Re: Humour and the lack thereof

1

"Fuck you, lobsterback, that musket doesn't scare me."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:05 PM
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I usually find British teeth jokes funny, but, yeah, that was lame.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:08 PM
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It might have been funnier if even one of the ten were something anyone might actually ever say.

The 'go and smoke a fag' one might have been okay as the weak entry in an otherwise good list. But two teeth jokes and three language jokes? It was actually a 'top seven' list.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:17 PM
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Sifu probably won with #1, even before the actual Brit regulars had a chance to wake up.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:25 PM
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Maybe they were supposed to be unfunny, since Americans don't say funny things, in Gervais' opinion. Think about it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:33 PM
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Yeah, that was aggravatingly terrible. Why are the late night hosts all so awful when there's such great talent out there? (Why are the NPR editorials so stupid when there are such brilliant bloggers available? Why are we obsessed with penalizing the seven dirty words, when you can easily communicate way more despicable filth without relying on them?)(Why do I have to read and teach Plato's "The Apology" tomorrow morning when I'm a math teacher and I know perfectly well none of my students are capable of wading through it and understanding it, so tomorrow is just going to be a twenty person communal lie that we all loved it, now tell us what it's about? And I can either call their bluff or not, but I really don't feel like addressing the underlying problem that it's too hard for them to read?)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:40 PM
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And even Gervais's #1 misses the point, which is that it doesn't occur to Americans that British people make television shows. I can totally see some boob asking a British person if he's ever seen this really funny show we have over here called "The Office" and suggesting they import it where they live, but not suggesting that they make a British version. Silly.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:44 PM
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6: Once you realize that Socrates swears an oath to the Egyptian god Anubis, the rest of the Apology teaches itself.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:46 PM
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8: No spoilers! I'm only on page 5!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:47 PM
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6: You should endeavor to work this video into tomorrow's discussion.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:47 PM
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Oh, the tapologize song? I thought it was about topology.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:49 PM
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9: Just after he's acquitted, a robot from the future appears and shoots him in the head.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:51 PM
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Really? COOL! Maybe I can skip the rest, with a little more help from the mineshaft.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:53 PM
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14

Socrates instructs his philosophers to have sex with a doctor after his death.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:55 PM
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The number 42 is very important, too, heebers.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:58 PM
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16

Is he the one they call Dr. Feel Good? Is he the one that makes you feel all right?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 7:58 PM
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There's a dramatic moment when Socrates tries on the glove -- AND IT DOESN'T FIT!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:01 PM
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18

Socrates choked on a cupcake.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:03 PM
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19

Athens turns out to be a horse.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:04 PM
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20

Cupcake with the confederate flag tattoo who was voting for Obama? This is getting complicated.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:05 PM
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"Corrupting the youth" means buttsecks.

Anytus was Alcibiades' jealous lover and that's why he hauled Socrates into court.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:05 PM
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The part where Socrates pals around with John McCain is crucial.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:05 PM
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23

Socrates almost killed Leon, but he decided to go home instead.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:05 PM
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Ponce de Leon? Man, I'm all mixed up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:08 PM
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25

Socrates pals around with John McClain, from the Die Hard movies?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:09 PM
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The moral of the story, Socrates reminds everyone, is "to thine own self be true." It's a quote. Totally great for class discussion!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:09 PM
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There's a dramatic jailbreak effort at the end which gets ruined when one of Socrates' followers stupidly brings it up right in front of the jailguard. Socrates pretends ignorance. (That's really in the Crito but it's all important.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:10 PM
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The killer robot's last words after being shot by another robot:

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways - I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:10 PM
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14: Socrates instructs his philosophers to have sex with a doctor after his death.

Great advice too! Then no one has to bother holding him down.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:11 PM
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28: Followed by: "The horror! The horror!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:13 PM
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But beamish, the robot was never alive.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:13 PM
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32

I know that I have no wisdom, either great or small.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:16 PM
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33

The two discussion questions I've had the most success with teaching The Apology:

"Socrates says at the beginning that he is going to speak without ornament or skill. Is he telling the truth?"

"Why does Socrates say that the politicians, poets, and craftsmen are not wise, and what does this say about his idea of wisdom?"

[/straight answer]


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:18 PM
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brings it up right in front of the
i recalled a joke, not british though
so a famous hunter went hunting with a chukcha, they met a bear and the chukcha said i'll shoo the bear and you run before him
after some running, the hunter thought why i have to run before a bear following advices of some chukcha? after all i'm a famous hunter, then he turned around and shot the bear
the chukcha angrily: what have you done, just a halfway to home! now drag him yourself


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:21 PM
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English people are easily mockable, but this ain't it.
Easily mockable fact number one: among Englishman traveling to south america in 2004, "aving a jury" was all but ubiquitous. It means "having a giraffe"="having a laugh".
Easily mockable fact number two: English people like to go to foreign countries, behave badly, and make absolute asses of themselves. Worse than Americans, if you can believe that.
I'm sure there's more.
P.S.
I'm all in favor of misteaching the preterite, but their understanding should reflect that Stoicism is sleeping with your wife.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:23 PM
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But read, in that joke the chukcha is actually showing some cleverness and folk wisdom. You can't have a chukcha joke unless the chukcha is a total idiot.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:24 PM
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33: Much appreciated, sincerely.

And am I mis-reading, or is Socrates nailing Meletus on a bunch of idiotic technical zingers? Aha, horses get corrupted all the time! Didn't think through the issues, did you! (I am only halfway through, however.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:26 PM
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38

Even though it's called The Apology, the fucker isn't really sorry. That's why they kill him.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:28 PM
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You can't have a chukcha joke unless the chukcha is a total idiot.
i hope i never told that kind of jokes


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:29 PM
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40

What's a chukcha? I suppose I could look it up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:31 PM
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41

40: people from far-eastern Siberia.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:32 PM
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42

33: It's not so much a zinger as a suggestive analogy to show that it's hard to teach someone to be good.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:32 PM
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is Socrates nailing Meletus on a bunch of idiotic technical zingers?

Yes. And the strained relationship between the technicalities Socrates grabs people with and the depth of the issues actually discussed is an enduring theme in early and middle Platonic dialogues.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:32 PM
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Maybe my enjoyment of this website is more for the background music and odd translations than for the quality of the jokes.

BTW I have introduced several people to the Soviet Winnie the Pooh cartoons. VINI-PUKH


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:33 PM
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45

Remember: I have no wisdom, great or small.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:34 PM
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And am I mis-reading, or is Socrates nailing Meletus on a bunch of idiotic technical zingers?

Welcome to the wonderful world of Plato.

So, one day after Socrates had gotten a new Ferrari, he wanted to get it blessed, so he went to Gorgias and explained, "Gorgias, I just got this new car, a Ferrari, and I'd like you to bless it; would you say a bracha over it?" But Gorgias replied, "I don't know, what is a Ferrari? I can't bless something I don't even know what it is." So Socrates went to Polus and said, "Polus, would you say a bracha over my new Ferrari? I just got it." And Polus said, "Hmm, a Ferrari, Socrates? An Italian, an alien car? I'm afraid I can't bless that." So Socrates drove around until he found Callicles and asked him, "Callicles, I just got a new Ferrari and I'd like you to bless it; would oyu say a bracha over it?" But Callicles responded, "what's a bracha?".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:34 PM
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Yes. And the strained relationship between the technicalities Socrates grabs people with and the depth of the issues actually discussed is an enduring theme in early and middle Platonic dialogues.

Are the students going to ask why he's making such petty arguments? Or is that something that usually flies over their head?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:37 PM
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48

The analogy ban isn't in effect everywhere, heebie-geebie.


Posted by: Socrates | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:39 PM
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49

"what's a bracha?"

"Not to mention, who the hell is oyu?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:39 PM
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Are the students going to ask why he's making such petty arguments? Or is that something that usually flies over their head?

That was my first reaction when I read Plato for the first time, in high school. "Dude, like, why is Plato such an asshole about the color of the horse? It's not like that even matters at all."


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:41 PM
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51

It's not so much a zinger as a suggestive analogy to show that it's hard to teach someone to be good.

Tell me about it. It's real easy to inadvertently assign journals that inspire 18-yr-olds to racist tyrades, however.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:41 PM
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52

50 was I.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:42 PM
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53

tirades, of course.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:42 PM
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54

One day Plato came to Socrates asking for a lesson in reasoning. Socrates set him the following problem: "Two men slide down a chimney, one coming out clean and the other dirty. Which one takes a shower?" Plato said that of course the dirty one does. At this Socrates shook his head and explained that since the dirty one looked at the clean one and assumed he too was clean, and the clean at the dirty and derove [stet] a similar conclusion, mut. mut., the clean one took the shower. Plato looked confused so Socrates told him, "think about it; come back tomorrow. I'll give you another problem."

Plato returned the following day and said "I'm ready, Socrates.". So Socrates set him the following problem: "Two men slide down a chimney, one comign out clean and the other dirty. Which one takes a shower?" Plato being no fool said "the clean one, Socrates".

Socrates: If the clean one looks at himself, what does he see?
Plato: That he is clean, of course.
S: And if the dirty one looks at himself, what does he see?
P: Soot and the like, I would guess, Socrates.
S: Does a person take a shower if he sees that he is clean?
P: No, Socrates.
S: When does a person take a shower?
P: When he is dirty, Socrates, or thinks he is.
S: If the dirty person looks at himself, does he think he is dirty?
P: Yes, Socrates.
S: So who takes a shower?
P: The dirty one, Socrates.

Plato professes to be even more confused at this so Socrates repeats his yesterdaily advice that he think the matter over and return the next day. This being done Plato approached Socrates in the agora and asked him for the next problem, saying he had thought thoroughly about the previous day's lesson. So Socrates set him the following problem: "Two men slide down a chimney, one coming out clean and the other dirty. Which one takes a shower?" At this Plato became nearly incensed, saying, "I do not understand, Socrates. Two days you asked me that question and the answer was the clean man. Yesterday you asked me that question and the answer was the dirty man. If only one of them took a shower, surely there is no third possibility!" Socrates, however, asked Plato, "how could two people go down a chimney and one of them be clean and the other dirty?".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:43 PM
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55

At that moment, Plato was enlightened.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:43 PM
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It's real easy to inadvertently assign journals that inspire 18-yr-olds to racist tyrades, however.

See, that's just what happened to Socrates, except with Spartan repression instead of racism.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:43 PM
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57

Well, you know, Mean Plato...


Posted by: Socrates | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:46 PM
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The chukcha are known a race of sly, buffoonish people who live near the Bering strait. Obviously in America such a concept is hard to imagine...


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:55 PM
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59

55 to the original post.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:55 PM
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60

At that moment, Plato was enlightened.

Not quite. Socrates hit him with a fire-poker first.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 8:57 PM
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61

54 is nice.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:03 PM
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62

54 is skating once, skating twice, skating chicken soup with rice.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:07 PM
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63

They're Russia's East Frisians. Like Nodaks, only cleverer.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:14 PM
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64

They're the wily wabbits of the tundwa?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:15 PM
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62: No, no! I mean, ben's Socrates' solution sounds like: haha, trick question! Which is obnoxious ... but there could equally well be an answer to the question "Which one takes a shower?" along the lines of: whichever one feels the need, whichever one chooses or desires to do so.

That's also a form of rejecting the question, but it remains an important point about the consideration of any question: ask whether it's a well-formed question in the first place.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:22 PM
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hichever one feels the need, whichever one chooses or desires to do so.

Damn dirty hippies.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:23 PM
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67

Are the students going to ask why he's making such petty arguments?

Out of 30 students, three will both recognize that the arguments are petty and have the confidence to believe that the teacher has really assigned them something with petty arguments.

Of those, two will be the kind of moron who would think that any piece of logical argument is petty, and Socrates is the kind of arrogant pest that deserves to be killed.

One student will think that the arguments are petty, be willing to voice that idea in the face of a teacher, and be willing to accept that this was done intentionally, and there is a higher literary purpose at stake.

You don't actually need to teach the last student. She already has an awake mind. You just need to get out of her way.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:32 PM
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Frackin' philosophers like Rob are why we are the way we are.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:40 PM
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(It's probably not a good time to confess that I not infrequently introduced Wittgenstein to students via a Socratic method whereby I offered petty objections in the voice of a stubborn interlocutor. The key is to change voices once in a while to explain what's going on.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:49 PM
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Well, I finished the dang thing. Now let's see if I can figure out the higher literary purpose.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:51 PM
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71

Heebie, Rob is lying to you.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 9:56 PM
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I agree about Letterman.

Meanwhile, Gervais is in the line of British comedy that thrives on awkwardness, embarrassment, squirming and feeling like you want to hide behind your sofa cushion as some awful social catastrophe unfolds. This tends not to translate into good one-liners, good standup, or funny conversation. Quite the opposite.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:00 PM
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71: I'm pretty sure there were no killer robots.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:02 PM
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74

My Canadian brother has become fond of Mr. Bean and curling. We've lost him.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:07 PM
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75

Ugh, there are 3 suggested lesson plans on the school's teacher's website page for the class. Two of them are a list of questions designed to get the kids through the plot, and the third looks like a terribly ill-designed mock play where the kids ask Socrates and Meletus questions.

So I get that this is Plato writing it, and probably trying to illustrate Socrates's big points about questioning everything and how little we know, but I still suspect I am missing a lot.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:10 PM
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76

Q: What do you call a mop in North Dakota?
A: The state flag.

Q: What does it say on the bottom of a North Dakota Pepsi-Cola bottle?
A: This side down.

A North Dakotan received a pair of water skis for his birthday. He went crazy looking for a slope on the lake.

Then there was the North Dakotan who noticed the sign "Wet Pavement"... so he did.

Q: Why can't you get ice cubes in North Dakota?
A: Because the old lady who had the recipe died.

When the North Dakotan accidentally lost 50 cents in the outhouse, he immediately threw in his watch and billfold. He explained, "I'm not going down there just for 50 cents."

Q: Why did the North Dakotan go around the block 24 time?
A: His blinker was stuck.

Did you here about the North Dakotan who broke his arm while raking leaves?
He fell out of the tree.

Q: Why do North Dakotans have such pretty noses?
B: Because they are hand picked.

Q: Why did the North Dakotan put a hole in his umbrella?
B: He wanted to know when the rain stopped.

A North Dakotan Game:
Two North Dakotans go into a dark closet. One sneaks out, and the other one tries to guess who is missing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:11 PM
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72: Inquiring minds wonder if Gonerill finds Tommy Tiernan amusing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:13 PM
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78

Two Texas Aggies were in the woods one day when they came to some tracks. The first said, "These are deer tracks!" The second said, "No, they're cow tracks." They were still arguing when the train hit them.

One Aggie said to the other, "Whatcha got there?"
The second says, "It's a thermos."
The first says, "What's that?"
The second says, "It keeps hot things hot, and cold things cold."
"Neat!" says the first. "Whatcha got in there?"
"Two popsicles and some coffee," says the second.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:15 PM
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76 and 78: here those sorts of jokes tend to center on the Shifflett* and Morris families.

*Different spellings allowed ("two Fs, one T", etc.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:19 PM
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75: there are 3 suggested lesson plans on the school's teacher's website page for the class. Two of them are a list of questions designed to get the kids through the plot

I'd probably go for this. You're just teaching this the one day? And it's not going to come up again?

I mean, it's either the plot outline thing, or targeting a particular exchange in the dialogue for expansion. I haven't read it in a long time, so I don't know. Ooh, but rob's questions up in 33 are good.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:24 PM
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And my father told (and occasionally still tells) Ole and Lena jokes. Iowans and Wisconsinites were also the butt of "$GROUP is stupid" jokes.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:26 PM
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Plato and Maurice Sendak are awesome in this thread.

In February it will be
my snowman's anniversary


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:29 PM
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80: No, yeah, we're going to go over the plot outline, but I didn't need their self-evident questions to walk me through that.

What none of them addresses is what I should answer when the student says, "What's the rhetorical device being illustrated by all these idiotic petty points?" Which most likely no one's going to ask. But I can't yet answer.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 10:31 PM
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84

If unfogged has taught me anything, it is that Plato was, in all likelihood a whiny little bitch. Smart guy, though.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 11:11 PM
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85

You should assign Epicurus The Sage as a study guide.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 11:13 PM
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84: Hey, watch your mouth there, sir! You go read the Phaedrus and come back, and then we'll talk.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 11:20 PM
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"how could two people go down a chimney and one of them be clean and the other dirty?"

Maybe the first one swept it clean.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 11:22 PM
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88

86: Sorry, I must have been thinking of someone else.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 11:33 PM
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88: Oh, it's alright. Happens all the time. 'night.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 11:47 PM
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81: My dad used to tell Sven and Ole jokes.

62: No, no! I mean, ben's Socrates' solution sounds like: haha, trick question! Which is obnoxious ... but there could equally well be an answer to the question "Which one takes a shower?" along the lines of: whichever one feels the need, whichever one chooses or desires to do so.

If it helps, in the original, it's a student asking a rabbi about Jewish logic.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 11:50 PM
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I wasn't aware there was such a thing as Jewish logic. I don't see Jewish.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 9-08 11:57 PM
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92

So, what, you see a rabbi and think "whoah, cool dreds for an old dude!"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:18 AM
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93

"orthodox rabbi"; "dreads".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:26 AM
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94

"Not to mention, who the hell is oyu?"

Some Hawaiian senator.

American tourists get a bad rap. There are a few, usually older than god, who are loud and rude, but they tend to be exceptional, and anyway Art Buchwald made all those jokes in about 1950 when he lived in Paris. Most Americans abroad behave better than Brits or Germans, and when they say something dumb due to cultural misunderstanding it's normally pretty easy to see why.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:56 AM
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This thread has taught me that Plato secretly traveled to Siberia and learned the wisdom of the people there, which he repurposed for his own annoying reasons upon returning to his native lands. All Western culture is actually built on poorly translated jokes about people running halfway home while being chased by bears.

I love when I read a thread quickly and it all turns into a glorious hash.


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:43 AM
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re: 94

Most Americans abroad behave better than Brits or Germans, and when they say something dumb due to cultural misunderstanding it's normally pretty easy to see why.

In general, I'd probably agree. The lager lout type of British tourist generally behaves far far worse than US tourists from the same age group. In fact, it's hard to think of anyone who does behave worse than that particularly type of British tourist.

That said, if you spend any time in, say, Prague, you'll come across a lot of young Americans that are, to say the least, fucking irritating.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:32 AM
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97

Know who really misbehaves abroad? Canadians.

No really.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:43 AM
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98

Why did the Aggie cross the road?
20 million armadillos can't *all* be wrong.

What are the first 3 words of the North Dakota state anthem?
"Attention K-mart shoppers"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:48 AM
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99

The state tree of ND is the telephone pole.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:14 AM
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Know who really misbehaves abroad? Canadians Incredibly embarrassed Americans wearing maple leaves.

The poor dears were stressed out. Hopefully they can stop now.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:42 AM
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I can't believe what I'm hearing here about David Letterman. The man is responsible for a considerable amount of modern comedy; he's earned the right to be post-funny. This isn't to say that he still achieves the heights he used to (although sometimes he does -- "Will It Float" is just about perfect). But if an individual show isn't amusing you need to just calm down and be grateful that he showed up at all. Consider the alternatives, for god's sake.

The top ten lists have only ever been funny about 5% of the time, incidentally.


Posted by: Tom | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:33 AM
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72 - I dunno about one liners (the teeth lines made me laugh, but that was mostly him; the 'talk American' ones didn't), but Ricky Gervais is definitely funny in conversation or doing stand-up.

Although AWB's 7 sounds much truer.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:48 AM
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40: people from far-eastern Siberia
northern
tu uvidish chto naprasno nazuvayut sever krainim, tu uvidish on beskrainii, ya ego tebe daryu
a very popular song with nice lyrics, the site CN linked to has many jokes i knew before, that one about a chukcha shouting towards America beggars is funny


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:50 AM
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coz they bought Alaska, but had not enough money to buy Chukotka


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:52 AM
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If I'm not mistaken, the Chukchas live in Kamchatka. Everyone knows where Kamchatka is because of the board game Risk. In that game that's the best place to invade North America from. (Sarah Palin understands this, since she's played the game).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:28 AM
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i should have said NE
Chukotka
Kamchatka south to Chukotka location


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:51 AM
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Kamchatka has a special Risk definition, it turns out. It's the whole Pacific coast of Siberia.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 9:05 AM
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It seems that the population of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug is 24% Chukcha, while the population of Kamchatka Krai is only 4% "tribal" (2% Koryak, 0.5% Chukcha, etc.)

About 12,000 Chukcha in their own province, which has only 50,000 people, and no cities. And 1,500 in Kamchatka, which has 300,000 people, most of them living in Petropavlovsk.

Behold the demographic changes in Chukotka. From 1939 the number of Chukcha stays exactly the same, and the number of Russians goes from 5,000 to 100,000 to 28,000.

The next issue: what is the difference between a "Krai" and an "Okrug"? And what about an "Oblast"?


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 9:07 AM
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Lake El'gygytgyn (Эльгыгытгын) is of particular interest to geologists, as it is the oldest lake to never have had its sediments disrupted by glaciers.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 9:10 AM
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Russians they divide territories like okrug>krai>oblast' iirc, krai and okrug have autonomy formerly pretty nominal, oblast' is like province within them, but i don't know for sure maybe it has changed since the soviet times
Buryatia f.e was recently divided into three parts though there was much opposition to it, or maybe they tried to unite what was divided into three before and couldn't? i don't remember for sure
it's like part of the assimilation policy i guess


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 9:32 AM
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Actual stupid thing said by an american to a british friend traveling abroad. "England, that's in London, Right?"


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 9:34 AM
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108: Kind of complicated on the divisions in Russia, suggest a cruise around Wikipedia clicking on the links.

A couple of tidbits:
1) Krai implies borderland, it is the root of the "krai" in "Ukraine".
2) The Jewish Autonomous Oblast in eastern Russia is a very interesting entity with touchpoints to a lot of Stalinist/USSR history.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 9:56 AM
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Early on in the Republic, some guy Socrates is beating up on says, "hey, I'm not playing this game. You're just going to shift things bit by bit and even though I can't spot where any one of your questions goes wrong, you'll end up somewhere totally absurd." Then Socrates laughs at him and moves right on.

Also, did you hear about the Aggie who tried to join the archery team? He wanted to play receiver.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 9:59 AM
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Molly reminds me of a friend who was travelling by Greyhound from California to New York to come home, and fell in with an American student who couldn't understand why she was heading east to get to Britain. This would have been trivial if the student hadn't been a geography major.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 9:59 AM
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114: Otoh, some of the shortest flights are from the west coast over the pole.... not sure how far south you have to go before this takes longer than from NY though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:07 AM
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David Letterman. The man is responsible for a considerable amount of modern comedy

Perhaps we're working from a different set of facts. For instance, it's possible he worked on some funny thing of which I'm unaware.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:08 AM
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|| No more masturbating to Miriam Makeba -- but everyone should get up and do the Pata Pata today. |>


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:08 AM
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in 115 it should have been explicit: I'm comparing total distances/times.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:08 AM
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116: some funny thing of which I'm unaware.

That seems to be the case. He was the chief exponent of slippery irony that undergirds most of our winking humor. Like it or not, you live in Dave's world. (Wide. Pants.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:11 AM
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116: some funny thing of which I'm unaware.

119: He was the chief exponent of slippery irony

See Wrongshore? It's true: Americans don't get irony.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:15 AM
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travelling by Greyhound from California to New York to come home, and fell in with an American student who couldn't understand why she was heading east to get to Britain

I don't understand it either; it takes a flight either way, and a bus ride from CA to NY takes forever. What's the point?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:16 AM
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Curses. foiled again.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:19 AM
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He was the chief exponent of slippery irony that undergirds most of our winking humor.

I'm a firm believer that on the whole, each generation gets funnier than the last. So while he was groundbreaking, and hilarious to my dad, his choicest nuggets still aren't that funny as far as I can tell.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:20 AM
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119: It's true. Before Letterman no one was ironic, or if they were, it was a viscous, sticky irony.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:22 AM
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119: Yes, it's an odd thing. Until sometime in the 1980s Americans pretty much said what they meant, or else they were lying. And then David Letterman started this "irony" thing, where you say the opposite of what you mean with either an actual or implied wink, and since then communication has become much more complicated.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:22 AM
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I hate it when I get old-fashioned irony stuck to my shoes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:23 AM
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125: I like mine better because it has the word "viscous" in it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:28 AM
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Oh, come on. Cheech and Chong were the founders of modern irony.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:30 AM
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127: I agree -- yours is better...and it was first too, wasn't it?

Is there a term the natives of this place use for this kind of thing? Pinned?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:30 AM
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I'm a firm believer that on the whole, each generation gets funnier than the last.

In the US, it seems mostly to correlate with imports of Canadian comedians and UK television though. Which also correlates well with the last few generations, granted.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:31 AM
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In the US, it seems mostly to correlate with imports of Canadian comedians and UK television though.

I'll argue with this when I get back from teaching. But note my dissent.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:32 AM
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Ok. To be fair, the UK television is mostly in translation (but not the Canadian comics)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:33 AM
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And I'm by no means suggesting the only funny content is imported, just that it correlates to the influx.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:35 AM
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I have a really bad habit of


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:35 AM
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spreading one comment over several entries


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:35 AM
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don't I?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:36 AM
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114, 121. This was in 1966. You didn't do polar flights from LA in 707s. And she went by bus because she was poor and she wanted to see the country.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:37 AM
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54:

One dirty, one clean - I thought the dirty one went down first and cleaned the sucker out.

Two penguins were in a bathtub and one says "Please hand me the soap" and the other says "I'm not a clock!"

heebie, how did the class go?

ben, was Socrates just killing time until science came along?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:37 AM
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his choicest nuggets still aren't that funny as far as I can tell.

A couple things. First of all, as a general rule, late night talkshow hosts don't have "choice nuggets" - it's a self-created context (one that takes years to build, and relies on near-nightly visitation), and the funniness is almost entirely dependent on that context. I can't think of any comparable situations with which you and Stanley might be familiar.

Second of all, Letterman in particular is/was a creature of his own context, that being the absolute dominance that Johnny Carson wielded over American culture for 2-3 decades. I'm not that much older than you two, but I was an adult when Johnny retired, and it's fair to say that I grew up with him. Although he was truly funny, he was also the last of his (pre-irony) generation. Dave was the first* of his generation. The way that he handled guests - mocking the "important" ones, being kind to the "normal" ones (eg the kids who win the bag-packing contest), and giving the crazy ones enough rope - was a complete shift from how the Tonight Show worked (and works). And that created a tone that shaped everything on his show.

Lastly, it's undeniable that he stopped being groundbreaking nearly 15 years ago. If you didn't already like him then (or he doesn't hit your personal sweet spot now), there's not a whole lot there to draw you in. Carson was the same way after 25+ years on the air. Most performance artists are the same way - and it's very common for the less-inspired later work to mask the brilliance of the earlier work for those who see the whole arc from the end.

* Not literally true, of course


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:39 AM
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And she went by bus because she was poor and she wanted to see the country.

This is very true in southern England. I traveled by car for a couple months and had no idea what I was missing until I got in a bus.

Around here we dig out ditches, pile the dirt in the middle, and pave that.

Over there y'all seem to pave the ruts left from the ox carts. Or something. Can't see a damn thing that way.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:41 AM
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I'm a firm believer that on the whole, each generation gets funnier than the last. So while he was groundbreaking, and hilarious to my dad, his choicest nuggets still aren't that funny as far as I can tell.

This is probably a good marker for when you are an old geezer -- that is when you stop believing in heebie's theory, because the new stuff that is supposed to be funny strikes you as being too stupid and too vulgar and just not funny -- then you are old.

I've been old for a while now.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:44 AM
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Perhaps too late to be useful, but here are some serious notes on the Apology

Apology
I. Historical Context
The Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta 431-404 BC. ends in Athenian defeat, and, for a short time, a tyrannical oligarchy (the Thirty). Critias and Charmides were cousins of Plato, students of Socrates, and leading figures in the oligarchy. Alcibiades, who was especially close to Socrates, betrayed Athens for Sparta rather than face charges of impiety.

Socrates is a historical figure, whom we have contemporary reports from two other figures., Aristophanes, whose comedy The Clouds, presents a caricature of Socrates as impious natural philosopher who taught children to disrespect their parents and the gods.
Xenophon, a general who later turned to writing.

The Socratic Problem is that of determining what views in Plato's dialogues belong to the historical Socrates and which belong to Plato alone. Generally speaking, most scholars take the Apology to be a report of Socrates' speech and the Euthyphro to be characteristic of the way that Socrates practiced philosophy, though not a report of an actual conversation. The Republic is thought to reflect Plato's views, rather than Socrates'.

II. Antagonizing the Jury
Socrates seems to go out of his way to antagonize the jury.
1. Insisting that he is on a divine mission to prove himself the wisest man on earth (21a)
2. He swears, in passing, an oath to an Egyptian deity while under trial for introducing new gods to Athens (21e-22a)
3. He argues that most people, including the jury, don't know how to improve the youth (25b)
4. He declares that he won't beg the jury for mercy because he has a reputation for being better than most people in certain respects (34e-35a)
5. After being found guilty, he suggests free meals at the town hall as an appropriate penalty (36d-37a)
6. During the penalty phase, he declares that he wouldn't be willing to obey a verdict forbidding him to continue to practice philosophy (37e-38a)

What the point of such antagonism?
1. Thinks of bravery in truth-telling as analogous to the Homeric virtue of courage as shown by Achilles in the Illiad (28b-d).
2. Because he thinks he has a reputation for being a courageous Athenian, he thinks it would bring disgrace to the city if he acted as if death were a terrible or avoidable thing (35a)
3. Wants to resist a model of rhetoric speaking that makes persuasion independent of truth (17a-c)
4. Thinks that begging the jury for mercy, as opposed to teaching and persuading them, makes it harder for the jury to carry out it's proper function of judging in accordance with law (35b-c).

III. Socratic Practice
After being told that the Delphic Oracle had declared him the wisest of all men, Socrates decides that piety is best served by trying to refute the oracle. At least: "I must give you an account of my journeying as if they were labors that I had undertaken to prove the oracle irrefutable" (22a). He sought out someone who was reputed wise, examined him, discovered that he wasn't actually wise, and "then tried to show him that he thought himself wise, but he was not" (21c-d). How could such a practice be thought to be "in the service of the god" (22a)?

At 38a, Socrates justifies his practice as follows: "it is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living for men." This last phrase has become famous to the point of being platitudinous, but Socrates assumes that the jury won't believe him. Why should they believe him? Isn't it an implausible claim on its face?

In arguing that he deserves free meals at the Prytaneum, he argues that he's more suitable than an Olympic victors, the usual honoree, since "the Olympian victor makes you think yourself happy; I make you be happy" (36d-e). Isn't this absurd as well? If you think yourself happy, aren't you happy? Isn't it plain that the jurors were not in fact made happy by Socrates, since they decided to execute him?

At the end of the Apology, Socrates asks the citizens of Athens that they do for his sons what he has done for the city, that is, "if you think they care for money or anything else more than they care for virtue" or if "they think they are worthy when they are not worthy of anything" (41e-42a).

Here we can start putting the pieces together. A person can think that he is happy when he is not if he has the wrong values and the wrong understanding of what makes for a good life. Genuine happiness requires having the right values and living in accordance with them. A person living an unexamined life is very unlikely to have the right values, so probably shouldn't bother. There's a kind of inertia to false values. Socrates compares himself to a gadfly and Athens to "a great and noble horse which was somewhat sluggish because of its size and needed to be stirred up by a kind of gadfly" (30d-e). The hope is that he can stir Athenians to have the proper values.

IV. An Intellectual Account of Virtue
The result is a kind of intellectual account of happiness and virtue. Being good and happy is a matter of knowing what virtue is. Only the ignorant are vicious and unhappy.

Consider, in this light, Socrates' defense against the charge of corrupting the youth (25c-e):

1. No one wants to be harmed
2. If a person doesn't want to be harmed, then he doesn't intentionally corrupt those around him.
3. If Socrates isn't intentionally corrupting those around him then he ought not be prosecuted.
So, 4. Socrates ought not be prosecuted.

V. Puzzles about Socratic Skepticism
1. Is it helpful?
2. Is it consistent?
"Neither of us knows anything worthwhile" (21d).
"I do know, however, that it is wicked and shameful to do wrong, to disobey one's superior, be he god or man" (29b).

Notice that craftsmen have "knowledge of many fine things" and they know things that Socrates does not (22d-e)

VI. Skepticism and Death
1. If one doesn't know whether death is a great blessing, then one ought not fear it.
2. Socrates doesn't know whether death is a great blessing.
So, 3. Socrates ought not fear death (29 b-c).

Does the argument prove too much?

VII. Is Socrates Guilty?
The two charges that Socrates faces are those of corrupting the young and not believing in the gods of Athens but in other new spiritual beings.

His defense against the first charge seems to be an ad hominem argument against Meletus, one of his accusers. An ad hominem argument is one that argues against a proposition by attacking the character of a person who believes it. (E.g., Hitler was a vegetarian, therefore, vegetarianism is wrong.)

Socrates' first defense against the accusation that he has corrupted the youth is an argument to show that most people don't improve the youth. The sole relevance of that seems to be that Socrates thinks that Meletus' contrary judgment shows that he has "given no thought to the subjects about which you bring me to trial" (25c). But how does that show that Socrates is innocent?

Socrates defense against the charge of impiety is to get Meletus to specify the charge in a certain way: Socrates is an atheist and he believes in spirits. According to Socrates, "we . . . believe spirits to be either gods or the children of gods (27 c-d). So, since Socrates believes in a spirit (the inner voice that tells him not to do things, 31d), that spirit must either be a god or the child of a god, so Socrates must believe that gods exist. Fine, but that doesn't show that Socrates believes in the traditional gods of Athens, or that he hasn't introduced a new spiritual entity into the city.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:44 AM
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re: 140

I remember a school friend's uncle telling us that he toured around the south of England in his (incredibly exotic to us) convertible sports car and saw exactly nothing. Scotland doesn't have so much in the way of hedges so what would have seemed fun to him planning it in central Scotland would have been a total waste of time in the Cotswolds.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:46 AM
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beamish,

Maybe it is just me but I'm not seeing the humor in 142.

If a man tells a joke in the forest and his wife doesn't laugh is he funny?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:47 AM
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ttaM,

If your friend's uncle was me and the car was a rented Volvo estate wagon with three little one's in the back seat then it is totally true.

If I'm lyin' I'm diein'.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:50 AM
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Yeah, not funny, annoying long, and too late to be helpful. Sorry. If someone in charge wants to delete it, that's fine with me.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:50 AM
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||
ttaM: were you the one I was talking to a while ago about the limitations of chord-diagram producing software? If so, I ended up writing something...
|>


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:51 AM
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someone in charge

Now that's funny.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:52 AM
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Actually, I want to take on this sarcastic insistence that the growth of irony is somehow BS. If you read your Studs Terkel, you'll see that, for instance, the "Greatest Generation" types really didn't, for the most part, deal with irony. I think it's really hard for us to conceive of a world in which virtually all humor isn't ironic. But listen to radio broadcasts of the 1930s - it's 100% canned patter, without a wink in sight. And people lapped it up. Spike Jones was considered outrageous not because he was dealing in irony, but because he was bolder and broader than people were used to - "shock" humor, if you will. There's not a hint of irony in the entire oeuvre of the Allens. The execrable "(All I Want for Christmas Is My) Two Front Teeth" was a huge hit, and not because Irma and Elmer were playing it on the Victrola and laughing at it.

That certain subcultures dealt in irony is irrelevant to the argument - ironic humor is now the most common form of humor that doesn't involve bodily fluids. This is a sea change from the past.

A similar thing has happened when people talk about sex. There used to be a general assumption that sex/bawdiness was an innovation/decadence. Then came the logical backlash that pointed out that Victorians did, in fact, do it, and that pr0n dates back millennia. But once the backlash became conventional wisdom, I think it became so entrenched that no one could admit that maybe sexual norms had changed over time. But we have pretty strong evidence that it has, partly because we talk about things more, and so someone like John (I think) can testify that honest-to-god swingers in the 1970s wouldn't have even thought about anal sex as a choice, whereas now it's a first date discussion for all but the most prudish.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:54 AM
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whereas now it's a first date discussion for all but the most prudish.

Say what?!

Say it ain't so Joe.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:57 AM
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That's not far off Tripp. I'm not sure JRoth is on-base about the 70s swingers though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:58 AM
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I'm not sure JRoth is on-base about the 70s swingers though.

Well, as I said, it's something that I read here - maybe whoever said it can clarify.

I can tell you honestly that, when I was swinging in the '70s, anal sex never came up.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:01 AM
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But listen to radio broadcasts of the 1930s - it's 100% canned patter, without a wink in sight.

True, though if you heard the same comics in clubs, it's odds on they would have been deeply obscene - they tended to have different material for different occasions. The obscenity would have been based on double entendres; what got Lenny in trouble before all the politics was that he called a spade a spade.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:02 AM
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153: And part of that was the inane content rules on US tv. The fact that George Carlin's 7-words schtick was a big deal is a bit pathetic.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:05 AM
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More on 139: Also, self-loathing.

That's the other crucial feature that Dave brought to the small screen. Far from the first, of course, but it made for a new dynamic in the talk show format. Self-deprecating makes for a good host, whether at a dinner party or a TV show. But Dave's barely-suppressed self-loathing, combined with smarts and a quick wit, really shifted how guests interacted with him.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:08 AM
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honest-to-god swingers in the 1970s wouldn't have even thought about anal sex as a choice, whereas now it's a first date discussion for all but the most prudish.

I've heard this here before, and I still can't believe it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:12 AM
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153: Oh, definitely - but comedy club goers weren't hoi polloi. Or rather, the regulars weren't, and when Mr. & Mrs. Middle America came to visit, odds were they'd be scandalized, titillated, or simply not get it.

Didn't I read somewhere recently about the origin of "cocksucker" - there's debate about when the term came into use, but definitely relatively recently (I think the question is pre- or post- WWI). "Swear like a sailor" used to be descriptive, not merely colorful. Nowadays your Sunday School teacher probably swears like a guy on shore leave in 1944.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:14 AM
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149, 150: Seriously, first date discussion? Do people not spend any time anymore on "What do you do for a living?" and "Where did you grow up?" and that sort of stuff? Should I be leading in my (hypothetical... )first date banter with, "Hi, I'm Di. So what's your position on anal?"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:15 AM
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re: 147

Yes! I'd love to see it.

re: 149

I don't know. Comic fiction from the 1930s is laden with humour that seems to have hardly dated at all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:18 AM
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158: I assumed that was a little hyperbolic, but the point is it's hardly a taboo subject. It's even a plausible sort thing to come up even on a first date, even if unusual.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:18 AM
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160: My reaction was a bit like Di's: it's just really funny to think of this as first date conversation; I'm imagining how the conversation goes even as we speak. And even if the date does rather immediately go in a sexual direction, is anal sex a deal breaker or maker? (That sounds like a negotiation.) Back in the stone age, we tended to just see what happens.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:26 AM
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||
159: I'm not sure the easy way to distribute, as it's in lisp (what OS(es) are you running, anyway?). It's not very user friendly at the moment. Basically it takes a list of frets and optionally a tuning.

I have a skeleton for naming notes and chords automagically, but haven't quite sorted it out or nailed down all the enharmonic stuff. Pretty much everything I found online does this incorrectly, if at all, but I don't think it's that hard. Of course, you'll want to be able to override the root and name for particular circumstances anyway.

As is though, you can provide arbitrary labels (but it doesn't check them -- that would be easy enough to add, I guess). I'm using utf-8 text input, so flat/sharp/natural work fine but although there are some unicode designations for double flats and double sharps, I can't find an actual font that has them. So that needs to be sorted out (repeated symbols at the moment, which obviously looks better for flats than sharps). Output is .pdf or direct to .png images (better for your use I expect). All nicely anti-aliased and vector based, of course.

Maybe I'll make a web interface or something. I guess we should take this to email.

|>


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:26 AM
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But (damn, continuing comments, bad habit) sure, if the point is just that it's no longer taboo, sure.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:28 AM
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So what's your position on anal?

Prost[r]ate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:29 AM
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"Hi, I'm Di. So what's your position on anal?"

"I'm behind it."


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:32 AM
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Comic fiction from the 191730s is laden with humour that seems to have hardly dated at all.

If you make allowance for the changes in material culture, there are whole chunks of Fielding and Smollett that could have been written yesterday. I'm not sure there ever was this pre/post-irony thing. What there may have been was an emerging mass audience in the first half of the last century who didn't get it for whatever reason, and demanded less aggressive material. But the hard stuff didn't go away - there are flashes of it in Gilbert and Sullivan, ffs.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:32 AM
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I don't know. Comic fiction from the 1930s is laden with humour that seems to have hardly dated at all.

I think a lot of it has to do with audience. Whether accurately or not*, general audiences were presumed to have unsophisticated senses of humor. And this shouldn't be laid at the feet of FCC (or equivalent) prudery - vaudeville and minstrel shows were incredibly broad in their humor. But any fiction above pulp level could presume at least some sophistication in its audience.

I haven't seen enough pre-Code movies to compare with them, but I'd note that even "sophisticated" comedies of Hollywood's "Golden Era" were generally irony-free. You get occasional sarcasm and a little double entendre, but mostly the humor comes from quick wit and good delivery.

Anyway, I don't want to overstate the case. I just wanted to stand up against the presumption that the rise of irony is all hype. There's a real and significant change there, it's just a question of extent.

* Probably a bit of both - people are generally a bit smarter (and quicker) than they get credit for, but at the same time, the US populace pre-WW2 was not well-educated, well-read, or well-informed.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:32 AM
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||

Terry McAuliffe is running for givernor of VA.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:33 AM
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Back in the stone age, we tended to just see what happens.

I think this has, to a great extent, changed. The legacy of Antioch, if you will.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:38 AM
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Mmm. I'm not getting this irony as innovation thing at all -- I think either I don't know how 'irony' is being used, and so I'm missing a distinction, or I'm not clear on what genres irony is supposed to have been absent from.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:38 AM
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But the hard stuff didn't go away

Wait, is this conflating "irony" with "sexual double entendre"? Or am I misunderstanding?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:39 AM
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Mmm. I'm not getting this irony as innovation thing at all -- I think either I don't know how 'irony' is being used, and so I'm missing a distinction, or I'm not clear on what genres irony is supposed to have been absent from.

That's because NYC has always been ironical. In that way, it's different from the rest of the country.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:42 AM
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I think either I don't know how 'irony' is being used

Therein lies the rub.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:42 AM
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come to think of it, 173 works as a reply to 158 also.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:43 AM
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173: Antisemite.

But seriously, I'm only 37 -- my adult life is post-Letterman, so I don't have any direct experience with this pre-ironic age (bronze?) whether in or out of NYC. But, say, Twain is dripping with irony, and he's not a sophisticated New Yorker.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:46 AM
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It's like you never watched TV sit-coms in the 80's, LB.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:48 AM
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1. "Like Jesus, Socrates had it coming to him". Discuss.

2. Suppose Jesus or Socrates had been let off on technicalities. A good thing, a bad thing, a lesser evil, or no big dea? (In answering this question, does it make a difference whether you take the whole history of Western civilization in mind, rather than just the facts of the case?

3. Suppose Jesus or Socrates had had their sentences suspended and had been assigned a counselor while they were on probation. Would it have helped? What kind of counselor would have been most effective in Jesus' case? In Socrates' case?

4. If Jesus or Socrates were to return, should they be preemptively killed, or should they be given a chance to show that they'd reformed? Are today's laws severe enough to deal with threats of this type?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:51 AM
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Irony is infused in the daily conversation of my parents as well as some of my grandparents; maybe not as sharp as the Daily Show version, but definitely there. Also the 40's radio mysteries I listen to.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:51 AM
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Joking aside, probably my simplest example for 170 is telling a corny joke without acknowledging its corniness.

No one at all does this anymore - you either openly mock the joke in the telling, or you wink at the audience to indicate that you know it's a corny joke.

Now, some people from the 30s to the 70s would do the former, but usually not in a way that would deconstruct the joke - the shift would be in mocking yourself for using a corny joke.

People talk about Carlin going on Carson in the 60s - that was a situation where he was doing relatively straight humor for the straights, but people who "got it" were laughing at entirely other things, including the straights who laughed at the corny jokes. Nowadays there are no straights left.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:51 AM
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Yeah, not funny, annoying long, and too late to be helpful. Sorry. If someone in charge wants to delete it, that's fine with me.

Very helpful. I saved it for my prep for Wednesday. Today went fine - we're mostly wading through what exactly is being said, and we didn't get very far.

Thanks, Beamy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:51 AM
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But I did. And I swear there were ironic jokes in them. Not necessarily good ironic jokes, but humor taking the form of irony, if irony means humor based on a situation where we, or another character, know something a character doesn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:53 AM
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189 to 176. To 179, though, I get it now. It's not that ironic humor is new, it's that all non-ironic humor is now unavailable. To the extent this description is accurate, we haven't gained a mode of humor, we've lost one.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:56 AM
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I think "ironic" is too broad a word. Dave was one of the first comedians with a big audience to do the "my expression doesn't match the words coming out of my mouth whatsoever" Alfred E. Neuman thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:56 AM
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175: Hm. I came of age during the Letterman era, and we absolutely adored him; he was really the Jon Stewart of the 80s, full of what we'd now call snark. Though Letterman was less ... fun ... than Stewart (who mixes it up a bit more). Letterman was nearly droll. Stupid pet tricks were an innovation, man, hilarious.

In any case, I don't have direct experience with humor pre-Letterman either, though JRoth's remarks at 139 about the Tonight Show seem about right.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:56 AM
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That's 181 to 176.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:57 AM
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175, 176: Yeah, seriously: watch some Family Ties. At the time, it was considered relatively smart. Now it seems impossibly earnest and "straight."

Actually, Friends grew a lot more sophisticated over its run, although I don't know whether that was reflecting its times or simply a show getting better. The first season or two featured a lot of mugging* and clearly-demarcated laugh lines. After a few years you start to see more clever throwaway lines and sarcasm from characters other than Chandler (the "gay one" - is it a coincidence that the sarcastic one was presumed gay?).

On preview, I like 182.

* For the cameras - it wasn't a show about the brutal realities of urban life


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:59 AM
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all non-ironic humor is now unavailable

This is probably why the elitists hate Garrison Keillor.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:00 PM
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Yeah, not so much with the Garrison Keillor, although I still kind of like him, but I'm struggling with an inchoate impulse to protest that this assumption that all entertainment must be ironic is what's wrong with Western Civilization, and if you punks would all wipe the smirks off of your faces George Bush would never have been elected in the first place.

But given that I haven't gotten it to a form that makes more sense than that yet, I should probably let it percolate a little before I spout off about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:04 PM
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184: Though Letterman was less ... fun ... than Stewart

I take this back. I'm also now remembering various Letterman slapstick-style things like the Velcro Suit (is this famous enough that I don't have to explain it?) and the various experiments with dropping things off buildings to observe their splatter, in slo-mo.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:05 PM
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Shorter, but no less incoherent, 188:

What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:06 PM
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if irony means humor based on a situation where we, or another character, know something a character doesn't.

but it doesn't meant that.

Come to think of it, these shows and their predecessors did have ironic situations, but handled heavily and often more than humorous intent. More `Beaver Cleaver learns and Important Moral Lesson when his scheme backfires on him'. Playing irony "straight" isn't the same thing as discussed above, I think.

afaics, Garrison Keillor's main problem is that he doesn't do what he does particularly well, cf. Stewart Maclean.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:06 PM
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190: LB brings the una merican.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:07 PM
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Though Letterman was less ... fun attractive ... than Stewart


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:09 PM
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191: Got a definition handy? That's the one I know.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:09 PM
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whereas now it's a first date discussion for all but the most prudish.

And they say Allegheny County is dull...


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:10 PM
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183: I don't know what to call it, but I see Letterman as being an agent of mainstreaming of a certain brand of self-aware, anti-establishment,(or "seemingly anti-establishment" humor). Part of stream that grew progressively more mainstream from pedecessors like Lenny Bruce, MAD Magazine, Tom Lehrer, George Carlin, Frank Zappa, Firesign Theater, Flo & Eddie, Monty Python, National Lampoon, Richard Pryor (and a host of other black comedians), Second City. On network TV itself it was a sequence that grew (after the early pioneers were knocked back) from Paar, Carson, Dick Van Dyke, Laugh-In, All in the Family, MASH, Saturday Night Live (which can be viewed as representing an early merging of the streams)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:10 PM
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Given the two topics in this thread, why has nobody raised the question of Socratic irony?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:11 PM
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Keillor is a really underrated singer. It's a pity he didn't go into music. His radio success cut short would have been a brilliant career.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:12 PM
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We go to see Keillor every year at Wolf Trap. We love it and we are not ashamed!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:14 PM
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194: You need a contradiction or incongruity between intent and result, or intended and actual meaning, etc. Who knows or doesn't know what's going to happen is a separable issue (but can work as a device with it)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:14 PM
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197: Because nobody could think of a good way to work it in?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:15 PM
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If you wish to introduce the tpoic of anal on your first date, it's important to make sure that your interlocutor has been properly lubricated.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:15 PM
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also, i can't believe I answered that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:18 PM
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200: Fair enough. I was thinking of dramatic irony. But under that definition, I bet you couldn't get through ten minutes of any sitcom from any era without some irony going on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:22 PM
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"Ironic" seems to be the wrong word. "Detached", maybe or "wanting to be clear that laughing at something or liking something doesn't signify that I am the wrong kind of person."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:26 PM
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204: yeah, that's fair.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:26 PM
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afaics, Garrison Keillor's main problem is that he doesn't do what he does particularly well, cf. Stewart Maclean. my MIL comes over and changes the f-ing radio station do his awful fucking show before we even leave the house. To me, this is like a teen babysitter not even having the decency to wait for the car to leave the driveway before flipping on Cinemax. Show some respect!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:28 PM
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197: The amount of irony in Plato does pretty much kill the idea that Dave invented irony.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:28 PM
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Given the two topics in this thread, why has nobody raised the question of Socratic irony?

Be the change you want to see, OFE.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:29 PM
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I thought it was Alanus who invented irony.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:32 PM
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"wanting to be clear that laughing at something or liking something doesn't signify that I am the wrong kind of person."

Yep. That's about right. And something about it makes me want to stand up and say "But I am the wrong kind of person. Absolutely the wrong kind of person. Whatever stupid thing it is, I almost certainly genuinely like it."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:35 PM
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205: I still want to introduce "snark" in there somewhere, and can't decide whether that's just another name for something preceeding. In any case, a sort of 'I'm mocking you, oh yes I am, but I am not saying so, nay I am leaving it unsaid, up to the audience to divine my meaning.'


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:37 PM
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honest-to-god swingers in the 1970s wouldn't have even thought about anal sex as a choice

No one would ever have called me a swinger, much less an honest to god swinger, but, well, I did have sex in the 1970s. And, uh, anatomy hasn't changed between then and now.


Posted by: Carp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:37 PM
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197: Because nobody could think of a good way to work it in?

I hear lube is key.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:39 PM
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afaics, Garrison Keillor's main problem is that he doesn't do what he does particularly well

As a counter-anecdote, I feel positively towards Keillor because, of the very few PHC shows that I have listened to with any attention, I remember one in particularly that was spectacularly well done.

In that show (and I would believe that it wasn't representative) he did better transitions than any other monologist that I can think of.

His monologue covered an amazing range of subjects and moods and it never felt like he was working to switch to the next mood, he just ambled along and got from roofing to WW I to ice fishing and so on.

Really, really, good.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:42 PM
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Someone reported to me in 1970 or so that shit taste much worse than they smells. Caustic and alkaline, he said.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:44 PM
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213: It was the honest togodly ones who had the most trouble with anal sex, for some reason


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:44 PM
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The picture on the NYT is striking: how tall is Mrs. Obama?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:44 PM
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I hear lube is key.

And patience. You don't want to rush in. The first hundred comments or so would have been pushing it.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:45 PM
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I am aggrieved to realize that satire is probably all I'm after. I never watched enough Johnny Carson (or now, Jay Leno) to notice whether there was much of that there.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:47 PM
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One of the Crooked Timberites had a post about ironic garden gnomes - his basic claim is that you can't actually have an ironic garden gnome - either you own and display them, or you don't.

I've never quite bought that claim - and not just because we have a couple (they were a present from Oma & Opa - we're not tacky, just devoted offspring!). I don't know enough about philosophy or psychology to actually make this argument, but I simply find it unavoidable that a hipster in a trucker hat simply is doing/saying something different from a trucker in a trucker hat. It may be stupid, it may be unimportant, but I think there's something there.

And yeah, there's a certain unhealthy distancing in ironic discourse. But I think that ironic humor, specifically, allows for more layers of humor and interest than straight humor does. Take Sifu's joke, right there at 1. It's loaded with irony*, as well as absurdism and, not wordplay, but effective use of language. I don't think that you can make a comparable joke without the irony.

* Where's the irony? Using the aggressive language of a gung-ho patriot or sports fan to talk about a 230 year old war, for one.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:48 PM
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The worst thing about Garrison Keillor is that all the other people on the show are horribly unfunny. He's the only one with any sense of comic timing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:49 PM
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218: She's quite tall -- Obama's height when she's wearing heels, which means she's got to be at least 5'10" or so barefoot, maybe more. I have a hard time not irrationally liking tall, strong looking women; she reminds me of all the women in my family (barring my comparatively diminutive 5'7" self).

221: I think that Crooked Timber thread was specifically about garden gnomes, in a way that doesn't carry over to trucker hats. Anyone, hip or unhip, who has a garden gnome thinks it's funny-- no one (to a reasonable statistical approximation) is placating the Little Folk or believes that the garden gnome is straightforwardly beautiful. And the CT thread argued that there's no real way to distinguish the way a hip person thinks a garden gnome is funny from the way an unhip person does.

A trucker hat, or drinking PBR, is different -- there you can distinguish between the 'ironic' and straightforward usage. The trucker really is just keeping the sun out of his eyes with the hat, while the hipster is dressing up as a trucker.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:55 PM
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220: Presumably the faux-commercial skits would include satire.

It occurs to me that the rampant pop culture references of modern humor probably derive in part from ironism - first of all evoking something outside the frame in a sly way, and second in providing that wink, letting the audience know that you know what they know. Remember, things like drug lingo used to be actually secret from most of America - if Carlin dropped the name "Mary Jane" in a skit on Carson, maybe 10% of the audience had even the slightest clue that he was referencing anything with it. Now it's debased, because we practically all share the same references, and so it's more tribal (Simpsons jokes vs. Family Guy jokes vs. Python jokes).

215: First couple times I heard GK's monologues, I was impressed. But the whole schtick is so ponderous, I can't stand it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:56 PM
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The kind of irony we're talking about engages in mockery with a tinge of tiredness, as though little or nothing can be said in good faith -- lest one be guilty of the dreaded earnestness. When it's self-mockery, it becomes even more exhausted, as though one has nothing left to say (this is how I'd read the ironic garden gnomes; what's the point? I didn't see the CT post).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:58 PM
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PHC is comfort food. It is for people who like eating at the same restaurant every Saturday night. It is corny and familiar.

He does have excellent music on there though.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 12:59 PM
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223.2: Ah, that's it. I couldn't quite get the gist at the time, or rather, it doesn't quite ring true to me. When I see a yard with a dozen gnomes and little windmills and so on, I have to believe that I'm in the presence of someone who is not merely on a continuum with my native planted, bamboo-fenced "garden" with its pair of Gartenzwerge, but in an entirely different place.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:00 PM
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Among the articles in the indictment against Kurt Goedel's wife is that she had garden gnomes. Unfortunately I'm the main internet source for that factoid, and I can't remember where I got it from. It might have been from Rebecca Goldstein's book.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:01 PM
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Speaking of trucker hats, Molly and I had a disagreement about Judah Friedlander's character on 30 Rock. I described him as a hipster-dork, largely because of the ironic trucker hat. He functions in much the same way Kramer did on Seinfeld. Molly maintains that he is not a hipster-dork, but simply a dork, because (I hope I'm getting this right) he lacks the requisite self awareness. Does The Mineshaft have an opinion?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:08 PM
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And the CT thread argued that there's no real way to distinguish the way a hip person thinks a garden gnome is funny from the way an unhip person does.

I just looked back at the thread, and I was slightly wrong. In fact, the argument is that someone who views their garden gnome as ironic (that is, who doesn't find the gnome itself funny, but is by owning one making fun of people who would) thereby marks themselves as a member of the middle rather than the upper class, or as Dsquared, showing uncharacteristic restraint, did not quite say, as a cunt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:09 PM
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I'm with you, Rob.

The proof was in the 1st episode this season when Liz asked him to change his cap that said "I'm horny" and in the next scene he had another head-covering that said "I'm horny".


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:11 PM
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230: I think "lawn balls" occupy the garden gnome niche in the US.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:12 PM
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I think 142 is very funny, but only in context. Anal sex = not funny, also because of context.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:15 PM
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230: Well, but the argument still depends on the claim that everybody finds gnomes funny in the same way.

Our gnomes are certainly not there to mock anybody (not even AB's well-intentioned and massively unironic stepmother), but I still contend that what pleasure we derive from them is qualitatively different from the aforementioned Zwerge-lover.

For us, they're basically sentimental objects, and there's a certain ironic distance. We wouldn't own them on our own, but I can imagine a similar couple buying a Zwerg or two as a memory of childhood or travels or whatever. Those people would have them for reasons other than actually finding them cute or endearing objects.

The analogy that keeps coming to mind is comic strips - Gil Thorpe or Garfield. Some people appreciate them straight, and others don't.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:30 PM
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whereas now it's a first date discussion for all but the most prudish.

This is totally not true. Speaking as someone who is not prudish and goes on plenty of dates.

We live in the golden age of humor. The Onion is so much better than anything else I'm familiar with from the past...add in the Daily Show, the Simpsons, South Park...every era has something it's really great at, and ours is humor. Probably the floodgates opened because it was so hard to take the serious people seriously any more.

Also, I agree with Bob that 142 is very funny. What the fuck was that Socrates guy thinking?



Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:36 PM
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Probably the floodgates opened because it was so hard to take the serious people seriously any more.

I'd buy this; though I still wouldn't say that this era is any more funny than the last. There's a different tenor to it, and it does remind me a bit of the Reagan era: people were so freakin' exhausted by the straight faces of the Very Serious People that there seemed little recourse but to go into spastic contortions of sarcastic wit.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:44 PM
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Also, South Park sucks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:45 PM
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Humorous. Bush Says Rug Really Ties The Oval Office Together.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:45 PM
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I don't know about first dates, but starting off talking about anal to total strangers on the bus doesn't work well.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:48 PM
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We live in the golden age of humor.

Eh. This is the sort of thing that I think you fundamentally can't tell at the time. There's a whole lot of historical funny out there, and while lots of it doesn't make sense outside of its context, lots of what we're laughing at now will be awfully hard to explain to our grandchildren.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:49 PM
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I don't think The Simpsons counts as this generations humor. The show is older than many of my students.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:50 PM
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235: First date discussion was probably an overstatement -- unsurprising topic to come up early in a sexual relationship? I can't see many people these days being surprised by a new lover bringing up anal, whereas I think it would have seemed much more unusual not too long ago. But I could be wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:52 PM
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I don't think The Simpsons counts as this generations humor

Yeah. What does? Besides the Daily Show, already mentioned.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:56 PM
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re: 162

My email address on this comment should work.

I run Windows at home and OS X at work, but I have cygwin installed at home so I can run most 'nix type programs.

It occurs to me that there's probably a LaTeX derivative that'll do it. Some sort of ChordML.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 1:59 PM
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Yeah. What does?

Punk'd. collegehumor.com. Jackass might still count. I know it is of a younger generation than mine. (Although Johnny Knoxville references a lot of my generations music, like the Minutemen and the Clash.)


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:01 PM
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I will stick to statement in 235, except qualify it by A) admitting that the Simpsons did start in the early to mid 90s, and B) remembering that the 70s saw a lot of good funny too (original SNL, Bill Murray's various movies, Richard Pryor, etc.) Both decades following a failed war and economic collapse where the establishment had thoroughly discredited itself.

If you take the 70s and add in massive number of decentralized new outlets for humorists to do their thing without going through major network/studio bureaucracy, you get today.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:03 PM
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What the fuck was that Socrates guy thinking?

He was being ironic, but he was ahead of his time.

This is totally not true. Speaking as someone who is not prudish and goes on plenty of dates.

Thank you, PGD. Thank you.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:04 PM
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I don't know about first dates, but starting off talking about anal to total strangers on the bus doesn't work well.

More invaluable relationship advice from John.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:06 PM
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More invaluable relationship advice from John.

Tragically self-defeating, isn't it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:06 PM
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246.1: PGD won't back down. PGD is stubborn. (Original SNL was good, no doubt about it.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:10 PM
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235, 246: Didn't the Daily Show, South Park and the Onion all start in the mid-to-late '90s?


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:16 PM
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This is totally not true. Speaking as someone who is not prudish and goes on plenty of dates.

I second the "Thank You," PGD.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:16 PM
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I don't know about first dates, but starting off talking about anal to total strangers on the bus doesn't work well.

Wish you would have mentioned this like an hour ago...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:18 PM
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I can't see many people these days being surprised by a new lover bringing up anal, whereas I think it would have seemed much more unusual not too long ago. But I could be wrong.

Good grief, of course I was being, um, you know, when I said first date. But for my datapoint, from the early 90s to the early 00s was a big difference in the likelihood that I'd bring up the matter anywhere near the beginning of a relationship. Some of it's personal growth (being able to talk frankly about things, rather than pained hinting), but mostly it was a sense that it was within bounds - something anyone might do.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:18 PM
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Firesign Theatre!

Where is DS?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:19 PM
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I look at 245 as a not-ringing endorsement of the thesis. The ubiquity of fratboy humor does not a golden age make.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:20 PM
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The ubiquity of fratboy humor does not a golden age make.

We're messing about with what we mean by this age, or this era: do we mean a given generation, in this case college-aged kids? It would seem that things like The Simpsons are already passe, belonging to a previous generation - a previous era? Maybe so.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:28 PM
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The ubiquity of fratboy humor does not a golden age make.

Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog is deprecated.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:35 PM
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257: I don't actually know if this is an interesting tangent, but if you're talking about a cultural grouping - like the Classic Rock era or the Golden Age of Hollywood - it probably makes sense to look for a critical mass of coexisting, interrelated, and influential culture-makers, and then trace them forwards and backwards.

It probably makes sense to talk about a Simpsons era of comedy, which isn't nec. coextensive with the actual run of the TV show. But the show codified and popularized a number of comedic tropes that subsequently became common and frequently reformulated. But I would argue that the current comedy scene is different, and would stick with "fratboy" as a descriptor - grossout humor, misogynistic undertones, general broadness (look at the list in 245 and ask how many wouldn't appeal to 12-y.o. boys - Voltaire it ain't).

I don't think you can tie Daily Show and Colbert to those other things; they're contemporary, but different audiences, sensibilities, etc. Indeed, Family Guy is rather obviously an updated Simpsons, yet it moves in the fratboy direction with pretty much every decision. I'd point to those things as being the defining humor of "this" generation, and say that TDS and TCR are either standalone or throwbacks (they seem to me to be more 90s-ish, but that may just be me associating together Things That I Like, like saying Talking Heads belongs with Springsteen because I like them both, not because they were attempting anything similar).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:42 PM
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||
Oh good Lord. I thought I had at least 77 days before disillusionment and disgust could set in. I was wrong.
|>


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:43 PM
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I had this thought way back: when we talk about the death of old-fashioned humor, there are really 2 things: "straight"/unironic/corny humor and racist/misogynistic/etc. humor. I suspect that a lot of the wistfulness for pre-ironic humor is really wistfulness for being able to tell n----- jokes without apology.

Of course, some people have made careers out of framing hateful jokes as ironic and therefore OK. Andrew Dice Clay attempted this retroactively, but failed.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:45 PM
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260: Fucking A.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:47 PM
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I suspect that a lot of the wistfulness for pre-ironic humor is really wistfulness for being able to tell n----- jokes without apology.

?

I can't see this at all -- that is, I can't see any opposition between 'ironic' humor and racist jokes, such that the first killed the second. Are you just drawing a temporal connection: people nostalgic for anything in the past were nostalgic for its racist aspects? Because that seems weak. Or is there a tighter connection I'm not getting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:48 PM
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a LaTeX derivative that'll do it. Some sort of ChordML.

The ones I found weren't very flexible, and with the little tex programming I've done, it looked easier to do something from scratch (seriously... I've only spent an afternoon on this).

I'll email you.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:50 PM
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But I would argue that the current comedy scene is different, and would stick with "fratboy" as a descriptor - grossout humor, misogynistic undertones, general broadness (look at the list in 245 and ask how many wouldn't appeal to 12-y.o. boys - Voltaire it ain't).

Agreed, and also with respect to The Daily Show and Colbert as outliers. Though again: I don't know whether there's another, non-fratboy sensibility emerging now that I'm not aware of.

People mention The Office and 30 Rock, neither of which I've seen. Anything to that as indicative of an emergent new humor?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:50 PM
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260: It's the uniter schtick - he has to do it. Much as I want Lieberman whacked Mafia-style, he's going to be important when filibusters come up.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:57 PM
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260, 262: Seriously? "Disgust" seems as over-the-top as discussing anal on a first date.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 2:59 PM
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I suspect that a lot of the wistfulness for pre-ironic humor is really wistfulness for being able to tell n----- jokes without apology.

Keaton, Chaplin, Groucho are riscist thru & thru? Should I be ashamed if I watch Jerry Lewis play the Bellboy?

Indefensible & despicable, and of course, inevitable after the election. All arguments will now involve race.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:01 PM
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One of the Crooked Timberites had a post about ironic garden gnomes - his basic claim is that you can't actually have an ironic garden gnome - either you own and display them, or you don't.

I buy this.

I like, or have liked, Keillor. Guy Noir! Those two cowboys! That one product, with the jingle! Come on.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:06 PM
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269.2: You bet. Those 2 cowboys and Guy Noir are funny. That one product? You mean ketchup?

The main problem with PHC these days is the music, actually.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:11 PM
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grossout humor, misogynistic undertones, general broadness (look at the list in 245 and ask how many wouldn't appeal to 12-y.o. boys

Nothing new under the sun. Aristophanes, Rabelais, Shakespeare...I bet I can even find some irony in Elizabethan badinage. Defoe? So what might be interesting would be to see why we are in this stage of the cultural cycle


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:12 PM
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It occurs to me that my very small sample of first dates does actually include one where buttsecks was a prominent topic of conversation. Anecdata.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:12 PM
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That one product = powdermilk biscuits.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:14 PM
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powdermilk biscuits

True, but they don't have a jingle, I don't think. They just come in a, um, paper bag with, um, grease stains on it (or something) which shows that they're fresh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:17 PM
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Mitch Hedberg: not an ironist.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:18 PM
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What is not interesting is "our humour is so much better than that old humour. Our generation invented irony!"

Now that's old & boring. I can't believe the general undertone of "progress" in this thread, as if the Farrelly Bros were a great liberation and enlightenment.

Why is current humour coarse, reflexive, scatological, ironic, misogynistic?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:20 PM
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Are you just drawing a temporal connection: people nostalgic for anything in the past were nostalgic for its racist aspects? Because that seems weak. Or is there a tighter connection I'm not getting.

The connection may be simply that Nellie McKay singing "Feminists Don't Have a Sense of Humor" came on a little while ago.

No, the serious claim is certainly not that ironic humor killed racist humor. It's that "straight" humor dies at the same time as racist humor (in the sense that Amos 'n' Andy was nationally huge, not in the sense that no one makes racist jokes anymore). Basically, take Mr. Gray Flannel Suit, ca. 1960. He's got two modes of humor - corny jokes for when the wife or the pastor are around, and racist jokes for when he's on the golf course or has had a few too many cocktails around the wife. Along come the 1960s, and suddenly you can't make jokes about, well, anybody anymore. And the corny jokes are impossibly lame - no one laughs at Uncle Miltie or Bob Hope anymore.

But let's face it, it's the point-and-laugh humor he misses. But just as you can't joke about Them, you also can't complain that They won't let you joke about Them, so instead you joke about these kids with their modern jokes that aren't even funny.

Note that one of the innovations of the Reagan Era, and especially of the Rush Era, was letting rich white men complain about how they're oppressed by not being able to joke about wetbacks anymore.

Anyway, it's a minor claim, just a suspicion that some of the animus directed at "irony" is actually transference (?).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:21 PM
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274: False. Who could ever forget the powdermilk biscuit song?

Has your family tried them? Powdermilk!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:23 PM
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Seriously? "Disgust" seems as over-the-top as discussing anal on a first date.

Personally I wouldn't say "disgust," but it's pretty disappointing. The man is a shitheel who lives only to go on TV and stab Dems in the back. That Obama would stick up for him suggests strongly that he is, in fact, the kind of liberal who won't take his own side in an argument.

Has Joe given up anything in exchange for this support from BHO? Not that I know of. I want a public pledge to vote cloture with the caucus 100% of the time, or he loses his committee, loses his seniority, loses his goddamn office space. The man's a worthless Senator and a worse Democrat.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:25 PM
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Ketchup. Rhubarb pie.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:28 PM
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279: I have a hard time reading it as a gesture of warm and loving support, honestly. Whether it's a question of "keep your friends close, enemies closer," or just, as suggested above, an attempt to have him on hand for filibusters. Sadly, I'm not as savvy on procedure -- can they hang the threat of "vote for cloture or you lose your committee" over him indefinitely? Or is this something that can be changed only at specific intervals?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:30 PM
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Uh, I didn't see 268 before writing 277, but I hope it's clear that I was saying no such thing.

Why is current humour coarse, reflexive, scatological, ironic, misogynistic?

What does reflexive mean in this list?

Serious question: The Buttondown Mind of Bob Newhart: ironic humor? Absurdist? Brainy? I know it was a change when it came out, and I've heard pasrts of it, but I don't know how to characterize it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:31 PM
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278: Ah. You're right.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:33 PM
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Well, disgust might be a bit strong. Imagine discovering that a person you respect is staying in an abusive relationship when there's a kid involved. Now imagine 2% of that. That's how I feel.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:34 PM
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Ketchup. Rhubarb pie.

Yeah!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:39 PM
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276: Why is current humour coarse, reflexive, scatological, ironic, misogynistic?

I don't know, Bob. If this characterizes just this young generation's humor, is it just a function of their youth? Maybe. Though that we see that sort of humor here on this blog as well, along with many other kinds, so it may be just an enduring thing among 12-year-olds. i.e. the enduring allure of fratboy humor.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:41 PM
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I'll suggest that Letterman and Keillor are similar figures, in that they rely on shared experience with the program, running gags, and a certain tolerance for repetition.

The difference, of course, is that Dave is funny.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:43 PM
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287: Now you're just trolling, JRoth.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:47 PM
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The main problem with PHC these days is the music, actually.

Ive seen a great Tenor, two excellent classical musicians, Old Crow Medicine show, and others.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:52 PM
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FWIW, I'd characterize today's fratboy humor as being part of a general backlash against liberalism. The timing doesn't seem to be right, but I've been kind of shocked as I've gotten older and things have gotten more juvenile. That seems like an idiotic statement, but I mean starting from high school, or even earlier. All the sitcoms of the late 70s with their social concerns (MASH, One Day at a Time, even WKRP), and now you've got South Park and American Dad. Not that crudity or conservatism didn't exist then - it just seems like it's been ascendant for 15+ years, and that the two have been linked. Tom Arnold probably embodies this - proud pig-ignorance masquerading as wit.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:55 PM
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288: Which part?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:56 PM
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289 was me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 3:57 PM
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291: Obviously the first part.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:01 PM
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291: Chiefly that the description they rely on shared experience with the program, running gags, and a certain tolerance for repetition equally describes, say, Jon Stewart's show. In which case you're just describing serial talk shows, and you might as well say that Keillor and Stewart are similar. And in that regard, they are. Where does that get you?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:01 PM
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If people don't start connecting Superbad to Restoration Comedy, pretty quick, I'm going to go wash dishes.

Finally watched Juno the other night. Twice. After crying a lot, I managed to handle it by deciding it was all viciously decadently ironic. !00%.
The soundtrack's the key.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:05 PM
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Jroth,

I think you are talking about the decline of the middle class. As the middle class sinks the humor goes along with it.

There are many reasons for the decline - the internet, globalization, the race to the bottom.

The current paucity of upper class humor available to the middle class is a one symptom of the greater situation which is a decline in the middle class.

People are going for what is cheaper and cheaper and cheaper and that includes humor along with everything else.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:09 PM
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290: I've been kind of shocked as I've gotten older and things have gotten more juvenile.

Yes. But it's almost impossible to rule out the possibility that we're just getting older, and just didn't notice it when we were youths.

I'd like nothing more than to explain the last 15 or so years of popular culture in terms of a backlash against liberalism, but I feel I can't trust my own responses as a growing-older person, and there are people out there who actually do study these things. Where's Gonerill?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:11 PM
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The soundtrack's the key.

Coincidentally, I was also thinking earlier today that the Soundtrack was crucial to Juno working as well as it did.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:15 PM
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284 is dead right. It's not like exacting personal vengeance on Joe Lieberman is my highest priority, but this seems to be part of an ongoing 8-year pattern of the Congressional Democrats systematically failing to keep their caucus in line & vote the way their supporters want--both in absolute terms & in comparison with Republicans-- which is impervious to leadership changes, election results, & really anything, & which if it continues is going to prevent the Obama administration from accomplishing any of its legislative goals. I am honestly bewildered as to what the fuck they're thinking. Increasingly the only explanation I have for this is: the GOP base's desires coincide with or do not conflict with corporate lobbyists, contributors etc.; the Dem. bases' desires do.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:15 PM
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294: I'm actually amazed at how little repetition is part of the Daily Show, given their punishing writing and shooting schedule. Colbert Report definitely hangs heavily on the running gags for a good part of its humor, though.

Also, I don't know who you people are who are trying to stick the current generation of comedy with Punk'd and collegehumor.com, but that's just plain wrong to consider as representative. Or, rather, you have to consider it against whatever shit a boorish, uncurious, and dim undergrad found funny back in the comparison era.

I'd certainly consider The Simpsons to be fundamental to my generation's comedic awakening, though it was really a product of Generation Xers. Slightly younger Xers were the force behind Daily Show, Colbert Report, Arrested Development, South Park, and the various "frat pack" movies. Those latter two, though I will grant their sophomorism, seem just plain smarter and funnier than the puerile mainstream humor (i.e., the humor filling a comparable cultural place) of previous years that I've come across. Admittedly, the quality of those "frat pack" movies varies a fair bit, but remember that there's a big overlap in the writing and acting talent between Old School and The Royal Tenenbaums. I guess I'd call Gen Xers the funny generation, even if it kills me a bit inside.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:19 PM
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In which case you're just describing serial talk shows, and you might as well say that Keillor and Stewart are similar. And in that regard, they are. Where does that get you?

Well, you're basically right, except that I would argue that DL and GK are more personality-driven than TDS - replace Stewart with one of the "reporters," and the show works basically the same. Take away DL or GK, and you've got nothing. With Letterman, I can watch a segment, old or new, on Youtube, and feel all warm and comfortable and pre-amused from all my years as a regular viewer. And it's all coming from Dave - not from what the writers have come up with, or the particulars of a guest. I assume people feel the same way about PHC.

Colbert is more clearly personality-driven, but in an explicitly schtick-y way. While it's obvious that DL and GK are putting on personas, the audience reception of the personas is dependent on the illusion that they're real. Presumably people know that Colbert is a put-on (and note that Stewart doesn't have a distinctive persona - he's got his own personal schtick, but his primary persona is Ironic News Anchor, which is why he's replaceable by someone with talent, but not nec. a distinctive personality).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:20 PM
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Katherine,

You are correct, except the GOP doesn't really do what its base wants it to. Instead it pretty much tells its base what it is going to get and the base falls in line.

Corporations and money are the power and get what they want. We dems don't like it and gripe. The Republican authoritarian followers knuckle under, the Republican big money people get what they want, and the other Republicans are pissed but that is directed towards liberals.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:22 PM
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235, 246: Didn't the Daily Show, South Park and the Onion all start in the mid-to-late '90s?

This would argue that the key factor was the rise of the internet and cable specialty stations, offering a massive number of new outlets for talent.

Also, I hate bad frat-boy humor, but South Park is genuinely witty when it's on.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:26 PM
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Oh yeah, and now that people have mentioned Superbad: Judd Apatow movies. Definitely guy-focused humor (he's the master of dinner conversations where two guys in adversarial couples unexpectedly bond against the women), but I'm still surprised that a movie as clever as Knocked Up actually made $150 million in US box office.

Undoubtedly, though, someone here can recall the 90s, 80s, and 70s equivalents of surprisingly smart comedic successes.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:28 PM
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You ironic hipsters need to check out "Fernwood 2night". Fred Willard and Martin Mull.

Bobby Farrelly was a buddy of mine at school.

This was kind of autobiographical.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0125971/


Posted by: Tasseld Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:28 PM
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Or, rather, you have to consider it against whatever shit a boorish, uncurious, and dim undergrad found funny back in the comparison era.

Beavis and Butthead. Ren and Stimpy. Remote Control on MTV. At the Improv. Draw your own conclusions.

Interestingly, the mid-late 90s featured really brilliant (by kids' TV standards) stuff on Nick at Night: All That, Alex Mack, Kenan & Kel. Generally talented casts, clever writing, minimal potty humor. I have no idea how any of that plugs into anything. The target audience for those shows is now in HS and college.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:28 PM
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Undoubtedly, though, someone here can recall the 90s, 80s, and 70s equivalents of surprisingly smart comedic successes.

Obviously, My Dinner with Andre for the early 80s.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:35 PM
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139 gets it. Letterman is a performance artist and you can't just isolate a joke or two and then say, "well, he's just not funny." Plus he is the best interviewer on television today.


Posted by: pwesterberg | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:37 PM
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I bet there is a lot of interesting work on how shared experience (spread through mass media) and faster cycles (history repeating itself as farce) have contributed to what a society regards as humor.

I also think it's possible that we just cannot appreciate a lot of humor from more than a generation or two ago, because it's so contextual. If you aren't immersed in that world, the references and the subtleties become burdensome to understand and laborious to describe. Reading Orwell or Franklin with footnotes is absurd, and yet without the footnotes a lot would go over our heads.

This is touched on above, but so much of humor depends on either the elite mocking the powerless, or the powerless mocking the elite, that I can't help but think that a more egalitarian world makes for decidedly different humor. And it's still contextual. I know I've mentioned Smoke Signals before, and the experience of watching that in a full theater with very few people laughing out loud.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:37 PM
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309 is quite good, and includes a couple things I've had in the back of my mind but have been unable to get out in approximately 100 posts in this thread.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:40 PM
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306: Hmm. I loved Ren & Stimpy when I was around 8. That was probably about the right time (or wrong time if considering developmental effects), and it still seems smarter to me than Beavis & Butthead when I've seen reruns more recently, though that's an extremely low hurdle to clear.

Agreed that early/mid 90s had some pretty awesome kids' tv. I think it came from a few shows about high schoolers who themselves were taking their cues from the cool indie culture of the Gen X twenty-somethings, but due to the age of their characters, the shows appealed to preteens. Clarissa Explains It All and Adventures of Pete & Pete probably improved the culture of an entire 5-7 year cohort.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:43 PM
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301: replace Stewart with one of the "reporters," and the show works basically the same

I beg to differ. Seriously; Stewart is a distinct talent, and the show would bomb without him. Admittedly, his writers are brilliant, but it's still Jon. It's only important insofar as Stewart actually influences political opinion.

303: but South Park is genuinely witty when it's on

It's on either Weds. or Thurs. nights at 10, and my roommate has a tendency to insist on it: it's inane. Apologies, but I used to like the show, and, well, don't any more. It would work if I were stoned. Way stoned.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:44 PM
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309 is quite good, and includes a couple things I've had in the back of my mind but have been unable to get out in approximately 100 posts in this thread.

I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have thought, "Damn, that Witt is smart!"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:45 PM
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Or, rather, you have to consider it against whatever shit a boorish, uncurious, and dim undergrad found funny back in the comparison era.

Spoiled rotten kids today need all ths fancy pants irony stuff.

Back in my late 60s era, we would just sit around the kitchen table, and somebody would start laughing, and pretty soon everybody would rolling around on the floor with tears in their eyes. Then somebody would ask "Why are we laughing" and it would start again.

It was a simpler. purer, cleaner time.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:46 PM
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I beg to differ. Seriously; Stewart is a distinct talent, and the show would bomb without him. Admittedly, his writers are brilliant, but it's still Jon.

It was definitely less funny when Craig Kilborn was the host.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:48 PM
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311.2 was a torturous way of saying that, for a few years that had a very cool and funny college-age culture (that was also when SNL got its solid years of Chris Rock, David Spade, and Conan O'Brian), that sensibility managed to filter down to preteens surprisingly successfully through a few clever shows. I'm guessing the main factors were daring younger producers/writers who were themselves from the youth culture (Nickelodeon and cable were still new at the time, with young leadership), paired with teenage actors and actresses who had older siblings in the culture.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:50 PM
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I think Daria was one of the best things to come out of B&B.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:55 PM
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Stewart was very funny on the Jon Stewart Show too, so I figure he isn't as easily replaced on DLS.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:55 PM
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I guess I'd call Gen Xers the funny generation, even if it kills me a bit inside.

They've got nothing on George & Gracie.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:57 PM
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Slightly OT, but Ross Douthat has a good post on Obama and irony -- Obama's not a particularly funny guy, but he has a writer's sense of ironic remove and self-awareness. That's really what gives me pretty high hopes for him.

Obama's "ironist's temperament" doesn't just make him a more interesting politician than your average baby-kisser: It has the potential to be crucial to his success as President. Mass democracy has a way of creating cults of personality around its most charismatic national politicians - we've seen this with the Kennedy brothers, with Reagan, and even with Sarah Palin - and it's very easy to imagine an Obama Presidency that ends up being captive to the unprecedented hero-worship he generates, and the image that his fans have of him as a transformational President even before he's taken over the Oval Office. I think something like this may have happened to George W. Bush in the aftermath of September 11th: The idea that his might be a world-historical presidency seemed to take over his actual presidency, to its great detriment. And where Obama is concerned, I think we should all hope that his more ironic instincts - his writerly detachment from the absurdities of politics and from his own celebrity - survive his ascension to the highest office in the land, as a useful guard against the hubris to which he'll otherwise be tempted.

Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:58 PM
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296:I think you are talking about the decline of the middle class. As the middle class sinks the humor goes along with it.

Here we go. This is good.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 4:59 PM
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310: Dude, compliments are nice and all, but you did say it quite well in both 167 and 277.

I just still don't get David Letterman. I feel somewhat kindly toward him, especially when he talks about being a father, but I am mystified. I always end up thinking, OK, well, other people find this funny. And they do!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:03 PM
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I have to run, but someone should pull up some video of the Alka-Seltzer and velcro suits.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:10 PM
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320- I think that 260 proves that the once and future President has an ironic sense of humor.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:17 PM
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322: Was Letterman supposed to be still funny? I didn't think so; just that he used to be, very, and one respects him for that. I thought JRoth agreed somewhere upthread.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:17 PM
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Oh, well, I haven't seen Letterman since, I dunno, 1998? Earlier? Except for literally a 90-second clip here or there, and I wouldn't use that to judge much of anything. So my remarks on his funniness or lack thereof are based on decade-old data at least.

Back to other discussions in this thread, the Tyee has an interesting review of a Dutch movie about bullying. Halfway through is this digression:

Crudity mixed uneasily with comedy might be aimed mostly at adults, but it has a way of filtering down. I had the distinctly unpleasant experience of sitting through the remake of The Bad News Bears recently. If someone approaches you with this film threaten to scream down the house or bring in the authorities. Do whatever you have to do to protect yourself.
The change between the original film and the Billy Bob Thorton version is almost startling grotesque. Any lingering sweetness is banished, replaced by a mean and ugly vein of swearwords and scatological jokes. It's difficult enough to winnow out the coarser elements in young minds, without actually subjecting them to a full on wallow in the muck. But it seems that's what we're passing on to little kids: cruelty coated in marketing, nastiness very thinly disguised as humour.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:22 PM
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Just catching up, I have to say I liked the part of the thread where LB knew that what she was thinking when she wrote "irony" was "dramatic irony", and I, reading, knew that she meant "dramatic irony", but soup biscuit, commenting, did not know what LB was thinking. There must be a word for that sort of thing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:35 PM
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326: Didn't see the Bad News Bears revival, but that sounds upsetting -- loved the original.

I do think we have a cruelty problem in this country. Since that Reagan-era sourness entered the national spirit, there's been a subtext of humor that just mocks the weak for being losers.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:35 PM
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326: Interesting review, or digression within a review. It goes beyond the observation that humor is generationally and/or temporally contextualized, no? And speaks to the nature of the humor at hand.

Again, the question has been whether there really is a general turn to what that review calls "cruelty coated in marketing, nastiness very thinly disguised as humour." And if so, why?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:38 PM
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South Park may be the strongest exponent of humor that mocks the weak for being losers.

||
New candidate for worst book title?
"American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, Movie-Making, and the Crime of the Century" by Howard Blum.

Can anyone even hazard a guess as to what that book might be about? Or what kind of person would find that title intriguing? Golden age Hollywood buffs, maybe.

It seems to be about the political ramifications of the investigation into a 1910 incident in which the Los Angeles Times building was blown up.
|>


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:39 PM
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Stewart was even funny on Talk Soup.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:39 PM
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a subtext of humor that just mocks the weak for being losers.

The irony of meritocracy.

Actually, the 80's had a bunch of loser eventually triumphs movies, like "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Karate Kid"


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:39 PM
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OMG, yes on the Bad News Bears remake. Buck and I flipped past it -- the kids weren't around for some reason -- and watched almost half an hour out of sick fascination. I can't think of a movie I've been shocked by in the same way: it was so pointlessly, unpleasantly nasty for something that should have been aimed at fairly young children.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:42 PM
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Was there humor-for-children as smart as The Simpsons (or at least early seasons thereof) before The Simpsons? It seems to me like a definite marker of increasing cultural sophistication, but maybe I'm just ignorant.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:43 PM
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I haven't seen the remake of Bad News Bears, but I wonder if it's Billy Bob Thornton. For the life of me, I couldn't see Bad Santa as anything but tragic and sad, even though people I think are funny thought it was hilariously dark. So I think of him as someone who misses the mark with humor and hits too hard, so to speak.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:45 PM
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The Simpsons is "humor for children"? It's not 'inappropriate' for children if you don't mind a little swearing, but the primary intended audience is adults.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:45 PM
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335: No, it was pointless lewdness. The team is sponsored by a strip club, so you've got strippers cheering at the games; they sexualized the girl pitcher in a really unpleasant way... I don't remember the details enough, but Thornton wasn't the problem. I actually remember thinking that they could have done a rather nice remake with Thornton, because he hits that same "Grownup guy with real grownup problems" note that Matthau hit quite well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:48 PM
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Yeah, "for" isn't the right word there. But it was definitely watched by a much larger number of children than any other comedy aimed at adults that I can think of. And even if the show wasn't explicitly marketed to children, Simpsons-themed toys, video games, clothes, etc. were.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:49 PM
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||

Reading job apps feels so weird. People bragging about themselves using such embarrassingly over-the-top phrases. This is an administrative position, too, so my normal academic yardstick doesn't really apply and there's just a boatload of beautiful adjectives and meaningless acronyms and organizations.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:52 PM
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337: Sounds like just another one of those retarded pointlessly lewd comedies which abound, but it happened to be patterned after the Bad News Bears; I don't know whether the creators of the remake intended the same audience as for the original. Doesn't sound like it. But we pretty much know that everything can and often is pornified these days if it can be.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:56 PM
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The Simpsons has become much more clearly aimed at adults as the show and its audience has aged.

A possibly interesting book on American humor history. Reviews were mixed, but it seems like a difficult subject to research, if you want to get at people laughing at jokes, not just talking about and telling them.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 5:59 PM
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What would previous generations have made of Aqua Teen Hunger Force?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:00 PM
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Well, it was still about a Little League team -- most of the characters were supposed to be under 12. I can't picture the intended audience being much older.

It's funny, I'm not really remembering what exactly I had such a strong reaction to -- I'm fine with plenty of lewd entertainment, and I'm not usually all that upset about what kids see. The movie just struck me as nasty, in a mean kind of way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:00 PM
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Reading job apps feels so weird.

I hear you. Actually, lately it makes me feel curmudgeonly. Why -- why -- do people send a resume to SIX different people in a 15-person organization? Why can't they read the bit on the website about how to submit your resume (helpfully linked from the front page), or failing that, the bit on the Contact Us page that says please, for the love of God, send ONE e-mail and let us sort out who it should go to.

I just cannot fathom the thought process that says "I know! I won't cc the e-mails so they won't know that I've sent the same message to five people!"

And the only explanation I can think of makes me feel really manipulated. Note to jobseekers: This is not a family. Asking Mom and then asking Dad will not give you different answers, and if by chance it does, when Mom and Dad talk your goose is definitely going to be cooked.

(And why do they say they have a "vested interest" in working for us? I do not think that term means what they think it means.)

I just wind up being tired thinking of all of the parenting and socializing I'm going to have to do to get them up to speed. It's such a blessing to get the ones who don't need to start at square one.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:02 PM
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I should have remembered this earlier -- for a very readable and entertaining cultural history of hit TV shows from the 50s to the 90s I recommend Glued To The Set.

It's one of those books that was so low key and readable that it didn't impress me that much when I first read it but every couple of years I find myself re-reading it and being surprised again at how observant and well written it is.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:16 PM
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I join those annoyed by the Lieberman business, if true. I assume, though, that it is not true. We're in a funhouse hall of mirrors here, an there are hordes of people touting their own positions. (Today's gtmo story is the perfect example of this.)

Ask yourself: why would Obama, with all that's on his plate, get involved in this particular dispute? Because he wants to alienate Reid?

If he's doing anything -- which I doubt -- it'd be conversations with reid out of the public eye.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:16 PM
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Isn't Letterman supposed to amuse you mildly until you fall asleep? That's niche humor, even though it's an enormous niche.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:22 PM
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Isn't Letterman supposed to amuse you mildly until you fall asleep?

At this point, yes, I think. While Jon Stewart actually keeps you engaged. Something like Letterman or The Tonight Show is the reverse of those morning shows that people turn on, unaccountably, while getting ready for work.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:34 PM
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Stewart was funny when he played Matthew's brother on Newsradio.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:45 PM
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It seems to be about the political ramifications of the investigation into a 1910 incident in which the Los Angeles Times building was blown up.

The McNamara bombing was a big deal.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:47 PM
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346: Charley, I must say that the media echo chamber seems increasingly noticeable. The Obama supporting Lieberman story tracks back to the same place, and everyone else has picked it up. I realize this is the way of things, but I'm honestly becoming irritated at the repetition of news and talking points. Clearly need to begin reading elsewhere and more broadly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:48 PM
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Perhaps Letterman has aged with his audience and was funnier when his audience was younger and less sleepy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 6:52 PM
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a 1910 incident in which the Los Angeles Times building was blown up.

Does Ann Coulter have an alibi?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:21 PM
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Both Bad News Bears movies are very good, and would strike parents as more adult then they were told about up front. Bad Santa is the funniest movie of the 90s so far, with Harold and Kumar 1 just behind and the Apatow ouevre trailing that. Sarah Silverman takes it one step further than anyone else, in a way that will probably go mainstream in 3/4 of a generation.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:36 PM
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funniest movie of the 00s so far.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:36 PM
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Juno was terrible.

More to come as I read more of the thread!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:43 PM
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Never mind, I'm not reading the rest of the thread.

You people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:45 PM
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Sorry Wrongshore, the only imaginable comedy more cruel and immature than Sarah Silverman was found on the shows "TV Funhouse" and "Wonder Showzen", which are already off the air. Hopefully things are in fact going in the opposite direction.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:50 PM
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I heard somewhere that some web log called "The Poor Man" used to be funny.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:52 PM
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I've been very disappointed in Silverman - early snippets were brilliant, but it seems to rely too much on shock and winking racism/otherism.

Sifu's just afraid to engage with the challenging topics.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:53 PM
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359: Damn.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:54 PM
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359: dunno. Before my time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:58 PM
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My two favorite Sarah Silverman jokes:

"MY niece is learning about the Holocaust in school. She said to me, 'Aunt Sarah, I hate the Germans.' I said, 'Why, honey?' She said, 'They killed 60 million Jews!' I said, 'No, honey. 6 million. 60 million would be unforgiveable.'"

Playboy Magazine: Do you have a pet name for your vagina?
Sarah: 'Faggot.'

This covers a lot of her schtick. It's worth seeing her live.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:58 PM
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Here's Matt Stollar of OpenLeft on the Obama/Lieberman story. Is everybody forgetting that Obama chose Lieberman to be his mentor? Of course Obama is supporting Joe.

OpenLeft is also upset about Obama disassembling Howard Dean's Fifty-State Strategy Team.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 7:58 PM
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People have been known to reject mentors who stabbed them in the back. I have no idea what Obama's game is.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:01 PM
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If you're asking for a plausible non-annoying reading of what he did, he knows that Lieberman's chairmanship is going to get stripped, and he wants to make him look like a dick if he bucks the president to jump parties.

A little bit of a stretch, sure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:04 PM
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I don't understand the controversy over Lieberman being "allowed" to "stay" "within" the "caucus".

What's the caucus? The body that votes for Senate Democratic leadership? Can't he choose whatever caucus he wants? What difference does it make whether he's in "the caucus" or not, since he wouldn't be the deciding vote to reach 50 or 60?

The real problem would be if he continued to be the absentee landlord in charge of the equivalent to Henry Waxman's committee.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:09 PM
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People in the caucus get information others don't and some decisions are made within the caucus. I think.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:15 PM
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The real problem would be if he continued to be the absentee landlord in charge of the equivalent to Henry Waxman's committee.

Whatevs if he was absentee. The real problem is if he suddenly decided to get serious about oversight.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:17 PM
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Obama: Man of Many Mentors.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:24 PM
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Obama: Man of Many Mentors.

So Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and Joe Lieberman walk into a bar....


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:29 PM
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It is interesting, how Obama's mentor-of-the-moment tends to be the one that makes him look the worst. Nobody, for instance, makes ominous noises about Larry Tribe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:34 PM
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"Lieberman says 'Where the fuck is Farrakhan?'"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:37 PM
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Nobody, for instance, makes ominous noises about Larry Tribe.

Doch.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 8:50 PM
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334: Rocky & Bullwinkle. As the Homer J. nod indicates. & a shining example of pre-Letterman irony, too, I think.


Posted by: clark diversey | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:08 PM
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Letterman in a velcro suit is funny? Silly, I guess.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:16 PM
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Reading earnest defenses of the funniness of David Letterman is not far removed from reading earnest defenses of the funniness of Bob Hope or Lucille Ball.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:32 PM
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Also, Ricky Gervais is not funny. I can't believe I have to explain these basic facts to you people.

Heebie: Aeschylus is very old, but funnier than everything that followed it for at least two millenia. So progress in humor is not inevitable.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:38 PM
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Aeschylus is funny? Unintentionally so, I guess.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:45 PM
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Presumably Walt means Aristophanes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:46 PM
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Motherfucker. I meant to say Aristophanes. At least it wasn't Ben correcting me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:47 PM
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... who uses a ton of scatalogical humor.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:47 PM
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I would venture to say that Aristophanes is more funny than Bob Hope or Sarah Silverman, but less funny than Jack Benny.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:49 PM
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When it came time during the quarter I spent abroad in Athens to take the final exam, I, some other guy whose name I've forgotten, and a third guy whose name I remember but whom I will spare (and who was the co-inventor of "your mom's so shaggy, she's not that shaggy") sat at a separate table from everyone else on which the second person mentioned placed a sign reading "The Thinkery".

True fact.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 10:52 PM
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Greek comedy is political, which is wacky, as Greek comedy is also fart jokes. Greek comedy is also reactionary. Again, odd, what with the fart jokes.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:05 PM
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What is a fart, if not a reaction?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:07 PM
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I don't see why any of that is particularly odd.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:08 PM
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Also, Ricky Gervais is not funny.

After some youtubing of his stand-up, this may be true. I'll say that his shtick on the The Office was particularly good, painfully at times, but that's probably just because he was doing an almost spot-on rendition of my old boss. And not even exaggerating. So: the "context!" camp may have this one correct.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:30 PM
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The "context!" camp is always correct.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:33 PM
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389: depends on the situation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:37 PM
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Aren't you a clever fellow.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:47 PM
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I'm a very clever boy!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:48 PM
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I'm also bored as shit. The hidden downside of not realizing you have a day off tomorrow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:49 PM
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You know, I wish I had a research assistant. Being one is kind of balls, but I bet having one rocks.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:51 PM
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You could send them off on all kinds of stupid, pointless tasks! That would be nice.

"You there! Have any lobsters had a regional reputation for being witty?"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:52 PM
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You know who's awesome? La Monte Young.

SO BORED.

Sure, I should go to bed. Or do homework. In bed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:54 PM
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I hate hearing about other people's boredom when I have work to do.

Maybe this belongs on Kotsko's blog.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-10-08 11:59 PM
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ENTERTAIN ME, PUN-PRUSSIAN!

Want to talk about Lakatos and the nature of mathematical intuition? I've had some beer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:01 AM
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398: Sometimes when I need to calm down, I turn to ultra-sweet slo-mo ladybug videos.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:11 AM
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(Kobe does, too.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:11 AM
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Huh, they're just like shoulderpads.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:14 AM
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398: The Lord entertains those who entertain themselves.

I've never read this Lakatos guy but I wishlisted his book after it came up repeatedly over the last month. I am generally in favor of mathematical intuition, though. Glad it exists.

What I am not glad exists is my duty to write this tedious, tedious code.

Paul Campos is shocked that one can pay $3000 for a handbag.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:20 AM
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What I am not glad exists is my duty to write this tedious, tedious code.

I feel that.

Although, when faced with that very situation earlier today, I was utterly shocked to realize my code was working perfectly well before the cutoff where I would have considered it genuinely tedious to keep fucking with.

I guess what I'm saying, Otto, is that miracles happen.

Keep chasing that rainbow!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:23 AM
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You can't be bored on the internet. You could be watching Arrested Development on hulu or reading about medieval history. And you can always play Alien vs. Child Predator


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:27 AM
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My internet's too stupid for Hulu. I've watched all the crap I've downloaded, mostly. Flash games leave me cold. Medieval history, though, hello!

What I'm really saying is that I want to be entertained on unfogged, but fine, everybody has too much to do on a Monday night. Sure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:29 AM
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I find Paul Campos unbearable. I'm not sure why. Is that entertaining? Okay, back to writing a book that I promise will bore you to tears when it comes out, Jetpack.


Posted by: not ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:34 AM
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ARI NO COME BACK LET ME DISTRACT YOU I BOUGHT ALL YOUR OTHER BOOKS EXCEPT THERE AREN'T ANY


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:35 AM
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Oh, did you watch Obama roast Emanuel? It's not very funny. Until the 5:00 mark. Then it's somewhat better.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:36 AM
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Holy shit that's a lie. Now I feel like an asshole, and am buying Ari's other books. I guess that's entertainment of a sort.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:36 AM
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That wasn't ari. ari wouldn't say anything mean about a co-bloggers co-blogger. If you see what I mean.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:37 AM
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That wasn't ari, either. Because ari knows how to use an apostrophe.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:38 AM
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This also might interest you, though it's not funny. And now, back to work on my first book.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:41 AM
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Man. I totally feel like an asshole.

Buy Ari's book, everybody! Or you'll be an asshole!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:42 AM
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Don't feel bad; I've never bought a copy.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:44 AM
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412: eh, that's only sort of interesting. Why was it so close to dropping in the first place?

If you're not Ari, who's book did I just buy?!?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:44 AM
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That couldn't have been Sifu, because Sifu knows the difference between "who's" and "whose".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:45 AM
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417

Yawn.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:45 AM
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418

Yawn.

You're either part of the solution, or you're part of the problem, pal.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:47 AM
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419

Or part of the precipitate. It should be said.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:48 AM
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420

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

(inhales)

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:50 AM
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421

404.last turns out to be a lie, but you should definitely check out old man murray if you haven't yet.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:51 AM
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422

EB YOU AREN'T HELPING.

YOU KNOW WHAT I THINK, EB? I THINK MATH IS JUST ANOTHER EXPRESSION OF COMMON COGNITIVE FUNCTIONS, NOT REALLY ANY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT AN ORANGUTAN BRINGS TO BEAR WHEN DECIDING WHETHER TO FUCK AN ORANGE, THAT'S WHAT I THINK.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:51 AM
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423

I'm impressed that they list your new book a full 5 months before it is to be published. Pre-order now, folks, before it sells out!


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:52 AM
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424

There are two Ari Kelmans. We both teach at UC Davis. We're both Americanists. Imagine the odds. No, really, imagine them. Anyway, I have to think you're talking about the other Ari, as my new book isn't in press yet.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:54 AM
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425

my new book isn't in press yet.

Ah. Slacker!


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:57 AM
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426

Jetpack, these are pretty. Sorry, eb, they're not that exciting.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:58 AM
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427

Does the other Ari Kelman have a blog that I can read too?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:59 AM
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428

Boy, does the penguin in the first picture feel like an idiot now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 12:59 AM
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429

Sifu-style: the new Becks-style?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 1:00 AM
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430

I don't think so. Maybe I'll ask him to replace me at mine. Hijinks!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 1:00 AM
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431

Those pictures are great.

429: I humbly accept the honor.

I do have to wonder where Becks has been spending her Becks-styled-ness, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 1:03 AM
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432

428: That photo-blog is pretty great. The set of Obama pics has some nice shots. Also: the Congolese refugees.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 1:03 AM
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433

430: OK, for now you remain my preferred Ari Kelman, then. The other one hasn't done shit for me.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 1:06 AM
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434

You people think it's bad, you should try lurking.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 1:08 AM
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435

Oh, you're funny.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 1:10 AM
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436

375: Rocky & Bullwinkle. As the Homer J. nod indicates. & a shining example of pre-Letterman irony, too, I think

Yes, great example. Should have been in my 2nd list in 196. I also think that MAD magazine played an interesting role in introducing kids to some less direct forms of humor that came to more mainstream prominence later. (It was a bit of a grab bag, but overall provided a bit of a subversive counterpoint to standard sitcoms and child-directed "humor" of the time.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 5:15 AM
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437

And Lakatos rules. He also led one of the interestingly odd lives like so many of the Hungarians of his time. And Emerson would be pleased to know that he was part of a group that challenged the scientific status of neoclassical economics and Friedman's work in particular.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 5:26 AM
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438

Nice hat.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 6:42 AM
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439

After you've met him a few times, are you allowed to abbreviate Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck? Because it wouldn't half slow down the conversation else. "Call me Chuck."


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 7:16 AM
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440

Ari wasn't kidding


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 7:19 AM
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441

440 is extremely surprising.

But which Ari Kelman do we have? I assume the nerdy one on the right.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 7:25 AM
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442

Ari Y. Kelman was forced to take a middle initial because of seniority, but if he has a degree of success he can drop it and impose a middle initial on our ari. That's why our Ari is working so hard on his stupid book.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 7:30 AM
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443

Ari X. has a nice ring to it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 7:39 AM
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444

443: Ari X. has a nice ring to it.

Yes and then get Edward Norton to play him on the screen in Ari X: American History.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 9:02 AM
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445

Note: There's Something About Mary was very funny.

Also, Sifu is very funny. He should maybe try being a comedy writer instead of just another dreary programmer who everyone has to avoid at parties. But I'm not sure if he can get laughs beyond the limited medium of web comment threads.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 10:49 AM
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446

That's the coming medium, though, PGD. We'll all be rich soon enough.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 10:53 AM
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447

399: Damn, that's cool.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 11:15 AM
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448

Once again, the Unfoggetariat addresses a subject before it hits the gnews.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 4:24 PM
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449

re: 448

Some of the reader comments (comment 1, for example) are pretty good.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 5:01 PM
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450

I favour the tweedy gnome, myself.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 5:46 PM
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451

I view the thing with Joe the not-a-plumber and the Demo caucus as a clever bit of manipulation: Joe, old buddy, you pretend to be a Democrat and vote the Demo way, or we strip you of your titles and throw you to the wolves - i.e. the Republicans - who will strongly support one of their own to unseat you in the next election. And poof! your political career will be gone. After all, why should they trust your faux-GOP stances - you're a party traitor. Kinda like a mistress not wanting to marry her adulterous lover - he cheats on his wife!


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 5:57 PM
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452
A spokesman for the Diocese of Bath and Wells, [his identity tattooed on the back of his neck], said: "There is no such thing as a real gnome so why should we have such unnatural creatures in churchyards?"

Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 6:01 PM
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445: Even funnier the day after seeing it, when the blonde woman sitting across from me at a meeting had her hair messed up the same way. I came close to dying while trying not to laugh.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-11-08 6:11 PM
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