Re: Surprise!

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I continue to be boggled by the inability of children adults to figure out The Santa Baby Jesus Thing among themselves.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 8:54 PM
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About a week after Sally figured out the Santa thing, a couple of years ago, she came to me and asked, "Mom? So, Santa... that means the Easter Bunny?" Very hard to confirm that the Easter Bunny was a myth too while keeping a straight face.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 9:24 PM
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2: That's adorable. I probably shouldn't have been so glib in the post. I still remember the full name of the kid who spilled the beans to me in the second grade.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 9:32 PM
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In my limited experience, children maintain a premodern sort of belief in Santa Claus, believing and not believing but not too interested in questioning the free junk under the tree. But I say that as someone who never had a moment where I suddenly no longer believed.


Posted by: sam k | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 10:14 PM
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Very hard to confirm that the Easter Bunny was a myth too while keeping a straight face.

I bet it was also hard to maintain composure when she asked the next question, scilicet, "why did you lie to me, mommy?".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 10:18 PM
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A large part of it is that Santa brings presents. Kids who admit to the adults that they are on to Santa don't really know in advance what effect such admission will have on the delivery of gifts thing.

Rory claims to still believe, but qualified that the other day: "The spirit of Santa Claus still exists."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:00 PM
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Clever girl, that Rory.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:04 PM
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The spirit of Santa Claus still exists. Pony up, dude.

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:07 PM
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People. It isn't hard. Santa is a dearly-held fiction, and we all have dearly-held fictions that we know are fictions but would prefer not to be pushed to say/face up to.

PK figured Santa out sometime this year, but interestingly kept saying thing like, "another piece of evidence that Santa doesn't exist is . . ." but never came out and *asked.*. Finally a couple weeks ago I asked him if he wanted me to tell him if Santa was real or not, and he said (duh), no. Because he kind of *likes* the idea of Santa even though he knows it's not true.

Why I needed to have him explain this to me, I don't know, except that I can be kinda dumb.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:11 PM
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I believed in the bunny for a couple years after Santa myself. Bunnies are more appealing than old men.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:13 PM
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Why (and I do mean this sincerely and with the happiest of holiday cheer) did you go with the whole Santa thing to begin with, wrt PK?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:14 PM
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You were a child once Stanley, no?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:33 PM
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I know I sound like a bit of a snot here. I guess I don't get how the Santa thing gets propagated. Through schoolmates? So the ballgame is just run with it? I'm not trying to be difficult.

Let's play a game called "What if Stanley were a parent and had to deal with the Santa thing?" What would that game's rules look like? I'm genuinely curious.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:39 PM
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I guess I don't get how the Santa thing gets propagated. Through schoolmates?

He's everywhere this time of year -- t.v., the mall... Either you tell your kid he's a sham pretend or you propagate the myth. Truthfully, the first year we explained Santa to Rory (2? 3?), she was terrified. Before she would sleep, we had to promise to leave a note telling him that he could throw presents through the door, but was not to enter the apartment. Christmas morning, she would not come out of her room until we searched the living room to make sure he was not there.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:48 PM
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I think I was in first grade-ish when I tried to organize a moot court of the neighborhood kids to try In re Santa Claus. I wanted to argue against his existence, but nobody wanted to play along.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12-24-08 11:57 PM
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I continue to be boggled by the inability of adults to figure out The Baby Jesus Thing among themselves.

Q: Can the Baby Jesus replace Grape Bubblegum?
A: Try chewing the Baby Jesus next time you're car sick.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:02 AM
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15: Bave, your internal miniature longshoreman has always longed to organize. I say run with it. Shit. Forklift it, even. Santa can deal at the bargaining table.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:03 AM
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Oh, and happy Christian winter holiday, everyone. I'm really annoyed because of a party gone sour, so it must be Christmas.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:04 AM
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internal miniature longshoreman has always longed to organize

Should I have Sir Kraab's job, or Atticus Finch's?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:06 AM
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Christmas is the tiny speedbump on the way to New Year's. It's not a bad day overall: most people are happy, you get a day (or two if no one else is around the office and you're ahead on work!) off, and a lot of people get free stuff (like the fancy green tea that the really nice dude at my favorite coffeeshop gave me last night, or the lovely enormous rug that my parents got me for my apartment this year). It's like a religious version of Thanksgiving, only with crappy songs and no awesome pro football games. But hey, I'll take it.

My roomie and I will be chilling around the apartment this year, and I think we'll be joined by various friends over the course of the day as they escape their families. The biggest pain will be getting down to Chinatown for food tomorrow, because it's supposed to be pretty cold.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:11 AM
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down to Chinatown for food tomorrow, because it's supposed to be pretty cold.

What?! Those bums are importing their cold now, too?! I'm gonna tell Bave the organizer all about this!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:15 AM
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3: I still remember the full name of the kid who spilled the beans to me in the second grade.

I was probably that kid for someone. I have vivid memories of getting unceremoniously marched out of the lunchroom in the 1st grade and sternly lectured about not ruining it for the other kids* after dismissively saying something along the lines of "Of course Santa Claus isn't real." WWISALB?

*But I do wish I had had the chops to reply, "Too late."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:15 AM
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However! It should totally become a rule that gifts are not given to those over age 15 unless they meet one of the following strict criteria: you know the recipient well enough to know they need/want that particular item or it should be a consumable indulgence that won't take up any space after January.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:16 AM
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I just got literally *thrown* out of a party and caused everyone, including Bave, a great deal of pain, and I would like to apologize to someone, but since I no longer believe in Santa or Jesus, I apologize to you, O Mineshaft.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:28 AM
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You are forgiven, my child.


Posted by: Mineshaft | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:33 AM
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Are you ok, AWB?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:34 AM
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AWB did nothing wrong. Seriously. The host was RUDE.

I've never really liked New Year's, as it's a holiday that has nearly always disappointed me -- or, better, a holiday that has provided the occasion for me to disappoint my own received expectations of the amazing times I was supposed to be having.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:41 AM
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||

This coal ash thing is really bad, sounds like. Here's the NYT trying to be all measured and serious:

Despite numerous reports from recreational anglers and television news video of a large fish kill downstream of the spill, Mr. Francis said the T.V.A.'s environmental team had not encountered any dead fish. On Swan Pond Road, home to the residences nearest the plant, a group of environmental advocates went door to door telling residents that boiling their water, as officials had suggested, would not remove heavy metals.

|>


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:45 AM
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I forgive you, White Bear.

I don't remember ever believing in a damn thing, or much caring what other people believed. Irish Granny gave me a gilt "Lives of the Saints" at 8 and I though it was silly. The parent's marriage was forced & ugly well before I entered 1st grade, and accelerated ugly for seven more years. Catholics. I think I was 5 when I pulled out my uncle's porno from under his bed and brought it out to Christmas dinner. By that time, I knew what that said about his marriage, since I had the room next to my parents, and could hear the bedtime fights and tears.

Of course, I can't remember back to 3 & 4, since I was sick for those years with a genetic disease.

Cheers.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:50 AM
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A little shaken. But I'm OK.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:56 AM
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Details details, different versions!! I like to watch fights. Probably just drunken bullshit, tho.

Don't get me wrong, I had a pretty happy childhood of skepticism & cynicism. My sisters were fucked over about it, but I stopped giving a shit and even enjoyed the show. The phoniness at the extended family gatherings, and watching the adult's sour reactions was a hoot.

Became a literal & metaphorical thief.

I need to read "Angela's Ashes" someday, I think.

Is Thompson's "End of the Rainbow" a Christmas song?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:16 AM
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Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, AWB. You can come have Jewish Christmas with us.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:21 AM
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Anti-semitism or Christophobia? C'mon Christmas is a time for sharing, and I have opened my heart to the mineshaft. All my faith in human kindness could be shattered without reciprocity.

Fucking renewed my valium prescription after three months. That was a mistake. Prozac, halperidol, all those drugs affect me the opposite of most people. It is just not fair that I can't medicate away my pain and rage. Speed makes me calm and kind, but speed kills.

Sorry. Merry fucking Christmas, everyone.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:47 AM
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I kissed someone, twice, and apparently the host had been repressing her hatred for him all night. I walked into some huge mess about which I know nothing. He seemed nice to me, but we know I don't have the world's greatest track record about stuff like that. I never did find out the backstory.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:52 AM
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She invited him to her party, so she arguably assumed the risk that he would be kissed. Anyway, if she hates him so much, why didn't she throw him out? Kissing a hateful person hardly seems an offense necessitating the eviction of a guest.

Be well, bob mcmanus.

Fuck, I can't sleep. I'm going to assume that since these are OTC sleeping pills I can take multiple dosages without harm.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:09 AM
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It dawned on me tonight that Santa is just an evil plot to turn all little kids into atheists. Once that experience that small disillusionment, it's only a short step to the big jumbo one.

I don't know why people are so gung ho to have their kid love Santa. My child is being protected from this corruption by celebrating Hanukkah. She's already asked me if Santa is real. There's just something fishy about Santa.

But I believed in Santa. God, that hurt, finding out the truth.


Posted by: ozma | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:24 AM
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Stanley, we found really that there are enough references to Father Christmas/Santa Claus in the outside world without us having to introduce the idea to the kids. I try not to propagate it, not to tell actual lies, and stay neutral. C told the 6 year old that SC doesn't exist and she punched him and said that of course he does.

Stockings open, vegging about until we have a cooking gap to walk the dog. Presents from under the tree are for after the meal.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 4:48 AM
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27: AWB did nothing wrong. Seriously. The host was RUDE.

I'm thinking if you gotta throw somebody out of your party, you (the host) is doing something wrong. No matter how many wild parties I have thrown, I've never had to throw anyone out.

34: He seemed nice to me, but we know I don't have the world's greatest track record about stuff like that. I never did find out the backstory.

Well, that's approximately insane on her part, and she should be ashamed of herself. It's a mortal sin to mistreat innocent guests. Lot of that going around lately.

33: Fucking renewed my valium prescription after three months. That was a mistake. Prozac, halperidol, all those drugs affect me the opposite of most people. It is just not fair that I can't medicate away my pain and rage. Speed makes me calm and kind, but speed kills.

Prozac (the one time I took it) was a lot like some kind of bad speed overdose. Shaking, sweat pouring off in rivulets not to mention the unfathomable rage that came out of nowhere. (So, I had to go kick my car to work off the energy.) I mostly avoid all that stuff, legal or otherwise. I can hallucinate well enough on my own, dammit.

BTW, Bob: Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays, and/or hail Sol Invictus, dude.

Mostly I find Christmas just fine, as long as I avoid the stressed out people and keep really really low key. Beats the two weeks before my birthday, when everything dies.

max
['But that's in Texas weather, not here. Maybe I should take up Christmas-hating.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 6:45 AM
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I figured out the Tooth Fairy first, so then I moved on to questioning the existence of the Easter Bunny. In response to my questioning my father would only say, "The Easter Bunny is as real as Santa Claus.". I kept asking if that meant that Santa wasn't real, and he wouldn't answer.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:38 AM
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the host had been repressing her hatred for him all night

Was this perhaps the hatred unto love? That is the only way it makes sense to me.

Merrry Christmas to all! I am crawling around on the floor with a Bernese Mountain Dog.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:40 AM
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As to Santa, I held onto my Santa-belief longer than most. I sort of knew it wasn't true, but preferred a world that could have a Santa in it. I was forced to pluck even this slender thread of belief when Christopher Reeve, being interviewed on Midday with Bill Boggs (you will only remember this show if you grew up near NYC and were allowed to watch TV when you stayed home sick from school), said, "It's like when you find out Santa Claus doesn't exist." I never forgave him. I did, however, sit next to Bill Boggs in a bar semi-recently.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:47 AM
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Bernese Mountain Dog

Heh. I read this as Burmese Mountain Dew.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 8:54 AM
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I have very early memories of understanding that Santa was make-believe, and knowing that my older siblings were putting me on when they tried to convince me otherwise. I can understand why people find the Jesus story useful and comforting, but I've never understood why anyone would want their kids believing in Santa.

I woke up early this morning. My wife and her sister had left a plate on the coffee table with a few carrots and a half-eaten cookie, and a mug. I picked them up, brushed the old food into the trash, and put the dishes in the sink. My wife was very annoyed with me. It honestly never occurred to me that I was supposed to understand that Santa and his reindeer had snacked there during their visit.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 8:59 AM
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No more masturbating to Harold Pinter ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:09 AM
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42: They put opium in the Mountain Dew in Burma. That's why I'm crawling on the floor.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:13 AM
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44: Glad I got that last one in this morning.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:14 AM
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I was very young when I explained with some patience to my parents that I had figured out that Santa couldn't possibly be real because the economics didn't work. I went out of my way not to spoil it for anyone else, though.

I'm spending today watching anime.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:20 AM
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Also, re: Santa

I don't ever remember believing in him. My parents, I think, have told me that I did but I just don't remember doing so.

My brother started asking pointed questions and dropping hints about 5 or 6, I think. But the period between first questioning his existence and actively not believing in him was quite long.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:20 AM
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I never believed that Santa Claus was real because my parents, thinking it was "bad to lie to kids" said he wasn't. He was just the "spirit of Christmas." (Now that I think back on it, though, maybe it was because we were pretty poor and they thought that would be less disappointing. My father, whose father was a shepherd [really!] and whose mother was an occasional cocktail waitress, and who had 11 brothers and sisters [really!] had a lot of disappointing Christmases so might have wanted to keep that down.) Later they decided that this was a pretty dumb idea and let my younger brother and sisters believe in Santa Claus. In 3rd grade I was shocked that some of my friends still believed in Santa and I told them I thought they were dumb. This didn't go over so well. But really, 3rd grade?


Posted by: Matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:21 AM
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Now that I think back on it, though, maybe it was because we were pretty poor and they thought that would be less disappointing.

This, of course, is the real problem with the Santa myth. You get what you get based on whether you were naughty of nice, so poor kids whose parents couldn't afford nice presents must wonder what exactly they did to piss the old fat guy off.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:33 AM
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ToS was cute to wish Christmas to all in his own way, i thought you were signing your scripts now, such a giant leap
i wonder what happened to FL and JBS, people leave without any announcements, not like me, i announce even 2 weeks absence, coz i'm that responsible being, Ogged was good to say bye
i'm lazy to go prepare the buffers, well, in the next 10 min


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:38 AM
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It's a mortal sin to mistreat innocent guests.

Seriously, Zeus is gonna be pissed.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:40 AM
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We introduced Santa to our children as a made up person from the get-go. It wasn't an entirely premeditated decision. We had talked about about it inconclusively. Then five-year-old got into the habit of asking if various things were "in real life."

"Are unicorns in real life?" No

"Are princesses in real life?" Yes, but they aren't like they are in books.

"Are dinosaurs in real life" They used to be.

"Daddy, is Santa in real life?" ...

It seemed easy, at that moment, with that lead up, to simply say "no." So I did.

No trauma. Five- year-old told three-year-old. No trauma. After all, the gifts still came.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:46 AM
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"Mom and Dad don't believe in Santa Claus either. They seem OK with it."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:54 AM
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Seriously, Zeus is gonna be pissed.

Amen. Although this probably isn't the day to bring the original roots of various religions, is it?

max
['I'm already in that fight.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 10:10 AM
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I just appeared as a Santa for adults recently for one night. The only kid around was 8, an actor herself, and the child of an actor, but she still didn't recognize me. It was pretty funny. She asked "Are you someone I know?" And I replied "I'm a 3rd Century Turkish saint." She's used to getting smart answers though.

Too bad about Pinter. He fought the good fight though.

I had pretty much decided Santa wasn't real by the time I was 4 or 5, but then when I was 6 or 7 we stayed at my grandparents house in the country and I heard sleigh bells and something on the roof while I was lying in bed on Xmas eve, so that kinda made me wonder. Saw a goblin in my bedroom when I was 4, but it didn't freak me out too much.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 10:27 AM
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After having gotten a couple hours sleep, dozing off to Tony Lawson discussing multiple realisms in economic theory, I do have to admit I find "What is real?" a pretty complicated question.Is Santa Claus as "real" as Justice, Randomness, Quarks, or the Gross Domestic Product? I am not at all certain about how the Periclean Greeks viewed Athena:a symbol, an embodiment of particular virtues and attributes, a spirit fleeting from marble container to Olympus, or a twenty foot giant. As you know, I am not one to say that only the rational is real.

Thomas Mann's Joseph made Osiris real when he identified with the god in the pit, as real as calculus.

In a different age or different culture, it would not be crazy to say that parents were channeling the real Santa Claus as they put the presents under the tree. So...yes Virginia.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 10:34 AM
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Santa always left us a note, written backwards so we had to read it in a mirror, that I realized pretty early on was in my father's very distinctive handwriting. I was really into handwriting styles as a kid, so I started to get the idea pretty early on.

And I think Ozma is right about Santa and atheism. Once you start to realize that this idea of someone may not be real, but is a belief people need to facilitate generosity, it inevitably sets a pattern for later reevaluating the whole God thing. What does it mean to be "real"? If the effects of that not-real thing are seen as socially beneficial, maybe people have a lot at stake in perpetuating the myth, etc.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 10:37 AM
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41: well, you got him back when you spooked that horse.

44: that was oudemia too, wasn't it? She's a menace!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 11:12 AM
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The thing with Santa, the thing that makes him an unreal childish fantasy as opposed to one of those civilization-structuring adult ideals like God, is that he's embarassingly susceptible to empirical proof or disproof. You really need to be pretty young and naive not to get that it's your parents putting out the presents.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 11:19 AM
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"...is that he's embarassingly susceptible to empirical proof or disproof."

So you then teach your children about the necessity of myth, and the ironic doublethink belief requires. Or they grow upto be nihilistic anarchists throwing shoes at the President.

I might argue with my kid all day. "At the North Pole?" "Yup" "With flying reindeer" "You betcha" "Reindeer can't fly" "Magic reindeer can" But I saw you and mom...." "Santa can look like anybody."

It's a world of imagination and this seems like a pretty harmless place to start teaching that lesson.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 11:37 AM
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After the truth had dawned on me but before I had internalized it, I remember wishing Santa Claus was real, not so much for the presents but because if Santa Clause were real then perhaps there really would be, say, a door in the wall leading into another more appealing world just like in the books.

Of course I've told my horrible miserable Santa story here before, so I won't repeat, but I will say with Laozi that morality produces crime and thus Santa is a bad idea.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 11:44 AM
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Fucking Santa. Among the desired items on M's wish list for Santa was a camera. So Santa proxy does extensive research, drives all over hell and gone in the snow, enduring a flat tire and, worse, a trip to fucking Target, and eventually finds the Holy Grail of photographic equipment for a five-year-old girl: a Hello Kitty digital camera. OMFG. A Hello Kitty digital camera. Basically the awesomest thing ever. She's totally delighted with it. And that fictional fuck gets all the credit.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 11:47 AM
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More bad Santa news.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 11:55 AM
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You did it to yourself, Jesus.

max
['And that's why it really hurts']


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 11:59 AM
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Merry Christmas from Mahmoud!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:14 PM
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Or they grow upto be nihilistic anarchists throwing shoes at the President.

You say that like it's a bad thing.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:15 PM
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You are wise beyond your years, w-lfs-n. But you know what? The daddy points I scored are all the more valuable for the effort going unacknowledged. I could have blown the lid off the whole Santa fraud, and I refrained. Today I am a man.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:19 PM
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I think I always kinda knew about Santa. You know how people brought up in Asia have distinctive handwriting, because of calligraphy training? That's how Santa wrote, even though he was supposed to be white.

He brought me stuff like children's multivitamins and underwear, although at the time I remember being really pleased. I had no sense at all.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:23 PM
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Today I am a man.

Besides, in about 10 hours, she's going to forget that the camera was never not hers and no, you can't use it, it's mine.

max
['That Mahmoud guy is slick, man.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:26 PM
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I do not remember ever thinking that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny were real. I just surveyed my two youngest children and they told me that they cannot remember ever believing that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny were real. I am sure this is indicative of all sorts of bad things about the Idealist clan. But how do you look your child in the eye and lie to them about the existence mystical creatures? (this makes discussions about religion somewhat difficult. When it has come up, my answers have begun "well, son, there are many people who believe . . . .")


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:38 PM
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Merry Christmas from Mahmoud!

... I would like to congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain.

Several possible interpretations come to mind.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 12:40 PM
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Hello kitty camera is tame?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:00 PM
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The Easter Bunny never fooled me -- it was only ever halfheartedly invoked by my parents, anyway. We'd spend an afternoon coloring eggs with markers, and the next morning they'd be in the garden, and my dad would point with his eyebrows to hint where they were. I wasn't maybe the sharpest tool in the shed, but I warnt no dummy either.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:03 PM
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I cried one night to my mother when I was five that I didn't believe in the tooth fairy, but still had more teeth to lose, and that made me feel I was growing up too fast.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:06 PM
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She's totally delighted with it. And that fictional fuck gets all the credit.

This is actually one of my favorite things about Santa, actually.

As far as this idea that the crushing disillusionment from learning the truth about Santa is going to drive little children to a nihilistic atheism... I've never really met any kids who took the guy quite that seriously. Really, so long as there's chocolate in the sticking.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:11 PM
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stocking


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:14 PM
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I can understand why people find the Jesus story useful and comforting, but I've never understood why anyone would want their kids believing in Santa.

Feh. Jesus is an addictive drug that poisons the lives of countless millions. Santa is eating paste.

If I'm going to be celebrating Xmas, seems that I should admit that Santa and/or Jesus are critical to the event. Santa is the spirit of the holiday, and he's integral to the mythology. I don't actually see any downside whatsoever to condoning the belief (as asilon says, it's not like you need to teach your kids that Santa exists. Which is not true, incidentally, of Jesus - we had to explain to Iris when she was ~3 who Jesus was, because he came up somehow, but she had no more preconception of him than she did of Mani. She still calls the Nativity the "Mary and Joseph story."). I find the "behave or Santa will find out" move fairly repulsive, but agreeing with the statement, "Santa Claus comes tonight?" Harmless.

She's a smart kid, she'll figure it out, and that will be a big step for her (she already suggested in November that he might be imaginary, but she sort of left it out there, probably not wanting to find out for sure). She will also soon figure out that we don't know everything (we don't lie to her about this, but she still assumes it), and that she can hoodwink us (so far she's at the stage where we always find her out). Those will shift her worldview just as much as finding out about Santa, and no one will view those steps as some sort of heartbreaking loss of innocence. It's just growing up (shit, Kai still finds it miraculous every time I walk back into the room; it's easy to underestimate just how primitive kids are, because they we're so impressed at how well they ape us).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:31 PM
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Really, so long as there's chocolate in the sticking.

Yeah, about that...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:40 PM
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But how do you look your child in the eye and lie to them about the existence mystical creatures?

Thing is, they come up with them on their own, with or without our help. Iris has lately been claiming that she hears hoofs and bells on our roof (she sleeps on the 3rd floor). She knows it's too early for Santa, and insists it's not the squirrels (who are all too non-mystical, the little fucks). She has no interest in hearing from us that what she's hearing is either imaginary or squirrels. So she's invented some mystical creature, and my looking her in the eye has fuck-all to do with it.

As I said in 78, people get way to het up about this stuff. White People, I suppose.

I also support 76.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:41 PM
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we had to explain to Iris when she was ~3 who Jesus was

I may have told this one before. A couple of years ago, the little girl who used to live across the street was over. She was 4 or 5, Rory maybe 6. We were decorating eggs for Easter.

"What's Easter?" neighbor girl asks. Rory, having recently learned the story herself, proudly explained about Jesus getting killed and rising from death. "Oh," says neighbor girl, excited to get it: "So Jesus is a zombie!"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:42 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:43 PM
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79: Great, I guess Rory has more value in her Christmas stocking now than in the 529 plan...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:46 PM
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The problem comes from letting kids read those diabolical Harry Potter books. WARLOCKS ARE ENEMIES OF GOD.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:47 PM
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When I found out that my parents were the Easter Bunny, I was apparently deeply pleased. We didn't get much in the way of candy growing up, and I was shocked that they would be so nice as to spread lots of it around the place once a year.

Might be of some interest: Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths, by Paul Veyne.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:57 PM
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"So Jesus is a zombie!"

Zombies are failed reincarnations, like vampires.

The real problem with teaching your kids to believe in Santa Claus is that it's BLASPHEMOUS.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 1:59 PM
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The nice thing about figuring out that my parents were the tooth fairy was discovering the grisly cache of baby teeth.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:00 PM
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The nice thing about figuring out that my parents were the tooth fairy was discovering the grisly cache of baby teeth.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:00 PM
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11: it's fun? And really, you should see their faces. When my laptop stops backing up, I'll try to send you a pic of PK with his mice the year he got them. He knew that I wouldn't get them for him bc of the cat. There's something to be said for giving little kids the opportunity to really believe in miracles, magic, whatever you want to call it, for a few years. An exercise in expanding their imaginations and sense of possibility.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:01 PM
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'Twas me, obvs.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:01 PM
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11: it's fun?

Bah humbug! Oh. Right. I do like that, as I recall.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:03 PM
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Re "lies," all I can say is that the question itself is pathetic. I suppose those who ask it also intend, when their kids are pretending something or other and invite them to join in, to frown and explain that they are NOT a horsie...

Really, fiction and lies aren't the same thing. Plato notwithstanding.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:06 PM
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You know, part of what surprises me is that kids don't pick up sooner on the inconsistencies. For instance, in our house most presents under the tree were wrapped ahead of time and from people we knew. Santa brought the one "big" thing along with the stocking shit, and that was unwrapped.

Other houses, I later learned, operate under vastly different systems, including one in which there are no presents until Christmas morning when Santa's wrapped gifts appear. HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT?!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:09 PM
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You were blinded by gelt


Posted by: Tj | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:27 PM
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You were blinded by gelt


Posted by: Tj | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:27 PM
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Re "what does Stanley tell the kids," if you like the Santa myth, you tell the kids about it (leaving off the heinous bad v good kids, obvs), and if you don't you can tell the kid it's a story a lot of pol believe in and you don't know if it's real or not, or you can say it's a kind of pretend a lot of people play and that it's bad manners to tell them it's not true--which has the added benefit, obvs, of being accurate.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:40 PM
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the question itself is pathetic

Wow, that's a well thought out response.

I suppose those who ask it also intend, when their kids are pretending something or other and invite them to join in, to frown and explain that they are NOT a horsie...

While I obviously am in the minority here, the difference between the two seems clear to me.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:44 PM
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93: yeah, I figured that PK would get it sooner bc of stuff like that, too, but they don't. Confirmation bias kicks in young, I guess.

I do remember his arguing with a girl in his kindergarten class about god: he pointed out that Santa obviously existed bc he left presents, wheras god didn't do anything. Which you know, he had a point.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:45 PM
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97: yes, as obvious as the diff between fiction and "lying to children."


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:46 PM
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It's really weird to see b capitalize her name.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 2:48 PM
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Santa, it turns out, is a frigging genius. These photos are awesome.

Also: Scharffen Berger chocolate-dipped figs are, not surprisingly, delicious.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:01 PM
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somebody please pay attention to me! I'm so lonely.


Posted by: ToS | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:07 PM
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||

My brother is howling with laughter because an article he's reading about some winemakers refers to my teeny tiny undergrad institution -- alma mater of rather more well known winemakers than one would expect by size and geography -- as "renowned."

|>


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:11 PM
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For years my aunt sought to preserve the myth of Santa by doing no shopping until Christmas Eve so there would be nothing for my cousins - sharp-clawed, hissing monkeys every one of them - to find hidden away in the preceding days and weeks. She would go to Kmart - the one store in reasonable distance that would still be open - and circle until inspiration or desperation pushed her to make choices. Sometimes everyone simply got one of whatever the last blue light special of the night had been.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:11 PM
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100: my iPhone does it automatically. It's sort of like a little clue about where I'm posting from.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:19 PM
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I don't remember believing in Santa, or not believing...I assume because the time when I might have believed was so long ago, so deep in early childhood...I don't remember much specifically before say kindergarten, 5-6 years old, except being surrounded by a family full of love (having 6 siblings and a stable parental marriage helped).

Yeah, I got lucky like that.

All I can remember in relation to Santa was the cookies always got eaten, and the milk drunk, so I suppose for the little ones the myth was shared...but as for trauma in learning the "truth", nope, nada, nonesuch. Frankly I can't even remember when I went from knowing it was a fairy tale to knowing it was real--by the time I got older, I was helping with the older siblings wrapping and setting out all the gifts while the little ones slept, so clearly I had been let in on the secret at some point, but it did not lead me to question whether my whole reality was based on lies anything that extreme.

Neither Apo or I actively encourage the Santa thing, with the 3 or 1 yr old, but we haven't sat down and told Noah it's a big fat lie, either. We talk in the background about wrapping and building toys, though, and in time I'm sure he'll work that out.

For myself, I don't find a bit of magical thinking in young children to be any great evil--rather the opposite, truth be told. I rather fancy that there is a time in one's life, when youth and innocence combine to allow a mind to believe in fairy tales and endless possibilities, and I also suspect that this period ends for most children in good time...but makes for a fertile area of imagination for the creative sort...so not altogether a bad thing.

Basically what I'm saying is..what's all the fuss? I don't get it.


Posted by: Roberta | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:26 PM
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Merry Christmas from Mahmoud!

I shit you not, there were three women in burkhas (as in, the full face-covering ones with only the little eye-slit; about twice as many again with headscarves or other Islamic dress) at our kids' school Nativity play. God alone knows.

Meanwhile, my mate Mr Ozdiller the Turkish grocer is at that sweet spot of Islam where he's Muslim enough to be open on Christmas Day, but not so Muslim that he doesn't sell beer. Cheers, bastards!

Tomorrow I plan to mostly be writing a defence of Harold Pinter's poetry against all the knobbers who will come out of the woodwork in his obituaries. The man was to English swearing what Zinedine Zidane was to the head butt.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:27 PM
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There was a study they described on TAL where the guy sits down with a kid and shows them an empty cardboard box, and then shuts the box and says, "Let's pretend there's a puppy in there!" They talk about the puppy for a little bit, and then he asks the kid, "Is there really a puppy in there?" and the kid says "No." Then the guy leaves the room, and kids under age 6 or 7 will wait...and then go check the box.

I think that's adorable, and I remember that feeling. You know the agreed adult reality is that there's no puppy, and that that is the right answer which you will dutifully answer. But deep down you still think maybe it's possible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:46 PM
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But deep down you still think maybe it's possible.

That catches the distinction that Idealist was talking about above. It's one thing to allow a child to believe something; another to spin false stories as true. JRoth, I think, makes a correct statement here, but draws an incorrect lesson from it:

Thing is, they come up with them on their own, with or without our help.

Nothing to be gained, then, by indoctrinating them in fantasies, which, after all, you are doing for your entertainment. Factuality and imagination are different things. Turning Santa into a fact is, therefore, unrelated to encouraging imagination.

Basically what I'm saying is..what's all the fuss?

Comment threads often convey an exaggerated sense of stridency. I know in this comment, I sound like I'm fussing, but I don't mean it to.

It really is okay with me if y'all are entertained by telling stories to your kids. I do that myself, though always with a sense of nudge-nudge, wink-wink, and I don't every let it go very far.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 3:59 PM
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I do remember his arguing with a girl in his kindergarten class about god: he pointed out that Santa obviously existed bc he left presents, wheras god didn't do anything. Which you know, he had a point.

this is part of God's subtlety. He's much more squirrely and unpredictable in his promises, providing a constant stream of intermittent and unpredictable reinforcement, the most effective kind. Plus he appeals to deeper, more fucked-up human needs than Santa does.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 4:22 PM
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I shit you not, there were three women in burkhas (as in, the full face-covering ones with only the little eye-slit; about twice as many again with headscarves or other Islamic dress) at our kids' school Nativity play.

if you did a better job of keeping up with the right-wing blogsphere you would know that Europe is being taken over from within and will soon fall under Sha'riah law.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 4:24 PM
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The shepherds in the local Catholic school's nativity play were dressed as Arabs.

The 6-year-old angels were dressed as angels, but they were sort of pudgy, and they sucked on their fingers while their eyes wandered around the room.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 6:59 PM
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My sister verified that our parents never said anything about Santa except to explain his non-existence when asked. Her husband's family's Christmas traditions, with the big pretense, seemed odd to her.

This is not the sociopath b-i-l, it's the other merely unpleasant b-i-l.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:02 PM
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My brother has apparently become a huge Cubs fan. As he is from the South Side of Chicago, this choice is rank blasphemy, and I'm forwarding the matter to the Family Council on the Disowning of Members. It's not helping his case that his second favorite Team is—no shit—the Yankees.

But he did get me a really nice Rumbleseat T-shirt, so that part was agreeable.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:08 PM
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Nothing to be gained, then, by indoctrinating them in fantasies, which, after all, you are doing for your entertainment. Factuality and imagination are different things. Turning Santa into a fact is, therefore, unrelated to encouraging imagination.

I take your point, but the term "indoctrinate" is simply absurd here. At one point (before Iris could understand such concepts), AB & I had a discussion about how we'd handle Santa, as if it was all on our shoulders. But we had fuck-all to do with it - Iris had a firm belief in Santa before we ever said a word about him.

Which is why B's reference to playing horsie comes in - Santa is a game that kids play, with plenty of winking and nodding from grownups (and commercial culture, obvs), but not actually instigating from them. We have certainly done things to perpetuate the myth (some gifts are labeled as "From Santa" - a tradition that my sister and I continue for grownup presents as well, because it's fun and harmless and cute), but mostly we're staying out of the way.

It's not about "encouraging imagination" in the sense of "inventing never-before-imagined worlds." Kids engage in creative play using lots of well-worn tropes; there's nothing inherently virtuous in make-believe based in culturally-isolated scenarios. "Oh, Jacobemma plays cowboy? How trite."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:18 PM
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||

Holy shit, for the second time in a week, the following statement may actually apply:

No more masturbating to Eartha Kitt. Given "Santa, Baby," she's certainly been on my mind the last couple weeks.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:21 PM
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I now have the unfortunate mental image of JRoth shouting, "To the Batcave! TO MASTURBATE!!1!!"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:23 PM
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Peter Achenstein:

Feyerabend, by contrast, calling himself an "epistemologieal anarchist", wants to be allowed "to defend the most trite, or the most outrageous statement":

The one thing he [the epistemologieal anarchist] opposes positively and absolutely are universal standards, universal laws, universal ideas such as 'Truth', 'Reason', 'Justice', 'Love', and the behaviour they bring along, though he does not deny that it is often a good policy to act as if such laws (such standards, such ideas) existed, and as if he believed in them. (AM, p. 189)

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:27 PM
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Digby has up an unbelievable video of Ms. Kitt vamping it up with Santa at a Presidential* event - 2 years ago. Age 79, and showing off her gams. Zowie.

* Warning - they briefly show GW & Laura, which is more of a boner-shrinker than the thought of Death himself.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:31 PM
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Daddy, you lied to me. Santa Claus does not live at the North Pole.
Does too.
Does not.
Does too.
I'll never trust you again.
Yes you will
Will not
Will too.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:33 PM
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Oh, and one last thing on Santa - we're pretty straight with Iris on everything, including death itself, ffs ("Death means 'not there anymore,' at all, ever again."). We were talking X and Y chromosomes when she was 2. I'm not feeling a lot of guilt about this one diversion from Hardline Secular Humanism.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:37 PM
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I have a CD of Kitt singing mostly in French. I imagine she has a sort of cute American accent, but to me she sounds native. She made a whole new career in Europe after she was blackballed for publicly embarrassing LBJ during the Vietnam War. But alas, she didn't embarrass Bush.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:38 PM
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Also this, on topic.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:40 PM
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But alas, she didn't embarrass Bush.

If the man isn't embarrassed by himself, there's nothing Eartha Kitt could have done for him.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:41 PM
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Alright, time for red velvet cake. Merry Christmas, all.

Oh, and I got at least the first chunk of work from that client. 2009 isn't set just yet, but at least January is. I'm going to make more in the next 2 weeks than I have in the last 2 months.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:43 PM
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122: "Je cherche un homme" is a great song.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:45 PM
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Congrats, JRoth!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 7:48 PM
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I have a theory that Americans resist learning proper French pronunciation because the French "j", "r", and "ü" all sound lewd. But Eartha was happy to sound lewd.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 8:09 PM
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Santa is not happy.


Posted by: Roberta | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 8:30 PM
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OT: one of my gifts this year was a Shandon Irish cap (sort of like this). My Irish relatives all refer to these as something pronounced guh-BEAN. Anyone know the proper spelling on that one? Can't find it for the life of me.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 8:46 PM
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Je tu regarde", for example. Lewd.

Am I wrong?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 8:48 PM
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125: I'm going to make more in the next 2 weeks than I have in the last 2 months.

So that's why you were willing to pay the $250 to the Waldorf-Astoria for that Red Velvet Cake recipe.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 8:48 PM
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114: Stanley's brother is Hilary Clinton? Cool.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 8:52 PM
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In Boston, we called them scally caps. Here's a wiki entry on flat caps. Unfortunately it doesn't have your term. It's an editing opportunity.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:06 PM
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134: Hm. For what it's worth, the people using this term are old and from Donegal. I think it's been mentioned here previously that they have a particular brogue there.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:09 PM
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Google this:

Gabin is a place where a very excessive carnival is celebrated. On Gabin's carneval one tries to steal as much hats as possible. The man which caught the hat of the carneval's prince gets the whole night all drinks for free!

It's from Poland though, but then, so is our Stanislaus.

Or Google "Gabin's Hat", which is about Jean Gabin, the actor.

Or, in this case, a worker's cap
Flung onto a nail in his room
Next to the nail from which his
Leather jacket hangs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:25 PM
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And Gabin performs the small-town suitor, the yokel boy who is pure of soul, as though he, too, were not quite certain how such an antique character should behave. (To play it safe, however, he seldom takes off his hat, which is an old Gabin way of showing contempt for urbanities.)

What are the chances your Donegal relatives are French film buffs?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:27 PM
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Holy shit, for the second time in a week, the following statement may actually apply:

No more masturbating to Eartha Kitt.

Yeah, first Harold Pinter, now Eartha Kitt. I'm going to have to revamp my whole routine.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:28 PM
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I'm not from Poland, John. Two of my great-grandparents were. The other six were Irish. My surname crossed the boat with the Poles, though, it's true.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:30 PM
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Kotsko and Holbo also deny being Slovakian, but I knwo these things.

If Saul Bellow is Quebecois, certainly you are Polish.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:31 PM
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And proud of it, good sir. But I need a name for my Irish hat nonetheless.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:32 PM
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On the Polish thing, some South Americans were recently telling me there's a slew of jokes in their home countries about Gallegos. I gathered that people from Galicia are the Poles of South America.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:36 PM
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I think that Jean Gabin is an actual possibility. He apparently was a working-class hero type.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:40 PM
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143: Could be. I was assuming it was some Gaelic word with a bunch of extra Hs and shit.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 9:45 PM
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On kids and imagination: there's something deep and profound going on there. I think adults should should stand aside for it, to the extent possible. It's sort of beyond truth and falsehood.

I still remember the day when I realized my stuffed animals were not, in fact, alive.


Posted by: MQ | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 10:05 PM
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whoops, 145 was me.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 10:05 PM
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||

My brother's subcontinental neighbor reinvents the snow shovel.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 10:32 PM
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|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-08 10:33 PM
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Movies:Last night & tonight not very interesting:Meet Me in Saint Louis & Maltese Falcon. I think Tokyo Story has made me temporarily intolerant of contenporary sentimental pretension.

The was an hour-long dramatization on one of the science channels that I liked a lot. Young Napoleon Bonaparte at the Siege of Toulon. Audacity, courage, leadership, but also enough caution and political talent to give a hint of why this particular man became emperor.

As a contrast I tried to watch the HBO series on "Saddam" Much weaker.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 12:17 AM
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re: 107

Oxford has had one of those things were heidbangers in the council have changed the Christmas stuff to 'Winter Light festival' or some such and stopped all the specifically 'Christmas' stuff.

The imam of the local mosque was in the paper saying it was a bloody disgrace and everyone loves Christmas:

''This is the one occasion which everyone looks forward to in the year. Christians, Muslims and other religions all look forward to Christmas. I'm angry and very, very disappointed. Christmas is special and we shouldn't ignore it.
'Christian people should be offended and 99 per cent of people will be against this. Christmas is part of being British.' '

Sometimes I think the council are engaged in trolling ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:32 AM
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which, after all, you are doing for your entertainment

I reject this. And all its works.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:56 AM
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150: I'm sure the existence of "Sparkle Season" is just to ensure talk radio has something to whine about.

Santa always left us a note, written backwards so we had to read it in a mirror, that I realized pretty early on was in my father's very distinctive handwriting.

The handwriting thing is such a clue. I was five or so when I noticed. That was mostly it for Santa. In any case, I "officially" found out when I was nine, because my parents were never comfortable with the lies-to-children aspect, so it seemed to be important to them to say that, hey, Santa is your mom, and parents do this because it's fun to give children presents and not take any credit.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 8:13 AM
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152: Suicide bombers defending Christmas is nothing to laugh about, ttaM.

'Winter Light Festival' sounds Zoroastrian to me. Just saying.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 8:13 AM
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Just saying.

Thus spake Emerson.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 8:15 AM
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Someone should have told that Santa in California that if someone's bad all you really need to do is leave a lump of coal. The eight-year-old he shot will probably be good now, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 8:18 AM
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yahoo news says
'Poll: Obama most admired man in America; Bush second', funny


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 8:31 AM
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||
Via DailyKos, Daniel Gross back in early 2007 hewing the Emersonian line on the intellectual honesty and/or perspicacity of economists:

One would be very hard-pressed to find a serious professional historian--I mean a serious historian, not a think-tank wanker, not an economist, not a journalist--who believes that the New Deal prolonged the Depression
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 8:38 AM
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okay, i meant they sound like ying-yang
so yahoo again, 'Pakistan moves troops toward Indian border'
i thought, Mumbai and now what
and they both have nuclear weapons, scary
well, there is the saying 'toriin toloo ogotno booj uxne' which means that 'a mouse commits suicide in the name of the state' about the futility of political interest or worry of the common people


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 8:57 AM
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I hate 157 with the white hot fury of a thousand suns.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:01 AM
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159: how is that gig doing economic journalism at Brookings treating you, anyhow?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:04 AM
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Seems like a waste of a history PhD to me, but hey, what do I know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:05 AM
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a


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:06 AM
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it's funny that i preview even after writing a
habits


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:07 AM
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159: My curiosity as to why burns like a smoldering peat bog.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:10 AM
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164 made me drop my ukelele.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:15 AM
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'A mouse commits suicide in the name of the state'

Words to live by.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:17 AM
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a suicide, i've tried to correct the mistake


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:18 AM
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though i 'd be happy if it's omittable


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:21 AM
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168: your first version was correct. Save the 'a' for something else.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:22 AM
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When I taught English, "a" and "the" were impossible to teach: which to use and when to leave them out. Russian and Mongol are like Chinese in not having a similiar form.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:26 AM
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Read, I just sent you an email about Jaroslav Hasek (Gashek) and Sukh-Bator. Hasek would have appreciated the mouse proverb.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:27 AM
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'Winter Light Festival' sounds Zoroastrian to me. Just saying.

Well, they're already consuming beef (not the modern tendency, but the ancient one), and a Yule log will do for fire. All they need is some Haoma and they're all set.

max
['John Bull is helpful here as well.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:44 AM
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159, 164: Gasoline on the fire


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 9:47 AM
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Our efforts to teach our five-year-old son to be ratonal and skeptical have backfired. He refuses to accept his parents' contention that Santa Claus is imaginary, and presents empirical arguments in favor of existence ("I saw him myself at the mall, and then on the fire truck. They wouldn't let a fake ride a fire truck.") We'll let it go this year.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:10 AM
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164: Because there's no link, and I can't find the story. Is your linklessness breeding Bolsheviks?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:12 AM
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174: A future economist.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:12 AM
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175: OK. Daily Kos reference here (David Sirota talking about an appearance of his on Fox News). Original Daniel Gross blog post here.

(and 176 was me)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:18 AM
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Nice work on 160, 161, Sifu.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:42 AM
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Bah on the hatred of economists. As a Feyerbendian epistemological anarchist (God I love that phrase), I find it hypocritical.

Everybody uses data, evidence, arguments, reason, rhetoric to justify their personal preferences, status, power. tribe and it's all fucking bullshit. I don't need twenty years of school to justify feeding the poor and lynching the hedge fund managers, but unfortunately fashion and showbiz dictate that I lay a line of patter in order to get a crowd in front behind me.

Marx was a economist. Keynes. Goldman & Debs and Blanqui and Berkman and Fanon and Che had some education and wrote some books. They, and their "sciences", are all whetstones to sharpen the blade of the guillotine. I love my whetstones as much as my blade.

Hate Tyler Cown & Greg Mankiw for who they are. And treat those who say we need to carefully listen, assess, and refute their evidence & arguments however you like. I'm spitting on my whetstone, eyeing the liberals to see which side they are on.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:51 AM
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"Oh noes, we must carefully and reasonably prove prove prove there were no WMDs in Iraq."

Meanwhile a million people died and nobody gives a flying fuck that Bush lied.

I have much less contempt for Bush.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:55 AM
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The story about Fox news claiming that "historians agree" that the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression is really cheesing the hell out of me. I tried to sit down to read my book, and I couldn't, because I was so angry that such a distortion of reality was even possible.

I got to thinking about how basically the only form of evidence journalists deal with is testimony: interviews, leeks, mostly press releases. They have little experience with forming hypotheses and testing them against experience. This makes it really easy to ignore reality altogether and get in to the business of creating perceptions by repitition.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:56 AM
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Oh are we hating on economists today? I thought it was hate on journalists day. I guess I'm out of touch, again.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:57 AM
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Feyerabend seems to be the Timothy Leary of science. What I've read of him was fun, but he sounds like Lakatos but worse. Anyone and everyone is a scientist and can do what they want. I guess I want optimal pluralism, not maximum pluralism. Most of physics is hardly pluralist at all, which is good.

As far as I can see, the whole philosophy of science tradition from logical positivism through Popper, Kuhn, and Lakatos to Feyerabend is only important to the extent that it allows less successful sciences to claim the prestige of the successful ones. Foucault said something like "When someone declares their discourse to be scientific, I always ask whose voice they intend to exclude". Marx was as bad as anyone that way, and Leninists worse than anyone.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 10:58 AM
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I could do my philosophers routine, Helpy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 11:00 AM
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a Feyerbendian epistemological anarchist

Keeps making me think of Avatar (on Nickolodeon), which kind of makes thee economics sound more interesting!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 11:05 AM
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interviews, leeks, mostly press releases breath mints

Fixed.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 11:19 AM
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Umm, 129 was me, fwiw.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 11:22 AM
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As far as Tyler Cowen and fiscal stimulus, where oh where did I read that careful scientific study that showed the French middle & lower classes were much better off economically in 1795 compared to 1775. And stayed better off permanently. Just saying.

We need shelves & shelves of books to get one marginal million from a billionaire hedge trader?

Pssst. There may be a better way. A better rhetorical strategy.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 11:26 AM
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Applied rhetoric.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 11:29 AM
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But I need to calm down.

Ok, after Gulf of Tonkin and 70s Russian superiority and Danny Ortega crossing the Mexican border and Star Wars the liberal engagement with Bush's WMD's and great hopes for The One can only make me giggle. I ain't pretending that optimism anymore.

But we did at several points have some success with the economic arguments, got some real distribution and a welfare state and some common goods. Even a little political power. Entire nations became mnore just & equitable, even while the wars were being fought.

So economics is a science. I believe.

Peace is a Santa Claus.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 11:39 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 11:54 AM
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183: I agree on Feyerabend. I loved reading Against Method, but it convinced me of nothing.

I disagree on Popper and Lakatos. I think Popper really does tell us -- to a first approximation -- how and why the hard sciences work. Lakatos' theories aren't particularly useful for the hard sciences, but they fit the social sciences to a T. His description of inoculating strategies and progressive/degenerative research programs explains the dynamics of economics research pretty well.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 12:06 PM
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Redman's "Economics and the Philosophy pf Science" says that Lakatos's philosophy was popular in economics because it was interpreted to mean that economists could do whatever they wanted to -- enforcing the paradigm. Kuhn resisted this kind of thinking.

Aaron Preston's "Analytic Philosophy: History of an Illusion" interprets analytic philosophy as an invulnerable paradigm which has been made institutionally immune to criticism.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 12:15 PM
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193: That's disturbing. My impression is that most economists believe in falsificationism filtered through Milton Friedman, but I don't really know for sure. Lakatos provides an accurate description of what economists seem to do, but they definitely shouldn't consider it normative.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 12:24 PM
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In the beginning Friedman made predictivity the touchstone of ecience, but later on that statement became inoperative. The counterfactual assumptions which he had justifie by their contributions to predictivity, however, remain operative.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 12:28 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 12:42 PM
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Economists sincerely believe that they are falsificationists, but they use that Friedman essay as an inoculating strategy. What's interesting is how often it ends up doing ideological work. So they'll start by saying "this isn't exactly a market, but we'll assume it's like a market the way physicists assume spherical cows", and then a half an hour later they'll start telling you how science dictates that CEOs get paid their marginal product of labor so stop complaining.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 12:50 PM
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There's a chapter in Keen's "Debunking Economics" which pretty thoroughly demolishes Friedman;s simplifying assumptions. He has about seven arguments, and if you don't like all of them probably tou'll like a few of them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 1:15 PM
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Everybody uses data, evidence, arguments, reason, rhetoric to justify their personal preferences, status, power. tribe

This is right. You can't get rid of "economists". If you killed every current econ professor (which, in what passes for a radical right-wing statement on Unfogged, I do not recommend doing), some new group of people would come up who spent a lot of time reading about and gathering data on and coming up with hypotheses about the economy and arguing about it with each other. As soon as someone paid them to do it, they too would be "professional economists".

197: I've seen exactly this dynamic in action, it's definitely out there (astounding how intelligent people can kid themselves). But I think many smart economists realize it's impossible for economics to be truly falsificationist -- the data underdetermines the theory so massively, and you can't really do experiments ("natural experiments" and stupid futzing around with MRIs notwithstanding). The more universal belief among top economists is simply that they're smarter and know more than everybody else who thinks about the economy, though, and in the absence of a science that will have to do.

Are you an economist, Walt? You seem to know a lot about the tribe.

ToS is sort of reminding me of McManus at times (maybe it's just that he signed himself Charles Starkweather earlier). In any case, it seems like ToS is the alternative id of a regular poster -- his engagement with the site just doesn't feel like a typical external troll, in between fits of abuse he keeps lapsing toward being a regular commenter. I suppose it's possible that it's an external figure who is very Unfogged in his beliefs and interests yet also consumed with self-loathing, is uncontrollably drawn to the site yet hates himself for it.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:05 PM
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If you killed every current econ professor (which, in what passes for a radical right-wing statement on Unfogged, I do not recommend doing), some new group of people would come up who spent a lot of time reading about and gathering data on and coming up with hypotheses about the economy and arguing about it with each other. As soon as someone paid them to do it, they too would be "professional economists".

You're quite the naysayer, PGD. I say give the new guys a chance.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:20 PM
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very Unfogged in his beliefs and interests yet also consumed with self-loathing

yet?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:22 PM
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179, 183, etc: Bob turns to either Feyerabend or Kuhn when he gets tired of arguing and just wants to see blood in the streets. Feyerabend is actually much better for this purpose than Kuhn. Bob's political applications of Kuhn are a bad misreading that Kuhn himself warned against in the postscript to the second edition of *The Structure of Scientific Revolutions*.

I dislike Feyerabend precisely because he is useful for people who are tired of arguments and want to see blood in the streets. I love Kuhn and Lakatos, though.

I think of Popper's model as something slightly less than a first approximation of the scientific method. It's like a 2/3rds approximation. You wouldn't want to use it in any situation that requires really approximating science, but it is reliable as a bullshit detector when sorting through pseudoscience.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:29 PM
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ToS: the other kind of self-loathing Unfoggetarian.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:29 PM
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Also, this is a really deep book on the foundational problems with economic theory that I sort of prefer to Keen (although it's more difficult). Mandler really takes it on as a history of ideas issue, with a thoughtful analysis of the basic questions economic theory has historically had a hard time handling and the history of the twists and turns to try to address them -- each one of which created a new error to replace the old error.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:40 PM
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I think of Popper's model as something slightly less than a first approximation of the scientific method. It's like a 2/3rds approximation. You wouldn't want to use it in any situation that requires really approximating science, but it is reliable as a bullshit detector when sorting through pseudoscience.

are analytic philosophers even allowed to think this way?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:45 PM
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204: For $7.50 I could hardly go wrong.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:46 PM
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are analytic philosophers even allowed to think this way?

No, they aren't, which might explain some of my academic career. But at least I don't have to be at the APA this year.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:51 PM
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204: Joan Robinson called neoclassical economics "neo-neoclassical economics" for reasi=ons probably related to the themes of Mandler's book.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:52 PM
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198: I read "Debunking Economics" on your recommendation, but a couple of years ago now so my memory of it is fuzzy.

199: I've taken several grad classes in econ, but that's it. I study it as a hobby, though. Studying it informally is instructive, because it means I missed most of the socialization process by which economists are created.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:53 PM
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What way are you talking about, PGD?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 2:56 PM
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Rob, can you recommend a good short work by Lakatos that would give me a basic introduction to some of his philosophy?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 3:07 PM
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210: "this is wrong but pretty useful anyway". I thought analytic philosophers were dedicated foes of the wrong in all its guises and excuses. Unless there was some overarching pragmatic theory that proved that everything useful was therefore right, I suppose I could see an analytic philosopher defending that. But only if s/he could prove it to be completely right, and not just useful.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 3:45 PM
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211: his only work (at least, his only book-length work) is quite short.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 3:45 PM
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i read about Peirce last 20 min i guess, very interesting, thanks, ToS


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 3:45 PM
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I missed most of the socialization process by which economists are created.

By the looks of it, a pretty good side effect.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 3:51 PM
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Somebody wants to be loved.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 3:57 PM
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Isn't that all any of us ever really want, Tweety?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 3:59 PM
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What if ToS was one of uuuuuuuuuusss...


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:01 PM
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213: Huh, the first thing that comes up on Amazon is a series of lectures and a correspondence with Feyeraband.

I also see The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes: Volume 1: Philosophical Papers by Imre Lakatos, John Worrall, and Gregory Currie and Proofs and Refutations: The Logic of Mathematical Discovery by Imre Lakatos, John Worrall, and Elie Zahar.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:04 PM
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Proofs and Refutations

That's the one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:06 PM
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re: 207

Really? I can think of more formal ways of stating that Popperian falsification is a useful bullshit detector that'd probably pass muster.

re: 212

It'd be a pretty common place position in the philosophy of science that a lot of past scientific theories were false, but instrumentally useful, or sort of approximately true within certain narrowly defined limits, or whatever.

That's leaving aside the numerous views [a more limited form of the pragmatism you mention] that take it that being useful [rather than true] is pretty much the key marker of a good theory.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:08 PM
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sort of approximately true within certain narrowly defined limits

People claim scientific theories are true in some more general sense?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:16 PM
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It'd be a pretty common place position in the philosophy of science that a lot of past scientific theories were false, but instrumentally useful, or sort of approximately true within certain narrowly defined limits, or whatever.

See Pratchett, T et al., "The Science of Discworld" (1999), for an extended explanation of the concept of "lying to children" as an educational device.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:19 PM
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Does anyone have a quick estimate of the proportion of bad homebuyer debt was Freddy-Mac/Fannie May minority loans? My understand ing, no more than 20%.

Quick and dirty is good, I have someone on the other line.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:21 PM
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Does this help?

More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.


Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.


Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that's being lambasted by conservative critics.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:29 PM
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Link for above, with more. McClatchey Oct 12, 08


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:33 PM
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More CRA Idiocy with four more, three more after above, links at the bottom.

Not a subject I have really wanted to argue, or the kind of people I have wanted to argue with.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:37 PM
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Exactly what I wanted, Bob. Thanks.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:40 PM
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Proofs and Refutations doesn't cover any of the stuff we've been talking about (I don't think). I just read some of his essays.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 4:44 PM
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202:Bob turns to either Feyerabend or Kuhn when he gets tired of arguing and just wants to see blood in the streets

224-229:Does it make me a bad person that I don't want to waste my time with Steve Sailer demonstrating with logic and evidence that the depression wasn't the fault of softy liberals and stupid black people?

My argument is kinda with Emerson and you other lberals who think that discussion does any good.

I don't know from Feyerabend. It isn't that knowledge and science are impossible, it is that in most really important matters, they really aren't useful. Liberalism, the hope that discourse and education will eventually achieve social justice and peace, is the Santa Claus of bourgeios intellectuals.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:04 PM
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And yet also, on a Rortyian level, only what is useful can be true.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:08 PM
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Not everyone who listens to Steve Sailer is a true believer. I generally argue in places where I think there is someone who might be convinced, rather than with the few people who I more or less agree with me. I don't think of people I agree with as being a political force in any way. I spent decades in the 2% left demographic where we explained to each other how right we were. Nothing much was accomplished.

People who might be convinced includes mainstream Unfoggetarians.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:09 PM
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Rorty said that pragmatism isn't a theory of truth, it's an argument that you don't need a theory of truth.

I feel the same way about ontology. It may be true in some sense that ontologically, everything that is real can be understood entirely as arrangements of quarks. That's really scholastic, though; it doesn't get you anywhere. I tend toward ontological materialism, but I don't really think that it does much real good or is worth arguing about.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:13 PM
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See, the other side didn't care that there weren't WMD's in Iraq. They got their war. They don't care whether the CRA caused the depression. They will, I predict, kill Fannie & Freddie.

Liberalism loves their reality-based arguments in their arena of public reason, love those things for themselves, not for whatever outcomes they do or do not provide.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:17 PM
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In my case, Bob, I've also assessed the battallion strength of the Left. For all I know, even the Pope has more battallions than we do.

I do maintain friendships with the streetfighting wing of the left, but at the moment I'm not part of that, and not just because my body isn't up to it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:21 PM
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I generally argue in places where I think there is someone who might be convinced

Inch by inch, patient argument by patient argument, we went from the Philiipines to Vietnam to Iraq, from Andrew Mellon to Allan Greenspan.

Santa Claus.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:22 PM
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So this is an argument about two strategies, neither of which can work?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:32 PM
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And you offer the Easter Bunny. I can make all the left criticisms of what I'm doing all by myself, without your help. I spent years doing that. I've never quite been a correct-position Marxist in a 200-person group planning to acieve world domination, but damn near. Futility is not a liberal monopoly.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:33 PM
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237: Unfortunately, optimism is one thing I am incapable of providing. Most Americans disagree with me, and beggars can't be choosers. The Basic Rule.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:35 PM
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Jesus H. Christ on a goddamn popsicle stick! This is the most tendentiously tedious meta-meta-discussion I've ever seen on this blog-that-is-really-a-listserv-but-only-the-really-cool-people-are-allowed-to-post-new-topics.

Hit me! Kiss me! Fuck me! Anything but this! AAAAAAGGGGHHH!!!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:48 PM
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240:Troll


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:51 PM
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i'm pretty sure there have been more tedious discussions here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 5:54 PM
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re: 242

We've both probably been part of them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 6:00 PM
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240: Big words for the man who skipped the "Should prosthetics be allowed in the Olympics" discussion.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 6:01 PM
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I'll be down to pee on your rug one of these days, Minny.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 6:15 PM
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245: I still don't know how I feel about that. My general feeling is that the Olympics have been so perverted by money, organization and professionalization that there's really no point in holding them at all.

246: Well yeah, you should. The liquor might have to be moved out of the guest bedroom first though.

I think i'm gonna watch me some Sam Fuller now.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 6:19 PM
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I think this shows the totalitarian impulse that lurks behind anarchism. There's nothing I'd like to do better on a Friday night than participate in a pointless meta-discussion, and yet Mr. Freedom is trying to fuck it up with his heckler's veto.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 6:35 PM
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My argument is kinda with Emerson and you other lberals who think that discussion does any good.

There's a lovely paradoxical quality to this sentiment.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 7:22 PM
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Lakatos (1978). The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes: Philosophical Papers Volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Lakatos (1978). Mathematics, Science and Epistemology: Philosophical Papers Volume 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-21769-52

Other than Proofs and Refutations (which does not apply to this stuff directly, but which I recommend in and of itself as well as to see the direction of his thinking) , I've only seen a few of his papers on this subject. Presumably they are collected in some form in the two volumes above (he died in 1974).

At this link in the LSE archives is a short talk (mp3 and transcript both available) he gave shortly before his death on Science and Pseudoscience. Science and Pseudoscience is Lakatos's most succinct public summary of his philosophy of science.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 7:23 PM
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My general feeling is that the Olympics have been so perverted by money, organization and professionalization that there's really no point in holding them at all.

Never thought I'd hear an argument that sounded like a British aristocrat's POV circa 1900 coming from you, minne.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 7:31 PM
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Also relevant to the discussion above was the 1970s challenge to Friedman from Spiro Latsis from the LSE based on the work of Lakatos and which he was tangentially involved in.

In August 1972 a case study of the methodology of neoclassical economics by Lakatos's London School of Economics colleague Spiro Latsis published in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science found Milton Friedman's methodology to be 'pseudo-scientific' in terms of Lakatos's evaluative philosophy of science, according to which the demarcation between scientific and pseudo-scientific theories consists of their at least predicting testable empirical novel facts or not.[5] Latsis claimed Friedman's instrumentalist methodology of neoclassical economics had never predicted any novel facts.[6] In its defence in a three-page letter to Latsis in December 1972, Friedman counter-claimed that the neoclassical monopoly competition model had in fact shown empirical progress by predicting phenomena not previously observed that were also subsequently confirmed by empirical evidence.But he notably never actually identified any specific economic phenomenon as an example of any such successfully predicted positive novel fact.
In early 1973, as Editor of the Journal, Lakatos invited Friedman to submit a discussion note based on his December 1972 letter to Latsis for publication in a symposium on the issue of the scientific status or not of neoclassical economics . Lakatos even assured Friedman he would have the last word. But Friedman never took up Lakatos's invitation.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 7:38 PM
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Well, I've been insulted by name by the ToS. My work here is done.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-26-08 8:34 PM
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I take offense at 240. Where do you get off saying that the people with the capacity to post new topics are the cool people?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 6:58 AM
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LB, don't shirk the terrible burden of coolosity. You know all those beautiful people you knew in high school? They felt the way that you do now.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 7:17 AM
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253: And besides, it was "really cool people", your characterization (not to mention your protestation) would leave no room for aspirants to the lower levels of coolification.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 7:26 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 7:52 AM
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nobody gives a flying fuck that Bush lied

Nobody wants to burn the house down to get rid of the rats. Which wouldn't even work: we'd still have rats scampering across the ashes, trying to get their piece if whatever comes after.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 8:10 AM
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I don't know about you, but I would cut down all of the trees in England to give the Devil no place to hide.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 8:41 AM
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My movie report should go on the W-lfs-n threead below, but that one appears to be dead.

Last night was a two hour history of Tom Petty, and the Hearbreakers on Sundance. Comma because of the solo projects, the Wilburys, the work with Johnny Cash.

What a nice easy-going guy. A little better than average as these things go because Petty is so open & mellow.

I should like Petty a lot more than I do. I listen to him, say great song great album but put on John Hiatt next time. Not enough edge or something.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 8:41 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 8:53 AM
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7800985.stm

is just totally fucked up...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 9:07 AM
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261: yep.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 9:38 AM
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Oh, man.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 9:44 AM
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Well, there's only so far you can take the post-structuralist recuperation before you have to go back to strategic bombing.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 9:54 AM
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264: I call shenanigans. Too good to be true.

Luce Irigaray, on the other hand, would be a fantastic military strategist. I could have told them that Deleuze just wouldn't cut it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:00 AM
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265: Has anyone seen it debunked? I was thinking about writing a piece for a film journal with that as a jumping-off point.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:06 AM
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Also! Has anyone ever run across the picture magazine that the Army Air Corps put out during WWII to tout the effectiveness of strategic bombing? It's also unbelievably horrific. I think it's called Impact or something like that.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:11 AM
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Well, it seems to have become a bit of an histoire.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:14 AM
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Oudemia's link convinces me. The Situationists have also influenced Israeli tactics too. Probably next they'll go to the source and develop Dada counterinsurgency.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:27 AM
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Why not take it all the way back to the old school and create a range of Symbolist tactics and strategies? This can't be too far away, given the recent vogue for absinthe.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:40 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:40 AM
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Some of the first weird culture politicos were the bousingots, such as Gerard de Nerval, around 1830 in France. Precursors of all that other stuff.

They were contemporaries of Victor Hugo, a straightforward sincere patriot romantic idealist humanitarian who was intensely unironic. Hugo was one of the first romantics and was productive into his eighties, and he outlived Baudelaire and several of the other symbolists. He didn't leave a lot of romantic space for anyone else, so they turned to Parnassianism, symbolism, irony, and weirdness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:51 AM
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Posted by: Sapere Aude | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:58 AM
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264 is insane.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 10:59 AM
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On the other side of things, I've seen several performance studies papers given in the past year using Certeau to analyze the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. I hadn't previously heard of CIRCA. They seem awesome.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 11:02 AM
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Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army: obviously the political arm of the Juggalos.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 11:08 AM
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I was just writing the Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa analogy but I see that I'm pwned on preview.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 11:25 AM
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I'm really upset that people aren't gloating more about the Palin inlaw soap opera and drug bust.

When Obama was elected, did the politics of personal destruction somehow become "bad" or "wrong"? I really doubt it. I'm sure that once the failed Obama presidency (now in day -24) moves into the positive numbers we'll see the POPD revive vigorously.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 11:25 AM
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||

My SF hotel room overlooks the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Why do people let Daniel Libeskind build anything?

||>


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 11:29 AM
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264 was brilliant, and I saved it to my harddrive

"If, as some writers claim, the space for criticality has withered away in late 20th-century capitalist culture" ...hmmmm

The Gaza Bombing as Situationist Spectacle? In the video, I noticed how neatly spaced out the smoke plumes were.

268:Jesus, wall-to-wall scare quotes. Unreadable.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 11:51 AM
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Has anyone seen it debunked?

I think the fact that you can't actually walk through walls should be somewhat telling.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:11 PM
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||

I just bought an 8-pound leg of mutton. $4/lb.

|>


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:11 PM
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281: I thought that bit was straightforwardly true. Not the Theory basis for it, but that Israeli Army tactics for urban fighting involve moving from place to place by breaking down internal walls between dwellings, and staying out of the streets. (My reason for thinking it's true is that I remember reading it during the Lebanon war, I suppose it could have been invented then.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:17 PM
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The link in 268 has the worst font in the history of the world. How can our world ever be in harmony if its fonts are not?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:26 PM
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re: 283

Nah, the tactic is old.

The Red Army did it in Berlin. Took confiscated German panzerfausts and just blew holes in the internal walls in order to move down urban streets without being open to fire from above.T


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:26 PM
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Pwned by 280.

The article sounds like a parody to me. The military technique sounds true, but the connection with theorists sounds like a joke.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:27 PM
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The link in 268 has the worst font in the history of the world.

Font seems fine to me. Size and linespacing are sub-optimal for reading on a screen, though.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:34 PM
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It sounds to me as if LB and ttaM are describing walking through holes in walls.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:37 PM
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Sans serif fonts were popularized by the Weimar Republic, which as we all know led to Hitler.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:39 PM
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287: Some full paragraph breaks would have been helpful, too.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 12:57 PM
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Jugendstil was all about the sans serif, way before the Weimar Republic. The magazines Pan (1895--1900) and Die Insel (1899--1902) were enormously influential in graphic design, and both used sans serif fonts as a part of their house style.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:05 PM
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I hate serifs, and I have suffered for my convictions.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:07 PM
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292: And rightfully so.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:09 PM
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JE was meant to be an art nouveau dandy.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:11 PM
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Weren't we all.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:15 PM
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Science people still seem to like sans serifs.

Speaking of art X, there's a WPA art deco high school in Eagle Bend, Minnesota (a trailer trash Wobegon, not like the elite Wobegon). The locals are unappreciative. The young locals know that it was built during WWI or WWII or one of them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:23 PM
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I dunno, this Weizman guy seems to be on the up-and-up. And why would the IDF be so mad at him if it weren't substantially true?

In other news of the bad post-structuralism, St. Thomas University here in the Twin Cities recently hosted a dialogue about Israeli-Palestinian conflict that didn't include any Palestinians. Now, as we all know, "dialogue" doesn't necessarily imply two opposed interlocutors, but the violence being done here to language would seem to mirror the violence done there to people.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:29 PM
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I'm not a science person, and I like artfully deployed sans serif fonts. Futura headers with Century text is a classic pairing (speaking of Weimar).


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:40 PM
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Since no one else is scuzzy enough to do it:

The trooper's affidavit indicates that Sarah Palin's candidacy factored into the investigation, with state officials delaying execution of a search warrant until this month, when Johnston was "no longer under the protection or surveillance of the Secret Service."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:49 PM
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Never underestimate a woman named Zippy. Her present Wiki article includes this line: Don't forget to mention that she is considered as the killer, in the civilised world. I foresee editing wars.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:54 PM
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300: Gone already.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 1:59 PM
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re: 295

Damn right.

re: 296

Glasgow has loads of really good turn of the century architecture. Often buried in surprisingly places. You walk past a shop front, look up, and notice it's decorated with art nouveau panels or has really distinctive turn-of-the-century features.

http://www.37signals.com/images/svn_posts/willow_tea_rooms.jpg

[Quite a famous one]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 2:03 PM
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I just hope Santa decides to stick with traditional chimney tactics.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 2:46 PM
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285: And it was also used by the French and the FLN in Algeria, as I remember the reports. It doesn't work as well in the suburbs though, so upper-middle class America is safe.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 3:01 PM
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295:No, I was meant to liberate Letino with Cafiero and Stepniak while the rest of you were exchanging witticisms with Whistler.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 3:34 PM
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Santa update for Stanley: the 6 yo said to me before bed: "You and Daddy put our presents in our stockings, don't you? Because Santa doesn't exist. Oh, but Santa DOES exist, so it must have HIM who gives us the presents!" Some doublethinking going on there.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 4:47 PM
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It's just thinking that's too sophisticated for adults to follow.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 4:58 PM
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Thanks for the update, asilon. I've just returned from my holiday travels to learn that I apparently gave the okay for a house party tonight to my youngest roommate.

When he realized I was not looking forward to there being any sort of gathering at our abode this eve, I explained, "Yeah, yeah, I remember saying it was okay as long as you clean up, but I screwed up not really looking at the date. By the by, did you get older-married-couple-roommates' permission? They're landing at 11:00pm after flying all day."

Turns out: he sent them an e-mail yesterday but doesn't know if they read it or not. So everything's gonna be fine. Totally. I can't imagine why they'd hate unexpectedly encountering their house full of your drunk friends at midnight after traveling all day. Gah!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 6:54 PM
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Ahhh, housemates. You know what else rules? Not having housemates.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 7:10 PM
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309: Yeah, he's generally all right, with about three of these Bad Ideas for The House per year. I pointed out that his shindig was almost certainly going to end at midnight when the travelers returned home.

"Hey, man, it's not your problem. I'll handle it. And if they want the party to end, so be it, but I don't think that's going to happen."

Rrrrrright.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 7:14 PM
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OT: one of my gifts this year was a Shandon Irish cap (sort of like this). My Irish relatives all refer to these as something pronounced guh-BEAN. Anyone know the proper spelling on that one? Can't find it for the life of me.

I believe it's spelled "caipín".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-27-08 9:46 PM
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re: 311

Just looks like a normal flat cap to me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-28-08 2:23 AM
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Don't spoil his fun ttaM, it's a special Irish flat cap!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12-28-08 4:04 AM
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OK, Caipin.

"A shapeless old hat".

"Fourth declension noun: "caipín, (KAH-peen), an caipín, na caipíní; cap, etc."

""Caipín" is from English "cap," with the usual Irish diminutive ending -ín added. Because of Irish spelling conventions, deleting the diminutive would leave "cap," which might possibly be respelled as "ceap," since that would yield the approximate pronunciation [kjaep], as in some dialects of English. The spelling "caip" is very
approximately pronounced "kip."".

Chickadee: Caipin dubh. Black cap.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-28-08 7:13 AM
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Chickadee: Caipin dubh. Black cap.

Lolwut? In Ireland they call chickadees "tits". Also, they are called "chickadees" because of the noise they make.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-28-08 7:14 AM
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re: 313

A while ago, I decided that now that I am in my mid-30s and getting baldy, that what I needed was a tweedy hat. turns out there are bloody thousands of varieties of them depending how they are stitched and the tweed used, etc. [Bentley, Gill, Glen, Turnberry, etc].

However, they can be divided into two basic types: ones that make me look like a total twat, and ones that make me look like an idiot [who may also be a twat].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-28-08 9:51 AM
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Caipin


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-28-08 9:57 AM
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A mystery solved! Thanks, 'foggedtariat.

And 313 made me laugh, asilon.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-28-08 2:32 PM
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Thanks, 'foggedtariat.

"'foggedtariat" would be a great name for a racehorse.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-29-08 6:16 AM
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OK, turns out I documented Iris' moment of doubt, complete with date: Nov. 6

I think Santa might be make believe. You never see him. People just talk about him.
But I think the general infusion of Santa over the course of the subsequent months washed away the doubt. Again, no input (in either direction) from us.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-29-08 7:36 AM
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