Re: Self Serve

1

I want a pro to check out my car once a year, and that is worth the $49.95. I have a regular known for two decades. And I have 5 days to clean out the Fast Food bags & dog hairs & get it lubed & checked, so I can I let the State Inspector drive it.

But the commenting. The Dark Knight posts. Antiqua vs Fraktur.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 11:51 AM
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I react the same way as 'smasher when people talk about getting manicures.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 11:58 AM
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How does he react when people talk about geing manicures?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 11:59 AM
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He offers to change their oil.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 12:09 PM
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I got a manicure from a coworker once. It wasn't very attractive.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 12:10 PM
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j. lube uses crappy oil filters.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 12:15 PM
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I appreciate Smasher's can-do spirit, but despite learning and relearning how to change my oil in a high school automotive class, I'm with you on this one, Becks. The potential for filthiness/crushing yourself/forgetting to replace the plug nut makes it totally worthwhile to pay someone else to change your oil -- especially if you're planning to dispose of the old stuff properly.


Posted by: Tom | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 12:31 PM
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If you do decide to change your oil yourself, communion wafers are handy for sopping up any spills.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 12:34 PM
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I'm with Tom, although on somewhat different grounds. Changing your own oil isn't that hard, but it can take a while and you have to do all this crawling around and shit. And disposing of old oil is a pain. This is what we have a service economy for--paying someone to do it costs, like, $20. Which reminds me, I need to take my car in for just that.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 12:37 PM
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Yes, my personal trajectory on this over 30+ years of car owning has gone from "What? Pay to have someone change my oil? You're nuts!" to a symbolic first oil change for each car to "You couldn't pay me to crawl under there" (the last 2 or 3). Admittedly age has played some part in this, but a lot of it has to do with points that Tom and m.leblanc raise (and yes I did once put several quarts of new oil through an unplugged pan onto the driveway much to the amusement of my redneck neighbors in Houston*). And that last one I did had one of those sadistic designs where after you had contortedly gotten everything in place you had all of about 1/2 inch of play on the filter wrench handle before you banged your knuckles once again into the cover of the electronically-injected frombulator valve. Disposal is the final straw.

*But at least I've had the satisfaction of pwning them so thoroughly on the national political scene these last 28 years or so.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 12:50 PM
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Doing it yourself once or twice, in your lifetime, is worthwhile, but beyond that, I believe in the service economy as well (I did it myself when I was poor and had some free time and a place to put the car besides the busy street I park it on now). They'll do it faster and (probably) better. And even if they don't do it better, who would you rather blame when it goes wrong - yourself, or someone you paid to do it right?


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:00 PM
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If I were to change the oil in our car, the demon machine might think I was paying it a courtesy and spontaneously vomit its transmission.

We park our car in a lot down the way, and even mechanical-minded shivbunny will take the car to the shop to have the oil changed. No space, and disposal is a bitch.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:05 PM
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10 gets it exactly right, and not just because the only job I have ever been fired from was as an auto mechanic at a shop that specialized in Mercedes because of an incident which led to the owner having to buy a customer a new engine because his old engine was destroyed when we ran it without any oil in it. (not entirely my fault, but I see, with the benefit of about 35 years of hindsight, that heads had to roll and I was the logical choice).


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:08 PM
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It's weird to think that there are things that people used to do for themselves that, not only have I decided I'd rather pay someone else to do, but that I didn't even think to try doing myself first.

That's how I feel about colonoscopies.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:09 PM
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I change mine, and did when I didn't have a garage of my own as I do now, but it's because I always have, and part of our family economy has been to spend as little money on the cars as possible. A major job on the family car which my wife drives I will take to a garage, sometimes. On the smaller, older, manual transmission car which has always been my primary car—this description holds for a succession of vehicles going back nearly thirty years—I do everything. But I wouldn't expect oil changes nor anything else of anyone.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:16 PM
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See, I assumed Becks meant it in an IYKWIM spirit, in which case horror is the only response to Jiffy Lube.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:26 PM
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Wait, what were you insinuating with "where are you planning to park your car while you change your own oil"?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:32 PM
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Where all the teenagers park!


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:35 PM
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Look, what $20-40 which includes the oil & filter? DYI is silly.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:37 PM
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A fun video from the Prelinger Archives that discusses the inadvisability of parking in cars with boys.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:40 PM
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19: And also means I don't pour the used oil into Santa Monica Bay and hurt a seal pup or whatever is out there. I used to do all the auto maintenance and lots of the repairs when I had the space but now that's impossible.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 1:47 PM
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That is an awesome video in 20. Equal parts sensible advice and stifling emphasis on conformity.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 2:06 PM
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Sometimes it's fun to be one of the people changing their oil in the Auto Zone parking lot.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 2:08 PM
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At least in California pretty much all auto parts stores will take your used oil for free. At least on bikes, changing the oil sort of makes you give the whole engine a once over and lets you spot what may be small problems before they become big ones.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 2:15 PM
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Christ, people actually change their own oil? Confession: I don't even mow my own lawn. Wevs. I've got lattes to sip, I can't be doing that stuff. I actually learned to change the oil in a car as a teen, and decided then that I would never, ever do it for my own cars. No thank you. (The lawn, well, the lawnmower is busted, and I don't have anywhere to keep one since a tree fell on the shed a couple of years ago and so on and so forth.)

Tangentially, the staff of a local Jiffy Lube pulled a bank heist a few years ago. Their defense was that it was all meant in the spirit of fun.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 2:34 PM
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I just changed my oil, its pretty easy on my old Volvo. Its 21 years old, and its got 312 thousand miles on it, so I try to avoid spending too much money on it. Of course, in the process of changing the oil, I noticed the sway bar end was broken, and it needs new struts, so off to the shop it goes.


Posted by: bzbb | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 2:47 PM
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I learned how to change the oil both from my dad and in Girl Scouts.

I don't do it now, for all the sensible reasons outlined above, but take it to Groovy Lube, home of the Groovy Mechanics, and hang out in the excellent coffee shop next door that, of course, has free wi-fi. It makes you want to move here even more, doesn't it?

P.S. Next week I'm taking my car to the sister shop, Groovy Automotive, for a full tune-up.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 3:04 PM
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This is actually a central dilemma of modernity. On the one hand, it is foolish to fight the division of labor and the market system that provides you with a service where, for not much money, someone else will change your car's oil for you and dispose of the old crap properly, thereby saving you time and leaving you free to pursue your individual projects and self-constructing activities.

On the other hand, most people feel some degree of alienation in transactions like this, as they realize they are unwilling or incapable of accomplishing simple tasks for themselves, from replacing the spark-plugs in their car to rewiring a plug to changing a tire. Men are especially prone to this, because women are not supposed to know that stuff anyway, and having people give you manicures or whatnot is coded as being pampered rather than an expression of incompetence. This feeling ranges in severity from a mild twinge to the full-blown neurosis of that kid in White Noise who constantly confronts people about how they don't have a fucking clue how any bit of technology in their lives really works, or where stuff comes from, etc.

A standard response is to pick some subset of tasks and symbolically enact one's competence by skillfully performing them, and then signal to other people that you're a better person than them, viz, "I always change the oil in my car / make my own marinara sauce / fix broken appliances / make my own tortillas /" etc. The trick is to ignore the still nearly-complete dependence on the division of labor entailed by these skills. The logical endpoint of this face-saving ritual of masculine competence is, e.g., Ted Nugent and associated survivalist wacos. They claim to be independent of society and ready to thrive upon its collapse. In the meantime they spend their time and money buying the expensive, technically complex, socially-produced commodities (k-rations, guns, water-purifiers, outdoor gear) that enable their alleged independence from other people.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 3:55 PM
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Oh dude. On the topic of survivalist wackos, I lost a good two hours of my life by googling "SHTF" last night.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 4:14 PM
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Like Scarlett clutching the soil of Tara, I swore as a teenager that i wouldn't mow my own lawn, if I could help it. I'm happy to be supporting a hard working immigrant.

Haven't changed oil on 25 years. The alienation isn't troubling me.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 4:22 PM
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this face-saving ritual of masculine competence

This is an excellent turn of phrase.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 5:11 PM
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28 is wonderful. Ahem. I'd add that it's not, of course, limited to men. But yes, people frequently exhibit a curious resentment or suspicion of, or condescension toward, those who provide them services, especially skilled ones. Insecurity.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 5:34 PM
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I'd never even consider throwing shit at a fan myself. I probably wouldn't even know how. I know it's unpleasant work, but that's why I pay good money for someone else to do it.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 5:37 PM
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But yes, people frequently exhibit a curious resentment or suspicion of, or condescension toward, those who provide them services, especially skilled ones.

I think it manifests more in services that one could do oneself, if one weren't so busy/rich/important/etc. Doctors are held in pretty high esteem, maids and manicurists and lawnmowers, not so much.

I tend to feel sheepish and guilty rather than suspcious or condescending though. Especially the more "personal" services such as maid service or shoeshines. That person needs the money and there's nothing wrong with the labor, but I can't help feeling like it's something I should do myself.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 5:42 PM
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28 is the reason why I live for the days without Leechblock.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 5:43 PM
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I think it manifests more in services that one could do oneself

Yeah, kinda sorta. It definitely also manifests with respect to car and computer service (of a higher level sort), which are really not something one could do oneself without some significant training. Some people don't like having to ask for help.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 6:18 PM
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28 is magnificent in all respects.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 6:31 PM
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10: I've had paid professionals forget to put the plug in, too -- I had actually driven a few blocks away before I realized that something was wrong (I forget if it was an oil pressure light or the engine temp). They were sheepish when I returned, but not as sheepish as I would've liked.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 7:05 PM
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You know what's really ridiculous? Paying someone to change your breaks. They charge $100 per wheel or so, and you can do it yourself for about $0.50. And it's real easy. And when you buy the breaks at autozone, they have a lifetime warranty. So when they wear out, take 'em back and get new ones for free.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:10 PM
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My breaks don't change.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:14 PM
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28 to 39.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:15 PM
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I want a professional to do my brakes. Last time a family member-brother-worked on his brakes, he later sailed through a busy intersection as he found there was nothing happening brake-wise.

He took it straight to a garage. He'd failed to bleed all the lines correctly.

And oil, what do you do with the stuff if you do it yourself? I'd rather pay someone $20 to do it.


Posted by: dragonet2 | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:24 PM
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any autoparts store will take the oil. Container is in the back, just walk in. Any oil change/mechanics shop, too, if you ask.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:28 PM
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I admit that I've reread 28 several times now, smiling the whole time. I especially like leaving you free to pursue your individual projects and self-constructing activities.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:29 PM
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also, changing the break pads shouldn't involve any bleeding of the breaks.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:31 PM
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in addition to the labor and dirtyness (which i enjoy) I spend more than $20 per oil change. My car engine will outlast yours, which may make no difference to you. But I like my car and plan to have it for a long time.

10. there's no need to own a filter wrench. If the garage put it on too tight for you, just grab your handy slip-jaws or pipewrench. You'll maul the hell out of the filter, but it's not like you're going to be re-using it.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:38 PM
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At least on bikes, changing the oil sort of makes you give the whole engine a once over and lets you spot what may be small problems before they become big ones.

There's also the fact that on most bikes, doing the change yourself is actually more convenient than going to a shop (presuming you have easy access to a work area). There's no equivalent of Jiffy Lube for motorcycles, so if you pay someone else to do it for you chances are you're going to be without the bike for at least a day and spend at least $60. Plus, it's dead simple.

On a car though? No fucking way am I doing that shit myself. Especially given that my new car doesn't even have a dipstick.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:42 PM
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46 et al: Michael, you are being a self-defeating ass.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:44 PM
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48: shh! Don't ruin it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:50 PM
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But yes, people frequently exhibit a curious resentment or suspicion of, or condescension toward, those who provide them services, especially skilled ones. Insecurity.

Resentment and suspicion of, yes. Condescension toward, no.

When I take my car to be inspected, what I'm doing is allowing them to hold it for ransom. They call me back four hours later and tell me how much I'll have to pay if I ever want to drive it again, even if it was working fine. $300 for some brake thing? Who cares. $800? Hah, I'm not going to buy a new car over a measly $800 repair, am I? I resent ever second I interact with these people because there is no possible way I can prevent them from screwing me.

Sometimes I even detect the little way they try to detect whether I can be screwed or not. Once it was "so, is this a 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder engine?" I hesitated, trying to remember, and there it was! I know nothing about cars! I can be screwed with impunity!

And my resentment only built after my car overheated, the thermometer failed to inform me of this, and the engine was destroyed, forcing me to sell it for $300 to the garage to which it was towed off the highway, one day after I had gotten it inspected and paid $300 for some brake nonsense. I know the inspection doesn't cover the stuff that went wrong, but really, cars are important enough in our society that it's a bit unfortunate that nobody can fix our own. The sudden lack of a car is a much more urgent problem than the sudden lack of a computer for most people.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:50 PM
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48. was just trying to be helpful, honestly.

If it was the line about the life of the car engine not mattering to some, I really meant that it honestly shouldn't. If you change out cars every few years, even every 5, 6 or 7 years, then it shouldn't make a whit of difference to you. You *should* buy the cheaper stuff. The time, trouble, and expense is only worth it if you keep you plan to keep your car for an unusually long time.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:52 PM
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48, 49: Hey! There is no right or wrong in this, aside from Michael's spelling. He can do what he wants.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:53 PM
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52: As can Tweety and I.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 9:57 PM
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Well, not me. I'm on orders from the mothership.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:03 PM
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JP can be sullen all he wants. it doesn't bother me.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:05 PM
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I do wonder, Michael, why you think your car will last longer; is it because you lavish more attention on your brakes than the cretins at JiffyLube? Or because you change your oil more often than we are likely to?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:07 PM
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In 48 I was just trying to be helpful, honestly.

54: Thanks for the support SqueakyCarp.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:08 PM
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The SqueakyCarp gets to watch Grease.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:11 PM
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better filter and better oil, tweety. And I read to it regularly. They're like houseplants that way. It shows you love them.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:11 PM
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What does "better oil" mean? Synthetic? Better filter I could see.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:13 PM
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Also, are we still talking about brakes?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:14 PM
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Once it was "so, is this a 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder engine?" I hesitated

Is that really what they asked you?

I drove a 3-cylinder (how can that be?) Subaru Justy for a few years, and boy did I know it, but it was 5-speed, 4 wheel drive for all that, and that thing was zippy when properly driven. So I felt. I enjoyed it, though people laughed. For lo, it was tiny and could be crushed like a little bug. And I had a beautiful vine pattern stencilled on its hood.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:15 PM
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no, i just brought up brakes because they're probably the most ludicrously priced regular maintenance. We're talking engine oil. Yes, synthetic is better. You can also get more expensive natural oil that is cleaner and lighter than the cheaper stuff, and maybe has detergents in it. Also it's good to run some detergents through your engine between oil changes (not necessarily every oil change).


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:18 PM
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(if you've got some good miles on your car and you've never "flushed" your engine, you can really feel the difference.)


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:19 PM
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I drove a 3-cylinder (how can that be?)

straight line, not V. Does that help? Sounds like a nice car. I love zippy city cars.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:24 PM
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Very informative, Michael, thanks. Still and all, it seems like you can generally pay some chump to change your oil, even if you'd like to keep your car for a while, as long as you do the flushing occasionally and use synthetic. Yeah?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:26 PM
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Sounds plausible to me! I don't always change my own oil, either. Hell, they may even have options as to what type of oil filter they'll put on your car, I couldn't say. Putting in synthetic is doubtless beneficial. I'm cheap down to the core, though, and hope that my highest marginal utility is the expensive natural oil, which is still significantly less expensive that natural. Or was...I haven't checked prices in several months.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:36 PM
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"that natural" should be "than synthetic" I'm so, so tired.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:37 PM
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Right, so I've put up a picture of the Subaru Justy's hood -- which I did love so much -- on the flickr group. (Damn that took a bit of time.)

Pretty, pretty vine stencil, which is now lost.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:46 PM
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In which I back off somewhat from my earlier dickishness. See 28 just kind of got me all confused and I engaged in some self-constructing activities of dubious value.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:52 PM
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70: haha! My remote guilt-tripping ploy worked splendidly!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:53 PM
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Since you seem interested....Besides the engine flush (Gunk makes a good one, called 5-minute motor flush) I've used, and seen noticeable benefit from, those Restore additives which are added to the oil. If you're buying gas that doesn't already have detergents in it, I've noticed that it will over time increase engine shake and adding one of those fuel system cleaners to the gas tank (doesn't seem to matter which one) will quiet it down. (gasoline stands in the US aren't the highest, it's allowed to be a bit dirty.)


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 10:57 PM
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71: I know. Fuck you and the "very informative" horse you rode in on, Tweety.

....i am so very, very weak....


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 11:00 PM
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69: Here's a blog car:

Pix


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 11:07 PM
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50. cool.

night y'all


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-26-08 11:10 PM
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74: Biohazard, it's a VW bug, it's a ... I can't tell. Pretty early.

Hydrogen powered??


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 12:18 AM
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Hydrogen powered??

Don't think so. I didn't see any mods , no tanks in the back seat, etc.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:56 AM
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Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light
Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!
It is the business of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan.


Posted by: Hilaire Belloc | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 4:16 PM
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Yes, I skipped to the end so I probably missed tons of good comments that I will catch up on later but really people!

HAS NO ONE READ HEINLEIN!!?!

My God.

Yeah I sound like a crabby old man but I was this way when young too. Honest. Christ almighty.

Use it or lose it people. Use it or lose it.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 5:45 PM
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HAS NO ONE READ HEINLEIN!!?!

Not since I was 13 or so.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 5:52 PM
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I remember the short story about the time-traveling transsexual. That was pretty good. Is it relevant here?


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:06 PM
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Heinlein wrote The Rocky Horror Picture Show?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:21 PM
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I imagine Tripp is referring to the Heinlein quote about the fully lived life, or what life is all about, or whatever it is. Basically that you must do all things. It's good and clever, but I can't remember enough keywords in it to look it up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:23 PM
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Yes, that thing about how a real man must be able to skin a cat, boil an egg, construct his own spaceship out of shoestrings, write science fiction novels that will generate annoying cultish obsessions, plan a government, make a baby, blah blah blah.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:25 PM
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Heinlein wrote The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Yes. Yes, he did. That's not what I had in mind, though.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:26 PM
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Seems I misremembered some details. This?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:31 PM
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I have read an appalling amount of Heinlein. He's not really ideal for the psychosexual development of a young woman in her formative years, but I guess I made out okay.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:34 PM
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I am, apparently, rfts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:41 PM
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I Will Fear No Evil stands out particularly in my memory as something I might not recommend with full enthusiasm to my thirteen-year-old self.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:47 PM
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86: Huh. That's not how I remember it either. Perhaps there's some other.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 6:50 PM
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I guess I should mention that though I've read a great deal of Heinlein -- I read a great deal of science fiction generally -- I might not recommend him to an unformed mind. He's still part of the canon, for all that, as far as I know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 7:00 PM
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86: I think that's an expanded version. I remember a shorter take but can't find it now. I've tried to live by it all except the part about lifting heavy stuff and digging ditches.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 7:18 PM
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Hm. I think the thing linked in 86 is probably what I'd vaguely remembered. High standards, those. Gives me pause.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 7:38 PM
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79: That Heinlein quote has always irritated me. Division of labor is what allows us to have people who sit around writing schlock science fiction, an innovation in which many people take a great deal of pleasure.

Why shouldn't any human know how to coordinate an artillery barrage, or correctly figure the margin requirements on an iron butterfly spread, or patch a cob house or bring about a rank of pikemen or remove a partially impacted wisdom tooth? In its bid to generalize about human life, the quote merely reveals its own extreme cultural specificity. Also, Heinlein was creepy.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 7:43 PM
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Also, Heinlein was creepy.

Ya think?

Yeah. It's a certain picture. Of masculinity, for sure. For some reason, it confuses me. It's a picture that continues to enjoy a certain cachet.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:00 PM
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94: You really think he was advocating that specific set of skills as the be all and end all?


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:05 PM
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I really doubt that the Inna-gadda-da-vida folks are very happy to see their name on such a terribly cautious investment strategy -- no seventeen-minute drum solos, no overamped talent-free guitar, no nothing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:06 PM
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I Will Fear No Evil was a waste of a title and, in the mass market paperback version I read, a cover. Could've been put to better use.

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel was the first "real" book I read; my Dad's copy (Cue music. Awwww). So I'll never be able to expunge him from my library.

Also, has everyone read his novella Coventry? His masterful assault on (radical) libertarianism (before he became one)? Drum linked to it awhile back. Here.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:20 PM
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96: Well, what are the alternatives? Do you really think he was advocating that everyone know every particular of how to operate an offshore drilling rig? Or that everyone ought to be able to effectively manage a 1,000-acre NoDak wheat farm for 50 years? Or that everyone should be able to give a detailed account of the development of stringed instruments over the course of recorded history? I think it's pretty clear that he had a very specific cultural and historical paradigm that he wanted to advance. Call it Jeffersonian yeomanism meets Space Age machtpolitik.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:21 PM
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I happen to know a versatile N.D. wheat farmer / accountant / interior decorator. I'm sure that Heinlein would love him.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:29 PM
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Minneapolitan, the list is fairly general, actually. I'll put it here for reference, though I'm going to bed shortly.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Admittedly, programming a computer, solving equations, conning a ship (whatever that is) are culturally specific, but is that the biggest problem with the general sentiment?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:35 PM
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I have butchered a steer. It was sort of a revelation that no matter how badly you do it, you still get an equal amount of meat. Also, you can do it with carpenter tools. (And autopsies too.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:38 PM
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Specialization is for insects.

Isn't this John Emerson's basic thesis, too? Except maybe he states it better.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:39 PM
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103: I like the pithy.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:50 PM
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104: I now realize it is unclear to which antecedent "he" refers. I meant Emerson.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 8:56 PM
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105: Urgh. Yes, I know. Emerson states "specialization is for insects" better. You say. I've never noticed him (Emerson) saying these things in a strong manner, mostly just in a mild hand-wavy way. So.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 9:08 PM
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I'm actually kind of shocked that it says "human being" and not "man", because I remembered it as (and indeed it seems to be) a fairly masculine ideal. But I have to confess I've never read Heinlein, beyond small quoted bits like this, and have no real desire to. I know his work only from other people talking about it, and nothing I've heard makes me want to know it better.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 9:16 PM
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106: I thought Emerson was pretty specific about it.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 9:18 PM
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I've probably already told my story about removing an old moose's horns from his skull with an axe. Pretty good look at moose brains, I can tell you that . . .


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 9:18 PM
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My 106 was becoming grumpy. Sorry about that.

107: You'd only want to read Heinlein if you have an interest in knowing the sf canon. He's sexist and ... martial ... in a way that some would defend. Big emphasis on loyalty. I haven't read him for many years; I enjoyed him when I did read him. He's a good storyteller. Now I think I would find it juvenile, but that might be in part because he's really such an influence on sf writing in general that he seems introductory, as it were.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 9:31 PM
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108: I had not seen that before, and will read it later.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 9:37 PM
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I'm no fan of Heinlein (Friday completely killed my ability to read him), Have Space Suit Will Travel excepted.

But, for anyone that hasn't read him and only heard the criticisms, it's worth mentioning Spider Robinson's passionate defense of Heinlein.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 9:48 PM
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107: RAH didn't do capable women as well as James Schmitz did but they were present. Enough so that twelve-year-old me noticed the difference between them and the Good Housekeeping ideal of the late Forties and early Fifties.

He'd perhaps drop in an older sister who just happened to be the equivalent of a SEAL or a pilot or whatever without making a big fuss over it His stuff was subversive for teens back then. His later books needed much editing but he was too famous to edit later on.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 9:52 PM
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113: Agreed. In full, really.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 10:02 PM
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Folks may be interested in this post on Heinlein by SEK and subsequent discussion at EotAW. His lead sentence: On this day in 1907, the second greatest proselytizer for the strident, oversimple libertarianism of high school debaters, Robert Heinlein, was born. His final: My point, as you've probably surmised, is that this day in 1907 saw the birth of an author whose adolescent philosophy was disseminated in books chock-a-block with puerile male sex fantasies,...

HAS NO ONE READ HEINLEIN!!?!
Yes of course many have. Just sanely decided to ignore the fucker when it comes to living their own lives.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-27-08 10:10 PM
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113: race, too; in a lot of his books (eg Starship Troopers) you find out towards the end that the viewpoint character has been black or Filipino or something all the time. His own little way of sticking a finger in the eye of most 1940s and 1950s Americans.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 2:58 AM
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Probably pwned many times over, but you really should have your oil changed Jiffy Lube (or some place like it), not because they are pros (on the service economy skill spectrum, I would place Jiffy Lube employees slightly below fry cooks), but because they contain and dispose of the oil properly. Used motor oil is an insidious environmental toxin (and carcinogenic, to boot), and even a little splash on the ground will contaminate the ground water.

Anyway, the automation at Jiffy Lube (e.g. the vacuum hose to suck out the oil without having to open up the crankcase) is so productive and their purchasing so efficient that you can get your oil changed there for a tiny markup over what it would cost you to buy the oil at Wal-Mart and do it yourself.

The Jiffy Lube business model, interestingly, is based on interval compression: basically, persuading people to have their oil changed more often than is strictly necessary. That's why they put those stickers on your windshield instructing you to bring your car in at [odometer reading plus 3,500 miles] or [today's date plus three months], whichever comes first.

You can safely ignore these stickers and change your oil at whatever interval your owners manual prescribes (for a new car this may be 10,000 miles). And ignore any B.S. they tell you about how the oil degrades faster in extreme conditions; "extreme conditions" means Mongolia or Saudi Arabia, not the Continental U.S.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 5:43 AM
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They get flustered every time I bring in my car, because of the broken odometer. They look me up in the computer and see that the odometer hasn't budged and call me over and call the manager over and generally get ridiculous about it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 5:48 AM
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"extreme conditions" means Mongolia or Saudi Arabia, not the Continental U.S.

Are Saudi Arabia and Mongolia that different from southwest US? I wouldn't think so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 5:49 AM
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No one lives in the SW US, Heebie.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 5:54 AM
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this face-saving ritual of masculine competence

I'm as prone as the next guy to DIY mania--probably more so, since my father is a true jack-of-all-trades. I used to have arguments about this with Fleur all the time ("Trust me, Fleur, I know how to replace a dimmer switch...).

But changing the oil on the car just does not trigger that response in me. Perhaps it's because my father--a man who would fashion a replacement for a broken part on a hay baler using scrap steel, a cutting torch, and an arc welder--takes his vehicles to Jiffy Lube.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 5:55 AM
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118: Don't you have state inspection requirements in Texas? A broken odometer should be cause to fail the safety inspection.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 5:56 AM
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No one lives in the SW US, Heebie.

Tell that to poor southwesterly Teofilo.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 5:57 AM
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122: Yeah, but it's emissions and safety-focused. Broken odometer doesn't hurt anyone.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 5:58 AM
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Are Saudi Arabia and Mongolia that different from southwest US? I wouldn't think so.

The recommended replacement intervals for the U.S. market include a healthy margin of error to accomodate the most extreme conditions likely to be encountered here--sand, salt, heat, cold, etc. The manufacturer has every incentive to estimate the service intervals cautiously, but Jiffy Lube has every incentive to estimate them overcautiously. Trust the mfg.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 5:59 AM
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I believe that I've explained that to him several times. He's not listening to us any more anyway, he only comes around to grumble when his love life isn't going well.

Heebie will never accurately know what a long strange trip it's been. Probably her strangeometer is busted too, so she just drifts along confusedly.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 6:01 AM
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Mongolia doesn't have "roads" everywhere, or "bridges", so the conditions are pretty extreme over much of the country.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 6:02 AM
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It's been 180K of a variable-strangness trip! The odometer display is broken, but somewhere in the engine it is still recording and the repair people informed me of my current mileage the last time I was in.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 6:06 AM
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Let's not pat RAH on the back too much for his strong female characters, who have a striking tendency to be just strong and clever enough to be really worthy girlfriends to their omni-competent manly counterparts, and whose liberated, redheaded braininess is conveniently likely to make them extra happy to fuck your brains out--with no unpleasant hangups about it afterwards! O brave new world.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 6:15 AM
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whose liberated, redheaded braininess is conveniently likely to make them extra happy to fuck your brains out--with no unpleasant hangups about it afterwards!

Strikes a sensitive nerve with you, does it rfts?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 6:21 AM
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In my old age I have ceased to be truly redheaded, which means I am also now free to be only semi-liberated, intermittently brainy, and only up for fucking Heinlein readers' spinal columns out.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 6:47 AM
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"Trust me, Fleur, I know how to replace a dimmer switch...).
It seems to me that all this handyman DIY info is just swirling around in your subconscious mind- and can only be unsuppressed with the whir of a table saw. After 3 years, the dimmer switch remains broken(and let us not forget the curtain that our very kind postal carrier had to help me hang after a year of being on your "to do" list) , but you have built a new picnic table and party tent this summer.


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 7:33 AM
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132: As always, Fleur's sparse commenting is orders of magnitude beyond the Unfogged average when measured in terms of value-add/word.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 7:48 AM
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And I say that out of shared experience. I had a carpenter who lives nearby do a fair bit of work on our "family" room including replacing a decayed plaster ceiling. He suggested that he just go ahead and put in the ceiling fan we wanted. DIY self-image preservation kicked in and I insisted that he not bother. Which provided him the great entertainment by asking me how the fan was coming everytime I ran into him for the next year or so. (Our worst is wallpaper in one bathroom that we agreed "had to go right away" when we moved in 20+ years ago. Still there, still bad.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 8:02 AM
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To be sure, hanging curtains (and wallpaper) is kind of effeminate, so it doesn't trigger the same testosterone-like DIY hormones as firing up the table saw and sawing the shit out of some lumber.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 8:08 AM
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I imagine Tripp is referring to the Heinlein quote

Sorry I didn't have time to expand. Now I do.

I'm not saying a single Heinlein quote is your Bible for life. I'm not saying Heinlein is especially good for adolescent development, although his juvies, being essentially "Scouts in Space," are not bad either.

To be more topical maybe I should have said "HAVEN'T YOU PEOPLE SEEN WALL-E?"

Hence the "Use it or Lose it" phrase. The non-gender human tendency towards laziness is generally a good thing because it forces us to use our minds but like all good things it may become bad when overdone.

Yes, Walt will point out how once again I am stating an over-simplified view of things but tough toenails. Many people today are letting their bodies atrophy and this is a fairly recent phenomena.

And redfoxtailshrub, now that you mention it, I have always had a penchant for redheads. Indeed I married one, and yet I have never until now made the connection to Heinlein. How could I have missed it?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 9:06 AM
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More on me and redheads.

I think part of the attraction for me is that I am left-handed and seem to be attracted to other odd-balls because of it. Heck, I married a left-handed redhead which is pretty unique.

As an old fart said to me at my wedding reception "Boy, you will find that redheads are a challenge but they are worth it."

Another old fart told me the stupid joke about the jelly-bean jar - put a jelly bean in a jar every time you make love in the first year and after that take one out every time and you'll never empty the jar. Har Har Har. I didn't know the guy and was kinda pissed off to hear that joke so I said "Maybe you'd empty the jar sooner if you ate a few old timer!"

I was kinda outspoken at the time.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 9:15 AM
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"Boy, you will find that redheads are a challenge but they are worth it."

Christ, what misogynistic bullshit. The offense is aggravated by the old fart's unspoken assumption that he is giving the bride a sort of compliment.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 9:23 AM
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Christ, what misogynistic bullshit.

What an interesting interpretation. I don't share it. Substitute whatever you like for 'redhead' and see what it says:

Life is a challenge but it is worth it.
Marriage is a challenge but it is worth it.
An intimate relationship is a challenge but it is worth it.

I see no hatred of women or redheads in the statement. It assumes that redheads are an extra challenge which is not true, we are all uniquely challenging, but there is no hatred there.

Shoot, being married to *me* is a challenge but I hope it is worth it.

To quote one of the baseball movies: "Baseball is a challenge and that's what makes it great!"


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 9:31 AM
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My detection threshold for misogynist bullshit not especially sensitive, but this triggers it. Why? Because of the implication that a woman shares a set of traits associated with her hair color, like a breed of dog. If he had said "Virgos are a challenge, but worth it" or "Baptist girls are a challenge, but worth it," it would have been bullshit, but not misogynist bullshit. The misogyny is in making "redheads" the equivalent of "terriers" or "beagles", as in "they bark a lot, but are extremely loyal."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 9:42 AM
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But redheads are way too much like beagles. That's Tripp's main point.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 9:44 AM
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Because of the implication that a woman shares a set of traits associated with her hair color, like a breed of dog.

Ah. The reference to genetics is what got you. Yeah. I cut him some slack because he was raised before we had all the scientific knowledge we have today.

He has not learned what we all know for sure today, that genetics, while interesting, plays no part in either our physical or mental makeup. He is ignorant. He has not been enlightened. His life experience with his wife is meaningless and it was impolite of him to bring it up, especially with his wife smiling beside him.

Yeah, I can see that interpretation.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 9:49 AM
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Fiery baptist redheads are Geminis, and therefore overweight.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 9:50 AM
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He has not learned what we all know for sure today, that genetics, while interesting, plays no part in either our physical or mental makeup. He is ignorant. He has not been enlightened.

Don't scratch your hands assembling that strawman, Tripp. One doesn't need to rule out any genetic influence on mental makeup ex ante to find an archaic stereotype rooted in sexist myths to be bullshit.

The fact of the matter is that red hair is controlled by a single (recessive) gene, which means that the raw genetic material is shared by vastly more people than express the phenotype. So yes, the old fart was ignorant.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:04 AM
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Don't scratch your hands assembling that strawman, Tripp.

Aw, c'mon, I think it'd be funny. I can imagine it now: "to quote Steven Pinker..."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:10 AM
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The fact of the matter is that red hair is controlled by a single (recessive) gene, which means that the raw genetic material is shared by vastly more people than express the phenotype.

That is interesting. Pardon my simple beginner knowledge of genetics but if a single gene is recessive wouldn't it be expressed if both parents have the recessive gene, or is there more to it than that?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:21 AM
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Pardon my simple beginner knowledge of genetics but if a single gene is recessive wouldn't it be expressed if both parents have the recessive gene, or is there more to it than that?

IANAB, but in the simplest case (and I'm not saying this is the simplest case), if both parents have one copy of the recessive gene, their offspring would have only a 25% chance of having the phenotype.

Also, I just saw that Wikipedia cites a study to the effect that a second gene on a different chromosome is suspected of being associated with red hair, so there could be a bit more to the story that I asserted.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:29 AM
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You're right, the point here is absolutely whether or not the quality of being challenging is a genetic attribute that might co-express with red hair, and not the incredible condescension involved in claiming that some group of people are, as a class, "a challenge, but worth it."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:30 AM
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Oh, rfts! In our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy and hard to please.
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:36 AM
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not the incredible condescension involved in claiming that some group of people are, as a class, "a challenge, but worth it."

If I am correcty interpreting your tone as sarcastic, I was trying to distinguish between garden variety bullshit and misogynistic bullshit.

"Caiming that some group of people are, as a class, 'a challenge, but worth it'" is, most likely, condescending bullshit (though I could think of exceptions, like the case of one adoptive mother of a special needs child telling another adoptive mother of a special needs child).

The issue of whether the quality in question is a genetic attribute that co-expresses with red hair is what adds the extra dash of misogyny, and I stand by my reasoning that it's a little too close to attributing breed attributes to the female members of a particular human sub-race.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:37 AM
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I was griping at Tripp, not at you, Knecht.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:38 AM
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Because Tripp is a fucking idiot.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:39 AM
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I think we must stop this genetic research right now. It is dangerous. Unless it proves that genetics has nothing to do with anything. Then we may proceed.

Otherwise we might be forced to switch from stereotypes to known facts and we can't allow that. Not if it says factually anything about a person's mental makeup. No, we must stamp out stereotypes and not allow them to be replaced by phenotypes.

Our ideology must remain pure.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:39 AM
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I was griping at Tripp, not at you, Knecht.

Oh, sorry. I figured, "You know, redheads. Once they get their dander up, they just lash out at whomever is close by, so it's best to stay out their way when they're angry."


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:40 AM
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152:

Because Tripp is a fucking idiot.

I prefer the term crazed, but of course you are free to call me whatever you wish. Sorry I questioned the established ideology.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:43 AM
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So your real question, Tripp, is whether being "a challenge, but worth it" is a recessive trait attached to red hair and femininity? I don't think there's any evidence for that.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:45 AM
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So your real question, Tripp, is whether being "a challenge, but worth it" is a recessive trait attached to red hair and femininity? I don't think there's any evidence for that.

On the contrary, my thought-experiment indicates that it was a favorable trait on the veldt for proto-human Suzy Homemakers, and therefore Tripp is right to keep sticking it to The Man.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:48 AM
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I don't think there's any evidence for that.

Certainly the evidence is weaker than for the well-established hereditary link between blonde hair, diminished intelligence, and sexual promiscuity.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:50 AM
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156: peter, I don't think it is linked to gender or femininity. Take Apostropher, for example. I don't think he is female or especially feminine, but he could be.

So far for proof I have only a collection of anecdotes and a small amount of hard science with genetics. My opponents seem to have ideology on their side but of course it is up to me to support my assertion and up to them to support theirs.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:54 AM
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So saying that redheads are "a challenge, but worth it" is now "questioning the established ideology"? Wow, you're a tool.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 10:59 AM
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Tripp is right to keep sticking it to The Man.

I'd like to think I am an equal opportunity sticker. I stick it to the Man and the Womyn. It pisses some people off.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:00 AM
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160 - To be fair to Tripp, I think he's saying that asserting that there's literally a strong genetic component to the stereotypes of redheads as having a fiery temper is questioning the established ideology. Which it is, to the extent that the established ideology isn't insane. But William of Ockham was probably a dumb blonde, so what did he know?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:02 AM
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159:
So far for proof I have only... a small amount of hard science with genetics.

Really? Link to the hard science again if you would?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:03 AM
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I married a redhead and have found that our only challenge is that he is more tolerant of Heinlein than I am. I tried to read my first Heinlein at 23 after having some negative reader-author associations based on people I knew growing up and when I did finally descend from my throne to pick up Stranger in a Strange Land I basically got halfway in and threw it across the room when what's-his-name turned out, despite a lifetime spent doing water rituals with energy beings or whatever, was a wildcat in the sack having threesomes with his PhD girlfriend and the snake lady from a carnival between bouts of founding religions. Puh-leze.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:03 AM
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So saying that redheads are "a challenge, but worth it" is now "questioning the established ideology"?

It is questioning the established counter-ideology that says we are all the same and every single stereotype has no basis in fact.

I figured this was a pretty safe place to express that and that people here knew me well enough to know I try not to put anyone down. I know the history of feminism and I support it but I'm not going to ignore unsupported assertions regardless of where they come from. I am also willing to accept that common wisdom may sometimes be correct.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:05 AM
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164: yeah your later Heinlein gets rather dafter. Stick to the early stuff with the sliderules and the rocketships and the whathaveyou.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:05 AM
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It's neat down in Tripp's hole. Dark and cool. I bet it'd be even neater further down!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:06 AM
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164: She was a nurse, not a PhD, n00b! Clearly your criticism has no merit whatsoever.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:07 AM
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Jesus, Tripp, were you always like this? The guy's redhead comment was an generic old-school sexist cliche with about as much scientific content as the idea that four-leaf-clovers bring good luck. And lots of people here find that kind of stuff annoying.

I'm am not saying that red hair is not hereditary, so please don't argue that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:12 AM
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166: So noted. I may give him another try some day but I don't feel like it's a hole in my life that needs to be filled.

168: See, this is more like the internet I know and love. Thank you.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:12 AM
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about as much scientific content as the idea that four-leaf-clovers bring good luck

You know why they have four leaves? Genetics. Hmm!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:14 AM
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Really? Link to the hard science again if you would?

I think it is KR who pointed out that it is known that red-hair is not attributable to a single gene, but at least a couple genes. Red hair is genetic. I have no link for that.

Red hair, while genetic, is not a simple recessive gene. It is more complicated than that. It may be linked to other genes that affect other proteins that affect character traits. No proof of that yet. All we have is cultural anecdotes.

Cultural stereotypes and the backlash against them are starting to come up against scientific understanding. I suspect many cultural stereotypes will be found to be based on at least a grain of truth.

I cannot prove it. I admit that.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:14 AM
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John,

I know lots of people find that annoying. I thought this was a safe place where reasonable people could discuss annoying ideas without getting pissed off. It is amazing to me how quickly people here resort to name-calling and knee-jerk reactions.

I can't believe you are comparing the human mind to a clover. How annoying.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:18 AM
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Tripp, I predict that the more effort that you make to rehabilitate cultural stereotypes here by speculating about hypothetical genetic causes, the less popular you will find yourself. We dabble in anti-PC humor a little bit here, but we don't want to be passengers on the Ship of Fools.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:20 AM
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Tripp's right, of course. Also, the Bilderberg Group decided three years ago to pop the housing bubble -- they were drunk! -- and if we don't implement a program of eugenic sterilization immediately our species risks losing the ability to form sentences. Also NASA's planning to use the Cassini spacecraft to turn Saturn into a second sun so our alien overlords can live on Titan.

I cannot prove it. I admit that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:21 AM
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I love name-calling. It's so creative, so satisfying. I like to think I've developed some real skill in it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:21 AM
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I suspect many cultural stereotypes will be found to be based on at least a grain of truth.

Seriously, is it just a coincidence that all women are nagging harpies? I suspect genetics.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:22 AM
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178

177: it's probably because they're so bad at math.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:23 AM
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179

Challenges to the tyranny of counter-stereotyping aside, guess what! Even if every redhead on earth had a feisty personality, it would STILL be condescending and obnoxious to tell someone, jovially, that this class of people (not of activities, such as being married to Tripp) was "a challenge but worth it." Similarly, it is not charming to observe that an adult person, especially one whom one doesn't know, is "a real handful" or "a spirited filly."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:24 AM
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180

179 is awfully spunky.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:25 AM
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The "redheads are challenging but worth it" saying is not misogynistic, says this male redhead who is most definitely a challenge and most definitely worth it. Laydeez.

It's just playing off the stereotype of redheads as both tempermental and passionate. It isn't always true, of course. Keegan is a very calm and stoic redhead, but it's true often enough to have created a stereotype. Replace "redhead" with "Scottish," and McGrattan would probably agree.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:26 AM
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....says this male redhead who is most definitely a challenge and most definitely worth it.

Assumes facts not in evidence.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:29 AM
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rfts: You mean people aren't equivalence classes? Damn, I'll have to rethink my entire approach to life. Thanks a lot.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:31 AM
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Assumes facts not in evidence.

We could have a torrid affair so that you could nail it down for sure, John.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:32 AM
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I'll have to rethink my entire approach to life

It's a challenge, but worth it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:32 AM
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I live to serve!

Fungibly, but valuably, yrs,
redfoxtailshrub


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:34 AM
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187

149 to 186!


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:35 AM
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it's true often enough to have created a stereotype

Isn't this true of every trait about which there is a stereotype?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:37 AM
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188: No.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:39 AM
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Czechs are the Alabamans of Europe.

Already discussed.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:40 AM
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191

190 implies, puzzlingly, that Lubbock has beautiful beaches.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:42 AM
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Canadians, while excellent tree climbers, have no sense of direction or purpose.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:43 AM
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You left out the part about my quivering-aspen-style inconstancy!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:47 AM
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It is questioning the established counter-ideology that says we are all the same and every single stereotype has no basis in fact.

But, like, to do that, you have to come up with something resembling a fact. And aside from handwaving about alleles, you don't really have that.



Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:47 AM
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194: it's science, hon. He doesn't need facts.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 11:48 AM
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Is gingerism as bad as racism?

Apparently, men get most of the abuse for having red hair in England. The US is described as a shinny beacon of tolerance.



Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 12:41 PM
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The US is described as a shinny beacon

Shinny is more a Canadian thing, really.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 12:47 PM
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No, you're a pond hockey beacon.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 12:48 PM
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The ad hoc, lawless quality of shinny is characteristic of Canadian life.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 12:49 PM
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redfoxtailshrub,

Challenges to the tyranny of counter-stereotyping aside, guess what! Even if every redhead on earth had a feisty personality, it would STILL be condescending and obnoxious to tell someone, jovially, that this class of people (not of activities, such as being married to Tripp) was "a challenge but worth it." Similarly, it is not charming to observe that an adult person, especially one whom one doesn't know, is "a real handful" or "a spirited filly."

I totally agree. The old fart told it to me, not in the presence of my new bride, but in the presence of his wife, who seemed to have heard it before and was OK with it.

That is part of what I meant by saying *this* was a safe place for me to say it. I wouldn't say it to some kid or some specific adult because it would be totally presumptuous of me. Also rude, and possibly damaging to someone who is forming his/her self esteem.

So I repeated it here. In your words that makes me "fucking insane." I would have preferred "shut the eff up" but of course you are free to say whatever you like.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 12:57 PM
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174,

the less popular you will find yourself.

John, sweetie, you do care about me. How touching.

In case you haven't figured it out I'm not here to win a popularity contest. This ain't friggin' high-school to me, although it seems like it is to others.

The owners of this blog are free to ask me to leave at anytime and I will go, voluntarily, with no hard feelings.

Do you honestly think I am worried about popularity? Here at unfogged I've taken ridicule, name-calling and slurs against my character. I've faced true anger and mean-spiritedness. If I wanted to be popular believe me I would not be here.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 1:04 PM
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Tripp, in as friendly a tone as possible, I did tell you to shut the eff up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 1:04 PM
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"insane" s/b "inane" in this case.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 1:06 PM
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Tripp, you can be really boring and annoying and seem to insist on remaining so. I vaguely remember that you weren't always that way, so I've been sort of low key. The problem isn't so much the things you say, but the number of times you say them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 1:11 PM
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Tripp-

Given that you're invoking the 'owners of the blog', and as a front-page poster I suppose I'm one, while you're making yourself sound like a nitwit, and condescending to and insulting other commenters, we don't generally ask people to leave for that.

If I wanted to be popular believe me I would not be here.

What are you here for? To show the flag on behalf of the brave souls who believe, in the face of stifling orthodoxy, that red hair and a 'challenging' personality are genetically linked? If that's it, it's a quixotic crusade you're on, dude.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 1:13 PM
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Aw it's just a little light funnin', Emerson. Can't people around here take a joke any more? Whippersnappers these days don't even know that everything can be recontextualized to seem less asinine than was originally intended.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 1:14 PM
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The article Lemmy links is quite interesting and offers the theory that the red-headed jokes have more to do with tensions between the English and the Irish than anything else. That seems a little more likely than the genetic explanation, especially since it's mainly England that has that problem towards red hair.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 2:26 PM
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What are you here for?

LizardBreath,

What a good question. Don't you wonder why it took nearly six months for someone to ask that question?

Partly I am here to talk about controversial ideas in a safe and calm manner with rational brilliant people.

I think unfogged has some of the best minds on the internet, and that's not flattery but honesty. I think it is a great place to learn.

But, as I said, this is not my house and not my party so I'll leave whenever I'm asked.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 2:35 PM
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as a front-page poster I suppose I'm [an "owner of the blog"]>

LB, I hate to tell you this, not only are you an owner, it's sweat equity.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 2:46 PM
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it's sweat equity

LB would have you believe that's sweat, but I have some darker suspicions.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 2:53 PM
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That seems a little more likely than the genetic explanation, especially since it's mainly England that has that problem towards red hair.

Why do you hate science, irrational female?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 2:55 PM
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My hair is sorta red, snarkout.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 2:56 PM
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208: No one's asking you to leave. But you've put forth an idea with nothing beyond anecdotal support (redheads have 'challenging' personalities for some genetic reason), and you're expecting people to treat it seriously. The fact that hair color is genetically influenced simply isn't evidence that it has any genetic link to personality, much less that a particular color is linked to a particular personality. Eye color is genetically determined too, as are all sorts of other physical characteristics.

Making sweeping claims that anyone who thinks the redhead thing is boneheaded nonsense only thinks so because of the modern orthodoxy on the subject, as you have done, is not an argument that stands up well. To the extent that you're seriously arguing this point, you've done it badly. To the extent that you're purposely spouting nonsense because you feel that the way people react to you when you do reveals something interesting, it's not entertaining or informative, and it doesn't demonstrate the respect you claim to have for your audience. Yanking people's chains (Hey, if I say dumb things, I can get people to call me dumb!) for its own sake is rude and dull.

Stick around as long as you want to -- you have to be much more abusive than you've been to get banned. But you're not communicating in a way that I find interesting or useful, nor in a way that makes me believe that you think much of the people you're talking to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 2:58 PM
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You guys aren't *really* getting up in arms about a redhead joke, are you??


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 2:59 PM
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Yanking people's chains (Hey, if I say dumb things, I can get people to call me dumb!) for its own sake is rude and dull.

I'm happy to play along, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 3:00 PM
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214 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 3:00 PM
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214: no.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 3:01 PM
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214, 216: Well, I'm being humorless about it because I hate writing people off as useless. If everything Tripp was doing in the thread was humor, it failed badly enough that there's not much to do but scroll past, and hope that eventually he gets bored and stops. If he's trying to actually engage, he's not doing so successfully, and should try something different -- I don't know how to make the lack of success clear other than by being dull about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 3:06 PM
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142

"Ah. The reference to genetics is what got you. Yeah. I cut him some slack because he was raised before we had all the scientific knowledge we have today."

What reference to genetics? The original comment took no position on the reason redheads are a challenge. They could just be conforming to social expectations.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 4:07 PM
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144

"The fact of the matter is that red hair is controlled by a single (recessive) gene, which means that the raw genetic material is shared by vastly more people than express the phenotype. So yes, the old fart was ignorant."

This is confusing. What difference does it make whether the gene is recessive or dominant?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-28-08 4:10 PM
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218: humor

Does no one here watch "The Daily Show?"

It is difficult to explain the style but I think the internet term 'pwned' captures it fairly well.

Sigh.

See the thing is I was hoping unfogged could be like a group of friends who are knowingly able to 'kid around' even to the point of teasing each other.

Ben W-lfs-n astutely noted that the restrictions on my life would drive him crazy. In my real life I see people saying and doing silly and stupid things and I hold my tongue to 'be popular' and to hold onto my computer job at Globalcorp for over 30 years now, which in this day and age is rather unheard of. I am 'popular,' I fit in, but I do that by stifling myself and saying what people want to hear and what they are comfortable with. I'm really good at that, but man does it get tedious.

So for me unfogged is the place I can open up a little and say some non-PC things. I think I have proven that while I can dish it out I can take it, too. Indeed some of my greatest pleasure is when someone turns what I said back on me.

But I won't lie and say it was all just a joke. My serious point was that perhaps with greater knowledge we will find that some stereotypes are based on at least a grain of truth.

Please notice the example I used - the Ginger case that South Park has already lampooned. I specifically avoided the big bad cases (gender, race, religion, ethnicity) where people have faced extreme prejudice. I don't think I was mean-spirited. Yeah, I did call John 'sweetie' and I was condescending to him but man, he has been dogging me for months in an effort to help me be popular or something. For some reason I seem to be his pet project. He must need my approval or something.

So here I am, warts and all. Apparently I rub some people the wrong way but I'm sure they will not be scarred for life. Get some perspective people. This is only the internet. There are real, actual, big bad things happening out in the world right now and I'm just some words typed on a screen which you can turn off whenever you want. You yourself are giving me any power I might have in your life. Take back your power.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-29-08 8:17 AM
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