd...

Okay, this doesn't exactly contribute to the honour and dignity of my compatriots. Just keepin' it real, my American friends, just keepin' it real.

Bonus bonus points for anyone who gets the dumb joke behind Seamus and Jimmy O'Toole being brothers...


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:11 PM
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you mean in addition to hundreds of years of literary production, visual art, and a good half-century or more of film, photography, and recorded music?

there's been little really good writing on sexuality, either male or female. Henry Miller was just as revolutionary as Colette. It's a massively complex subject with a lot of resistance. Parsimon is right, there are lots of reasons why the ostensibly powerful might refuse to see themselves clearly.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:12 PM
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Again, I refer you to the veritable pile of material now available in the libraries and museums of the world, just for starters.

And when you're interested in female sexuality, the full corpus of women's romance literature from Jane Austen to contemporary Harlequin novels is also available. Along with Cosmo and Vogue!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:14 PM
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there's been little really good writing on sexuality, either male or female.

I absolutely agree with this.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:16 PM
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I'm no definitive source on other men's sexuality, parsimon, but a gal could hardly go wrong with bacony underthings.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:22 PM
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184: Okay, B. The idea is that the dominant narrative accurately reflects actual experience; or we can read into it well enough, or we can read the outliers. This is either a silencing maneuver, or it projects upon men the weight of existing cultural narrative. That's tough.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:22 PM
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PGD representin'!

On the other hand, PGD, there's all those Viagra and Flomax ads.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:27 PM
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188: Yes, because commercial magazines and genre fiction produced for commercial reasons within the context of very narrow definitions of femininity are exactly analagous to several culture's worth of artistic production under a very wide range of circumstances in the context of fairly broad and varying concepts of masculinity.

191: No, the idea is that there are a hell of a lot of "dominant" narratives--not just "outliers"--and that having had control of the means of production, the cultural high ground, and all the various other cross-cultural modes of human expression for a few centuries, the field is fairly broad, actually. I certainly don't see how it's "projecting" onto men anything that men themselves haven't spent a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of language (etc.) producing.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:41 PM
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191: exactly, thanks, that was much better than I could put it. My point in 188 was that just as it's ridiculous to think of the dominant female narrative as fully representing women's sexuality, same with men.

there's all those Viagra and Flomax ads.

actually a really good point, especially on the Viagra. Male anxiety about the erection -- surely one of the dark natural kinks of male sexuality -- gives way to the rationalizations of technology. (The subjective experience of using viagra is really interesting...a slight but real alienation from your own body that made me reluctant to use it).

Mailer was into the whole mid-century concern about the way technological rationality dehumanizes even as it offers greater scope to human purposes. (Think: Heidegger, Frankfurt School, Marcuse, Jacques Ellul, etc. etc.). As he put it more recently, technology is a constant barter of convenience for sensuality. Viagra's an interesting chapter in that.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:46 PM
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(The subjective experience of using viagra is really interesting...a slight but real alienation from your own body that made me reluctant to use it)

Have you tried C1@l1(s)!?!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:49 PM
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Men just don't matter half as much as some (mostly American?) feminists seem to think they do. If we could hammer home that message, we'd have mothers' allowances and paid maternal leave, and all kinds of goodies that (not-American) women now take for granted in so many other other parts of the world, but which American women can only dream of as hopelessly radical.

The US probably still leads the world in the commodification of sexuality, though, which (guess what?!) still attaches itself to the female of the species, in ways that mostly do not contribute either to the existential or material comfort of said same females. You're a fool, or at best misguided, if you fall for that "you're a prude if you don't subscribe to Hustler magazine" bait.

Up the sisterhood! or however that goes...but American feminists really need to grow up and get with the programme...


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:50 PM
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American feminists actually led that charge in the 1880's and 90's, but their voices were drowned out by European feminism of the 20th century, which served to make American feminism (about jobs, political access, health care, safety, etc.) look prudish.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:53 PM
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You're a fool, or at best misguided, if you fall for that "you're a prude if you don't subscribe to Hustler magazine" bait.

Especially in the era of internet porn.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:54 PM
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I link to the bacon bra and no one even mentions it? Am I in the right place?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:56 PM
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Men just don't matter half as much as some (mostly American?) feminists men seem to think they do.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:56 PM
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193: We don't need to have this out. That was sort of my point: if one is to look just at what's been promoted, as part of the canon, say, one gets one picture. But there are other (still male-narrated, because most of them are) stories about the matter. If I want to put together an understanding of how a contemporary man deals with his sexuality, I can do that without consulting him directly. The question is whether I should.

I don't deny that this is a vexed question, the more I think about it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 9:56 PM
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199: you know I love bacon and tits more than anyone but -- and this is weird -- it's kind of gross.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:02 PM
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Honestly, AWB, I think you're wrong. English/British feminists actually led the way, I'm pretty sure.

And I'm not even talking about Mary Astell. I'm talking about so many 19th-century reformist gestures in Britain which were then exported to the US... Sorry, but I'm not going to give you credit for stuff you've never even achieved anyway, when those who first proposed it have at least actually halfway arrived there...


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:06 PM
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I'm not totally ignorant of British history, you know. And no one's asking for "credit," as if feminism is ever "done." But to say that American feminism is a worthless failure is sort of overlooking a lot of really important people.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:10 PM
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202: Totally gross, agreed. Even if it were somehow constructed from cooked bacon, gross. Still, seems tailor-made for some of the boys around here.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:11 PM
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Still, seems tailor-made for some of the boys around here in order to make them hate and fear two things they used to love.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:12 PM
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If I want to put together an understanding of how a contemporary man deals with his sexuality, I can do that without consulting him directly. The question is whether I should.

I think you should show him the respect to try to understand his sexuality as uniquely his in exact proportion to how much he does in re. yours.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:31 PM
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But to say that American feminism is a worthless failure is sort of overlooking a lot of really important people.

Well, I never said that American feminism is a worthless failure.

But you know damn well that the dominant narrative in America is that women's rights were invented at Ithaca, and you also know (if you're honest) that this is so much bullshit.

It truly amazes me, sometimes, how tetchy youse all are, given that you're the most powerful society that has ever existed on this our earth. Just saying.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:35 PM
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Mailer sucks--I refuse to read him because of his misogyny.

But to go back to the original thread (apologies for the long comment, but I'm seeking advice):

I haven't met my boyfriend's parents yet, which I'm cool with because he'll never meet mine. My dad is one of those old school Strict Asian Fathers, who would sooner die than see his youngest daughter marry the White Devil. That he's Jewish is even more hurtful to dad, I think. He'll definitely disown me for marrying out-of-race, and try to cut me off from contact with my other siblings and their kids. I won't be invited to any more family events.

I wish that I could say that old age has softened him, but just in 2005 he didn't talk to my middle sister for months when she went on a few dates with a white guy. And he disowned my oldest sister in the late '80s when she married a Vietnamese guy he didn't then approved of. I didn't see my sister from the age of 8 to 11, until she had her racially-pure baby. My dad is pretty fucked up. I love my family, dysfunctional as they are, but I've always been willing to give this up to marry someone I love rather than be a single virgin like my middle sister (who listened to dad when he told us not to date until after we finished school), or get an arranged marriage. I figure my siblings will see me behind his back, and that much as I love my dad, a parent who is willing to disown a child isn't much of a parent--so I just have to let that go.

Things are getting more serious with the boyfriend, and we talk about the future some. I don't dread meeting his parents --they're progressive Reform Jews, and they'll accept me. But I do dread telling all of this to my boyfriend. It's not serious enough yet to tell him the score if we get married. I'm going on the market in 2 years, so who knows if he wants to follow an academic around to some random part of the country. But I have been hinting at how strict and racist my father is (whenever we watch a movie with some psycho dad; my work is on racial and gender discrimination and so I talk about this stuff a lot anyway) and how abusive he was, and so he's on constructive notice. So far he isn't running away yet, but at least he sort of knows what he might be getting into. He's sympathetic, but not judgmental, and not considering me damaged goods. This guy's a keeper, and I want to keep him.

Any tips from the Unfoggedtariat for breaking this kind of serious "if you want to be with me, you should know..." kind of news to an SO?


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:35 PM
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commercial magazines and genre fiction produced for commercial reasons within the context of very narrow definitions of femininity are exactly analagous to several culture's worth of artistic production under a very wide range of circumstances in the context of fairly broad and varying concepts of masculinity.

don't buy it. Society as a whole takes control of gender definitions and gender relations in a way that constrains both men and women. Sexuality is an especially controlled and censored area.

Also, women and men both play a role in cultural productions that support the broader gender structure -- there was a simply massive amount of female cultural production in the Victorian 19th century (compare to e.g. black cultural production, miniscule by comparison).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:35 PM
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the dominant narrative in America is that women's rights were invented at Ithaca

It is? Really? If anything, I think it's that feminism was invented when Gloria Steinem burned her bra, and I've always been inclined to just put that down as silliness combined with anti-feminist propaganda.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:36 PM
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209: ease into it, by trying to make him your father.


Re: other comments: intra-feminist cage fight?!? SEXY!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:40 PM
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there was a simply massive amount of female cultural production in the Victorian 19th century

Indeed. Still, though, compare to, oh, say, the classical tradition through the decadent fin-de-siecle, and then please stop trying to pretend that men haven't been far, far better represented, as subjects, in all their variety than women have.

I can't believe we're having this womens studies 101 discussion. Jeez.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:43 PM
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212: Sifu, you still wearing that white tie, or just jerking us around?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:45 PM
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He's not saying men have been inadequately represented, B. He's saying they've been inaccurately represented.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:46 PM
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It turns out that bpl's grandfather (from the old country) is comedically suspicious of not just her boyfriends but even her male friends. Driving up to Point Reyes this weekend, she was on the phone with him while I drove. "I'm going up to Point Reyes with some friends [a lie] Grandpa." "Including the Mediterranean?"

Anyway, on the original question I think 28 is partially right, but a big part of the answer is that older guys (fathers) just like young women and older women (mothers) just like young men. They're favorably predisposed. Without that finding-attractive, things are lot more tense.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:46 PM
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214: little 'o both.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:46 PM
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I can't believe we're having this womens studies 101 discussion. Jeez.

Why not? It's not like any of us have degrees in the subject, or even necessarily took any classes in it.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:48 PM
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Ogged! How was the kayaking?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:48 PM
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The fact that there's an ongoing discussion of a bacon bra (won't click -- sorry) here, while others are talking about the transnational history of feminism, and Belle is opening up about a serious personal issue (I had to deal with something similar a long time ago -- it sucked) is totally surreal. That is all.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:49 PM
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220: it's not a very impressive bacon bra, Ari. (a) It won't support bupkis and (b) it's not very edible. Lose-lose.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:50 PM
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There's been a recent trend within academic history of women's rights and feminism by American historians (or historians of America, to be more precise) to take a transatlantic/global approach. Odds are very little of this shift has made it outside of academic history.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:50 PM
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147 puts paid to my theory that PGD was really Kate Millett.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:51 PM
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bupkis

Sexist.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:52 PM
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Braziers should be used to cook bacon, not to be bacon.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:52 PM
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The bacon bra didn't seem very functional, to be honest. Plus, you know, trichinosis.

216: who's the Mediterranean?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:53 PM
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He's saying they've been inaccurately represented.

So there's some collective Male Experience that's been inaccurately represented by the thousands of men who've written pretty explicitly about a very wide variety of sexual subjectivities?

The variety of the representations is sort of the point.

218: Because it's not that hard to read up on this stuff.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:53 PM
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227: and, further, that female sexuality has been widely, if inaccurately, represented. Look, take it up with PGD.

227.last: "refer please to the monograph [ referenced ]."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:55 PM
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209: He has some idea, even without any hints. Do you live in a place where asian women dating non-asian men is not shocking? If so, he was probably aware of the existence of that kind of thing. Perhaps the severity might disturb him, but certainly not the existence. Given that, and the fact that you've presumably been skittish about family things, I'd think he'd have picked up on something. I've got zero advice on the tactics of breaking it to him, but you seem to think it's a greater strategic disadvantage than I'd imagine it to be.


Posted by: hypnotizingchickens | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:56 PM
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221 defines, in contrast, the true Baconator.


Posted by: hypnotizingchickens | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:58 PM
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Because it's not that hard to read up on this stuff.

It also isn't that hard to read up on Chinese dynastic history, behavioral finance and limits to arbitrage, or the current noise rock scene of Providence and Brooklyn. Doesn't mean I'd expect you to show a sophisticated understanding of these topics should they come up.

Do you live in a place where asian women dating non-asian men is not shocking?

I.e.: Earth


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:59 PM
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230: oh, you bastard.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 10:59 PM
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It's easy to read up on the noise rock scene in Providence?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:01 PM
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You can't get trichinosis through the skin, Ben. And bras aren't for eating.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:02 PM
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China has a dynastic history? Fuck, now I need to rewrite that editorial I wrote for Tech Central Station.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:02 PM
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233: go at it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:03 PM
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234: true but irrelevant; 233: yes it is indeed.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:03 PM
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229: thanks for this. No we don't, but he somehow managed to go to a mostly-white private high school, and then Cornell, where I presume that maybe the Asian women there had more liberal fathers (I presume this because Cornell probably doesn't have much of a commuter student body, so the kids were more independent). I went to a mostly-Asian state school because my dad wanted me to commute fro home, so it was less surprising breaking it to previous boyfriend.

I figured on breaking this to him only when necessarily (when he decides to commit, say for life). Perhaps I should give him more fair warning of what he's getting into if he keeps dating me.

That's a good subquestion: how much time is fair notice. We've only been dating six months, so I've been dropping hints as a matter of courtesy, without giving the big disclaimers as a form of actual notice.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:03 PM
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209 -- That's really awful. The only thing I can think of at this hour is pretty frivolous: sit down with your dad next time you're home, and watch Fiddler on the Roof. A couple opportunities to try to talk sense . . .

As for your beau, it doesn't seem to me that you have to go looking for it: sooner or later, there'll come a time when it's natural for you to go home for a visit, and he'll be thinking he ought to tag along. Deepening his understanding of you with context, and all that. And then you'll have to lay it straight out: my father will never accept you.

Late night ravings from a stranger. Best of luck with it.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:03 PM
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Thanks, Napi.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:05 PM
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female sexuality has been widely, if inaccurately, represented

Again, the question of who is representing what does kind of matter here.

231.1: On the other hand, I wouldn't pretend to know about those things if I *hadn't* read something about them, so.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:05 PM
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Perhaps I should give him more fair warning of what he's getting into if he keeps dating me

I do agree, but hey, not your fault, nor problem.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:06 PM
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226: In case John's not around to remind you, domestic pork is no longer a vector for trichinosis. Or so he says.

Belle-L, I'm sorry for your dilemma, that's a tough situation. Strict Asian Fathers are implacable IME; I had a friend whose Japanese girlfriend's parents beat her when they found out she was dating a Caucasian. I lucked out with my own girlfriend's parents, who were uncommonly warm and welcoming people, and Communists as well.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:07 PM
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B. you're still making the mistake of assuming, or going along with the assumption that, it's the men who actually matter. What?! Didn't your grandmother teach you anything at all?

Just barrel ahead and forget what those fuckers might say. This way lies mothers' allowances and universal health care and maternity leave. If you pay attention to dumbasses, you'll never get anywhere.

And fer god's sake, please pay no heed to all this sexitude nonsense...they're just yanking your chain, and they laugh loudly whenever you take that bait...


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:10 PM
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Oh yeah. I totally forgot. I kind of dread beating. It may not happen. My dad is 70 or so (doesn't know his birthday, so we don't know), and my brothers will probably try to prevent that, but they couldn't when they were younger and my oldest sister was disowned. Psycho yelling will be bad though.

Thanks, Jesus and Sifu. I feel better knowing that it's not my fault, and that my boyfriend probably won't blame me either.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:12 PM
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226: In case John's not around to remind you, domestic pork is no longer a vector for trichinosis. Or so he says.

That claim, as we now see, was just a backup for his No Relationship policy. He foresaw the bacon bra, and set his trap with care.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:12 PM
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FWIW, BL, having dated Filipinos a lot in h.s., my experience is that a lot of Asian families aren't that crazy about their children dating white people. If he's dated other Asian women, he shouldn't be surprised. And if he's relatively young, he probably won't be bothered about your telling him. It bothers *you* because it's *your* dad.

The actual long-term potential difficulties, your beau won't be able to forsee, assuming he's never been married before.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:14 PM
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245: you could totally beat him back.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:14 PM
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BL: I'm guessing that your boyfriend's reaction will be to totally take your side, and be completely pissed on your behalf.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:16 PM
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245: At the risk of generalizing about white guys dating Asian women, I can't imagine that the possibility hasn't crossed his mind. So when you do bring it up, it won't be a total surprise.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:17 PM
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244: Huh? I like men, and I like chain-yanking as much as the next guy. God knows I've got my own internalized sexist crap to deal with and won't deny it, but trolling and being trolled is just fun.

(Plus PGD really is kind of sexist, and I'm a born teacher. I can't help it.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:18 PM
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236: They gig with gorillas?* That's totally awesome. But don't tell Dian Fossey. Because she'll close that shit down. Plus, I don't remember Providence being that cool.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:20 PM
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B-pwned, basically. Sifu, were you thinking about Pedro Martinez and Don Zimmer when you wrote 248?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:20 PM
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Dare I say it? 6 months is short to write off your dad for. My shit advice: let the b/f know your situation in due course (w/i 3mo). If it's still a going concern in a year, then start the sturm und drang. Who knows, the dad might liberalize. Oh, and have your s/o attend pre-med.


Posted by: hypnotizingchickens | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:22 PM
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No, I was thinking Marky Mark and that 70 year old he beat up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:22 PM
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Didn't your grandmother teach you anything at all?

My grandmother wouldn't have described herself as a feminist, but she sure picked up the message somewhere along the way that while they probably meant well, men were damn foolish, moody, and any woman with half a brain shouldn't be relying on them to do the thinking.

Any tips from the Unfoggedtariat for breaking this kind of serious "if you want to be with me, you should know..." kind of news to an SO?

No tips, just sympathy. I expect your boyfriend will be supportive, however, and the opportunity for the discussion will probably present itself naturally.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:24 PM
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247-250: Thanks again, all.

Since I've been dropping hints, I don't think it'll be a surprise w/r/t my individual case, and he probably does know the general story. I was really tempted to rent "The Namesake" though, just in case. Mostly because I can't bear "The Joyluck Club."

It does feel slightly dishonest to keep this from him, but it wouldn't exactly have been good first date conversation. So there's definitely a limit to how much fair warning I was willing to give him. I didn't start dropping hints until months in, after it was clear that this was going somewhere. But now that we're falling in love, it just seems like I have to tell him what he's getting into.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:26 PM
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Belle, 249 makes me remember something about my own similar, though long-ago, experience: you'll need to sort out how you want your boy to respond before you tell him. I chose, without talking to my gf/si, to accept that her dad would never accept me. And that made her crazy. So then I got really angry at her father, and suggested that, by not embracing me, he was being totally unfair to her and not a very good dad. Which made her even angrier. She never really forgave me.

Anyway, my point isn't that any of this is your fault; it isn't. But I do think that, before you talk to your boy about the situation, you should know what you want from him and be honest with him about that. Plus, you should totally watch Fiddler on the Roof with your dad. And please invite me to check out that scene. I'll wear my bacon bra.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:29 PM
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A properly equipped and delivered Baconator will solve everything. I have no indication that there exists a problem that such a device cannot handle.


Posted by: hypnotizingchickens | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:33 PM
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gf/si

girlfriend/Système International?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:34 PM
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259 is, obviously, correct. On the other hand: damn yoooouuuuu!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:34 PM
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254: I meant in general I would write off family, not nec. for this guy. Only if he really wants to be with me, would I leave the family for him (or any other guy, for that matter). Hence, me waiting to show the terms of the deal is as much for me as for him. Agreed that six months is too short. But I've been thinking about this for oh, eleven years. And it's come up before, with Previous Boyfriend, who did want to marry me and we did talk about that a lot. We broke up for other reasons. So I meant that having thought about it for most of my adult life, and knowing that this is what it's going to be like if I don't marry someone dad will approve of, I have resigned myself to being disowned at some future point. This is why I visit my family fairly often now--while the family dynamic is pretty good, I have been soaking up the family time. It's kind of like living with someone with a terminal illness. At some point, you know the end will come, and they will not be in your life anymore. I think of my dad that way. It is sad.

258: Ari, good points. If this is the dude for life, I want him on my side, and to know that it's difficult for me and support me no matter what. If I have to lose my parents, I have to be able to depend on him to be there. I think I will spell that out clearly that that's all I'm asking for. I don't mind that he thinks my dad is psycho and abusive. I know that already, even accounting for cultural relativism.

If only my dad could understand English and didn't spend all of his time watching the Vietnamese equivalent of Fox News, could we watch Fiddler on the Roof together. Maybe I'll just watch that myself. With my boyfriend!


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:35 PM
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I like chain-yanking as much as the next guy.

I dunno, some guys are really into it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:36 PM
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The Baconator is a myth, like Bigfoot or the clitoris.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:36 PM
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264: lies!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:38 PM
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I don't know what that link had to do with anything (and don't try to pull that "it's in the URL shit", 'cause I don't read the URLs -- I'm a man not a machine), but I must have those women for my harem.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:41 PM
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266: Walt, you bastard, that is the Baconator: it predates any Wendy's bullshit by many years. They ripped me off!

Those women, the ones who aren't new mothers, would of course be delighted to hear they have a harem to decline.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:44 PM
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The ones who are new mothers are still available for harem duty? Awesome.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:47 PM
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265, etc..:
Not that I'd breathe a word of it on your site, but it was a pretty decent thing you done this day.


Posted by: hypnotizingchickens | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:47 PM
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I... I think so?

Oh, now I'm in trouble.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:47 PM
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269: hey, fuck you. The guy called me a douche!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:48 PM
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Anyway, Black Rock Desert is clearly mythological as well, so any pictures taken from there must be faker than the Moon landings.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:49 PM
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271: Hey douche, what did you say about NOLA? All of those links from his site are dead.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:53 PM
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are dead

I mean, um, no longer with us. All due respect.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:54 PM
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while they probably meant well, men were damn foolish, moody, and any woman with half a brain shouldn't be relying on them to do the thinking.

I try so hard not to think of men in this condescending manner. But there are times.

I dunno, some guys are really into it.

Do tell, Benjamin.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:56 PM
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271: basically, that it's a really shitty place to put a city, and that the lower 9th (and lakeview) shouldn't be repopulated. Many links to John McPhee's "Atchafalaya" involved.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:56 PM
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I don't know if this helps at all, BL, but a student of mine recently transitioned from female to male while his (religious) parents were both suffering from cancer. As long as everything was unspoken, they were just kind of maniacally hinting that he was their daughter and they were dying and they didn't want to see him dressed that way, and threatening all sorts of emotional, financial, and physical violence. (The cancer had been going on for eight years or so.) Finally, he decided to just man up and confront them.

He said, "Hear me out for five minutes, and then you can make your final decision. I am your child, and I love you. I want nothing more than to be in the hospital with you when you're sick, and have dinner with you at home. I want to talk to you about school and work and all the happy things we have left together.

"I am also going through a bad relationship with my body. I'm very sorry that this is happening while you're both ill, because this is a stressful time for all of us. But it is happening, to me. I don't ask that you celebrate it, or encourage it, but just respect that I'm going through something. We don't have to talk about it if you don't want to.

"But if you've decided that you hate this thing about me more than you want me in your lives, you need to tell me. Either I will stay, and help you, and love you, and you'll try to treat me with at least respect, or I'll go, if that's what you prefer. I will move in with friends and not ask you for a penny. If you decide to ask me to leave and then change your mind, you can call me.

"But I won't stay just to keep fighting with you. It's not healthy for you or for me to be angry all the time. You have to decide whether it's worth accepting me enough to tolerate having me around, with the decency you'd offer anyone, or if it's not. I hope it is."

What I respected so much about this was that my student really recognized that his parents wanted to use access to the family as bait, while simultaneously threatening loss of it. The angry parent who "disowns" a child is not, I don't think, really actually preferring not having the child in their life. It's just spoken out of anger, in the hopes that the child will relent, relinquish the undesirable lifestyle, and come home saying "DAD YOU WERE SO RIGHT." You need to make it plain at the outset that manipulation is not going to happen. This is a negotiation between two adult parties, which you would prefer to end in at least respectful silence, if not acceptance. If your dad decides to cast you off because of something that is going to happen again, even if you don't marry this guy, then he needs to have a moment, in front of you, when he realizes that's what he's doing, that you're not going to change, and that he is making the decision to lose his daughter.

....or whatever terms you see fit to set.

This is crazy-long. I'm going to bed.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-08 11:56 PM
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Wow, thanks AWB.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:00 AM
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276 should go to 273, I suppose.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:01 AM
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What I mean by the end of 277 is that maybe you need to make this about your relationship with your dad, and leave the guy out of it, except as a symbol. Make it clear that you're not "choosing" between your dad and some guy you've known a handful of months. You're asking him to tolerate your adult decisions about your love-life and have a relationship, or to choose not to have a relationship with you. No matter whom you're with, whether Asian or not, your father does not get to hold shit over your head about it. If he claims he does, he needs to know that he's the one making the choice not to see you anymore because of this.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:04 AM
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280: You are so right. I keep forgetting to make this distinction, especially when I talk about this to other people. I must keep this in mind, and Ari's point about knowing what I want from this.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:07 AM
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276: I will so cut you. About the Lower 9, I mean. The Lakeview should have been razed long before K made landfall.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:19 AM
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"The Lakeview" s/b "Lakeview." Duh. And "you're a douche" s/b "you're a huge racist douche who has no idea what he's talking about"


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:21 AM
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282: I note you didn't say I'm wrong. Every resident of the lower 9 should have been given 300k by the government to buy elsewhere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:22 AM
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283: I knew what you meant.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:22 AM
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277: Did they watch Fiddler on the Roof? If they did, it helps. If not, not so much.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:23 AM
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276: basically, that it's a really shitty place to put a city

Pragmatically speaking you are right. Probably Baton Rouge should end up playing Houston to New Orlean's Galveston. (It's not as simple as that though as the "Port of South Louisiana" which stretches between the two is bigger than either, and they all rely on the current overdue to switch river channel.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:23 AM
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283: further, there's no way to actually make a city safe during a Category 5 hurricane, and barring that, oughtn't we, as a nation, allow poor people the live their lives without fea of death?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:24 AM
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287: port-wise, you need a town of maybe two or three thousand people. Not a city of a million.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:26 AM
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Urf, that should be two or three hundred thousand. Although I was arguably right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:27 AM
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284: Social consequences be damned? I mean the consequences of uprooting one of the very few neighborhoods in the Deep South in which working-class black people owned their homes in significant numbers. A neighborhood that had, before the storm, one of the lowest churn rates in the United States. A neighborhood once noted for its mutual-aid societies, for the networks of association that allowed people to make it from check to check. But hey, $300K should do it, right?

(I'm mostly fucking with you. But I'm also right. Douche.)


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:27 AM
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288: A) Not true. Bob Bea and others argue that you just need money to keep the city safe from a C-5 storm. Money, in this case, probably = something like $15 billion. That would include rebuilding the coast to act as a buffer/sponge, raising the levees (fuck floodwalls), ripping out MRGO, and constructing/deconstructing all manner of soft engineering fixes (more open space in the lowest-lying areas of the city).

B) Don't you live in Boston? How will you keep all the white people there safe from the molasses that inevitably will sweep through the city again one of these days.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:32 AM
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291: the fact is, if you try and pretend you'll rebuild NOLA, what you're really saying is that the poor black people should just suck it up and die again, because the city is worth that much.

292.1: they're wrong. There's no good way to do it. The corps of engineers will lie to you about this endlessly, but the fact is there's no way to protect something the size of NOLA from a cat 5 hurricane.

292.2: touché.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:35 AM
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Also I agree that NOLA -- due to rates of home ownership, among other factors -- was a uniquely valuable urban center. You know why it was what it was? Because (a) moneyed whites and (b) insurers knew perfectly welll that it would be obliterated one of these days. The idea that NOLA is a unique opportunity for American blacks to build equity is a great big fuck-you to American blacks, paid in installments over every hurricane season.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:37 AM
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This should really go in "Yet More America Hating", but will take the liberty of posting it here for evident reasons. A few nights ago I was watching "Meet the Parents" on cable with one of my kids. I forget the channel, but it was not a chopped up version with commercials. However, they had cut any mention of "bomb" in the airplane and subsequent interrogation scenes. I was wondering if it was somehow the "in-flight" version, or whether we all need to be protected from the mere thought in our little post-9/11 fantasy world.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:38 AM
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touchéglug glug glug


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:38 AM
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295: You've heard about the edits they made to Rain Man for airplane viewing, right? They completely cut out the scene where Dustin Hoffman's character outlines the crash records of every American carrier.

Without that scene, one might wonder why it is Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman have to drive cross-country, instead of just flying...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:40 AM
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297: Same with the near crash in Almost Famous*, but I would not assume any of those versions would end up on cable.

*And I guess they just passed on Alive! altogether.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:44 AM
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293: Bea isn't with the Corps. And, if we're going to deal in facts, it's worth remembering that anything in the city built before 1900 can easily withstand a C-5 storm -- and almost certainly already has (though we don't have the wind readings to know for sure). So, to keep the city safe, there are several options: shrink the new New Orleans's footprint to look like the old New Orleans's, before drainaige technologies allowed urbanization to gobble the backswamp; raise the levees, revive the coastal wetlands, and rely on soft engineering for low-lying areas; give up and displace the most entrenched and vibrant black community in the Deep South, not to mention among the most historically significant places in this fine nation of ours.

Oh wait, option C isn't such a good one.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:47 AM
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Ari, wait, aren't you the person who told me it is not insane to think about global warming and elevation when house-hunting?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:48 AM
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292.2: Not to mention, Boston's Earthquake Problem.

It's not the likelihood of a major earthquake that makes experts tremble -- though it's worse than you think. It's the damage one would do -- because it's MUCH[sic] worse than you think.

Do you hear that? MUCH worse than you think, MUCH worse.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:48 AM
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Well, holy crap.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:52 AM
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301: At the Boston meetup last weekend, I remarked as we were walking around the North End about just how foreign all the brick architecture looked, after 12 years living in earthquake country. Reinforce! Reinforce! OK!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:55 AM
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300: Yes, but much of New Orleans isn't in danger from flooding. Unless, that is, we're talking about the big one. Sorry, the Big One. But if that's what we're talking about, we'd really better relocate San Francisco, LA, San Jose, etc. And, Miami might need to move as well. And maybe Boston and New York, while we're at it.

302: Old news. Do you live in a cave (read: not check TPM ever fifteen seconds thoughout the day)?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:55 AM
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Seriously, wanna get freaked out about earthquakes? Check out the New Madrid seismic zone, the American heartland's dirty little secret.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:57 AM
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No one tell B that she can't masturbate to Charleton Heston anymore.

On preview, pwned by Ari, that fucker.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:57 AM
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305 to 301. Sorry.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:57 AM
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Do we get to eat Heston now? Or were we supposed to do that before he died?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:59 AM
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305: Yes, with lots of sediments just waiting to be liquefied. And for east coast cities, Charleston SC, is most at risk. For Boston it is the combo of the relatively hard crystalline rocks all around carrying the energy to the land filled areas.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:01 AM
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304.2: Well *fine*. See if I ever try to share something you might be interested in again.

I never masturbated to Heston. Ew. (OTOH, unlike Ms. Althouse, I have seen Ben Hur. Even though I'm much younger and cuter than she is. Not that that matters to anyone but her. The poor dear.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:05 AM
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309: The molasses will get Boston first. Mark my words.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:12 AM
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You don't? How else do you get through those interminable viewings of the Ten Commandments?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:13 AM
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You task me, Ari. You task me, and I will have you.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:15 AM
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I've actually never bothered to watch that one. Because I hate God, and America.

Plus geez, it just always looked so damn boring.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:21 AM
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It is boring (which is frankly amazing, because it's a good story). Porn is also boring, which is what drives people to masturbate to it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:22 AM
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Yeah, it might be a good story if it were told *as* a story. Rather than as didactically as possible, like most Christian (TM) movies.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:26 AM
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I thought the Prince of Egypt cartoon did a good job for a kid's movie of telling it as an interesting story.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:30 AM
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Haven't seen it. See 314.1.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:31 AM
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It had Val "Jim Morrison" Kilmer as the voice of Moses. A must-see for the whole family that hates God and America.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:33 AM
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I don't much like Entourage. But the episode with Val Kilmer playing a pot dealer/guru is truly hilarious. It's worth getting from Netflix just to watch Kilmer chewing the scenery. And now I'm going to sleep.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:37 AM
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Mary Catherine ,

What is significant about Ithaca (or not significant, as the case may be) in the history of feminism in the U.S.? I know about Seneca Falls but not Ithaca.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:47 AM
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Haven't read all the way through, so probably this has already been said, but... I wonder if the girl's father/boys mother tends to be the tougher audience because the girl's mother/boys father is more likely to be taken in by the same particular set of charms that the date used to woo the girl/boy.

My dad already knows and likes the guy I most recently went on a couple of dates with, though he has no idea I've gone on any dates with this guy. If it were to progress to "meet the parents," it would be interesting to see how his opinion changes. My dad never liked the Ugly Naked Guy, whom I think my mom still misses. But in most cases my dad could have cared less who I dated and my mom was always deeply suspicious. Except for the one she still refers to as "that one attractive guy you dated."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:27 AM
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I wonder if the girl's father/boys mother tends to be the tougher audience because the girl's mother/boys father is more likely to be taken in by the same particular set of charms that the date used to woo the girl/boy.

I think that's probably right.

Saying that, I can't remember any parents who didn't like me after the first couple of meetings.

First impressions, as I quite often dated 'up' the class ladder, were sometimes briefly negative, but after a few conversations, that was all done and dusted.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 6:03 AM
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My favorite Heston movie is Big Country. Because it's assumed you're going to like Gregory Peck better. And you do.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 6:24 AM
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And it's a meet the parents movie, iirc.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 6:25 AM
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This from imdb: According to Gregory Peck, director William Wyler intended the film to be a left-wing allegory for the Cold War.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 6:30 AM
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Seriously, wanna get freaked out about earthquakes? Check out the New Madrid seismic zone, the American heartland's dirty little secret.

Dude, tell me about it. St. Louis is fucked.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 7:51 AM
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299: option A is what I suggested. I don't believe option B is feasible, and even if it were, I don't believe the political will is musterable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 7:52 AM
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Basically, I think that our job is to provide political will. People keep saying, "That's not politically possible, so what's your second choice?" If you're in an administrative position, you make compromises all the time, but it isn't the public's job to make the compromises.

Democrats always do that -- they think, "What kind of deal will eventually be cut? or What would I do if I were in charge?", as though they were insiders.

But we're not insiders, we're the populace. Putting pressure on the insiders is our job, not deciding on the ultimate compromise. Even if you have a PhD in political science, you're part of the unwashed masses unless you have a position in government or with one of the parties. Just forget your sophisticated analyses and keep the pressure on. Don't tip your hand and tell them what you'll settle for.

It's even worse than I say. Even Democrats in formal positions (Pelosi and Reid) often make the same kind of mistake. Instead of fighting for their position, they just announce at the beginning that since the Republicans refuse to compromise, the Democrats will. The Democrats must have tremendous stocks of dry powder, because they hardly ever use it.

I tend to disagree about feasibility, too, but I don't really know about that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:21 AM
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I tend to disagree about feasibility, too, but I don't really know about that.

If I thought it were possible, I'd agree 100% with the rest of your post. As is, I decided to stop blogging about it, because people I respect really don't get where I'm coming from.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:24 AM
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Dude, tell me about it. St. Louis is fucked.

Did you have earthquake drills in school too, mrh?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:27 AM
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I wonder if I can bait Ari into coming back into this thread and talking to me about NOLA some more?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:32 PM
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Aaaaaaari, come out and plaaaaaaaay


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:30 PM
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333: It's almost time for supper, and Ari still has to do his homework. Which you should think about doing yourself from time to time, if you ever want to make anything out of yourself, young man.


Posted by: Ari's mother | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:32 PM
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(puts down frog, hides firecrackers, runs away)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:33 PM
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Where were we? Oh right, you were still a douche.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:37 PM
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329 -- I don't really disagree with John's point here. I'd go one more, though: if you want politicians to support/fight for your position, demonstrate to them that you've got muscle behind you. Telling them you'll withhold your vote doesn't work, unless you're part of an organized movement.

There's really no substitute for organizing. Rather than whining.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:40 PM
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328 to 336. I just don't think the correct way to protect one of America's most unique and valuable cultures is to subject it to repeated destruction. I also don't see how it's helpful to people to enable them to live in exactly the same place and exactly the same way that got them flooded and (too often) killed the last time. I also think that we're going to have to start making hard decisions about a lot of coastal areas, and instead of doing that in New Orleans, we basically punted.

Now please understand, I'm all for throwing money and resources at the people of New Orleans, I would just really like them to be spent in such a way that those poor people don't go through the exact same fucking thing five or ten years down the road, which is what's happening, and which is what, by the way, you get beat up for complaining about.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:41 PM
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Seriously, you're argument is that we could do it, but we lack the political will, right? That's some craven shit, my man. And remember: we mobilized for WWII in about twelve minutes, built an entire navy, air force, and peopled an army, just to fight overseas. Or, if that's too far afield historically, we're spending what, $2 billion/week in Iraq? So why, again, can't we rebuild a safe New Orleans that would contract onto the high ground in some places, be protected by higher and wider levees in others, and generally rest easy knowing that the coastal wetlands are doing the job they previously did across the centuries?

Having said all of this, I'm on the record as being totally unsure that any of what I've suggested is fair, for precisely the reasons you offered way upthread. My conclusion, when I wrote about all of this, was: damned if we do, damned if we don't. It really can't ever be safe in the Lower 9. But if we don't try to rebuild we'll all be party to a social catastrophe that will make the environmental/planning/response disaster of the hurricane seems like small potatoes. In the end, there's no answer to this one; it's that depressing.

But you're still a racist douche doomed to a future of trying to swim to safety through waves of molasses.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:45 PM
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So why, again, can't we rebuild a safe New Orleans that would contract onto the high ground in some places, be protected by higher and wider levees in others, and generally rest easy knowing that the coastal wetlands are doing the job they previously did across the centuries?

Well, right. And this is what should be done. But that means, in addition to abandoning Lakeview, that large portions of the Lower 9th would not be safe. I personally don't think there's any way around this outcome; I don't believe Category 5 storm protection is possible for New Orleans in its current footprint, and no matter what you do Lakeview, the lower 9th and New Orleans East would all be fucked in a major storm. So then the question is what do you offer those people? Do you offer them assurances that they will be made safe that are almost certainly lies? Do you help them rebuild houses that are basically guaranteed to be destroyed again? Or do you offer to help them move if they want to, help them buy land someplace else -- maintaining the high rates of home ownership, hopefully -- and accept that the character of the city is probably going to change?

I mean, do the poorest residents in the Lower 9th really want to come back so they can help preserve a cultural legacy? Or are they coming back because they mostly own their own homes and couldn't afford to buy property -- or even rent anything tolerable -- anywhere else?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:51 PM
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By the way, instead of anything like what either of us are proposing we have these inchoate cries of "make it safe!" and "help rebuild!" which is going to change exactly none of the conditions that lead to Katrina being as much of a disaster as it was in the first place.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:53 PM
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Our comments crossed. I would have called you a racist douche sotto voce had I read yours before writing mine.

Much more important, the city hasn't been destroyed repeatedly throughout its history. And this episode was one in which the natural part of the disaster was only a tiny fraction of the problem. The real problem was bad planning, lousy engineering, corruption, poverty, racism, and cronyism -- in no particular order. In other words, the city sat there for almost three centuries without being wiped out -- not that Katrina wiped it out in any meaningful way, other than demograpically -- so why do you think that, if we actually attend to the issues I've raised above, there would be a problem in the future?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:53 PM
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so why do you think that, if we actually attend to the issues I've raised above, there would be a problem in the future?

Well, because hurricanes are, pound for pound, one of the most destructive forces in the world, (a), and (b) even the most obvious and useful solutions -- consolidating housing into denser multifamily stock on higher ground -- was so far from getting anywhere (due in part to intransigence from people on the left) as to provoke bitter, angry laughter. So instead we're left with exactly the same solution as is arrived at by default every time a barrier island gets wiped out: help people rebuild exactly how it was and cross our fingers that the inevitable won't happen.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:58 PM
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Crap, our comments keep crossing. Anyway, I'm not suggesting making it possible to repopulate the Lower 9 because it's a cultural treasure; I'm suggesting that course because it's a moral obligation. And it's a moral obligation because of the social networks that were severed by the storm. The people living there didn't just own their own homes; they were part of an intact and high-function -- though not affluent, by most measures -- community. Sending them on their way to Houston, or Dallas, or who the fuck knows where is the most reckless form of social engineering.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:00 PM
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Much more important, the city hasn't been destroyed repeatedly throughout its history. And this episode was one in which the natural part of the disaster was only a tiny fraction of the problem.

The history of New Orleans cannot be used to draw conclusions about its future. Geological timescales in that area are too short. The protective delta comes from the Lower Mississippi wandering all over the place. Stop the river from wandering and channel the floods directly out to sea and you lose the Delta and your city gets whomped by a hurricane; don't stop the river from wandering and your port city may no longer be useful as a port.

New Orleans in its pre-Katrina state and location is not viable for the long term.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:04 PM
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Look, we can agree on one thing: if the Big One hits NOLA -- either a C-5 coming right up the river or over the lake -- the city is screwed. But then we're back to: the same is true for many, many other places. If the Big One hits during rush hour in LA, or SF, or St. Louis, or Boston, that's going to make Katrina look like a cakewalk. So, do we need to evacuate those places, telling their residents to find new lives? No, we do our best to make those places safe and soldier on.

Also, the residents of the Lower 9, the Lakefront, and NOLA East have ALREADY been told they were safe. That's exactly what the Corps and the city said after Betsy. You can't now tell them, "oops, we were wrong, and though would could make you pretty safe, you still have to move," without undermining the social contract. I'm not kidding about that, by the way.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:08 PM
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344: but how can it possibly be a moral obligation to put people in the certain path of death and destruction? The social networks were severed, the community was destroyed. Some social engineering is inevitable, I'm just arguing for the solution that will lead to less loss of life.

And never mind social engineering. Water moccasin's right that the civil engineering required to keep New Orleans viable is increasingly untenable. Restore the wetlands? How? You have to let the river flood to get the silt, and the downstream towns fight that tooth and nail. Shit, the system keeping the Mississippi from permanently detouring into the Atchafalaya is going to fail one of these days -- it almost has before -- and then you're going to be left with no river. New Orleans, geographically, is a perfect place for a small, riverside settlement built on natural levees, with agriculture in the floodplains on either side. This is not, you will note, what is there now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:09 PM
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346: how about "oops, we were wrong. We can't make you safe."

Also, hurricanes are a qualitatively different beast -- yes, LA or SF or Boston will be rocked by a giant earthquake one of these times, and yes it will suck. On the other hand, if that happens, the chance that it will happen again within a year, or two, or ten is substantially lessened.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:11 PM
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No, water moccasin -- not that I want to argue with snakes about wetlands -- that isn't true. The Plaquemines delta complex IS the Louisiana coastline. It has meandered all over the place for scores of centuries, creating the land in southern Louisiana. And, no matter whether the river continues to flow in its current channel, the Atchafalaya (spelled from memory; sorry if I'm wrong, Ben), or another outlet, the Mississippi can build more land by depositing its sediment load. The variable is the petroleum industry. Regulate that industry, pull the jetties at the river mouth, and you've got yourself more not less land.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:11 PM
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but how can it possibly be a moral obligation to put people in the certain path of death and destruction

See my 346. It is both a moral and political obligation, the very essence of the state's obligation to its citizens.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:13 PM
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But Ari, the land is deposited via flooding. Are you going to have controlled floods of the city of New Orleans? Because that would work, but the history of levee boards, and the general lack of 15 foot stilts beneath buildings, does not point to that being a workable solution.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:14 PM
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348: The chances, as per seismologists' predictions, that the region between SF and LA will be rocked by a huge temblor in the next sixty years are quite high. So: it's time to move, right? And while you're correct that after the Big One hits, the energy built up between the plates will have been reduced -- the San Andreas will have received its reacharound with release -- I'm not sure that this answers the question of why we're to assume that New Orleans is actually in greater danger than any city living on a huge fault.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:16 PM
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351: I'm not talking about raising the level of the ground in New Orleans. I'm talking about reviving the coastal wetlands, which act as sponges, absorbing the storm surge from hurricanes. And yes, flooding will be required. So be it. The people living along the coast, though noisy, are not the problem; the petroleum industry is. And there's no reason to think that a president and congress and EPA not in the hip pocket of big oil won't regulate the shit out of those industries.

I have to check out for ten minutes. Then I'll be back.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:19 PM
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352: it's in greater danger of being repeatedly destroyed because there's no strain to be reduced from plates. Which is not even considering what, if any, impact global warming will have.

I should also mention that I'm not saying we should tell anybody to move, but if anybody wants to I think there's a moral obligation to make it as easy and painless as possible for them to do so.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:20 PM
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No, water moccasin -- not that I want to argue with snakes about wetlands -- that isn't true. The Plaquemines delta complex IS the Louisiana coastline. It has meandered all over the place for scores of centuries, creating the land in southern Louisiana. And, no matter whether the river continues to flow in its current channel, the Atchafalaya (spelled from memory; sorry if I'm wrong, Ben), or another outlet, the Mississippi can build more land by depositing its sediment load. The variable is the petroleum industry. Regulate that industry, pull the jetties at the river mouth, and you've got yourself more not less land.

If the river doesn't go through New Orleans, you don't have New Orleans any more. You might still have the French Quarter as a tourist destination, but that's it. This doesn't help the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward any.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:21 PM
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353: look, I'm all for projects to restore the coastal wetlands in any case. But even in the most optimistic scenario that's going to cut, what, one or two feet off the storm surge? Which is great, and should happen, but still doesn't remotely address the flooding that will happen in the low-lying parts of the city next time around.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:22 PM
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NOLA is already down to around 225K people post-Katrina, isn't it? Unless we assume we're going to abandon it entirely, whatever protections are in place will have to at least protect that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:23 PM
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357: yep. The problem is not the population, which at this level could probably be sustained. It's that there was no effort to consolidate the city into the defensible parts, so you have less people everywhere, rather than less people in the parts that can't be effectively protected.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:26 PM
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Ari's made the earthquake comparison, but I think a better one would be the yearly wildfires. Year after year there's a drought and everything catches on fire, but (I could be wrong, but) I don't think there's been a ban on development there on the grounds that every year their shit will get burned down.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:31 PM
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359: there are some pretty restrictive rules in some places about what kind of development you can do, and a lot of the newer developments are being told that they'll have to "shelter in place", as evacuation makes it tough to get firetrucks in. In general, there has been some movement towards realizing that building on remote hillsides is just not a good way to go. There are also some insurers that are giving up, and there's as yet no sign of federal wildfire insurance, so that's a good thing.

Also it's easy to think of California wildfires as "everything's burning" but the truth is it's mainly the edges of the sprawl that really go up, and there's so much of it that when you're living in California the fires tend to make less of an impression than when you're watching them on TV from the East Coast.

On the other hand, if we're talking about places people shouldn't live generously, obviously an arid desert with no local source of water is a shit-dumb place for a city of eleven million people. But that's not dangerous per se, just retarded.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:37 PM
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I don't think there's been a ban on development there on the grounds that every year their shit will get burned down.

But there totally should be.

I am, however, somewhat more sympathetic to the desire to rebuild New Orleans, for reasons mostly of nostalgia. This may also reflect the fact that I don't like the kind of sprawl represented by all those houses built in teh fire zone.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:39 PM
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for reasons mostly of nostalgia

But see, that's sort of a rough reason to encourage poor black people to risk their lives.

Also, big chunks of New Orleans -- not the Lower 9th, but Lakeview and New Orleans East for sure -- are sprawl, which is part of the problem. You really, really shouldn't be building cookie-cutter subdivisions right up to the edge of Lake Pontchartrain.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:40 PM
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I didn't say that it was totally rational. I'm just saying that I have absolutely no sympathy for the people who build in fire zones, because I hate the sort of development they're doing--mainly, because I think it's ugly.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:45 PM
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Also it's easy to think of California wildfires as "everything's burning" but the truth is it's mainly the edges of the sprawl that really go up, and there's so much of it that when you're living in California the fires tend to make less of an impression than when you're watching them on TV from the East Coast.

Yeah. The most recent batch of wildfires destroyed 1,500 homes. In the grand scheme of natural disasters, this is nothing. Katrina destroyed 350,000 homes.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:49 PM
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I dunno, some of the areas in Lake Arrowhead that burned a couple years ago were quite lovely. Shake shingled cabins nestled among the evergreens, lots of wood decks and so on.

Actually, unfortunately, it's if you want to make relatively fire tolerant developments that things get really ugly: stucco walls, roofs made of strange high-tech materials, no vegetation within 30 feet of any house.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:49 PM
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aiui, it's a pretty good idea the wetlands be rebuilt regardless of the consequence to new orleans, because the fishery will otherwise fall off a cliff one day (and with it, a huge chunk of LA economy). Didn't someone have a plan to divert about 1/4 of the mississippi for this purpose?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:52 PM
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Okay, here's my summary:

ST) New Orleans can't be kept safe. We don't have the capabilities. We cannot rebuild it.
AK) No, that not so. It's just a matter of money and political will. And there are several options for how to rebuild, though I agree that allowing the worst forms of development in their old iteration makes little sense. So, add to everything I said above, no slab housing on the low ground: raised plantations and shotgus for everyone!

ST) But we don't have the political will to do that.
AK) Maybe, but that's no reason to accept the status quo as absolute. In fact, we have an obligation to allow people to rebuild in neighborhoods they were promised would be safe after Betsy in 1965. Not doing so is a tacit admission that government sucks and should not be trusted.

ST) Hurricanes are predictably dangerous. People may or even will be killed when the next one hits.
AK) This is true of many things, including earthquakes. So, where do we draw the line? Why are we only asking the poor and least white among us to make the move. And, given that these people are, in many ways, the most socially vulnerable -- residents of Pacific Heights are probably more portable than the people of the Lower 9 -- isn't it unethical to ask the people of NOLA to move?

Also, there's this: hurricanes, given proper engineering, planning, and response, are NOWHERE NEAR as dangerous as quakes. Because we know they're coming. Make sure that people can get out of harm's way, that the harm is mitigated with better engineering, planning, and more wetlands, and we won't have much of a problem.

WM) The coast can't be saved. ( Tweety sort of agrees.)
AK) Yes, it can. The regulation required will be onerous. But tough.

WM) No, I meant that New Orleans will be a backwater if the Mississippi is captured by the Atchafalaya.
AK) Remind me what the fuck this has to do with Katrina, okay? Then we'll talk more about this very complicated issue.

There are more. But I have to cycle back to remind myself what the other arguments were/are.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:53 PM
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Not doing so is a tacit admission that government sucks and should not be trusted.

But in this case that's a true fact! The government made a mistake, and people should know it.

You also ignored my big numero uno argument, which is that if people want to leave, we have an obligation to help them as much as humanly possible.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:55 PM
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362: I totally agree.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:56 PM
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368: Admitting that government sucked, and then compounding the damage, is not a way to solve the problem. That said, those people who want to leave should be given the equivalent of reparations, some kind of settlement for the Corps', the city's, the state's, and the federal government's negligence. Let's come up with a fair number, okay, and see how many people want that. If we can, I'm in.

But here's the thing: nobody is offering that. Instead, people ahve been told (or not told, more accurately) that they can rebuild where they want. So what now? Let them do so without making the best effort we can to keep them safe. Nope, no sale.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:58 PM
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WM) No, I meant that New Orleans will be a backwater if the Mississippi is captured by the Atchafalaya.
AK) Remind me what the fuck this has to do with Katrina, okay? Then we'll talk more about this very complicated issue.

You want to spend money so that people can keep living in New Orleans the way they have been. If this is doomed to fail and have large negative effects on the way, why bother?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:59 PM
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OT: (Though, is anything T at this point?) The final fight scene, in the fifth Harry Potter movie, is really incredible, one of the most beautifully shot and staged battle scenes in a blockbuster that I've ever watched (LOTR also, I suppose). When Ralph Fiennes lashes out and blows all the windows in the ministry, in the room where they're fighting, and then the broken glass shards shred the fascistic banner of Fudge, it's pretty great.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:02 PM
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371: See everything above about quakes and the city's of the Pacific Coast. Or the impending explosion of Ranier and Seattle. Oh, I hope the wind is blowing the other way that day. We can't prospectively decide that we're going to relocate a city, or, more accurately, defund the federally subsidized public works that allow a city to exist, simply because we now have an excuse.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:03 PM
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Crap. City's s/b cities. Sorry.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:04 PM
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Or the impending explosion of Ranier and Seattle

I believe lahars are a bigger problem for Seattle, and if one did wipe it out I would probably support not rebuilding right there again.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:12 PM
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Rainier. Christ, you Californians.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:15 PM
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Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much about a lahar making it all the way to Seattle. Tacoma, on the other hand, could be in trouble.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:19 PM
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Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much about a lahar making it all the way to Seattle

Not an expert. I just remember my geology professor in college being quite adamant that Seattle was quite vulnerable to getting wiped out by a good volcanic mudslide.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:27 PM
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370: close enough to comity for government work. Given that people are rebuilding, we should obviously be doing whatever we can to keep them safe, even though it won't be enough.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:29 PM
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379: You are no longer a douche. But you're still racist. Or maybe it's the other way around.

376: Hardly the worst of my spelling/grammar errors. One has to type quickly to keep up with Tweety. And even when I take my time, I make mistakes. I'm that dumb!


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:32 PM
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I just remember my geology professor in college being quite adamant that Seattle was quite vulnerable to getting wiped out by a good volcanic mudslide

Wikipedia knows everything. Here's a Rainier hazard map confirming what most Northwesterners know: Tacoma, mostly not a great place to live. But your prof is apparently right that a massive event like the one that happened 5000 years ago could reach Seattle.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:47 PM
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371: See everything above about quakes and the city's of the Pacific Coast. Or the impending explosion of Ranier and Seattle. Oh, I hope the wind is blowing the other way that day. We can't prospectively decide that we're going to relocate a city, or, more accurately, defund the federally subsidized public works that allow a city to exist, simply because we now have an excuse.

The kinds of things you do for earthquake mitigation don't have the self-defeating downstream negative effects that levee-building and channel-dredging do, nor are they inherently incompatible with the nature of the current economy of the region.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:51 PM
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You have an evacuation plan, right Jesus? Because 5,000 years is a blink of an eye in geological time.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:51 PM
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The levees around New Orleans aren't the problem. Indeed, one needn't stop building river levees at all to revive the wetlands.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:53 PM
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And by the way, anti-urbanism, because of the urban project's net-negative impact on the environment, is a pretty hazy argument here. That is, if I'm reading you right. But I'm quick to note that I'm not sure that I'm reading you right.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:55 PM
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The levees around New Orleans aren't the problem. Indeed, one needn't stop building river levees at all to revive the wetlands.

But New Orleans needs more than just the levees right around it to survive. If New Orleans doesn't flood, it's going to continue sinking. If you pin the course of the river down to New Orleans and keep a channel dredged from New Orleans down to the Gulf, the wetlands will be inherently compromised.

And by the way, anti-urbanism, because of the urban project's net-negative impact on the environment, is a pretty hazy argument here.

I'm not anti-urbanist at all; I just think that putting a major industrial city on the site of New Orleans is a bad idea in ways that were not apparent at the time. The industry in Galveston relocated to Houston after the 1900 storm; it's far enough inland that it doesn't get crushed by hurricanes in the same way. The same could (and probably should, IMHO) happen to New Orleans.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 6:05 PM
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You have an evacuation plan, right Jesus?

We're in Portland, so no worries. And we're up high enough so that even if Mt. Hood blows, the mudflows will go elsewhere. I should be able to just fix myself a drink and watch the show.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 6:19 PM
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387: What would Jesus do?

But New Orleans needs more than just the levees right around it to survive. If New Orleans doesn't flood, it's going to continue sinking. If you pin the course of the river down to New Orleans and keep a channel dredged from New Orleans down to the Gulf, the wetlands will be inherently compromised.

Wrong again. One more time, the river levees, and the course of the Mississippi, aren't the key variables in coastal erosion. I'm not even sure why you say this (other than, perhaps, reading McPhee's wonderful and charming but dated book). Regardless, flood-control technologies are only part of the problem these days. And those technologies, at least around the issues that we're talking about here, are surmountable.

Also, there are all manner of ways to keep the city from sinking, including, but not limited to, recharging the water table beneath NOLA with vents from the lake. Such a course would be very expensive, granted. But we're not limiting our options based on money. Or we shouldn't be. Not if we're willing, as a nation, to fund a war to tune of $2 billion/week.

Finally, I'm thrilled to hear you say that you want to do away with New Orleans. That point of view is the only way to explain the rest of the stuff you've been saying. And I can understand where you're coming from. But again, the social and economic costs -- hard to calculate though they may be -- attached to what you suggest are pretty extraordinary, not to mention utterly unknowable.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:07 PM
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Did you have earthquake drills in school too, mrh?

Only once, actually, which seems kind of stupid in retrospect. I do remember being told that a fault line runs roughly down Kingshighway downtown, which just happens to be the street all of the major hospitals are on. Whoopsie!

The final fight scene, in the fifth Harry Potter movie, is really incredible, one of the most beautifully shot and staged battle scenes in a blockbuster that I've ever watched.

This is just so wrong I don't even know where to start.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:34 PM
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On reflection, I retract 389.2. It was beautifully shot and staged, it just pains me to allow that there was anything good about that monstrosity of a film.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:37 PM
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Wrong again. One more time, the river levees, and the course of the Mississippi, aren't the key variables in coastal erosion. I'm not even sure why you say this (other than, perhaps, reading McPhee's wonderful and charming but dated book). Regardless, flood-control technologies are only part of the problem these days. And those technologies, at least around the issues that we're talking about here, are surmountable.

It is from reading McPhee. I didn't realize he was that dated; having seen streams and flood plains and such before the bit about flood prevention having a large impact on the land makes sense. After reading more, I suppose the theory is dramatically reducing saltwater intrusion by dismantling breakwaters and shipping channels and such associated with refineries and gas terminals and the like?

Finally, I'm thrilled to hear you say that you want to do away with New Orleans. That point of view is the only way to explain the rest of the stuff you've been saying. And I can understand where you're coming from. But again, the social and economic costs -- hard to calculate though they may be -- attached to what you suggest are pretty extraordinary, not to mention utterly unknowable.

I don't think that it'd make sense to actively do away with New Orleans given that it's already there. But I do think that the long-term tenability of the situation has to be taken into account when deciding whether or not to spend lots of money to rebuild it, and should be much more influential than "the government said it would be safe in the 50's."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:37 PM
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390: It was a deeply mediocre film, I agree. But that scene was pretty great, particularly when placed in blockbuster context.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:36 PM
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391: Okay. As I said way upthread, my sense is that New Orleans is a problem without a solution: environmental justice balanced against safety balanced against economic non-viability balanced against cultural significance. Etcetera. The whole situation makes me want to puke.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:38 PM
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Okay. As I said way upthread, my sense is that New Orleans is a problem without a solution: environmental justice balanced against safety balanced against economic non-viability balanced against cultural significance. Etcetera. The whole situation makes me want to puke.

Comity!


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:42 PM
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Indeed.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:46 PM
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