Re: Narcissistic Mystification

1

I get that too. Maybe it's the broad shoulders that add to my presence---or the clogs, which I wear pretty much everyday, adding an extra inch or two without appearing to be heels.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:20 AM
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People tend to think I'm a lot shorter than I am.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:25 AM
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W-lfs-n thinks you are taller than you are?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:26 AM
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Maybe I get the reverse (or maybe it's you). I remember you once opining that we were the same height even though I am four inches taller than you. Maybe its your hair. Do people ofen think you are from Long Island?


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:29 AM
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People often refuse to believe that I am as short as I am -- not because my naturally regal bearing makes me appear taller, but rather because surely my being 5'2" would require membership in the Lollipop Guild or similar.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:31 AM
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Huh, yeah, maybe if I laid off the AquaNet and stopped teasing my bangs up I'd look shorter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:31 AM
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... But mostly I'm mystified: I hear it often enough that I figure that "looking taller than I actually am" describes something real about my appearance, but I can't imagine how it works. ...

My guess is that it is something about your attitude. Assertive and aggressive gets remembered as bigger.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:32 AM
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Could be. I think of myself as diffident and harmless, but I understand selfknowledge in this regard is often imperfect.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:33 AM
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perhaps you hold your back straight, so the right posture adds to the height


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:35 AM
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I think of myself as diffident and harmless, but I understand selfknowledge in this regard is often imperfect.

Well, your self-knowledge in this regard, at least.

But that you can be assertive is part of why you are a very good lawyer.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:37 AM
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Man, the point of writing self-involved posts isn't to attract more flattery, it's to invite abuse! Honestly, it's like since Ogged left no one knows how to play this game anymore.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:39 AM
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it's to invite abuse!

Well, I criticized your lack of self-knowledge. And your hair. I could go on, if you like.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:41 AM
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but i think you are just naturally tall looking, if to reference to Dr. Oops, she didn't look very tensive or overbearing


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:43 AM
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And because I am a ridiculous person, I find it flattering (goodness only knows why, but I do).

I don't find this ridiculous at all. Being tall is often correlated with being attractive.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:45 AM
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I like 'tensive', but it's not an English word (or I suppose it might be, but not a common one); I think you want 'tense'. And certainly, Dr. Oops is the kindest, gentlest, most relaxed of possible transplant surgeons, until you cross her. At which point things can become (very briefly) ugly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:48 AM
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When I met you at UnfogeedDCon II, you were shorter than I expected you to be.

Also, you have it easy in New York. In Boston it's free for those 11 and under when accompanied by a paying adult. I certainly rode the T to school when I was 10 on my own and had to pay. They issued student cards that were not good after 5 PM or on weekends that were discounted and free to residents of Boston proper.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:48 AM
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Huh. And at DCon I was actually wearing heels.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:50 AM
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When I met you at UnfogeedDCon II, you were shorter than I expected you to be.

Me too, because I knew Sir Kraab pretty well at that point, and I had it in my head that you guys would resemble each other.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:53 AM
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it's to invite abuse!

Well, you're certainly not as tall as your sister.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:54 AM
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19: In fact, she called me "Rodent" as a child, on the grounds that I was comparatively little and ratlike. Still does, come to think of it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:55 AM
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Has read met Dr. Oops?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:55 AM
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People assume I'm a vegetarian. Like, to an excessive degree.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:56 AM
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I grew first in elementary school and the tall self-image stuck. If you ask me who in a room is my height, I point to guys six foot or taller. "I'm about that height." My physical height is five-eight, but I'm much taller inside.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:02 AM
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21: At a bus stop. Weirdest thing -- I was visiting Dr. O, and mentioned Read as a doctor from Mongolia working as a researcher in Newark, where Dr. O used to also live. Dr. O wondered if she could possibly be a woman she'd talked to waiting for a bus a couple of times who fit that description, and Read remembered meeting an outsized doctor with curly silver hair. It's barely possible they're both thinking of other people, but figuring that doctors from Mongolia and six-foot female doctors are both thin on the ground in Newark, they've probably met.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:03 AM
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well, from now on it will mean that, tense, coz i like to invent words, but i just dragged it from normotensive-hypertensive it seems
if one loses weight, looks taller i thought, but no, everybody was telling me how i shrinked when i was home last summer


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:03 AM
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23: And I'm complicatedly weird about my height because I was always tallish in school, and a tiny little slip of a thing at home. So I get confused and defensive about any height-related description.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:05 AM
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Women I remember from my childhood still seem tall to me, even if they're about 5'. Obviously I can tell if they're standing by someone or something that they're not till, but face to face I still look up to them in some sense.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:05 AM
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How obvious is it that I have a brief I need to write that I'm avoiding?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:06 AM
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i bet she does not remember how i look by now, my classmates from med school don't remember often, if the class is like a hundred people then it's possible of course that we never talked, but having sat in the lectures together?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:08 AM
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I think I'm taller than I am, as in, people who I think of as being my size generally have three inches on me.

Aren't you rather leggy, proportionally, LB. Long limbs? That would give the impression of being tall.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:14 AM
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How obvious is it that I have a brief I need to write that I'm avoiding?

Pretty obvious, since you ask.

I, on the other hand, am no longer avoiding the witness examination outlines I am supposed to be writing but just discovered that I no longer have remote access to our server at work, meaning that I may have to drive in to the office and work. Very annoying.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:15 AM
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Do we want to give me some advice? Hm? I have a dilemma.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:16 AM
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Yes, we do. We love being helpful.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:17 AM
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32: Spill. Advice-giving is much more amusing than brief-writing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:17 AM
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My Farsi professor was a five foot woman with a HUGE presence and great voice control. She could project when she wanted. She'd greet us all as we came in. "May-gan! You are a couple minutes late, but we are happy you are here!" "May-gan! I did not see your homework from yesterday, but I know you will bring it to me tomorrow."

We sat in our chairs and cowered the entire time before her tiny self. I adored her.

(She taught me for a year, then my sister for two more years. She heard three straight years of halting presentations about our family. My baby sibling actually grew while she was watching.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:18 AM
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i meant it's a desired effect, to be mimicrous
i was reading SB and recalled how i used to read in the dark room, outside just the daylight, but i would sit in the dark room and read using the light coming from the slit, there was this period when i was 7-8 i guess, totally forgot about that, should think of what does it match, some psychological symptom, i'm sure it's described somewhere


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:19 AM
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30: Yup, me too. I look at someone who's around 5'10" and think they're my height. I suppose I'm leggy rather than the reverse -- pants are always too short on me -- but not extravagantly so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:20 AM
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38

OK, I've had this relationship with a guy from school for the past seven months or so. He's a pretty troubled person, and we get together almost every week to have someone we don't really have to be OK around, and can say anything to. This has resulted in a friendship based on knowing absolutely the worst (or most secret, anyway) things about each other, and very little about our day-to-day lives. He's met a few of my friends, and I've met a few of his, but we've both said what's really interesting to us is just having a few hours a week alone together.

In all this time, he has never mentioned his girlfriend, at all. Other people have brought up his girlfriend, but he says nothing. On Friday, my friend from college was going to meet us where we were having our weekly meeting, and suddenly he says, "So I don't talk about it, but I am seeing someone and it's not going well and I can't give her what she needs and I really want to know what you think about it, and she's going to be here in a minute. Are you OK with meeting her?"

I'm all, OK, and she shows up. The four of us proceed to a party together and get pretty ridiculously drunk. I try engaging the girlfriend, who is super-nice and sweet and adorable and obviously worships my friend, who clearly does not feel the same about her. And she has clearly never heard of me and starts wondering how her boyfriend could be so close to someone she's never heard of.

(a) Our relationship is really hard to explain. I get that, and I find it hard to talk about with other people.
(b) He's right; he doesn't deserve her and he's wasting her time. She's trying to make him love her and it's not working.
(c) He wants my feedback, but all I have to say is incredibly hurtful, and stuff he already knows.

Obviously, he kept me from finding out about her because he wasn't ready to hear what he knows I'm going to say. But apparently he wants to hear it now. Am I doing him a favor by telling him he's a dick for stringing this girl along? I know I'm doing her one. But she'll still hate his guts.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:28 AM
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39

You should just do it now, AWB, to get it over with. You'll never forgive yourself if, through waiting, you deny yourself even the chance.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:31 AM
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40

39: Tell him? I might forgive myself for not telling him he's an asshole.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:32 AM
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Obviously, he kept me from finding out about her because he wasn't ready to hear what he knows I'm going to say.

Or because he is romantically interested in you. If you guys are friends, give him your straightforward feedback. Be prepared to deal with his saying that it really is you that he wants to be with. Give it to him straight on that, too. You do not have to be harsh in telling him.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:33 AM
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This seems pretty low stakes to me. Nothing good will happen regardless of what you do, but given that, whatever you do won't make anything particularly worse happen. I figure giving any positive advice will make you the bad guy: either they'll break up and you'll be the harpy that broke them up, or they won't break up and you'll be the harpy that tried to break them up. And then they'll break up shortly anyway.

If I wanted to resist being the bad guy, I'd get aggressively Socratic at the guy: "So, what's making you unhappy about the situation?" "And what do you plan to do about that?" and so on. Odds are you'll still end up being the bad guy, but less so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:34 AM
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I don't think he wants to be with me in a romantic sense, but he does love me, and that's confusing. That is, I just don't think he's capable of having a relationship with someone he loves at this point in his life. And it's kind of pathetic. I'm certainly not jealous of a girlfriend who is so unmentionable he can't even talk about her.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:37 AM
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44

I'm always in favor of cowardly avoidance. Change your routine, don't answer his calls and dodge plans with him. It works a charm.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:38 AM
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LB gives the advice I would have, except imagine a bunch of blinky tags on the bit about positive advice making you the bad guy. Socratic only here.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:39 AM
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46

And you're sure his not telling you about her and then revealing her existence in the form of "I don't really love her and it's effectively over eventually at some point" isn't just typical sliminess? (I.e., trying to keep you in play as a romantic possibility by misleading you as to his degree of availability.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:40 AM
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42: Yeah, the Socratic approach seems best here. I was going to write it all out in an email, but it might be better to sit him down and make him reiterate all the problems he has with the relationship and then ask why he imagines he's doing her some kind of favor by dating her. He knows he's an asshole. And she knows he's an asshole. But their relationship seems to be founded on them both pretending that he's not an asshole. She seems really tortured by the dissonance.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:41 AM
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And even if you're not romantically interested in him, he's getting his intimacy needs fulfilled with you, which is not your fault and in no way means you should change anything you're doing, but it means that he doesn't seem to need her in the same way she needs him. This means you cannot be the advice-giver here.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:44 AM
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I would not commit to a position that lets them ever peg the break-up on you. I'd say something like, "Look, you need to clarify into words exactly why you're with her, so that you can evaluate whether or not this relationship is meeting your needs." Then I'd be, as LB puts it, aggressively Socratic about sorting through the fuzz from the essence of whatever he spouts.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:44 AM
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46 multiply pwned and answered. That he doesn't want to be with you presently in the romantic sense (because he can't combine romance and emotional attachment) doesn't eliminate the possibility of trying to keep you open as a theoretical romantic option though.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:45 AM
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46: Naw, it's too weird, really. He's never marketed himself to me as an attractive partner or made himself seem romantically viable, so I don't think it's your typical sliminess. Frankly, I think he's ashamed of himself for being involved with someone he doesn't love, and he didn't want me to know that he's the kind of person who would do that, possibly because I've told him several stories about my long-term relationships with men who clearly didn't love me, and how hard it was to feel like I was always just about to earn love from them, if I only knew what to do. He knew I'd identify and sympathize with her in this situation, and I do.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:46 AM
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Actually, come to think of it, before giving advice, what are your goals here? My guess is that what you're looking for is (a) preserve your current relationship with your friend, and (b) do what you can to make him and his girlfriend happier out of general benevolence. If I've got your goals straight, I'd cut loose from having a lot of hope for (b); as an attractive woman in an emotionally charged relationship with a man, I think it's going to be somewhere between difficult and impossible to either improve his relationship with his girlfriend, or influence him toward ending it without looking as if you're intentionally edging her out. And both of those are depressing positions to be in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:47 AM
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53

I wrote 39 before 38 had been posted.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:47 AM
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AWB, I don't think you're giving avoidance enough consideration. You see someone in emotional torment, and you immediately and stealthily walk the other way. Then you go outside and have a pleasant cup of coffee!

Now, for me, this is an old technique and I don't think I could get a lot more from doing it. But for you it could open up radical new ways of being!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:48 AM
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I'm always in favor of cowardly avoidance.

This surprises me.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:49 AM
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48 is important and I think true. I need to be very careful. Writing the "Look, you are an asshole" email would be hard, I think, without the context of face-to-face, but even then, as 49, I don't want to be the one to say it. I want him to say it. I totally understand needing to triangulate relationship decisions through conversations with friends, but still, he needs to say it, not me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:50 AM
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if i were AWB i would like severe all ties with the guy upon knowing about his gf and make three people unhappy, but what is better one unhappy person or three


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:50 AM
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It sounds alot to me like he's using you as an emotional surrogate for the intimacy missing in his relationship -- which, in that delightfully circular way of things, diminishes the intimacy in his relationship further because, finding intimacy easier with you, he can avoid making the effort with her.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:52 AM
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59

You make a list of all the people you know who are emotionally balanced and doing neat things. Then you send them an email telling them that you recently have a few extra hours in your week free and you'd love to catch up with them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:53 AM
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what is better one unhappy person or three

If I'm the unhappy one, then three.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:53 AM
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And even if you're not romantically interested in him, he's getting his intimacy needs fulfilled with you, which is not your fault and in no way means you should change anything you're doing, but it means that he doesn't seem to need her in the same way she needs him.

This is exactly right. He is not fully invested in the relationship and doing the relationship work, because he's getting his intimacy needs met with you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:54 AM
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e, debut
great, strikes!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:55 AM
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Come to think of it, I think there's a lot to be said for the approach set forth in 54 and 59.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 11:55 AM
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64

I am far too emotionally invested in this friendship to avoid this altogether. He's asking for me to say hard things to him that he needs to hear. And I feel like I should avoid actually saying the things because I don't want to be in the position of being responsible for their breakup, largely because I know it will break her heart. But it's going to be now or sometime in the future when he's made her even crazier.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:00 PM
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I agree with virtually all of the advice people are giving here. I would also bet that there is at least a 70% chance that he raised this with AWB now because he *is* ready to acknowledge that he's stringing this woman along and should break up with her. It's like being a kid -- you ask the parent who you think is going to give the answer you want. Dad, can I drive the car? Mom, can I buy this dress? and you don't ask the parent/friend who is going to see right through you.

Same principle. He's revealing this to the person who he knows is (one way or another) going to call him on his b.s. This may not be conscious, and it will probably end up with him thinking (or at least claiming to think) AWB is the bad guy, but I bet that's the underlying dynamic.

My unsolicited opinion on this is that it's pretty selfish (if common) to use supposed friends as the crowbar to pry yourself out of whatever stuck place you find yourself in. A really nuturing, sustaining friendship can include some of this as long as it's a) mutual and b) rare. But it sounds to me like AWB is getting a raw deal. (Sorry, AWB. I know you weren't asking for our opinions on whether you should be friends!)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:05 PM
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There is a lot of wisdom in the advice above. Still, what I wonder is how you feel about this guy. Not romantically, so much, but is he your friend? Is he a good enough friend that you feel one of the obligations of friendship--giving a frank answer to a hard question. This is hard, but it is something we do for good friends, I think. Now, there is no reason you should feel this obligation toward all people who you might describe generally as friends, and walking away is a perfectly reasonable approach in many cases. But if this guy is a close friend, maybe you should tell it to him straight, even if you know it will hurt.

That said, Socratic all the way seems perfectly right even for the best of friends in a situation such as this.

And, of course, you are in no way responsible for the relationship between this fellow and his girlfriend. You did not make it. You did not break it.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:05 PM
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This situation looks to me like a blender, and your task is to avoid sticking your face in it. Megan's strategy is one way. If that doesn't work for you, I think you can still manage avoidance on a smaller scale. This:

He's asking for me to say hard things to him that he needs to hear.

is probably a perfectly good reading of what he wants. But if that's what he wants, then he knows what the hard things are, and doesn't need you to say them. So don't say them. He'll get there on his own, if that's where he's going.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:06 PM
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He's asking for me to say hard things to him that he needs to hear. And I feel like I should avoid actually saying the things because I don't want to be in the position of being responsible for their breakup, largely because I know it will break her heart.

Do not say the things. Do not say the things. You're letting him triangulate with you instead of taking responsibility for his life. You can be a sounding board, but don't take ownership of his problems.

But it's going to be now or sometime in the future when he's made her even crazier.

It's his problems. You can support him, but these are not your problems.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:06 PM
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I am far too emotionally invested in this friendship

This is why I think the transferred/surrogate intimacy thing here is potentially not good for you in the long run. I'm doing alot of projecting here, frankly, but having been in this type of situation from all three sides, I've never found it to be good for anyone.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:06 PM
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70

also what Witt said in 65.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:07 PM
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Oh my! I have basically been in this exact situation. Well not really with the weird once-a-week get-togethers and the secret girlfriend. But my best friend with whom I was very emotionally intimate was dating this girl and totally "bleh" about her and not into her. When he revealed that he was carrying a torch for someone else, I basically told him he had to break up with his girlfriend and that he was being a dick.

We're still friends, but it took some work and I think he still resents me for making him feel like he was a "bad guy." But this guy thinks of himself as a "good guy" (and he basically is, barring this incident), whereas AWB's friend seems like he doesn't have any such dearly-held conceptions.

I say anyone who's going to defriend you for telling them they're being an asshole, when they are in fact being an asshole, isn't worth it.

And all that stuff about "pegging the break-up on AWB"--do people really do that? Blame someone else for the fact that they broke up? I mean the girl might blame AWB, but both of them? That seems implausible to me.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:07 PM
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Addendum to 71: This also happened about two years ago. After I told him unequivocally that he should end the relationship, we didn't really speak for a couple months, during which time he broke up with her. And started dating the other girl, who he is still with and they are very happy. So I think part of the resentment is that he knew I was right...


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:11 PM
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I think you should try to have a threesome with both of them. That will be a clarifying event for their relationship, especially if during the encounter you highlight subtle non-verbal signals that he might be more attracted to you than he is to her.

Speaking of threesomes, has anyone else seen the excellent Savage Grace? Beauty, beauty, beauty, attitude, attitude, attitude, awesome!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:12 PM
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AWB is the bad guy

Right. I think he'll both be grateful to me for being the bad guy and really confused about my motives for being the bad guy. So I choose not to be the bad guy. He needs to be his own bad guy.

Still, what I wonder is how you feel about this guy.

I love him. I don't want to date him because I don't think either of us is capable of accepting love from a partner, but we're both OK with accepting love from a friend. I agree that I have a responsibility to him here, however I manage it. I just sort of feel, like Witt suggests, like he's made a mess, and is pointing to it, saying, "Look! I made a mess! What should I do?" and needs me to tell him to clean it up to get the initiative to do so.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:14 PM
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75

Do it now.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:14 PM
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76

If they're going to peg the breakup on you anyway, then there's an even stronger case for getting a threesome in first.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:14 PM
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77

He'll get there on his own, if that's where he's going.

But the girl!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:16 PM
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if it's friendship what you feel, then it's different, the best medicine is sometimes the bitter one
and it's for their sake
i saw the other day the movie Before sunset, what the guy says about his marriage, awful
so you don't want your friend's life to become like that, though i were you i would, like, already hate him why he need you to decide for him
and withdraw very selfishly


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:16 PM
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Think of all the inner work you can do here. You can observe drama and hurt and feel sweet sweet relief that it has nothing to do with you. You can resist the call to have an intense experience and instead think about dinner. You can hear a call for truthtelling and let that phone ring. Leave that soul unsearched!

Like I say, for me it is a way of being, but it offers much more to you, AWB.

(If you need advice on dodging the guy in person, I can totally help you with the right bland expression and greetings that convey nothing.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:16 PM
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s


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:16 PM
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73: I think you should try to have a threesome with both of them.

What's funny is this was apparently what drunk-me thought was a good solution on Friday night. I kept inviting the girlfriend to dance with me, and was very flirty with her (she is kind of a honey), but she doesn't roll that way, it seems.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:17 PM
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I love you, AWB!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:19 PM
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74: Well then you should just be honest about that. Say, look, I feel like you are trying to get me to convince you to do something you already think you should do. I'm not going to be in the position to tell you to break up with your girlfriend. If that's what you think you should do, do it. But I'm not going to coach you, because I don't think that would be good for me, you, or her. I'm happy to listen to you and to ask questions, but I'm not going to tell you what to do.

People think they want advice, but they really don't. My boyfriend and I have versions of this conversation (about much less charged issues, natch) several times a month (going in both directions).


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:19 PM
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You can support him, but these are not your problems.

Her problems aren't either, and AWB, while I trust your motives and your instincts, the guy's motives are bothering me.

He's cultivating a relationship with you. Fine! It's intimate emotionally and there is love! Fine! He's not telling you about his girlfriend! Hmm, that's weird, given how close you are. You think it would have come up some time in the past half year. And now he wants you to tell him what to do. I don't think the answer he wants to hear is the one you're likely to give, because you're unlikely to tack on "...and I love you so much, be with me."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:19 PM
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74, 81: Yeah, hon. You're headed for trouble here.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:22 PM
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83: Yay for dragging subtext out into the open and kicking it to death! Death to subtexts and hidden meanings! Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Or Clorox. You could pour bleach on him?

Seriously, I think m.'s right here. You have a deep weird intimate relationship where you can say screwy non-okay things to each other. That means you can have exactly this conversation with him. That's a better conversation for you to be having with him than the "I think you need to break up with your girlfriend for her sake. And could you give me her number?" conversation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:23 PM
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This must be how Emerson feels all the time.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:25 PM
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87: Nah. If the girlfriend were an analytic philosopher, or an economist, maybe.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:25 PM
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That means you can have exactly this conversation with him.

Hmm. Maybe. Sunlight is great, except when it highlights things people have been trying very hard to pretend they don't see.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:26 PM
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Oh, and the other thing is, telling him he needs to break up with her is completely pointless, anyway--at least in terms of bringing about the desired action. Do you know any adult who broke up with someone because someone else told them to? People do it when they're ready. Which is usually long, long after they should have.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:27 PM
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Oh, and "I'm breaking up with you for your sake" is lame and 99% of the time it's a cheap excuse for ".. because I really don't want to be dating you" that has the bonus of making the dumper feel like he or she has the moral high ground. If we're dragging stuff out into the sunlight to pour Clorox on it, start with that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:28 PM
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89: Well only if you say "you are using me as an emotional surrogate and that's shitty" part. But she doesn't have to do that. Just make clear that she doesn't like being in the position of giving advice to do something that is going to be difficult and is his damn decision anyway.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:29 PM
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87: exactly, very funny.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:29 PM
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Dude sounds like a bit of a dick.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:33 PM
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91 is interesting. Part of me thinks that he does need to break up with her for her sake, because this is only going to get worse for her. But the other part is that he seems to think he will eventually get over his intimacy issues (lots of therapy) and learn to accept her love, even though he knows it's not the kind of love he wants, because it's the relationship he has. They're both making themselves miserable out of some sense that they have to make it work. And as far as that goes, I can have no role in facilitating this process. OTOH, I do feel that my relationship with him both facilitates his ongoing relationship by providing him with intimacy and makes him unhappy with that relationship because he realizes he wants something he can't get from her.

I'm glad I know you smart people.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:34 PM
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And I'm with 94. You're having deep, serious conversations about your lives, weekly, for months in which you manage to talk seriously about your romantic history, but he never once mentions that he's got a girlfriend? What the fuck.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:35 PM
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Another thing to remember is that you're not an honest broker here. You're in a relationship with this guy that's important to you, and how this situation plays out will affect that relationship. Nothing wrong with that, but it does really mean that you have to pay attention to what your own goals are. Once you've got those identified, you can decide if they're legitimate, or if you approve of them, or what tactics you're going to take to serve them. But you shouldn't lose sight of the fact that you have goals.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:35 PM
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94: He is. MAJOR dick. That is a given.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:36 PM
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And, and this is going to sound bitchy, but don't take it that way, just as me being cautious.. you met her once? And had lots of drinks on that occasion? And you're sure enough of her needs and desires that you can say he needs to break up with her for her sake (as opposed to for his?)

I would be skeptical of such a judgment were I the one making it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:39 PM
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Part of me thinks that he does need to break up with her for her sake, because this is only going to get worse for her.

to this I would just point out that she is ostensibly a big girl who can see for herself (or with the input of her smart friends )how bad it is and is likely to get and can decide for herself whether sticking with the dude is best for her. Breaking up with someone "for their own good" hits me as a tad condescending/paternalistic.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:39 PM
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my relationship with him both facilitates his ongoing relationship by providing him with intimacy and makes him unhappy with that relationship because he realizes he wants something he can't get from her.

DINGDINGDINGDINGDING!!!

Been in this position oh so many times. Sucks big-time.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:39 PM
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Frankly, he doesn't deserve your being all selfless about what he should do about this girlfriend he's never mentioned. He's effectively been lying to you about her. It's perfectly legitimate to be mad about that, and it's probably even sensible not to get involved in their Sturm und Drang.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:40 PM
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, he doesn't deserve your being all selfless about what he should do about this girlfriend he's never mentioned

As LB points out in 97, it's probably not pure selflessness.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:43 PM
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99: I think I have just cause here, for reasons that would take a long time to explain.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:47 PM
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97 is true, but I'm not sure in what sense. I'm not an independent, dispassionate observer here. Part of it is my own guilt--she has good cause not to trust him with me, and he gave her plenty of reason to be suspicious of our relationship that night. But it's very different, for me, to have the relationship I have with him knowing that he probably has some girlfriend I've heard other people mention and actually having the woman in front of me and liking her so much.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:51 PM
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103: Mmm. It's not that I think you've got any particular hidden agenda. But you're talking about the problem as if you didn't have anything particularly personal at stake. And if that were true, it'd be easy: say whatever you think, let the chips fall where they may, and whistle as you go on about your business.

You don't know for sure what's in the girlfriend's best interests, or what's in your friend's best interests. But you at least have access to insider knowledge on how you personally would like things to work out, and starting from that angle may give you some insights into what to do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:53 PM
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106 crossed with 105.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:54 PM
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You lost me at The four of us proceed to a party together .


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 12:58 PM
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+if
not different is seems, so if you are selfless you'd tell the guy what he wants to hear, if selfish avoid the talk, but the outcome will be like opposite for you
now it's simple


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:03 PM
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I had trouble with that too -- if you look back a sentence, there's an unimportant-to-the-problem college friend who went along with them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:03 PM
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+s


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:04 PM
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Okay, so both of you are meeting intimacy needs with one another. How the situation with the girlfriend pans out will affect that -- which is surely a large part of why he avoided telling you about her. Now that she's met you, and you say has good reason to feel threatened, if he works things out with her there's a very good chance that will have to be at the expense of his intimacy with you. ("Sure honey, go ahead and go see that woman you failed to mention whom I now know you love and with whom you share deep emotional intimacy. Have a nice time!") Is it best for him to cut the GF free and focus on the woman he connects with at the deeper level? Or is it better for him to quit using you as the easy out to intimacy and in fact focus on developing emotional intimacy in his relationship? Only he -- or his therapist -- can really answer that. What about you? Is it best to have this safety net of a GF in the way so that you can enjoy the emotional intimacy without the added layer of confusion tossed in by romantic interest? To have the GF out of the way so you can potentially deal with the challenge of emotional intimacy and romantic partnership?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:09 PM
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re: 2

Ditto.

A friend once began a sentence with something like, "Shorter guys like you, ....".

"Dude, I'm taller than you."

"No fucking way."

Which then led to us standing back to back while people drinking with us confirmed that I was, in fact, taller.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:13 PM
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I love him. I don't want to date him because I don't think either of us is capable of accepting love from a partner, but we're both OK with accepting love from a friend.

How can you know this for sure? Maybe you should hook up with him to see how it all plays out. I think that would make the whole situation more clear and less ambiguous.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:16 PM
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People mistake the characteristic Scots belligerence for short-guy syndrome, and assume you must be short?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:16 PM
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110: Aha! I knew it would be involve a reading comprehension problem on my part. I simply mapped "my friend from college" onto "a guy from school" even though it rendered "meet us" wrong. This be close reading. Not.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:17 PM
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I'm a little afraid of him, actually. When things have happened between us, they got really scary really fast. Also, he's jealous as hell, which is where the college friend comes into play. Part of the reason the girlfriend was freaked out by me is that he was very visibly distressed by my closeness (smooching, snuggling) to my college friend, whose homosexuality seemed obvious to everyone but my friend. I went home with my college friend to sleep at his friend's apartment and got a text an hour later wanting to know where I was. I said goodbye. He wanted to know, literally, where I was. No, I cannot envision a relationship with him. But I also want to be sure I'm not being a dog in the manger w/r/t the girlfriend.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:22 PM
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Going back to the original post - 44 inches. At least that's what they keep saying in the announcements. For AWB, don't interfere. I'm with m. leblanc, folks break up in their own time, way after they should have. Trying to hurry it along does nothing except make them hate and resent you. Also, never, ever tell someone you're breaking up with them for their own good. First of all you're lying, secondly you're being an asshole. The fact that it may actually be good for them doesn't change either of the above.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:28 PM
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117: So, if I've got you right, you want to maintain the friendship with him while making it clear to you and to him that romance is off the table because he's scary and possessive and you really actively don't want to be involved with him?

At this point I'd really, really think deeply about the Megan strategy, and contemplate the number of structural points of resemblance between this situation and a blender. Assuming that doesn't work for you, I'd talk up how delightful his girlfriend is, and what he should do to heal his relationship with her. It won't do their relationship any good, advice never does, but it may clarify things between him and you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:36 PM
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One thought, which runs counter to the excellent advice.

This: He knows he's an asshole. And she knows he's an asshole. But their relationship seems to be founded on them both pretending that he's not an asshole.

I've been in this relationship. I wish to god he had seen the light and dumped me "for my own good." Or that someone had maneuvered in. I'm weak, though, about walking away from love relationships (and ours was different from what AWB describes in that there was genuine love there). It is a definite personal failing, and I should have been the one to walk away. But I would have been saved a lot of agony if we had just broken up instead of carrying on with the fiction.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:38 PM
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So, AWB, why is it you love him if he's a major dick, possessive and frightening? Thus far, the only good thing you've said about this guy is the part where you are able to be very open with him -- which can, of course, be a reflection of some good things about him.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:40 PM
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At this point I'd really, really think deeply about the Megan strategy

I am prepared to coach you through this, if it sounds foreign and unachievable.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:43 PM
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he's scary and possessive and you really actively don't want to be involved with him? and he's an asshole.

If this is right, I think agree with this: I'd really, really think deeply about the Megan strategy, and contemplate the number of structural points of resemblance between this situation and a blender.

Life and friendship are complicated and none of us can really know or judge the friendship you have with this fellow, but the more you say about your relationship there is a level of fraughtness (probably not a word but I think it works here) that makes the blender analogy apt here.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:43 PM
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re: 113

The friend in question is also Scottish. He's skinny, though, and I suspect his body-image (of himself) as 'tall and skinny' (he's skinny but not actually particularly tall) meant that he just assumed he was taller than me.* We've been friends for years, too, which made it funnier.

* at the time I wasn't fat, so he wasn't being confused by my 'width' into thinking I was short ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:44 PM
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124: Were you dressed as Napoleon at the time? That can make people think you're short.

Actually, it'd be interesting to get someone who'd met both of us to guess who was taller, and see if they get it wrong. Didn't you have lunch with CharleyCarp once, or am I thinking of someone else in the UK?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:47 PM
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I've met LB and CC. I guess that CC is taller!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:49 PM
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And has a much more impressive mustache.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:50 PM
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121: There are wonderful things about him, obviously, and I am not fond of him purely out of perversity. He's extremely kind and affectionate to me, and deeply values my friendship and judgment. But both of us have intimacy-avoidance and aggression issues, so yeah, I think it's much easier for us to maintain a friendship with the sense that a relationship would be impossible or disastrous.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 1:53 PM
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There are wonderful things about him, obviously, and I am not fond of him purely out of perversity.

I hope my question didn't come off as condescending. Frankly, there are a handful of people in my lifetime that I have been fond of purely out of perversity -- though the perversity of it reflected particular needs I had at the time. Generally related to my own intimacy-avoidance issues and means of filling intimacy needs without risking actual intimacy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:09 PM
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both of us have intimacy-avoidance and aggression issues, so yeah, I think it's much easier for us to maintain a friendship with the sense that a relationship would be impossible or disastrous.

Di's comment about the absence of risk is a good one.

It can certainly be easier to open up to someone with whom the risk is small. You are not exposing yourself to nearly the same degree with a stranger as you would be with a partner.

Isnt this part of the appeal of the internet?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:14 PM
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tall and skinny

"Thin but not tall" is a phrase from some Bellow story that I have held on to to describe myself.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:18 PM
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I vote for Megan's strategy.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:18 PM
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Not at all, Di. I've had tons of emotionally intimate relationships with men who were completely irredeemable assholes. The person I spent the most time with during my MA program was someone with whom I was engaged in an ongoing contest to ruin one another's careers and say the most hurtful possible things to one another. It was gruesome what we did to each other. I've grown past that phase now, I think, but I wonder if there's a part of both of us that keeps trying to domesticate this friendship with ritualism and hostility because we're not good with intimacy. That is, it's not founded on perversity, but there is something kind of sick about the way it works.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:18 PM
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Week 1: Schedule a massage for the time in your day that you normally see him. Go get as many massages as you need.

The strategy will get less expensive as you internalize it. It will eventually only cost you the cup of coffee or cookie that you walk to go get instead of staying in your office where he can find you. A master can stay put and offer nothing when the co-worker is crying in your office, but that is very advanced.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:33 PM
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I find you fascinating, AWB. You were wonderfully delightful at DCon II. Yet, your descriptions of your relationships frequently sound like your life is a teeming mass of sometimes silent cruelities and intrigue.

I love how you put it all out here. And, I wonder whether you are like that in person.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:36 PM
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She's taller in person.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:37 PM
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Week 1: Schedule a massage for the time in your day that you normally see him. Go get as many massages as you need.

Wait, can I sign up for this?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:37 PM
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Megan's plan for calculated assholedom is kind of disturbing.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:39 PM
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83.1 has it right: Say, look, I feel like you are trying to get me to convince you to do something you already think you should do. I'm not going to be in the position to tell you to break up with your girlfriend. If that's what you think you should do, do it. But I'm not going to coach you, because I don't think that would be good for me, you, or her. I'm happy to listen to you and to ask questions, but I'm not going to tell you what to do.

I say this as someone who was in a similar position once -- with an ex with whom I still shared a lot of love, though we'd broken up for what we both knew were very good reasons. He was trying so hard to build something with his new girlfriend, and it wasn't working; she loved him more than he did her. I just listened and refused to state an opinion. He's actually married her now, and seems happy enough though somehow resigned. Not my place to say a word, though my friendship with him did have to be let go, since it was becoming a little too tough to hear that he was marrying her in his own full knowledge that he didn't love her as much as he'd have liked.

In a way, the only way to honor my own love for him was to respect that he was a grown-up and needed me more to remain his friend no matter what (to forgive him?) than to advise him in something I couldn't ultimately know enough about.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:39 PM
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I have had lunch the Megan, LB, and ttaM. Do I think ttaM is shorter than LB? No.

AWB, I can't see an upside here. Not only do your friend, and his girlfriend, have to come to their own conclusions, they have to come to them by their own process and in their own time. Each of the people I see out my window is going to die eventually. My helping them towards that goal is strongly deprecated.

More seriously, there are lessons to learn from the experience they're going through, including about how to handle things. You're not doing anyone any favors at all by becoming a lightning rod, and a distraction from their own processes.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:41 PM
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138 - It is disturbing to see it spelled out explicitly, but when done right, it appears natural and unaffected. She's busy! And cheerfully distracted!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:43 PM
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Also, tending your own life and your healthy friends is not being an asshole. I don't owe attention to everyone who claims it from me. Long as I'm not affirmatively cruel, I don't consider avoidance assholedom.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:46 PM
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I'm not going to ignore him, blender-like as the situation may be. And he has outright asked for me to tell him what to do. My plan, as of right now, is parsimon's.

Y'all have helped a lot. I really was about to draft an email detailing all of the ways in which continuing this relationship makes him an asshole, but, as several of you have pointed out, that's just allowing him to make me responsible for what happens, as well as presuming a hell of a lot about the girlfriend. She seems miserable, but I'm not objective.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:49 PM
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Coming back to the thread I'm impressed at the level of consensus that has been maintained. M.Leblanc is brilliant in 83 and 90, although I have one addition:

Do you know any adult who broke up with someone because someone else told them to?

No, but I know several who were able to do it themselves after a third party essentially gave them emotional permission to do it. It's not ideal, and I think it's generally indicative of some insecurity, but it is a powerful and important gesture you can make for someone, if you find yourself in that third-party position and have the wherewithal, energy and psychological adeptness to carry it off.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:53 PM
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143.2: Also, hate to say it, but if you wait a little while, it might evolve that his girlfriend talks to him about the nature of your friendship with him, asks him just what that's all about, and their relationship changes as a result of whatever conversation they have about that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 2:58 PM
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145: I agree. And I see a few possible outcomes from that. She might break up with him, or ask him to stop seeing me, which could result either in him no longer seeing me or telling her he's not seeing me while continuing to do so. And in any case, I feel like everyone's relationship in this situation will change.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:02 PM
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No, but I know several who were able to do it themselves after a third party essentially gave them emotional permission to do it.

Indeed. I wasn't very clear about this in my own comment, but what I was trying to get at is that I wasn't acting like an adult in my own situation that sounds similar to what AWB's friend appears to be in, although I was coming at it from the position of the girlfriend. I wanted someone to step in and take care of it for me - to either urge me to break it off or urge him too. It would have been nice if either of us had had someone in our lives who could manage it - but that would have been an incredibly difficult position to put any of our friends in and I'm sure would have resulted in the ends of friendships. It seems like the best thing to do really is what everyone is counseling.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:05 PM
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Do I think ttaM is shorter than LB? No.

Drat. Now I feel short.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:07 PM
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There's a word for this. When everybody agrees.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:08 PM
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Also, tending your own life and your healthy friends is not being an asshole. I don't owe attention to everyone who claims it from me. Long as I'm not affirmatively cruel, I don't consider avoidance assholedom.

Okay, actually. Being "too busy" for a friend in genuine anguish is in fact affirmatively cruel.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:10 PM
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146: She might [...] ask him to stop seeing me, which could result either in him no longer seeing me or telling her he's not seeing me while continuing to do so.

Yeah, and either of those will be tough on you. I sympathize. Unless the two of them really aren't talking to each other at all about important matters, things are probably going to change.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:19 PM
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Think of the massages, Di.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:20 PM
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re: 125

Yeah, I've met CC [on preview, he's already mentioned it in 140]. I've also met two other occasional Unfogged people [although one no longer comments here]: Slol and ttam reniew.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:25 PM
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make three people unhappy, but what is better one unhappy person or three

It was said of Thomas Macaulay and his wife that it was a great good fortune that they'd met and married one another and so made only two people unhappy, instead of four.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:35 PM
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Now I feel short.

Didn't this whole thread begin with the point that you are, in fact, not that tall?


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:38 PM
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Yep. I should learn to accept it, but it kills me. I'm still recovering from the emotional damage caused by my parents referring to me as a dwarf throughout my adolescence.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:41 PM
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152: ... deep tissue...?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:43 PM
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You know what's fun: telling a guy who considers himself tall at 6 foot that he doesn't really seem very tall.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:44 PM
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Geez, not seeming taller than ttaM doesn't make one a dwarf. He's a regular sized male person, after all.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:44 PM
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158 -- A person who is 6" can see over most people in a crowd. Naturally there are taller -- a 6 footer would be a dwarf in the NBA.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:47 PM
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Explaining it further by explaining that it's got something to do with his gender presentation -- you seem shorter because you have such a gentle, open presence about you -- can add additional entertainment to the experience.

(Then, surreptitiously exchanging all of his pants for ones that are his size around the waist, but two inches longer, really brings it home.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:47 PM
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161: You can also add that his hands don't seem particularly big, either.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:49 PM
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But of course, that would be wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:52 PM
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5'10"-- 6' is the new average. 6'2" is barely tall.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:55 PM
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Narcissistic Mystification is the second in my trilogy of works for two guitars, trap kit, viola da gamba, bass clarinet and vibraphone, the first being Narcissistic Rem(a)inder and the third Narcissistic Intervention.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:57 PM
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I'm sure I've mentioned here before that I have received responses ranging from startled to rude when meeting dates in person for the first time. For a while I took to warning them, "I really am 5'8" as it says in my profile," in case it was just that they weren't reading.

But no, I think it's the string-bean syndrome. I look a fair bit taller, apparently. Even without heels.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 3:59 PM
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Narcissistic Intervention

Why not Narcissistic In(ter)vention?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:00 PM
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I'm just trying to work out how you even begin to say "Dude, you're shorter than me" with a Glesgae accent. I'm getting a sort of "Diuuuuuid" kind of noise with a coloratura vibrato.

Meanwhile, the old LBS proverb comes to mind - "Not all problems have solutions". Sometimes you get a shitty hand and all you can really do is play it out and remember, six months down the line when it's all gone to shit, that it wasn't actually you who dealt it.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:00 PM
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I'm still recovering from the emotional damage caused by my parents referring to me as a dwarf throughout my adolescence.

Dwarf does seem a touch strong. Fire plug does not seem exactly right. Well, you have a nice personality!


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:02 PM
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Why not Narcissistic In(ter)vention?

I didn't think of that until after I posted the comment 'swhy.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:06 PM
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166: Why on earth would someone be rude about finding that you really are 5'8"? It's not like that's gargartuan. Or are you saying that you just appear taller than 5'8", so they think you were lying?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:06 PM
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169: There are those who'd disagree about that, as noted early in the thread.

Luckily, I make up for it by my sterling professional efficiency.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:06 PM
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Why on earth would someone be rude about finding that you really are 5'8"?

Well, I don't know for sure. And I was sufficiently floored by the semi-belligerent, "You look taller!" on one occasion that I didn't really stop to assess his motives.

Later I decided it was insecurity and projection (worried they weren't tall enough, worried I would care). A bit funny considering that my longest and happiest relationship was with a man slightly shorter than me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:09 PM
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re: 168

I don't think I've ever actually used the word 'Dude' in earnest, in my entire life. But, I sometimes find myself translating into that idiom when typing for (mild, probably failed) comic effect.

The actual conversation probably made more copious use of swearing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:12 PM
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Once I went to a doctor and got into an argument with him about my height. I said I was 5'10" and he insisted I was 6'. Finally he measured me and admitted his error.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:13 PM
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Why on earth would someone be rude about finding that you really are 5'8"?

Are you about a size fourteen?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:13 PM
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Wow, I'm well-trained not to click on Apo's links, but I never had to avoid one of Ben's. That's a spew of hatred I really didn't need in my head.

Warning for anyone who doesn't like reading graphic depictions of violence.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:20 PM
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171: Why on earth would someone be rude about finding that you really are 5'8"?

I wonder if in some cases it is because it gives the lie to their own little bullshit narrative about their height. I find that many men round up quite generously when it comes to matters of height (and length, of course).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:20 PM
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173: A bit funny considering that my longest and happiest relationship was with a man slightly shorter than me.

Exactly. Me too, actually. At 5'7" I don't consider myself tall at all, of course, but people say so sometimes (as with LB, "I thought you were 5'10"!"), which is just odd. I only notice it if I happen to be in conversation with several women in the 5'2" to 5'4" range.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:21 PM
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So, speaking of arguments about sizes, and surprising belligerence: recently I've had several conversations with (generally intelligent, reasonable) people who say they hear some experts saying the stimulus package is too small and others who say it's too big, and so there's no way of knowing whether the economy is about to start improving or not. My response is that reasonable economists are in agreement that it is too small. And then they say that I'm only listening to one side of the issue; I say I listen only to reasonable people, argument ensues. The trouble is that I don't really know anything about economics, so the best I can do is say that my heuristics for knowing if commentators are reasonable (whether they agree with me on other things that I am well-informed about, whether they generally sound intelligent and avoid repeating Republican talking points mindlessly, etc.) tell me that certain people (say Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong) know what they're talking about, whereas other people (say Amity Shlaes) are just demonstrably lying. And then I get accused of just buying into Democratic talking points, rather than examining both "sides". Ad nauseam, leading to more heat than light. All of which is to lead up to: what's the right response in these contexts? I suppose one response is to actually educate myself so that I can understand more fully the logic supporting the claim. But that seems like overkill; my heuristics for knowing who to trust really are pretty good, and I shouldn't need expertise of my own to support my judgements of whose expertise I trust. But how to convince another person of that?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:22 PM
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It's from Silence! The Musical, so, you know.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:25 PM
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181: Unfortunately I'd never heard that they made it in to a musical, so the URL didn't mean anything to me.

If anyone has an answer for essear, I'm interested too. This link via EOTAW has some jousting on that topic in the comments.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:30 PM
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Democratic talking points

Most Democrats weren't even saying the stimulus was too small. At least not very loudly.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:32 PM
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Well, "they" didn't; just two guys. The tunes are pretty catchy.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:34 PM
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It was funny to realise a couple of years back that my then 6 year old had no idea that my 6'6"+ brother was very tall. I guess from 4', everything is a long way up. We were looking out for him in town one day, and I said to E that at least K is easy to spot. "Yes, because he wears that orange T-shirt." Erm ... yes, and because his head sticks out above other people's.

And I hadn't remembered Witt as that tall.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:41 PM
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180: you could ask them for an example of a stimulus that was too big, and further ask what the negative consequences of that would be. Then, you could give them an example of a stimulus that was too small, and talk about Japan's lost decade and the thing with the hockey stick. Or, you could ignore them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:42 PM
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Essear, surely you can make new friends? You might look into some sort of activity group at a local rec center.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:46 PM
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Carrying an airhorn around and blasting it whenever they start might also work. Most people show learning behavior after only a couple of blasts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:47 PM
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You could ask them how much spending is in the stimulus package. Any answer that doesn't distinguish spending from tax cuts gets an airhorn blast.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:49 PM
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180: my heuristics for knowing who to trust really are pretty good, and I shouldn't need expertise of my own to support my judgements of whose expertise I trust. But how to convince another person of that?

I don't think you can convince another person of that. I certainly wouldn't be convinced by someone else's claim that their judgment of the people whose opinions they trust is sound.

The most I've been able to do in a situation like this, in the absence of actually arguing the points in detail, is to be slightly disingenuous, say, "Yes, I know, there are so many conflicting opinions out there .... But this guy [Krugman, DeLong] has over time really made a good case, and I see his point. I'm pretty convinced. Have you read him?"

I don't know. If the person is really recalcitrant, it's not going to work, and you're just going to get the pursed lips response, i.e. a shutdown. Best case is that the person trusts you enough to consider that they should read some of these people you're talking about (which is probably not going to happen). It's pretty much a losing situation overall.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:54 PM
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Seriously, I think this is a spot for the argument from authority. On the stimulus, I know that I trust some commentators and not others. I also know that I don't have the economics background to check their work myself. At that point, you can just refuse to have the discussion unless the person you're arguing with is arguing the economics directly rather than weighing one set of op-eds against another.

To put it another way, the answer to "Why do you think the stimulus is too small?" is "Every economist I trusted before this all happened says it is. Do you have an economic argument that you fully understand yourself that it's too large? If not, do you think you're likely to convince me that I'm wrong about who to trust in the course of this conversation? If not, can we just play backgammon instead?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:54 PM
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Or, roughly what Parsi said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:55 PM
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so three unhappy people won, how pitisome
i recalled the proverb about finding solutions, it sounds 'if not a needle, then by a soap'
have no idea what it's talking about, but is used when one needs a solution like by all means


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 4:59 PM
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it's a Russian proverb, 'ne shilom tak mulom'
shilo is a thick needle used for sewing boots


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:01 PM
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so three unhappy people won

I'm not sure we know this.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:06 PM
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Essear, surely you can make new friends?

The people in question are either colleagues or family, and probably the best solution is to change the subject. 190 and 191 are reasonable.

Still, it's unsatisfying to talk to people whose opinions I generally agree with and find that they seem to be convinced that on this issue it's not reasonable to even have an opinion, because economics is complicated and one hears different "expert views". And abstractly, it's sort of an interesting question how one forms and justifies opinions about things one isn't well-enough informed about to make a solid argument about. Mostly, I'm fine with saying it's OK if people don't want to bother sorting out which "experts" are worth listening to and which aren't. But on issues that are important, it seems irresponsible not to.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:18 PM
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||

Goddamn, a nitwit friend just borrowed our car and hit someone. No one's hurt, but god only knows what this is going to do to our car insurance. No good deed goes unpunished.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:29 PM
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The correct response is probably along the lines of "How gullible are you?"

The argument against the stimulus is that there's no such thing as involuntary employment. If you believe that there's no involuntary employment, and that markets clear at all times, then you should be against the stimulus. If you don't, then you should be in favor of it. Nobody thinks the stimulus is "too big". They think it's too small, or they think it shouldn't happen at all.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:30 PM
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195, yeah, i forget it's actual people's real problems, not a joking matter, sorry


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:31 PM
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196: But on issues that are important, it seems irresponsible not to.

Hey, I've been quashing my urge to mention the Crisis of Responsibly Informed Citizenship. Eh, we all pretty much know that people have been overwhelmed by the surfeit of information out there for decades, and they shut down. Being economically challenged just puts the citizenry further on the defensive, after it already was due to the Cold War and then the threat of terrorism.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:34 PM
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197: um, wow. Probably nothing good. And, you know, hopefully you don't get sued.

Next time you'll know: if somebody asks to borrow your car, punch them and walk away. Megan would see this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:34 PM
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||

Come to think of it, the same nitwit friend who thinks I'm tall. This should have tipped me off that her spacial skills were too poor to be allowed to borrow the car. (And she's not a nitwit, I'm just cross; there's something about getting a phone call from someone who's fumbling through your glove compartment trying to find your insurance card to give another driver that's awfully irksome.)

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:37 PM
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201: Yeah, we loan it out pretty freely -- it's a station wagon, so it's useful for hauling stuff, and it's old and beatup, so we're not too worried about stuff happening to it. (Remember, this car had rats.) I hadn't really contemplated the risk that someone would do damage to a third party with it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:39 PM
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200: what does being "responsibly informed" on this issue mean? That you should have taken enough macroeconomics classes that you can run the numbers? To some degree essear is absolutely right that, in this case, you have to rely on experts for those calculations.

On the other hand, the relevant calculations are "is the stimulus big enough to produce a recovery?" vs. "is the stimulus so big that it will work super incredibly well but then economic output will be slightly lower in ten years than it otherwise would have been?" vs. "blahahahaha I'm being crazy because I'm a republican and don't have to be serious wheee!"

That is a tough one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:40 PM
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203: Uh, so if nobody's hurt, hopefully you can have a really apologetic, solicitous conversation with the hittee to express your thankfulness that he/she is not hurt? Maybe that's a mistake. Doesn't car insurance cover the sometime occasional driver?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:43 PM
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slightly lower in ten years than it otherwise would have been if no one lifts a finger to try to counteract that possibility.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:44 PM
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206: right. But no, if the stimulus is even one dollar too large we're DOOOOOOOMED! Just look at all those other times economic stimulus has been too large.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:48 PM
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204: To some degree essear is absolutely right that, in this case, you have to rely on experts for those calculations.

Agreed. I had the impression the type of colleagues/family we were talking about weren't up for much more than, as LB put it, weighing one set of op-eds against another. In my harsher moments, I think that's inadequate; yet I understand that many people don't have the time or inclination to do much more than take in the mainstream media's feed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:49 PM
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Economic stimulus brought down the Roman empire. Had they not spent so much on public works like those silly aqueducts, they would have been able to keep out the barbarians.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 5:53 PM
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yet I understand that many people don't have the time or inclination to do much more than take in the mainstream media's feed

This frustrates the hell out of me because there's no way I'm ever adequately informed on anything, and yet there are certain theories espoused (eg. "global warming isn't real") that I feel reasonably confident are crap. But defending how I, hardly an environmental scientist, get off calling someone a fucking idiot on this point... Look, dude, you just are, okay?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:08 PM
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Wow. This story if even 30% true is worrisome on a level far beyond whether Obama gave Prime Minister Brown the right gifts:

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been "overwhelmed" by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.
[...] Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.
A British official conceded that the furore surrounding the apparent snub to Mr Brown had come as a shock to the White House. "I think it's right to say that their focus is elsewhere, on domestic affairs. A number of our US interlocutors said they couldn't quite understand the British concerns and didn't get what that was all about."
The American source said: "Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:12 PM
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Is anyone else having problems loading Crooked Timber? I suppose I don't really need to read the comments on the post on the treasury view of the stimulus.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:13 PM
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211: A google search on the reporter's name and "obama" produces some interesting results.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:16 PM
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Is anyone else having problems loading Crooked Timber?

Yup.

Good thing. I'm going to stop procrastinating right now.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:16 PM
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211, 213: yeah, I mean, isn't the deal with the Telegraph that it's very likely not to be 30% true?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:23 PM
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180: the thing is that economics actually is not a science, so any time you quote any economist, even your favorite, saying that such-and-such a thing will work in some predictable way you are on dangerous conceptual ground. Best to backtrack to first principles. Usually a philosophical disagreement about the role of government is what's going on. I always find that pointing out that w/out the stimulus we would have bailed out just about every firm on wall street without giving any additional support to the working or middle class to make it through this clusterfuck. Equity as opposed to growth arguments. Truthfully, I have my doubts about whether anyone really knows what they're doing right now w/r/t the economic collapse. The stimulus as passed ain't gonna fix it, that's for damn sure.

One appeal to authority you can make is that the CBO, which is non-partisan and has an excellent reputation for such, says that the stimulus will plug less than half the GDP gap. (See Table 1 of this document ). And the projected GDP gap has grown since that doc was published.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:24 PM
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213: Thanks for that, eb.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:33 PM
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A bit funny considering that my longest and happiest relationship was with a man slightly shorter than me.

Testify. Witt's on to something here, laydeez.

I'm going to quit using feet and inches, and instead express my height relative to other Unfogged commenters: taller than oudemia, shorter than Emerson. Which is actually pretty specific.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:45 PM
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218: Right, let's see: taller than oudemia, and Amber, if I remember correctly. Shorter than Labs. That takes care of it, right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:48 PM
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You know what's fun: telling a guy who considers himself tall at 6 foot that he doesn't really seem very tall.

Only 15 percent of the American male population is 6 feet or over.

Yet half of all women's personal ads demand a man that height.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:53 PM
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220.last: Not that you're bitter or anything.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 6:55 PM
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People often guess that I'm 6 feet tall, never taller, rarely shorter. I'm 5'11. I felt very tall in Taiwan, short in the Netherlands, don't pay much attention to it here.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:04 PM
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Confidential to PGD: You know that 221 is to be met with a laugh, I hope. Personal ads that "demand" anything in the way of such vagaries as height should probably be passed by.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:05 PM
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taller than oudemia...Shorter than Labs

I suspect that these parameters include the entire Unfoggetariat.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:15 PM
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I AM BITTER AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT. NICE GUYS FINISH LAST WITH THE LADIES!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:21 PM
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224: It's possible. Anyway, Jesus sir, I am with Witt on this height matter. Someone one's own height, give or take, can actually ... provide opportunities.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:22 PM
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(Actually, I am in a very poor position to complain about anyone else's arbitrary romantic desires, since I have a ton of my own).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:22 PM
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Witt is 5'8"?

I look 3 or 4 inches taller than her! I've grown from 5'10"!!! Sweet.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:24 PM
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arbitrary romantic desires

"Must have thirteen alligators, each lubricated with canola oil. And yes, this one's a deal-breaker. Also: NINA."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:25 PM
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My self-conception of my height is very tied in with "now which of those people on the field is the right height for me to guard." In other words, if there were a frisbee coming down in the air between us, who would catch it? And since I usually had a few inches of vertical leap on other people, this leads to me thinking I'm the same height as people who are about 2 inches taller.

From UnfoggeDCon 2 my recollection was that Witt wasn't much taller than me, but that LB was. Of course, with women it's often less a factor of height than of shoe choices. Two of my friends in college were about half-an-inch in height apart but one of them dressed 3 inches taller.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:28 PM
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McArdle is taller than LB.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:31 PM
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I'm probably not taller than oudemia. I'm 5 foot 2 and a half inches. People make fun of me when I say this, but for a long time I thought that I was 5'3". My sister is 5'2", and I'm taller than she is.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:36 PM
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OT: This American Life is somewhat of a wristslitter today. Ugh.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:36 PM
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B. was taller than everyone at UnfoggeDConII, because of her monster shoes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:38 PM
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232: You're only 5'2.5"? I would have pegged you for taller; you were wearing shoes with a bit of a heel to them when we met, but they weren't *that* tall.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:39 PM
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232: Oudemia claims to be 5' 2". You win!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:41 PM
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218: Right, let's see: taller than oudemia, and Amber, if I remember correctly.

You are almost certainly taller than Amber, who is short.

OT: This American Life is somewhat of a wristslitter today

Those of us who were inoculated with Joe Frank can handle it. Karma don't deny me!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:49 PM
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OT: This is a wrist slitter:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022701549.html?nav=emailpage


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:49 PM
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Measurement by half-inches, eh?

I tell you, for 3 years, from grades 7 through 9, I was 4 foot 11 and three-quarters. 4'11.75". It just about killed me. Late starter.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:50 PM
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See, I'm not surprised about BG's height because I would have said she was exactly my sister's (although my sister always wears tall shoes).

I probably would have said eb was around 6', but to me 5'11" is very much "around six feet," so, eh.

And I'm shocked/amused/embarrassed to find out that I apparently met Unfoggeditarian at the gathering in D.C. I'm kind of bummed because I am not sure I can connect the pseud with a visual. Are you in the Flickr pool? Did you use a real-name nametag?

(now someone is going to embarass me further and link to a picture of both of us in the Flickr pool. But really! There were lots of people! It was loud! I have bad eyesight! And nametags were getting passed around a lot by the end of the night)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:51 PM
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Plus, Witt hid in the corner.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:53 PM
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And apparently I can't spell, either. Sorry, Unfoggetarian.

239: Ha. I was 5' until I was 14. Grew all the rest of my height in the next two years.

241: Dude has a lot of nerve claiming this, given that I lassoed BR and him on their way in the door and made charming enough conversation that BR decided this bunch of Internet wackos was at least interestingly wacko.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 7:58 PM
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I always pictured will as less nervy.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:02 PM
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242:

Good point. Witt was a fabulous introduction to DCon II. Then, W-lfs-n walked up.....


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:04 PM
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Is it less or fewer, Ben?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:05 PM
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240: And I'm shocked/amused/embarrassed to find out that I apparently met Unfoggeditarian at the gathering in D.C.

Hon,* we were talking to him at the same time, actually, now that I recall. We told him he needed to change his pseud because it didn't fit on his name-tag. He blushed and you said, "We kid because we love."

Not to embarrass your memory or anything. I'm amused that I recall this now.

* That's a Baltimore thing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:11 PM
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ah, you know you wouldn't've had it any other way, will.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:11 PM
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I'm not short, but too many kids these days are obviously getting too much protein too young in life.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:13 PM
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238: Holy fucking shit.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:16 PM
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Regarding 238, I can't really comprehend what purpose is served by prosecuting the guy.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:21 PM
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I agree, but I can see that there's a legal problem if the difference between 40 years in jail for murder and no crime at all is whether you seem sad that your baby is dead.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:26 PM
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Technically, I'm 5'11 and 1/2.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:28 PM
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Even if he weren't sad, if it had really been a mistake (and not one that he had sort of inculcated in himself, either), then I'm not sure I would beginning comprehending a purpose.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:28 PM
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I think I chose a bad time to comment without refreshing the thread.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:29 PM
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@238. I can't bring myself to read that. It's something that reliably happens once every year or two, a slightly rarer version of events like two-year-olds drowning themselves in the family pool at a busy party. When I was in the sleepless, relentless, exhausted phase with each of my kids, I would occasionally have a nightmare which would end when I woke up, jumped out of bed and, still half asleep, wandered around for 15 or 20 interminable seconds absolutely convinced that the children were not in the house and that I had accidentally left them somewhere.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:31 PM
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5'11.5" of pure uncaring soullessness.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:31 PM
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To play devil's advocate, it would seem troubling that there is a way to kill your baby that has no punishment attached to it. Like, drowning your baby is murder, starving your baby is murder, but leaving your baby in the car is fine. I don't know what the solution is, but I'm guessing this is the problem with the no-crime position.

It's too horrible to think about what that trial felt like. I was in tears a paragraph in.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:32 PM
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If only the dude were tall enough to see in the windows of his car.

(Just so eb doesn't feel like he's the only soulless bastard.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:38 PM
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You're misdescribing it when you say "a way to kill your baby". Forgetting is not a way to kill your baby; if you get yourself into the position where you're likely to forget, then that—the getting into that position—is the way, and if you purposely leave the baby there, and then protest that you forgot, that is also a way to kill your baby, but it is not forgetting.

By all means, have an investigation concerning the death of the baby. But if it really was an honest mistake (and honest mistakes are possible!), then why isn't that that?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:38 PM
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There are plenty of people who have allowed their baby to drown by momentary lapse of attention who don't get prosecuted for it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:43 PM
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I can't bring myself to read that.

Right, a warning for parents and others who are emotionally connected to small children: This article contains numerous extremely specific and vivid details that go far beyond the (already-horrifying) main subject of the article. Be very aware that it is much more than a twist-your-heartstrings piece. It's a gut punch.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:47 PM
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didn't read the article, but think that prosecution of the father? will do some good for him, he would blame himself more than any judges, so he would feel a little ease, if it is possible, from his pain
now that he suffers deservedly (as he would think) after conviction, if he's convicted, perhaps


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:49 PM
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I clicked through on the link at 238* but like Gonerill couldn't bring myself to read it.

*Not "@238": this isn't twitter.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:50 PM
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I didn't get past the first page of the article when I came across it the other day, and I'm pretty tall.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:50 PM
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Yeah, I could have done without that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 8:57 PM
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255: It's something that reliably happens once every year or two,

That was what I would have thought, but according to the article it happens 15 to 25 times per year in the US alone. One day had three cases.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 9:09 PM
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Yeah, I read the linked 238 this morning. It was a pretty amazing piece of journalism, but frankly, I'd recommend against reading it.

(Similarly, Open Water: Great movie; don't see it.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 9:34 PM
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240: I think I was wearing a real name name tag, because this pseud doesn't really fit on a name tag. Unfortunately I never got around to joining the flickr pool. We were talking with Teo, Asilon, Parsimon, and perhaps some others near the doorway for a while. Relevant to the thread and to sorting out who I was, I'm short. At any rate, it's my fault for choosing a pseud that's too long for name tags.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 9:37 PM
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name tags

Is "name" some kind of social bookmarking site? I'm not familiar with it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 9:43 PM
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238 is tearing, wrenching. Jesus.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 9:43 PM
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Good news! "na.me" is still available!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:01 PM
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196

Still, it's unsatisfying to talk to people whose opinions I generally agree with and find that they seem to be convinced that on this issue it's not reasonable to even have an opinion, because economics is complicated and one hears different "expert views". ...

I think it is pretty clear nobody really understands the current situation or how to fix it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:38 PM
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216

... Truthfully, I have my doubts about whether anyone really knows what they're doing right now w/r/t the economic collapse. ...

I agree with this.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-09 10:43 PM
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re: 248

Damn right. Buggers don't even have the courtesy to engage in some nice healthy growth-stunting smoking.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:22 AM
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A colleague of my wife once took time off to visit her ObGyn when she was pregnant, and when she got back to work my wife found her weeping uncontrollably in the Ladies. So she obviously thought, "Oh shit", and tried to ask as sensitively as possible what was wrong.

At which the other girl choked out, "They told me I was 4' 11", and I'm not, I'M NOT! I'M FIVE FOOT! I AM! I AM!! WAAAAAAAH!!1!eleven!!"


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:10 AM
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why did I read that article? people, if you haven't read the article in 238, don't do it.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:47 AM
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if you haven't read the article in 238, don't do it.
Damn, I wasn't going to, but that has me intrigued!


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:26 AM
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Oh god...


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:28 AM
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I'm with Al. That terrifies me, because I can see it happening so easily -- you can't see or hear a sleeping baby in a backwards facing car seat, and I'm really bad with changes to the routine: if I've planned to stop and get something on the way home from work, it's about 2 out of 3 that I find myself at home on autopilot without having stopped. If I were a car commuter, I could imagine being in any of those parents' shoes.

Man, it's nice having kids who are past that stage of absolute vulnerability -- if I forgot and left them someplace now, they'd borrow someone's cell and call and give me shit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:34 AM
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Good god, do not read 238. Or, if you must, read the first page of the article, and then close your browser. (I managed to get halfway through the second page before I decided I'd better go play with the boy instead.)


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:50 AM
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I thought 238 was well worth reading. But I generally don't mind being wracked, I thought the portraits of the parents in grief were beautifully specific, if wrenching, and it was valuable for me: I tend to be forgetful and that article was so horribly vivid maybe it will make me one day devise some sort of redundant system to make sure that doesn't happen.

One thing I was curious about: why lobby for a system that alerts the owner to weight in the backseat of a car? Why not put the alarm in the car seat? If you have the car seat make a noise every five minutes, like saying "Baby in car" I think it would do a lot to remind parents of their child's presence. I wondered if it would keep the baby awake, but I don't think it would; I think kids would habituate to something they heard every time they got in the car. And it's less likely that there would be strong political forces opposing safety standards for car seats, even if there are for cars.


Posted by: not yet a parent | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 6:10 AM
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Actually, I think if you start reading it, it's worth reading to the end. (I skipped the gruesome descriptions though.) I'm sure we've all forgotten plenty of things (I've driven off with one of the kids not strapped in, for example), and it seems pretty bizarre to me that in some instances this is classed as a crime and some not.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:03 AM
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It's hundreds of individual prosecutors making judgment calls. And some of them believe that a parent couldn't possibly have forgotten their baby was in the car unless they were culpably uncaring or reckless about the baby's safety. This is, IMO, nuts, but there's no set of national standards for prosecution that would keep it from happening. (The legal standards for parental responsibility to keep a child from harm are confusing, which is part of it. E.g., it's my understanding that it's common for a parent to be prosecuted for child abuse by a boyfriend or step-parent, without strong evidence that the parent participated or even necessarily knew what was happening, on the basis that they had a legal responsibility to keep harm from coming to their child. While you can see why this makes sense on some level, you can also see why it leads to weird prosecutions.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:43 AM
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I think every child of my generation has heard their parents tell a story about how they parked them outside a shop in their buggy, and then wandered off and forgot about them.*

* I presume less common these days because people are more paranoid about leaving kids unattended in public.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:56 AM
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It'd be a pretty heartless judge/jury to convict.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:56 AM
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284 -- We still laugh in my family about the time we drove off leaving my little brother at a convenience store, in the middle of fucking nowhere in north Texas. Got quite a ways down the road.

Well, he doesn't laugh about it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:59 AM
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284: There was a huge fuss in NY a couple of years ago -- some European woman (I'm remembering either Danish or Dutch), parked her sleeping baby in a stroller outside a coffeeshop, and went in and sat and had a cup of coffee, and passersby called the cops. I can't remember if she was actually prosecuted, but she was arrested.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:08 AM
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OK, asilon's right in 282. The article does raise some really important questions--and points out, for the thousandth time, how horrible people can be to one another on the Internet--but it's pretty much a series of gut-punches.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:31 AM
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I read to the fourth page out of five in that article everyone's telling each other not to read. I stopped at the part about how the guy and his wife had been childless for so long and they ultimately adopted the kid from another country. (Just in case you all weren't depressed enough.)

281.2: I think you're on the right track. However, there's no point in having it be built into the baby seat or ongoing or periodical while driving; if the kid can habituate to it, so can the adult. I'd make it so that the alarm goes off if there's more than a certain weight in the backseat when you shut the engine off or lock the door or something. It would be useful for more than just the parents of babies, too: I know I've left groceries sitting in the car after forgetting to unload them once or twice.

I gave my car to my parents after moving to an area with public transportation this past August. It was 16 years old and I just barely took care of the necessities of maintenance, but it was a good car. The best feature of it was the way that it is impossible for the driver to lock himself out. If the driver's door is locked while open, it will unlock itself when you shut it. So as the driver I can lock it from the outside by turning the key in the lock, but there's no danger of locking the door from the inside and leaving my keys in the ignition when I leave or something. Basically, it's simply and unobtrusively designed so that you can't make a common careless mistake. Why can't car engineers (and software engineers and accountants and...) do that more often?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:35 AM
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what i wouldn't understand is if the unfortunate parent would argue that he's not guilty or try to avoid formal punishment
though his/her grief would be more than enough punishment for them, but if they don't feel their guilt, it could be that they are that selfish and not capable of feeling any guilt and pain at all, and that is what caused them to forget their children in the first place, i hate more to read things like careless moms sitting in the cafe
b/c normally one would welcome punishment in that situation, any, to repent
and the state needs to prosecute just b/c it should be faceless and just to punish for any lives lost, regardless of the victims family connections imo


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:42 AM
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and the state needs to prosecute just b/c it should be faceless and just to punish for any lives lost, regardless of the victims family connections imo

This is goofy, read. When there's an accidental death, in which no one intentionally did anything wrong, we don't seek out someone to punish. These deaths are accidents, and prosecuting the parents for them is (IMO) inconsistent with the general principle that you're only criminally responsible for actions you engage in with some culpable state of mind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:56 AM
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287 -- Yeah, they were Danish and operating on the twin principles that they were right by the window of the cafe and could see the baby, and that (of course) being out in the cold was much healthier for the baby than being inside the overheated cafe.

I think every child of my generation has heard their parents tell a story about how they parked them outside a shop in their buggy, and then wandered off and forgot about them.*

There's a pretty well-known 1950s magazine ad showing a painting (from a photograph) of a shiny new Safeway supermarket in the U.S. -- California somewhere, I think. It's done in that glossy ad style from the period, and one of the details in the scene is a row of prams and buggies outside the store, with babies and little kids in them. Tipping equilibria.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:56 AM
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I am slightly embarrassed to report that it's an A&P, not a Safeway, and even more embarrassed to report that the source seems to be fucking Lileks. Never mind.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:00 AM
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i don't know, even if these deaths are accidents, and nobody meant it, of course nobody means it, the damage is done and the careless accident perpetrator should be punished imo even just for their own morality sake


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:07 AM
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and points out, for the thousandth time, how horrible people can be to one another on the Internet

The comments on the article @WaPo are more proof of this. There's a live chat with the author today at noon; I wonder how that'll go.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:08 AM
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Only for parents and children, or do you want to jail someone for every traffic accident that results in a death?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:09 AM
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but the dead, why they should be just written off, like you are accident, sorry?!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:11 AM
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Gadgetry won't solve this problem. People habituate to alarms and the like. There is a certain baseline level of horrific shit that just happens, and trying to engineer things to get below that level requires a degree of sacrifice on the part of everyone that is simply unreasonable. People get all worked up and insist that any effort is worth it to save the life of one innocent child, but they simply don't act that way. For every infant killed by being left in a car how many die due to negligent driving? More than 15-25 per year is a safe bet.

Sometimes horrific shit just happens. Sometime we can point to things that could have prevented it. The probability is that it won't actually happen to us, though, even if we don't take precautions. There are so many low probability horrific things that if we took precautions against them all we'd never leave the house.

I'm a acutely aware of this issue right now, as I'm six hours away from getting on a plane to go see my sister whose husband just keeled over dead from a heart attack. She's 35, two small kids, running a small business that depended on both of them. Blam. Just like that. Life isn't fair. Hard lesson for the kids.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:12 AM
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I am 5' on the nose. And I did nearly drown in a swimming pool at a party when I was two. (*insert speculation about brain cell death and libertarian political leanings here*)

If you stopped reading the article in 238 before the end, you miss the part where Balfour intends to act as a surrogate for the infertile couple who lost their adopted child.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:14 AM
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297: I don't think that the only available alternatives are punishing people who didn't intend to do anything wrong, or writing off the dead.

298: Oh, man, I'm so sorry for your sister and your nieces/nephews.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:15 AM
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punishing people who didn't intend to do anything wrong
but the deed is done due to carelessness or intent, and it's the result, what should be dealt with, judged, whatever, not what led to the result imo


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:18 AM
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298: Gadgetry won't solve this problem.

Actually, I'd bet (could be wrong, and someone with access to the data could check pretty easily), that almost all of these cases are about backwards-facing car seats, which are required because they're safer for a baby in an accident. Presumably, a comparison of lives saved/injuries averted in car accidents to babies killed by being forgotten in cars would show that the backwards seats are still on balance better than the alternative.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:19 AM
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There is a certain baseline level of horrific shit that just happens, and trying to engineer things to get below that level requires a degree of sacrifice on the part of everyone that is simply unreasonable.

This, absolutely. Also, so sorry about your brother-in-law.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:20 AM
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you're only criminally responsible for actions you engage in with some culpable state of mind.

I agree with others about how terrible the article was to read. Having a kid really changed my ability to be disinterested.

I find state systems to deal with messed-up families heartbreaking to think about. As in every big city, there has been a stream of WaPo stories about parents or guardians who were NOT generally competent and well-intentioned and slipped only once, but rather were hopeless and/or cruel people who only made the news because they actually killed a kid instead of making some childhood a living hell with no way out. The other ones don't make the news.

Maybe this is a tangent to the main point, but I find this to be an interesting idea, widely believed. It is a consequence of this idea, I think, that decisions within organizations are notionally diffused (the blue-ribbon panel made a recommendation!) though actually decision-making is kept close to the chest but invisible in functional organizations. The problem is that organization responsible for public safety are usually not IMO functional. I am here thinking mostly about traffic safety, though the history of social decisions about food inspection, workplace protections, and tobacco warnings is interesting. SOX was among other things an attempt to inject personal responsibility into structures where it had been diffuse; I don't know how much that has really helped.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:27 AM
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294
the careless accident perpetrator should be punished imo even just for their own morality sake

I think this represents a view of morality and government's role in creating it which is rare, and I for one don't share it. Regardless of where you set the limit of how much carelessness is too much, how is the careless person's "own morality" helped by being punished by the legal system, and isn't the legal system based on (a subjective, biased, short-sighted view of) morality too much as it is?

Yeah, I feel a little dumb to say that morality is a cultural construct when we're talking about dead babies, a little like a wingnut's conception of a liberal. But OTOH "dead babies" pushes peoples' buttons to an irrational degree when we really are just talking about the kind of mistake anyone could make.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:32 AM
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Christ, we had one of those types of accidents here in Salt Lake last night. Damn I'm glad it was my day off.

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_11871069


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:36 AM
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but the deed is done due to carelessness or intent, and it's the result, what should be dealt with, judged, whatever, not what led to the result imo

That's not the way it's done in the U.S. Results, intent and fault are all part of the mix, as they should be. If you run someone over in a car, it should make all the difference in the world whether the victim stepped blindly into traffic, or the driver was blind drunk.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:38 AM
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302: Now that I think about it a little, perhaps something as simple as a camera pointed at the child seat with a monitor mounted on the dash might help. It'd certainly help with the distraction problem of parents trying to see what the kid is doing in the child seat, since they could do it with a glance at the dash instead of having to turn around and crane their neck. Of course that might increase distraction of the driver, so who knows.

My anti-gadgetry stance is not strongly held. It's more a predisposition against technological solutions to social or behavioral problems. They do exist, but the number of bad ideas is so much greater than the number of good ones that I think a default stance of extreme skepticism is justified. Also it fits in well with my naturally crotchety disposition.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:41 AM
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perhaps something as simple as a camera pointed at the child seat with a monitor mounted on the dash

Or car seat mirrors, which are widely available already: you can see the baby with a glance in the rear-view mirror.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:46 AM
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and it's the result, what should be dealt with, judged, whatever,

The result? Okay, that's easy -- the result sucks and is horrific and lamentable (I"m guessing, having not read the actual article but piecing together from comments...) Prosecuting the parent is NOT judging the result. It is judging the person and the person's act -- and judging that person or act to be criminal.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:48 AM
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it's the result, what should be dealt with, judged, whatever, not what led to the result imo

Even the Old Testament made manslaughter exceptions to good old eye-for-and-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:48 AM
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i'm not talking about murder cases, there it's possible to convict the innocent for what one did not do, sure, very accurate careful investigation is needed
but the child neglect and traffic accident cases are different, it's clear, the guilty, though of course unintentionally, and the dead
so to each their own, if jury is really just
what punishment could really match one's life taken, no matter, your own baby's or the pedestrian
the only exception perhaps is if the pedestrian committed a suicide by that mean
it should make all the difference in the world whether the victim stepped blindly into traffic, or the driver was blind drunk.
sure, it should make difference in the degree of punishment and perhaps depends on interpretation of 'stepped blindly'
if one runs over the blind person - guilty, if the blindly stepped into traffic person was suicidal - not guilty, like
bot i'm not a lawyer, i just feel like that


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:49 AM
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but


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:50 AM
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I tried talking to my mom about this article last night. She hadn't read it, but I was telling her how it describes how this seems to happen to a lot of otherwise very organized, well-put-together people, i.e., not just drug addicts or careless types. And it was interesting to hear how defensive she was that no, that could never have happened to her, because she really paid attention. Then, finally, she admitted that she lost my older brother once when he was two, for quite a little while, in a store, and that she was so lucky he didn't wander off and get kidnapped or walk in front of a car or something, and that ever since then, she was so panicked about losing us that she kept an eye on us all the time. But I remember wandering off and getting lost a lot. Not sure what to make of that, other than that it's very tempting to invent reasons to believe that this could never happen to you.

At any rate, I was incredibly impressed by the way the article made that argument and confronted the internet-commenters who wanted to see the parents baked alive. I thought it made its own excellent case against the "moral" role of the state that read outlines. When something happens that is so bad that it makes the rest of the parent's life an unending hell, why are people so quick to insist that the state needs to take on the role of meting out "punishments," just in case that hell isn't unbearable enough?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:51 AM
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just in case that hell isn't unbearable enough?
so i'm saying its for their own moral good, to make it a little more bearable, no? if they are normal feeling people they would welcome punishment, the more severe the better, like


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:55 AM
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Bless your heart, read, but I sure hope you're ineligible to serve on an American jury.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:56 AM
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if they allow me, i'll vote against any majority vote i guess just to be like safe and not convict anyone of anything


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:58 AM
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I've represented a couple of people whose bad driving resulting in a boyfriend or their young child dying.

For each of them, they just wanted to die. They wanted to switch places with the dead person. It was horribly painful to represent them. For me, it is gut-wrenching when your client wants the judge to lay the hammer down on them.

They did not even have to say "I don't deserve to live."

It walked into the room with them. It was evident just when you were around them. They did not want to live. There was not going to be a day when they did not think about it.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:01 AM
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I too recommend reading the whole article if you've only dipped into the first page.

With my youngest turning 18 yesterday, I can say that I have my own short list of "almost horrifics"* that I try not to replay very frequently. But per the article, I am most likely not even consciously aware of some of the real near-misses.

My mother got to answer the following announcement over the PA during a quick dash into a grocery store, "Would the person who owns the green Dodge in the middle of Xxxx (busy arterial) Street with a crying little girl in the back seat report to the office." My sister was 4 or 5 at the time; it mortifies my mother to this day, even though it was common practice to leave kids of that age in the car for something like that.

*Worst was an unintentionally over-energetic readjustment of a front sling in which I was carrying my eldest at about age 1 month. I had a hand on his neck for support, but it was too low and his head snapped alarmingly, freaking out both me and a women passing by.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:02 AM
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I can't make myself go back to the article to check, but I'm pretty sure the brain expert guy had some useful things to say about the tipping point of parental exhaustion/distraction/etc. that makes the lower level of the brain's decisionmaking process take over. I'm not thrilled with the gadget solutions, but if there's any intervention at all to be done I'm wondering if it's behavioral -- and culture-wide, not for any individual case, obviously.

To 304, I'm reminded of the research on community gardens that find that the best way to keep them up is to have individual owners with their own plots; if you make it totally a "community-owned" space there is too much diffusion of responsibility.

And the LA Times just had a long article on using software to make decisions on child abuse cases. It seems pretty non-controversial that software is a better decisionmaker than 80% of human caseworkers and a much poorer one than the remaining 20%.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:07 AM
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so i'm saying its for their own moral good, to make it a little more bearable, no? if they are normal feeling people they would welcome punishment, the more severe the better

This is only just and good if the person not only welcomes punishment but also deserves it. Reinforcing the survivor's guilt with a formal judicial pronouncement of guilt is cruel and damaging if we're really talking about a single, tragic accident.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:08 AM
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Besides, it sounds like there are plenty of external punishments that fall on someone to whom this happens to. They're ostracized, their partners often leave them, etc. It's not like they're hoping someone will treat them like scum and no one does. Plenty of people are available to treat a tragically unfortunate parent like shit.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:11 AM
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also deserves it
a person is dead due to your own unintentional though act !?!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:11 AM
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When I was about 8 weeks old, a nurse weighed me and discovered that I had lost weight after being born. She accused my mother of neglect. My mother, horrified, replied that her other two children had cried when they were hungry, and begged the nurse to give her advice rather than file charges or label me a "failure to thrive" or whatever. Obviously, it all turned out fine, but my mother was completely traumatized by the incident. I wonder whether the nurse could have actually taken me away from my mother.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:17 AM
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320: That LAT article is fascinating.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:27 AM
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Yeah, it's 'evidence based medicine' as social work; I'm not sure whether or not it's a good idea, but its absolutely fascinating.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:28 AM
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If I can be forgiven for going meta, I wonder what reception read's comments would get if they were posted by Shearer?

(No, actually, I don't wonder.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:39 AM
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323: I have no answer for you there than that we obviously are not proceeding under the same moral code.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:39 AM
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Punishment in criminal law is supposed to consider the following goals:

1. punishment
2. deterrence
3. protection of the public
4. rehabilitation

I'm not sure how any of these goals are served in these cases.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:40 AM
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B. was taller than everyone at UnfoggeDConII, because of her monster shoes.

Ahem.

(I know we've moved on to weightier matters, but some things cannot be left unchallenged.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:44 AM
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329: Punishment. But the subtext is that the criminal law ostensibly is there to punish conduct deserving of punishment, i.e. morally culpable. That people will treat a tragic, plainly unintentional mistake as morally culpable never ceases to stun me. That read, whom I had pegged as a generally compassionate person, is taking such a hard line stance is even more baffling to me -- which is perhaps in answer to 327.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:46 AM
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328 to 327.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:48 AM
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we obviously are not proceeding under the same moral code.
yeah, obviously
i just got into the argument coz can't read people commenting like a child's accidental death could happen to anyone due to not punishable not criminal absent mindedness and how everybody is in solidarity with the unfortunate parent and it's just some kind of casus, oddity, curiosity that could happen to anyone
i didn't read the article b/c avoid to read anything after which i could get depressed for days


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:53 AM
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When I was about 8 weeks old, a nurse weighed me and discovered that I had lost weight after being born.

God, I panicked about this kind of thing with Rory all the time. You skinny little grazers just have no idea what you put your mothers through!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:57 AM
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like a child's accidental death could happen to anyone

This is exactly the point.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:58 AM
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i didn't read the article b/c avoid to read anything after which i could get depressed for days

One of the bits of genius in the article is that it forces the reader to reflect on culpability in a manner that is more sophisticated than what you're displaying here, read.

That said, I read the story yesterday morning and I'm still depressed and can't stop thinking about it. If you choose to forgo a bit of moral sophistication for the sake of a little peace of mind, personally I think that's a sensible tradeoff in this case.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:58 AM
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327: But read means it. Say what you will about Mongolian crypto-Christian Buddhist Syncretism, but at least it's an ethos.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:58 AM
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I've represented a couple of people whose bad driving resulting in a boyfriend or their young child dying. For each of them, they just wanted to die.

Only one of whom later became the First Lady. Behind her fixed Stepford smile lies a hell of self-hatred and shame, we can be sure.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:59 AM
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When I was about 8 weeks old, a nurse weighed me and discovered that I had lost weight after being born.

A different problem occurred with my sister. She was born prematurely, fully formed but premature and they kept her in the hospital for a while, initially in an incubator.

While she was in the hospital she didn't gain much weight, because they fed her a specific amount each day. Once my parents brought her home, my mother fed her whenever she was hungry and she gained weight rapidly.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:59 AM
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That is the downside of breastfeeding -- you simply have no idea what they're eating. Sally and Newt were both easy on me -- started out big, grew steadily -- but I still got weird about not having a clue as to what their actual intake was. I knew how much time they were spending nursing (an inordinate amount, the little vampires), but not what they were getting out of it.

And read, if you really think that a parent couldn't forget their baby in the car in the absence of criminal absent-mindedness, I suppose what you're saying makes sense. I think you're wrong about that; the terrifying thing about stories like that is that I can easily imagine myself doing it, and I have no idea how I could reasonably act so as to make sure I wouldn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:01 AM
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First part of 340 to Di.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:02 AM
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331:The drunk driver doesn't intend to kill anyone either. How about the peanut butter manufacturer? "Manslaughter" is the charge we use for cases where deaths are unintended, but due to negligence or irresponsibility.

I am not really taking a stand on punishment here, or lacking compassion. I am just saying it is a tougher call than you seem to admit.

Maybe I am taking a stand, I think I would, if on a jury, vote to convict, and let the judge etc determine punishment. What kinds or level of negligence would you consider sanctionable if the resulted in a child's death? Leaving a loaded gun out? Not locking up poisons? If not this, then what?

One of the reasons I don't have kids is not wanting the responsibility. It is a public as well as private responsibility.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:03 AM
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I didn't read all the comments subsequent to mine, and I know no one is taking an absolute anti-gadget stance, but I don't understand the problem with the weight sensor idea. You can habituate to something, in the sense that it is not disturbing, while it still gives you information. If most of these cases are caused by a combination of lack of visual contact with the back of the car, combined with some distraction that lest you forget your child is in the back of a car, getting an every-five-minute reminder would be informative. A little pressure sensor and a recording would be quite cheap, cheaper than a camera. It may be generally true that you can't engineer away every accident, but that doesn't mean you couldn't engineer these to at least a lower rate. It also may generally be true that there is a root behavioral cause related to stress and distraction, and we should all live life differently, but sometimes the engineering problem is more tractable.


Posted by: not yet a parent | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:07 AM
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That is the downside of breastfeeding -- you simply have no idea what they're eating.

You can rent a scale to find out, but if you have an even slightly obsessive personality, I do not recommend it.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:08 AM
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This is exactly the point.
just b/c it could happen to anyone, a child's life is naturally perishable, nobody is guilty, great,
very smart


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:08 AM
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I still got weird about not having a clue as to what their actual intake was

Turns out this is easier than you think. Weigh child, nurse child, weigh child again. Hey! She took 8 oz.!

"Manslaughter" is the charge we use for cases where deaths are unintended, but due to negligence or irresponsibility.

Close, but not quite. Or at least I am unaware of any jurisdiction where ordinary negligence would suffice to sustain a manslaughter charge. The state of mind is generally criminal recklessness -- not intent, but reckless disregard for the likelihood of the consequences, or more or less not giving a shit.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:10 AM
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I don't understand the problem with the weight sensor idea

Cost/benefit. These tragedies don't happen often enough to make such a sensor mandatory, and there's no market for it voluntarily, since no one thinks it will happen to them.

I'm sticking with the mirror suggestion.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:11 AM
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We're not talking Murder One here. There is a reason we have the manslaughter charge.

I killied someone's pet once, driving while loaded. Coulda been a kid. I don't feel I was an evil person for getting behind the wheel while intoxicated multiple times, and certainly it would have been an additional tragedy for me to have spent a few years in Huntsville if I had killed someone. I still feel the guilt over the girl's pet, thirty years later. And it really wasn't so clealy my fault. She didn't think so.

Would I have "deserved" prison time? I don't know.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:11 AM
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345: Comity!

For Christ's sake, PASIIR.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:11 AM
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re: 346

The UK has a corporate manslaughter charge.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:12 AM
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Whoa. I did not expect the first part of 346 to be pwned. Though you can buy a workable enough scale for under $40.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:12 AM
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killied

How adorably macabre!


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:12 AM
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348: Manslaughter is still limited to a situation where what you intentionally did was wrong. You may not have intended all the consequences, but you did something wrong.

Getting behind the wheel of your car loaded was a wrong thing to do - you got away with it because you only killed a pet and not a kid, but if you'd killed a person, criminal prosecution would have been appropriate because you (drunk you, but still you) decided to drive drunk. The cases we're talking about, no one decided to do anything wrong; they never had a culpable state of mind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:15 AM
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Would I have "deserved" prison time?

If you had killed someone while driving drunk? Uh, yeah. Yeah you would.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:16 AM
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I saw a really horrible bike accident on Saturday. There's a really nice bike path along the Chelsea piers where people go to bike fast, uninterrupted by traffic lights and cars. But there are little crosswalks so pedestrians can get to the path by the water. My friend and I just crossed going one way and a mom and her kid started to cross going the other way. The two bikes passing in one direction and the one going the other direction swerved to miss the kid and hit each other.

Two of the people emerged OK but one woman was just destroyed. Her arms and legs were swelling up with huge contusions, and she was bleeding heavily from her limbs and her face. And she got up, probably despite some broken bones, and was wailing and howling with pain and shock while people tried to call her an ambulance. And my first reaction was that someone should be responsible, for God's sakes. Whose fault was that? Were the bikes going too fast? Was the woman not watching when she started to cross? Did the kid dart out?

It's really hard to let go of the idea that someone has to be held responsible for causing so much pain. It was just an accident of too many people in a very tight space.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:20 AM
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346:"criminal negligence" "Reckless disregard" "not giving a shit"

You're seeing black-and-white where I see shades of gray. Maybe the justice system needs this to be a sharp dividing line, where a difficult judgement is made about mental states and character, with a very high standard needed for conviction.

But, my point and maybe read's, is that I think this is a case where the society should step in to make that judgement. The kid didn't fall out of a stool, or drown in the bathtub. There is some negligence here.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:21 AM
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FWIW, before I even posted 305 I thought about this and this, but decided to post it anyway. Nothing wrong with discussion going off in this direction, but just keep the context in mind.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:23 AM
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347: IANAEngineer, but I'll bet you could do exactly what I suggested for less than two dollars a car seat. Pressure-sensitive LEDs come on extremely cheap keychains. A Teddy Ruxpin can play a recording. Maybe I'm wrong. IANAEngineer.

I think increased awareness of the phenomenon could increase voluntary demand. The article jolted me into awareness of the phenomenon. Maybe I'm an unusual audience, because my response was, I could easily do that. But the article made me want an alarm system.

Maybe carseat mirrors would serve the same purpose. Are they positioned so you'd accidentally have the mirror in your field of view when driving, even if you didn't think the baby was there? The good thing about aural cues is that they are invasive. You don't have to direct your attention to something to hear it (granted that attention will affect the likelihood that you hear something/the degree to which you hear it).


Posted by: not yet a parent | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:24 AM
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356: We're not disagreeing because you're seeing more nuance, we're just disagreeing straight up. Carelessness, negligence, whatever, is about taking a risk of which you should be aware -- having a choice to be careful or not to be careful, and deciding not to be. This sort of mistake isn't about that sort of bad decision.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:28 AM
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I don't have kids, but we do drive around with two dogs in the back seat every day, and dogs are even more vulnerable than children (weaker heat regulation). I am trying to understand how this negligence is possible, and really can't.

I suspect many people allow an excessive amount of multi-tasking and distraction into their lives. I rarely have the radio on in the car.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:30 AM
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there is something very wrong when people should be reminded of their children by carseat mirrors
is all i'm saying and i have nothing to say more


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:30 AM
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355: My instinct there is to blame one of the bicyclists. If there are crosswalks, they should be riding in enough control to stop without hitting a pedestrian -- your description sounds as if one of the bikes was going fast enough that they couldn't stop, and instead swerved and took out the other two bikes.

If there were too many people in too tight a space, that means that you've got to sacrifice some speed for some control.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:31 AM
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360: Your dogs are about eight times the size of a baby each, and aren't sleeping quietly in a backwards-facing carseat that makes them invisible from the front seat, Bob. That's why you've never forgotten them in the car.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:32 AM
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re: 362

Cyclists are certainly prone to going FAR too quick for the conditions. I've been nearly flattened by cyclists on my walk to work, several times.

It's a narrow footpath along a river bank, and barely wide enough for a bike and a pedestrian to pass each other, and yet cyclists come past me going flat out [15-20mph+]. All it would take would be for me to take a tiny half-step to one side and they'd hit me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:34 AM
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359:LB, why are you cutting them so much slack?

"Well, I got to talking to these friends in the park, and I just forgot the kid til the next morning."

If leaving the kid in the car was an ordinary, understandable mistake, it would happen every day.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:35 AM
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re: 363

Quite.

None of us are completely free from error, and a baby, sleeping, is not something that is impossible to miss.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:36 AM
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365: I have now effectively been trolled. Bob gets ten points.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:37 AM
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If leaving the kid in the car was an ordinary, understandable mistake, it would happen every day.

Are you trolling?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:38 AM
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Gah, pwnd by 367.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:38 AM
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This sort of mistake isn't about that sort of bad decision

Should the community insist on making that judgement based on the circumstances presented to it in a formal setting, or not?

I would be offended if the father got twenty years. I am not offended that the case went to trial.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:40 AM
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What is the standard of care when children are in your care?

At what point does it slip from ordinary negligence to gross negligence?

I do not think these are easy questions.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:40 AM
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When your 7 year old goes swimming in the lake, is it ordinary negligence to not have your eyes on him at all times? Gross negligence if you don't watch him for 3 hours?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:42 AM
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365:I'm trolling, but read isn't?

You're not only wrong, but disingenuous. "Trolling" is a term for what "bob" does, based on whatever?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:43 AM
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370: The community (as embodied in the legislature) makes that decision when it passes criminal laws including, as an element, a culpable state of mind. In the absence of any evidence that the parent had such a state of mind, the community has decided that tragic accidents are not crimes.

Someone who decides that they can leave their baby in the car for just a few minutes, and then doesn't come back in time and the kid dies? That's negligence or recklessness; even though the parent meant the kid no harm, there was an initial bad decision that led to the harm. In these cases, there's no bad decision; there's nothing the parents can point to where they can say "If I'd made this conscious choice differently, the baby would have lived." (This is a little oversimplified -- there are conscious choices like the choice to drive to work at all, and so on. But not choices that we'd consider wrongful or risky in the absence of the consequences.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:46 AM
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I'm trolling, but read isn't?

You know the rules, bob: read is from Asia, and therefore inherently inscrutable.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:47 AM
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373: I'm being snippier with you than with Read because your English is more fluent and your cultural background is closer to mine. I'm not sure where she's coming from. You, on the other hand, come from a cultural background that should enable you to follow what's going on here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:48 AM
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And following on 374, I'm generally OK with letting prosecutors make the judgment call about what parents are culpably negligent and which are simply horribly unfortunate, especially since we have a judge and a jury to second-guess that decision.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:49 AM
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Incidentally, if I leave the car and the dogs behind, I leave the doors unlocked, and the windows wide enough open for them to get out...

...in case I get hit by a truck or shot in a convenience store robbery or something.

(They are very good, well-trained dogs, and won't jump out.)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:49 AM
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shot in a convenience store robbery

For the sake of the dogs, shouldn't you consider not bringing them along if you're planning to rob a convenience store?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:51 AM
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374:But aren't these conditions exactly what should be decided by a judge or jury, based on evidence?

We have jury trials precisely to determine states-of-mind and culpability under the law. You provide an example where a parent would be culpable, but are you saying the arresting officers of DA should have the discretion to decide the differences?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:54 AM
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And those dogs are climbing all over me. Gotta go.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 11:56 AM
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"Trolling" is a term for what "bob" does, based on whatever?

I think it may perhaps be based on goalpost moving such as this:

"Well, I got to talking to these friends in the park, and I just forgot the kid til the next morning."

Of course, it that is actually the scenario in the article then I stand corrected and apologize.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:00 PM
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380: Yes. If there's no evidence that would prove one of the elements of a crime, it should be within a prosecutor's discretion not to bring charges. One of the elements of [almost] any crime is a culpable state of mind -- what I loosely described above as a bad decision. This can be a decision to do something criminal directly, or a decision to take an unacceptable risk that leads to a bad consequence, depending on the crime.

If a prosecutor can't find evidence of such a bad decision, they shouldn't bring charges. And in cases like this, I can't see a bad decision -- I can't see a decision at all. These aren't parents who took a risk and killed their kids because it turned out badly; what led to their children's deaths wasn't the result of any wrongful conscious choice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:01 PM
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but are you saying the arresting officers of DA should have the discretion to decide the differences?

Not just should, do. And no, it's not good enough to say that a jury will sort it all out in the end.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:03 PM
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It's not just that LB keeps pwning me; it's that she does it while still being more thorough and articulate that really hurts.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:05 PM
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I suspect many people allow an excessive amount of multi-tasking and distraction into their lives.

I think this is incontrovertible.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:07 PM
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I'm still working on that same brief I should have gotten done yesterday -- avoiding it ends up speeding up my commenting quite a bit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:08 PM
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385: ,i>It's not just that LB keeps pwning me; it's that she does it while still being more thorough and articulate that really hurts.

But is she doing it with a culpable state of mind?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:12 PM
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As set forth in 387, yes. If I don't get this brief done today, it's definitely negligent.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:15 PM
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I have to write a conference paper! Yay!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:16 PM
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389: But the penalties for that will hardly be tailored to Di's (and the Unfogged community at large's) need for retribution. I think we may need to go Harrison Bergeron on LB and force her to listen to distracting noises and wear bad eyeglasses and mittens when she is commenting. (But what if she pwns us even then? Is there no final solution for this? Sounds harsh, but a faceless community must extract its due.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:22 PM
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Here's a similar story, if you can bear it. In this case, the father got a 30-day sentence but opted to kill himself; hard to see how the outcome satisfies anything but a sense of crushing tragedy.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:22 PM
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if you're planning to rob a convenience store?

You squares don't understand spontaneity


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:29 PM
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391: I was hoping to sentence her to writing -- more thoroughly and articulately! -- the brief I really should have gotten done yesterday...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:47 PM
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(Actually, I half considered tossing the premise of my brief out as a hypothetical -- it is sort of tangentially related to the current topic -- in hopes that I could then just cull the better comments and patch them together into a brief. But then I concluded there might be some ethical problems with that.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:51 PM
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281: Given how paranoid people are about parenting, and given the real risks of tragedies like this one, I'm surprised there isn't more of a market for "Big Parent" technology. Why are people's cars and phones fitted with GPS, but their children aren't? Why not have a little thing you can set on your wrist that tells you when your kids get more than x distance away? It probably wouldn't be too hard to design one that can tell the difference between a sleeping child and an awake child. This would obviously have to be engineered to medical product standards, but this isn't anything Dean Kamen couldn't do. And if you did it right, there'd be a huge market.

The most difficult design aspect seems to be how to attach it to the child in a way that the device will be safe for the child but not fall off. Fitted wristbands seems possible, but the hassle of replacing the bands as the kid grew would probably be too much. What you really want are implants, but no one wants to give their kids unnecessary surgery.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:53 PM
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I've tried that in the past (in my defense, I had a bad cold at the time. And the issue was technical enough that I don't think I got anything useful, although Brock and Idealist tried.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:53 PM
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397 to 396.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 12:57 PM
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355, 362, 364: Not to be a knee-jerk cyclist-defender (honest), but I'm not willing to absolve the mother* - from AWB's description, this bike path is a conceptual approximation of a highway. While she was using a crosswalk, she was obviously doing so when it was unsafe to do so. While the law may say that cars must yield to peds in a crosswalk, if a ped steps in front of a car going the speed limit, there's nothing the car can do. The presence of a crosswalk doesn't change the laws of physics.

One thing about bikes - at low (viz., walking) speeds, stopping is near-instant, but at any kind of decent speed, there's too much momentum and not enough friction (at either the brakes and the tires), so you can't panic-stop, only brake-and-swerve. On a narrow path, there's not a lot of room for that (which is why the riders on ttaM's path are nuts). Point being, if you're doing any kind of riding at all, such as on a dedicated trail, you can't just *stop* if someone steps in front of you.

* Not that I nec. think that anyone should be held legally responsible - accidents happen, and this may simply have been one


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:06 PM
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Why are people's cars and phones fitted with GPS, but their children aren't?

There's a duracell commercial that suggests this technology already exists. (Frantic mom in park notices child missing, desperately rifles through purse to find her tracking device -- with thank-god-reliable-batteries -- which leads her to her smiling kid who'd wandered off in pursuit of a lovely red balloon.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:07 PM
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396: The other day at the Strip, Iris asked about kids with leashes. After I explained, she asked, "Don't the kids get mad?" Good on you with the solidarity, kiddo. Fight the power.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:07 PM
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"Don't the kids get mad?"

"Some do, honey. But others are docile little sheep being further trained in uncomplaining submissiveness. When you grow up, you will be their boss."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:12 PM
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In this case, the father got a 30-day sentence but opted to kill himself;
if he got a twenty years term, perhaps he would have endured, a human coz
though, it could be meaningless for him to live twenty years or 30-days
so i'm saying the jury being just and giving appropriately heavy punishment could help him to rehabilitate somehow himself in his own eyes
if one does not have that kind of conscience, then one may just live happily thereafter as if nothing had happened, coz accident, can happen to everybody, next time i'll check the mirrors etc and it seems more human to you all, how very strange


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:15 PM
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docile little sheep being further trained in uncomplaining submissiveness

I was a leash kid, and while I may be docile and submissive, nobody could plausibly accuse me of being uncomplaining.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:18 PM
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When you grow up, you will be their boss shop steward, until you get fired for union organizing.

Fixed.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:18 PM
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"Some do, honey. But others are docile little sheep being further trained in uncomplaining submissiveness. When you grow up, you will be their boss."

That made me laugh.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:19 PM
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We broke down and got one of those harness dealies before a trip back east when my daughters were two and a half, anticipating that their habit of running off in separate directions would be too much to tolerate in crowded airports. We put it on them to try it out beforehand, they figured out how to take it off immediately, and that was the end of that. Made me proud.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:20 PM
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358 is correct. It would be super easy (pressure sensor, RFID tag, RFID keychain) and would totally sell. Can I steal it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:21 PM
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If I can be forgiven for going meta, I wonder what reception read's comments would get if they were posted by Shearer?

Shearer would make a lot more sense if he came from a Communist backwater with a very non-Western outlook.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:21 PM
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409: Hey, for all you know he's from Utah or Pittsburgh or something.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:23 PM
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399: Legally responsible, probably no, and I wasn't there -- maybe it was just one of those things. It still sounds to me as if the bicyclist could have looked ahead and seen that there was going to be too much traffic to avoid anything unexpected, and at that point he had a responsibility to slow to a point where stopping was practical.

(This is a real pedestrian/cyclist problem. Paths tend to be designed for pedestrians and cyclists to be in the same space, and that's really not safe unless the cyclists are moving intolerably slowly. I don't really know how to get around this other than by making stoplights that cyclists have to obey for pedestrians to cross.)

You know, while I'm writing this, come to think of it this is just wrong: While she was using a crosswalk, she was obviously doing so when it was unsafe to do so. While the law may say that cars must yield to peds in a crosswalk, if a ped steps in front of a car going the speed limit, there's nothing the car can do. The presence of a crosswalk doesn't change the laws of physics.

The point of the law saying that cars and bikes must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk is that they are responsible for driving or cycling in a way that makes it possible for them to yield. Saying "I would have yielded, but I was going too fast for it to be possible" doesn't shift responsibility away from the cyclist at all. (Now, if the pedestrians knew the cyclists couldn't stop, and ran out in front of them anyway, everyone's in the wrong. But the cyclist going too fast to stop isn't in the right.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:25 PM
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Apparently NASA already made one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:25 PM
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396.last: You could do it like a tattoo. If it's a unique tattoo, it could even be used by some authority figure if they identify your kid before you notice or manage to home in on them. A bar code, for example.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:25 PM
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407: Which is why you shouldn't have twins. Duh.

This thread is making me realize that Iris has recalibrated me, and I'm more careless with Kai (in terms of stepping away from his stroller, mostly) than I was with Iris. At least I think so. Although we did once leave her asleep in her car seat at a fairly large party in a (rented) public place. Not that I think we were wrong to do so, but it approached what that Danish woman did.

Of course, this is a perfect illustration of why first children tend to be different - you're only a first-time parent once, with all that entails.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:26 PM
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391, 394: Here you see the different solutions naturally arising from a bitter, cynical destructive worldview versus a positive, constructive yet opportunistic worldview. I'm thinking maybe Di needs some artificial handicaps as well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:26 PM
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if one does not have that kind of conscience, then one may just live happily thereafter as if nothing had happened

You are setting up a false dichotomy -- as if it's a choice between going to prison and living happily ever after as if nothing had happened. Also, I think you may grossly overestimate the capacity of the penal system for "rehabilitating" anyone.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:26 PM
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The WaPo chat today on hyperthermia article was interesting. There was even a brief list of tech and tricks that might help avoid this. The author also explained why he wrote it. The chat was less wrenching to read than the article itself.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:26 PM
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Clearly, Unfogged is underrepresented on the Virginia Court of Appeals: Kelly v. Commonwealth, 42 Va. App. 347

"Kelly was solely responsible for Frances, a twenty-one-month-old child. He strapped her into her car seat in the family van, thus placing her in a position in which she was [**358] rendered helpless. This position became lethal when Kelly, through his dereliction, left Frances in the vehicle and only quickly and casually instructed other children or a sixteen-year-old boy to get all the children out of the van and into the house. Kelly departed immediately without ensuring that his instructions were obeyed. Specifically, he abandoned Frances without ensuring that she was removed from her confinement in the car sear and lodged safely in the house. Thereafter, over the course of several hours, he made no further provisions [*357] for or inquiry about Frances. He busied himself with family matters and household repairs, at times within sight of the van in which Frances was trapped. During a period of over seven hours, Kelly assumed but never ascertained that Frances was asleep in the house. During that [***11] period, he made no provision for her care, nourishment, or safety. Expert testimony established that a child of Frances' age would require food, drink, sleep, and diaper changes over the course of a seven-hour period. Kelly made no effort to provide these necessities. He utterly ignored Frances."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:26 PM
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In his chat Weingarten addresses why he didn't include the Kelly case. I had wondered as it was all over the local news.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:29 PM
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418: Differs in a key element—Kelly had no presumption that another capable caregiver had charge of the child.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:31 PM
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411.last: surely there's a point where the culpability passes to the ped? If I walk down the sidewalk and then dash perpendicular into the street at full speed, no motorist could anticipate my suicidal street-crossing method.

You're right that the cyclist should have seen that there was a potential situation ahead but, again, if someone simply steps in front of you (as in, you're 10 feet away and they step into your path), no (sane) amount of caution will help.

The most-used bike path around here has a broad, paved center with crushed limestone shoulders, and signage directing peds to the limestone. Not that they follow directions, the fuckers. But there's no cross-traffic, so it's fairly safe.

Worst bike/ped problem is that people don't know how to give/receive oral directions - "On your left!" is often met with someone sidestepping to their left as they turn around. Smooth move, but it's not like anyone is ever taught how to react.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:33 PM
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Clearly, Unfogged is underrepresented on the Virginia Court of Appeals

Do we have any other members of the legal ranks in VA? It may be up to you, Will, to rally a campaign and earn us a voice on the court!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:33 PM
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What did he say?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:34 PM
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Toddler harnesses can work. It didn't bother me when I was an 18-mo old sheep (as in this picture). I am surprised I didn't drag my g-grandfather to the ground.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:35 PM
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421: But it's a crosswalk (or so I understood from AWB's description) where pedestrians have the right of way. That seems to me to impose a responsibility on cyclists to ride in such a way that they can yield if there's anyone in sight who might step out into the crosswalk. (Without the fact that it all happened at a crosswalk, sure, there's no defending against someone suicidal.)

Where someone else has the right of way, you're responsible for making it possible for yourself to avoid them if they use it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:38 PM
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Of course you didnt drag him to the ground.
He would have hit you with his cane.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:38 PM
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423.

Gene Weingarten: [...]

I know all about this case, and decided not to use it in my story because Mr. Kelly was not in the same category as the people I wrote about. There were prior incidents when children were lost track of; prior complaints; prior warnings and, I believe, at least one prior police incident, all involving a family that was so big that children were neglected.

I recall reading about Mr. Kelly's remorse; it was genuine and touching. But I wanted to write only about cases that were less morally ambiguous: Simple, one-time lapses of memory.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:39 PM
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He would have hit you with his cane.

There was that.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:41 PM
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423: He said the Kelly case was one where there were prior incidents of neglect (very large family, and care of the younger kids was delegated to the older kids); with the facts that you've quoted from the opinion (didn't check on the kid for seven hours despite being the responsible adult in charge of them), that made it a different situation from the simple lapse of memory that characterized the other stories.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:41 PM
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you may grossly overestimate the capacity of the penal system for "rehabilitating" anyone.
in his own eyes, i said, if it's possible for the person
what society says 'rehabilitation' whatever, doesn't matter


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:42 PM
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in his own eyes, i said

I'm curious, genuinely, what it would mean to you for him to be rehabilitated in his own eyes. And then, I guess, why you think criminal punishment is the best (or an appropriate) way of achieving this.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:46 PM
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I'm normally as ardent a cyclist-defender as they come, but if you don't anticipate that all pedestrians are suicidal morons who are also blind, you're asking for it. What the cyclist should have done is slow down when approaching the crosswalk so as to better swear at the person who inevitably dashed in front of them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:49 PM
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291

... These deaths are accidents, and prosecuting the parents for them is (IMO) inconsistent with the general principle that you're only criminally responsible for actions you engage in with some culpable state of mind.

I don't believe this is an universal principle. Isn't statutory rape for example sometimes strict liability? It doesn't matter if you thought the girl was of age.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:49 PM
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General does not mean universal. See my 383 in which I insert a bracketed "[almost]" to nod to the existence of a very few strict liability crimes such as statutory rape.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:51 PM
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Shearer would make a lot more sense if he came from a Communist

In fact, many refugees from communism espouse hardcore free-market ideas. The excluded middle problem is common ("But the existence of the SEC and children's services doesn't mean that the state wants to crush everyone's soul." ), as is an insistence on self-consistent reasoning from first principles.

This is partly understandable coming from an environment where selling out was always accompanied by a litany of very good reasons, the betrayal was never for the sake of an apartment but rather for an abstract cause or the good of a third party. Think of them as ex-cons.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:51 PM
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337

But read means it. Say what you will about Mongolian crypto-Christian Buddhist Syncretism, but at least it's an ethos.

You think I don't mean the things I post?

As for what I think, I haven't read the article but I am inclined to lenience when people accidently kill their own children. When they accidently kill other people's children, not so much.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:54 PM
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425: So if I literally jump into the path of a moving vehicle, as long as I do it at a crosswalk, it's on the operator? That's nuts. Drivers don't slow to a near-stop at mid-block crosswalks; they trust that peds won't dash into traffic.

What I'm saying is that a crosswalk doesn't remove all responsibility from the ped; you seem to be saying that it literally does - no amount of negligence on the part of a ped makes an accident her fault, as long as it's a crosswalk.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:55 PM
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at least being able to live longer than 30 days perhaps
one has to suffer what suffering he/she caused
are there any other, not legal punishments?
you would think not legal punishments would be better? like what, some not open, hidden ostracism or paying some fine perhaps, your western way
that would be amoral imo
legal and just are the least requirements of any punishment, i guess, and if one feels he/she was punished in this case not deservedly is just inhuman


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 1:57 PM
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All that said, I don't nec. disagree with 432. The cyclist may well have been going stupid-fast for the circumstances. I'm just trying to clarify whether, if the mother was indeed being negligent*, she bears any responsibility for her own actions.

* As in, again, literally stepping into the path of a moving vehicle when it's mere feet away


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:00 PM
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JRoth, I was taught that peds can't step into a crosswalk if the driver won't have time to yield. (This assumes drivers are within the speed limit.) Not sure what the law actually is on this, but that was in the driver's manual in MA a few decades ago. Not that an MA driver would yield to a ped, ever.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:03 PM
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Read, to be blunt, you have absolutely no clue what it's like to have to deal with police and prosecutors while also dealing with a terribly difficult family situation. Be thankful for that. Such contact will quickly disabuse you of the sorts of notions you're expressing here, but there are easier ways of learning that lesson.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:04 PM
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... this bike path is a conceptual approximation of a highway. While she was using a crosswalk, she was obviously doing so when it was unsafe to do so. While the law may say that cars must yield to peds in a crosswalk, if a ped steps in front of a car going the speed limit, there's nothing the car can do. The presence of a crosswalk doesn't change the laws of physics.

Highways don't have crosswalks. You are not only supposed to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, you are supposed to yield to pedestians approaching the crosswalk. If you can't do this while traveling at the speed limit you are supposed to slow down.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:04 PM
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My 432 may have been influenced by growing up in Boston, where pedestrians will, in fact, dash into the middle of the road -- crosswalk or no crosswalk -- without checking to see if there are cars (or bikes) coming.

I have no answers about the negligence question, but I feel it is good bicyclist citizenship to make pedestrians think of bike lanes and bike paths as places of fear and confusion, where they should second-guess their instinct to treat it as another part of the sidewalk.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:05 PM
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When faced with this situation, I suggest that my clients wear hair shirts and place stones in their shoes for at least 45 days prior to trial.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:07 PM
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Highways don't have crosswalks

State highway, not Interstate/limited access.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:07 PM
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437: More, I'm saying that it's not zero-sum. A pedestrian might be negligent in how they cross at a crosswalk. But the driver/cyclist's responsibility at a crosswalk is to be going slow enough to be capable of stopping for any pedestrian who could plausibly get out in front of them. (I admit that plausibly is doing some work there -- I'd cut a driver/cyclist slack for a pedestrian lurking out of sight and then madly dashing out into the crosswalk.)

The pedestrian might be wrong, but that doesn't make the driver/cyclist who hits them right. (Of course, in AWB's example, the pedestrian didn't get hit.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:07 PM
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It might seem like 440 and 443.1 contradict each other, but in fact they do not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:08 PM
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You are not only supposed to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, you are supposed to yield to pedestians approaching the crosswalk.

What about someone just standing at the curb, waiting? Am I actually supposed to stop and wave them if they're evidently waiting for me to pass?

Serious question, not rhetorical.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:10 PM
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are there any other, not legal punishments

Yes. Many of us would consider the loss of our child a punishment.

if one feels he/she was punished in this case not deservedly is just inhuman

One might easily feel that one does not deserve to have criminal punishment heaped on top of the punishment and pain that come from losing a child. Indeed, one might suggest that a desire to add to someone's suffering in such circumstances is inhuman.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:11 PM
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443: Boston is weird, though. I found when I was living there that it was actually safer, on some level, to pretend you didn't see the cars you were stepping in front of. (That is, if you made eyecontact, they'd speed up and trust you to keep clear. If you didn't and just walked, they'd stop.) I'm not even talking about walking into traffic, just about crossing streets with the light and avoiding cars making turns.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:11 PM
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448: I'm having one of those weird "Hey, Shearer's right" moments. But you're supposed to go slow enough that you could stop or avoid them if they started to walk. If you've got room to dodge, you can go pretty fast, but without room you slow down until there's no way they could get out in front of you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:13 PM
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446: OK, that I buy. I just couldn't accept a situation where a ped could be transparently negligent yet bear no responsibility.

I certainly bike on the assumption that peds are clueless idiots, but that doesn't mean that nothing bad would ever happen should a ped meet my expectations.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:14 PM
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448

This may vary by state. In California if they are waiting to cross you are supposed to stop.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:14 PM
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a desire to add to someone's suffering in such circumstances is inhuman.
you really don't get what i'm saying
if to talk to you any longer it would become like
the guilty parents did something heroic killing their children out of neglect and they should be pitied and perhaps given medals


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:15 PM
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451: OK, that makes sense.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:15 PM
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453: I remember hearing that about CA. Unimaginable in the East, of course. Meanwhile, it's CA that has the crazy car-centric culture.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:17 PM
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454: Geez, read, you're really not making sense here. Heroic, and worthy of being given medals, is very different from pitiable. Thinking that someone who accidentally killed their child deserves pity is very far from thinking they deserve honor for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:18 PM
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I'm not even talking about walking into traffic, just about crossing streets with the light and avoiding cars making turns.

See, already by your doing this they've marked you as an out-of-towner.

There is an interesting racial component to your theory -- my mom once brought up your theory (which she also follows) at her office, and while the white and asian people basically agreed, the black people said that no, they were going to take a good long look at who they were dealing with before stepping out into traffic.

On the larger question of right-of-way, there's an interesting factoid in that book Traffic that intersections with no crosswalks (but with curb cuts) are safer than intersections without them, because, although pedestrians have the right of way in either case, in the latter case they aren't sure they do, and thus pay more attention.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:18 PM
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you're really not making sense here
i used the example to illustrate how DK interpreted what i wrote, in case it was not clear


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:21 PM
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Read, I feel like you're moving beyond "we think differently because of the cultural divide" and into "Christ, what an asshole" territory.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:22 PM
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Read, if I understand you, you think that judicial punishment would make parents who accidentally killed their children feel better and happier? I think that's just wrong. But I may not understand you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:23 PM
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I used to live just uphill from a major surface street in LA. The shortest path to my favorite bar crossed that street. I had two options for crossing the street: the first involved crossing one direction of traffic, waiting on the traffic island for a full (and complex!) traffic light cycle, and then crossing the other side. The other option involved one of those crosswalks with no signal where cars are supposed to notice you standing on the sidewalk and stop for you. Needless to say, nobody ever did, but I still found dashing out among the traffic preferable to twiddling my thumbs on a godforsaken traffic island for several minutes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:24 PM
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Actually someone in the chat raised Read's point, and Weingarten responded:

In a case where a child dies, I would prefer that the facts of the case be fully aired and investigated. The adversarial nature of a regular trial is rough on the parents. (Who needs to hear "She killed her baby!" while handling that sort of grief?) Perhaps a family-court style hearing would be more appropriate. Still, some official hearing and evaluation seems appropriate.

It sounded as if Andrew Culpepper wasn't doing any better without a trial than Miles Harrison did with one. I'm sure each person would react differently to this sort of tragedy, but I would almost prefer to have my actions examined and judged by an impartial observer. It might help to be acquitted of gross negligence--there might be some comfort, at 3 am on a sleepless night, to know that I'd been judged not to be criminal, or an unfit parent, however much I might argue with that conclusion.

Gene Weingarten: Interesting point. Might some people "prefer" to be prosecuted, or might it be better for their mental health?

I can tell you that none of the 13 I talked to for this story felt prosecution made sense. There are two main reasons:

1. It is phenomenally expensive. Basically, you start and $75,000 and move upward from there.

2. If you have to defend yourself to avoid prison, you cannot grieve for the death of your child. The whole grieving process is deferred at enormous emotional cost.

Gene Weingarten: Sorry, typo: You start AT $75,000....

Lyn Balfour's legal fees were almost double that. She was very ably represented by an extremely good lawyer, but extremely good lawyers do not come cheaply.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:25 PM
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feel better, yes, happier is impossible
what's right or wrong for you is not absolutely correct, you never have any doubts, do you?
a very correctly thinking person, it's like amazing
i think you are wrong, so there, what it changes? nothing


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:27 PM
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you really don't get what i'm saying

No, I think I understand perfectly well. You seem to believe that a person who's lost a child through his own unintentional act needs extrinsic punishment via the criminal justice system in order to be able to come to terms with the tragedy and his own role in it. You also seem to believe that anyone who would reject this extrinsically imposed punishment is immoral or at least amoral. I would suggest that the intrinsic punishment the parent suffers is suffering enough and that added punishment hinders rather than helps him to come to terms. I stand by my earlier observation that this reflects a very significant difference between your moral code and mine.

I would now also suggest that in reading me as proposing to throw a parade for a parent whose unintentional conduct leads to the death of his child you are not engaging in this discussion in good faith.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:28 PM
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Or, what mrh said.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:30 PM
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461

Read, if I understand you, you think that judicial punishment would make parents who accidentally killed their children feel better and happier? I think that's just wrong. But I may not understand you.

I can see that being true in some cases. It might give you permission to go on with your life.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:30 PM
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I think Dostoyevsky would agree with read.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:31 PM
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NASA can throw a parade!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:32 PM
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464: feel better, yes, happier is impossible

One thing, though, Read: that's not what the criminal justice system is for. It's not supposed to make people feel better. It's supposed to incapacitate/punish/rehabilitate criminals. Using a wildly expensive and cumbersome legal process to administer involuntary therapy to a class of people who haven't done anything that would be conventionally recognized as a crime seems to me not only cruel, but also like a bad idea from an efficiency point of view.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:32 PM
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Using a wildly expensive and cumbersome legal process to administer involuntary therapy to a class of people who haven't done anything that would be conventionally recognized as a crime seems to me not only cruel, but also like a bad idea from an efficiency point of view.

And yet the drug war marches on.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:34 PM
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so, write off the child's life, b/c of your wildly expensive and cumbersome legal process
yeah, that i got


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:35 PM
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469. Tang! (OK, not really; but what the hey.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:36 PM
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What makes the alternatives judicial punishment or 'writing off the child's life'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:37 PM
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Oh man.

The inventor of Tang, William A. Mitchell, also invented Pop Rocks.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:38 PM
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And died! When he experimented with drinking Tang and eating Pop Rocks at the same time! Because the Tang made the spider eggs hatch!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:39 PM
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I'm sure each person would react differently to this sort of tragedy, but I would almost prefer to have my actions examined and judged by an impartial observer. It might help to be acquitted of gross negligence--there might be some comfort, at 3 am on a sleepless night, to know that I'd been judged not to be criminal, or an unfit parent, however much I might argue with that conclusion.

This is just so far from the reality of criminal justice system that it's hard to take seriously. What's really good about Weingarten's article is that it tries to make people confront the kinds of bogus understandings of the world that just serve to make life even harder for people who have already been fucked by the fickle finger of fate. What's bad is that the more common reaction is still denial that such a thing could ever happen in one's own life.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:39 PM
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fucked by the fickle finger of fate

That's sort of beautiful.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:41 PM
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469: The NASA car seat and the events that led to it were discussed in the original WaPo article.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:47 PM
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I still found dashing out among the traffic preferable to twiddling my thumbs on a godforsaken traffic island for several minutes.

This is where the iPhone haters are wrong. I'm always looking for a godforsaken traffic island so that I can check in on the latest Unfogged thread!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:51 PM
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What makes the alternatives judicial punishment or 'writing off the child's life'?

Well, to be fair, a lengthy prison sentence *is* the standard method for bringing children back from the dead.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:52 PM
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She was very ably represented by an extremely good lawyer, but extremely good lawyers do not come cheaply.

See, this is where I'm thankful that I have imaginary internet friends who do all my lawyering. Free, except for the enormous timesuck.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:53 PM
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fucked by the fickle finger of fate

compare to "finger-fucked by fickle fate".


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:54 PM
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There are a bunch of different issues here that are all mixed together --

1). Can we punish someone when they had no intetnion to cause harm and made no conscious decision to be negligent?

2). Should we further punish a parent who has lost his/her child?

3) This is harder to articulate but I get the feeling that most of us here don't want to punish the parents because they seem like "us" and their faults are ones that our culture condones -- they are distracted and juggling job and family responsibilities and they are overwhelmed.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:55 PM
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"fatally finger-fiddled"


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:57 PM
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And died! When he experimented with drinking Tang and eating Pop Rocks at the same time!

Hey, I already told you guys that I grew up down the street from Mikey, right? When that rumor went around, a friend of my sister's, who had moved away the previous summer, wrote her with great concern to ask if it was true, if John was really dead ("Mikey"'s older brother, who was in the commercial, was actually named Mike). Their kid sister, who was also in commercials, used to walk me to school.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:58 PM
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I think a good PASIIR is in order here.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 2:58 PM
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because they seem like "us" and their faults are ones that our culture condones

There's that, but also that the US criminal justice system is already swamped and doing a generally poor job of dispensing justice for actual ill-intent crime.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:00 PM
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I get the feeling that most of us here don't want to punish the parents because they seem like "us" and their faults are ones that our culture condones -- they are distracted and juggling job and family responsibilities and they are overwhelmed.

It's true that I'd be less sympathetic to the parent who killed his child by driving an ATV over him while they were shooting assault rifles at fighting dogs who doubled as drug mules. Culture can be a bitch.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:00 PM
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487: pwned at 349!

PASIIMM

Pre-emptive: anti-semite!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:03 PM
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484: From the point of view of what the criminal justice system should do, I'd say only your (1) is relevant, and the answer is no. (Although I'd quibble with the wording -- not really a "conscious decision to be negligent" but a "conscious decision to behave in a way that was negligent," if you see the difference. Someone who's driving 80 mph in heavy traffic, and looks away from the road for thirty seconds to compose a text message hasn't consciously decided to be negligent, but their conscious decision to focus on something other than driving is negligent.)

(2) and (3) are about the amount of sympathy we might or might not feel, but I think (1) is the whole legal issue.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:04 PM
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In fairness, M/tch said "a good PASIIR." Mine was only so-so.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:04 PM
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"a good PASIIR."

A PASIIR that would presumably never lose a child through passive negligence.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:07 PM
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489: if somebody were to feed their child Tang and pop-rocks and then toss them from an ATV into a bike lane, so they would explode and in exploding cause AWB's jerk friend to swerve and break up with his girlfriend for being too tall, I would say that person should be punished.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:07 PM
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480
I'm always looking for a godforsaken traffic island so that I can check in on the latest Unfogged thread!

And yet if someone did that while driving and were to kill you, they would be arrested. That's democracy for you.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:08 PM
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492: Exactly!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:08 PM
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WWJPASI?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:09 PM
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The spear wound in his side?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:12 PM
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488, 489: Well, I was going to explain this further by saying that I doubted that 50 years ago people would be very sympathetic to a mother that did this -- they would say"well she shouldn't have had a job if should couldn't handle the dual responsiblities".

(not to endorse this sentiment at all)


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:12 PM
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497: The gaping wound in his side?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:12 PM
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JPwned!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:13 PM
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499: You're probably right, but that doesn't demonstrate a greater sense of personal responsibility, just a greater fealty to traditional gender roles. Had it been a father who did this 50 years ago, society may have been sympathetic to him but not to his wife - "Why wasn't she looking after the baby? It should have been her job!"


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:18 PM
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503

Since we received so many correct answers, the winner will be drawn randomly.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:18 PM
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The quartering will be done strictly on a first come, first served basis, however.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:20 PM
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the winner will be drawn randomly

Like this.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:20 PM
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494: I'd forgotten all about Sifu's superpower of summarizing an entire, rambling thread in one runon sentence.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:28 PM
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499: Probably true. however,

But a growing share of the accelerating reduction in child mortality since 1970 stems neither from medical advances nor from immunization campaigns, notes NBER researcher Sherry Glied. Rather, it arises from a sharp drop in deaths from unintentional injury or accident. Among children under five, deaths from these causes dropped from 44 per 100,000 children in 1960 to 18.6 per 100,000 in 1990. Among children five to nine, the mortality rate from injury or accidents fell from 19.6 to 9.8 per 100,000.
That is from 1999, and in 2007 rates were further down to ~14 and ~6 respectively.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:32 PM
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Y'all could continue this thread by considering the case of bicyclists on ped paths encountering old deaf hippies with big unruly dogs on long leashes.
Unless you're racist, or something.

I just bought a chainsaw. I'm very excited.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:37 PM
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Don't chainsaw bicyclists, bob.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:39 PM
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If he didn't mean to, however, just forgot it was running and swung it out at, say, shoulder level while walking along a bike path, Di Kotimy would give Bob a medal or something.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:44 PM
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507: If you spend a lot of time reading 18th and 19th century family history sources (as I do), you can become completely overwhelmed by how many children are lost or horribly maimed in accidents. In particular, the cooking fire is dangerous, but the range of other household accidents is immense. Obviously, we lose children to car accidents, but horses and wagons also presented significant risk. There was a whole range of danger that I just can't even fathom.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 3:47 PM
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We've discussed the general phenomenon here before. I recall an NPR piece which talked about this in regard to the modern-day "idyllic family farm". A No Shit Sherlock quote that stood out for me was from a mother whose son had lost an arm in an accident involving some manner of mechanized farm equipment. "He is a lot more respectful of machinery since the accident."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:01 PM
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494: That's Palsgraf, right?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:11 PM
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513: That made me snort loud enough to get a funny look from the admin who sits outside my office, you rat bastard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:13 PM
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507 makes me feels better about some of the modern forms of parenting paranoia. While it remains true that stranger danger is not now and never has been a real phenomenon*, apparently all the other shit we do to keep kids safe is having a really big effect.

I wonder if it is from the whole battery of changes, or if 90% of the drop just comes from vehicular safety (DWI, car seats, and belting of the 3+ set). Soft surface playgrounds are probably worth a kid or two per 100k per year.

* as in, one that happens meaningfully often


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:17 PM
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514: Just tell them you were reading a particularly egregious argument from your opponent du jour.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:20 PM
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510: Only if he nailed a helpless child.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:26 PM
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With the chainsaw I mean. No medals for any other interpretation.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:27 PM
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517: Well I agree: you have to draw the line somewhere


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:27 PM
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519 also to 518


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:30 PM
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515: 90% of the drop just comes from vehicular safety (DWI, car seats, and belting of the 3+ set)

Not completely, although I only have the data broken out that way for the period 1987-2007, when it was a big drop, but not overwhelmoing compared to the others (I suspect it fell faster from '60 to '87). And MV occupant was 2nd in 2007 for 0-14 after suffocation* (many SIDs deaths are now classified as suffocation) and only just above drowning (fire/burns fell out of the top group from 1987 to 2007).

And from the 1999 report: In the mid-1960s, a New York City Department of Health study found that on average 30 to 50 children under five were dying per year, mostly in Manhattan and the Bronx, when they fell out of apartment building windows; a campaign followed to encourage and eventually require landlords to install window guards, and the annual number of such deaths fell to four by 1980.

*And if you want to further explore parental guilt, one of the categories under suffocation is "bed-sharing with a parent". Grim stuff.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:31 PM
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||

OMG, I just realized that I misspelled "populace" over at Yggles. That man's Misspell-Ray is unstoppable!

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:35 PM
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And if you want to further explore parental guilt, one of the categories under suffocation is "bed-sharing with a parent". Grim stuff.

The attachment-parenting people would say that these parents were generally drunk or on drugs.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:35 PM
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523: so no guilt!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:39 PM
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In the mid-1960s, a New York City Department of Health study found that on average 30 to 50 children under five were dying per year

Good Lord! That alone must have accounted for... 0.1 death/100k nationwide. OK, not that big, but still striking.

OK, so we have:

MV safety
Fire-resistant PJs
SIDs awareness

accounting for most of the drop. Interesting.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:39 PM
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524: Well, they've got coping strategies to deal with the guilt, at least.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:39 PM
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The trouble with alcohol is that it isn't there for you when you really need it. Drink three beers when you're relaxed and well-rested and having a good time, sleep like a baby, and wake up feeling refreshed. Drink three beers because you need them after weeks of stress and sleep deprivation and you feel like shit afterward. Where's the justice in that?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:48 PM
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On height: I'm taller than Magpie, and while I'm pretty sure I met Josh I don't remember his height. I haven't met anybody else since the DCons (a half mile from my apartment) have happened when I was out of town. But anyway:

Several years ago I was dating somebody who works at NPR, and went as her date for the wedding of another NPR person. After the ceremony there was quite a bit of standing around talking outside the church, and my date introduced me to Robert Siegel. After several minutes of chit-chat he turned to join another conversation, and I stage-whispered to my date, "he sounds taller on the radio." She was mortified, and was sure that he would have heard me, and that he would have been sensitive about such matters.

We ran into him again at the reception and he was warm towards me, so if he had heard it hadn't actually bothered him at all.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:49 PM
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Where's the justice in that?

By making you feel like shit afterwards, the beers serve to rehabilitate you.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 4:55 PM
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After several minutes of chit-chat he turned to join another conversation, and I stage-whispered to my date, "he sounds taller on the radio." She was mortified, and was sure that he would have heard me, and that he would have been sensitive about such matters.

she sounds like a boring killjoy. Like so many denizens of DC!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:06 PM
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531

Apparently the process of rehabilitation proceeds very slowly.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:08 PM
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528: how awesome would it have been if he'd come up to you and said "you've made a powerful enemy today" all in his avuncular NPR voice? Really awesome, that's how awesome.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:13 PM
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533

Some think 30-days would be enough, but such underestimation can have tragic consequences.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:13 PM
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532: Or perhaps "Your mom thinks I'm tall enough."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:15 PM
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And then there are days like today, when any jury would have acquitted me if I'd beat my wailing, hormonal 12 year old to death, with the carrot she was failing to grate.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:16 PM
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536

I've been at it for a lot longer than that.

"Self, don't open that third beer, it will hurt you."

"But I NEED it."

"Well, OK, then."

An hour later I'm sucking down all the water and aspirin I can hold, I sleep like crap, and the next day is a total writeoff.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:17 PM
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535: I am seeing such things peeking around the corner, and I am terrified.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:22 PM
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528->532->534 is why I read Unfogged.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:29 PM
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while I'm pretty sure I met Josh I don't remember his height

I am tremendously hurt and offended, fedward.

(I have no recollection of your height either.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:30 PM
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If it helps, fedward, I'm 5'7".


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:36 PM
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536: You really should be firmer with yourself.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:36 PM
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541: But that's no fun at all.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:39 PM
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(I have no recollection of your height either.)

You people are never going to make progress with the personal ads.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:44 PM
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I remember that there was a conversation about baseball, and I remember there was beer. Mostly what I remember about that trip is the irony of going for a Team Building meeting and having the first agenda item of the week be the confirmation of impending layoffs of 20% of staff. I was by far the least productive coder in a team of five so the writing on the wall wasn't hard to see. Which is why I remember that there was beer.

Also, I remember the sunburn I got on my scalp when I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and back.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:46 PM
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Josh fired fedward?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 5:48 PM
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No, I pretty much fired myself.

(Psst! 'smasher, if you're paying attention, add my flickr ID to the group, eh?)


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 6:13 PM
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462: I wanted to guess that you lived near LaVeta and Kensington and the favorite bar downhill from you was the Short Stop, but then I thought that the Short Stop was still a cop bar and there isn't a traffic island near there.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 6:24 PM
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Don't we have homicide counts below man 1? I seem to remember hearing about something like criminally negligent homicide which sounds like it would be appropriate - i.e. genuinely no intention of doing something wrong, let alone killing someone, but at the same time because of your screw up someone ended up dead. IANAL but I got the impression penalties for that sort of crime for people with no previous record were on the order of a few months in jail. That seems appropriate to me.

On the bike accident. I'm with J Roth if there were no lights. It's the equivalent of using a mid block crosswalk without checking for oncoming traffic. Which doesn't mean that bikers shouldn't use common sense. Just because the idiots walking along the bike lane in the parks aren't supposed to be there, doesn't mean you don't need to slow down on a nice weekend afternoon.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 6:39 PM
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548: You still have to be criminally negligent, and that'sa standard higher than 'innocently fucked up'. In lay terms, criminally negligent is more like "Oh, man, you should have been able to tell that was a bad idea." To make up a 'criminally negligent' kind of story, say your stickshift car's battery has run down, and you need to push start it. And it's at the top of a very steep hill. And at the bottom of the hill is a bunch of people having a picnic. And so you put the car in neutral, and start pushing it down the hill, figuring that once it gets going you'll run up and get in, put it in gear and start it. When it gets away from you and kills someone at the picnic, that's criminally negligent.

These parents didn't have a bad idea, or make a bad decision -- they just had a lapse of memory. In another context, we wouldn't call that a crime.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 6:50 PM
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These parents didn't have a bad idea, or make a bad decision -- they just had a lapse of memory. In another context, we wouldn't call that a crime.

Alberto Gonzales?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:00 PM
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If Bush left Alberto Gonzales in a hot car while he was landing a plane or something, he would have been impeached, and welcome it.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:15 PM
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552

Well, except for this crowd, you'd probably give Bush a medal or something.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:17 PM
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553

"... [welcomed] it."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:17 PM
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554

No need to go fifty years back; you can get "this never would have happened to a Stay at Home Mother" piety in the comments to the article.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:18 PM
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I don't know that I agree with read's take on punishment, but it's not all that alien to Western culture -- C. M. Yonge built at least one novel around expiation by legal punishment of an innocent man (The Trial). And if it made sense to the Victorians, it's lurking in our lumber-rooms. It's the virgule in punishment/rehabilitatation that we expect from jail sentences.

So it doesn't matter how awful and un-therapeutic the justice system is, by this matter; the city's finest are the kindly ones.

Further back, expiation of blood debt is a wierd idea, but sometimes you just have to dree it.

-----

If the bike path is built so bicyclists can move at speed, but they can't move at speed on it, I assign some guilt to the designers. I'm the world's slowest cyclist and people still leap out in front of me.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:26 PM
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556

Hey clew, wanna race bikes?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:34 PM
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557

556: Through a lemming field?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:38 PM
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558

No Hands!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:40 PM
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547: the Short Stop wasn't a cop bar. It wasn't my favorite bar, either, though. Right approximate neighborhood, wrong bar.

Actually you should know the answer to this. I've been known to completely fail to shut up about how LA meetups should be at said establishment, even when I'm not going to the meetups.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:49 PM
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but it's not all that alien to Western culture -- C. M. Yonge built at least one novel around expiation by legal punishment of an innocent man

In fact, it's foundational to Western culture.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:50 PM
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561

Wait, it wasn't? Is it not the place with the photobooth in the back room and the millions of badges and police insignia on the walls?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:52 PM
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562

An hour later I'm sucking down all the water and aspirin I can hold

So, you don't want a liver, huh?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:52 PM
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561: not when I lived there it wasn't. It stopped being a cop bar around the time of the Rampart scandal (not at all coincidentally). Now (and since at least the late '90s) it's owned by the guitar player from Afghan Wigs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:56 PM
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560: Twice.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 7:59 PM
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On the bike accident. I'm with J Roth if there were no lights.

I was going to mention signals. If you're literally setting up a legal situation where a careless ped (one who will step in front of a moving vehicle 10' away) is liability-free, then you need to create signals that will allow vehicles to be able to maintain speed in a rational, predictable manner, and peds will be able to cross safely. As a ped (and I walk a lot more than I bike) I treat vehicles with deference, respecting both their lethality and their momentum. I suppose it's fun to think of SUVs screeching to a halt every time I set foot in the cartway, but really I want a system that optimizes people's time and effort in accordance with a sane traffic pattern.

In a tony town downriver from here, they have a mid-block crosswalk equipped with in-ground flashing lights. As soon as a ped presses the button, the lights flash, indicating in no uncertain terms that a ped will be crossing, and vehicles must yield. That's a sensible system, maximizing ped safety without needlessly compromising traffic flow (I don't just mean speed; as a driver, I don't want cars around me guessing the intentions of inscrutable peds).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:12 PM
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I've been known to completely fail to shut up about how LA meetups should be at said establishment, even when I'm not going to the meetups.

The Pourman?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:13 PM
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565: you know, many traffic engineers are lately taking almost exactly the opposite view; that if you set up all of these signals that say "you must watch for pedestrians now!" then you radically reduce the amount of attention people are paying to pedestrians at other times, and actually reduce the overall safety of the system.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:21 PM
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560:I wasn't going to bring up Sophocles.

It was Philoctetes I was remembering around dinnertime. Not that P is about punishment, sacrifice of an innocent man?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:23 PM
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Even earlier, I spent a few minutes working on a way to bring in Medea, but that would have been trolling and wrong.

Good comments on the Harrison story over at Yglesias, Making Light, EotAW. I may have read 500 today.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:28 PM
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559: Gotcha, tex.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:33 PM
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I don't know that I agree with read's take on punishment

read's take on punishment seems to suppose that flagellation of a physical sort is the only form of suffering sufficient to cleanse the world of the sin at hand.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:36 PM
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567: Monderman!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:39 PM
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567: That's the basic argument of Traffic, right? My best friend read that recently and I've been hearing pretty much the entire book in small snippets as we drive around.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:42 PM
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572, 573: ayuh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:45 PM
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An hour later I'm sucking down all the water and aspirin I can hold

So, you don't want a liver, huh?

It's acetaminophen/paracetamol that'll melt your liver in conjunction with alcohol, not aspirin. Aspirin and alcohol gives you stomach bleeding.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:47 PM
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575: Jesus. Well, what about ibuprofen?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:49 PM
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574: I started reading Traffic a few months ago, then put it down and haven't gone back to it. It's interesting, but looking at the endnote-equivalents made me wonder about the book's credibility a bit. A lot of them are citations to newspaper and magazine articles, and I've read enough shitty journalism to be reflexively skeptical of its reliability on any technical matter.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:51 PM
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576: As far as I know, the best thing to take.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:51 PM
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576: Nope, it and all the other NSAIDs will also give you stomach bleeding.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:52 PM
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579: Yeah, but that's in large concentrations, no? As in, if you're a heavy heavy drinker also taking large concentrations of Advil?

(And I don't know, what's worse, liver damage or stomach bleeding?)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:53 PM
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576: liver again.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:54 PM
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After a night of drinking, you should take asparagus. Yeah, you might still be hungover the next day, but your pee will smell different, which is neat and distracting from the hangover.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:54 PM
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Oh, maybe it's stomach bleeding. Well, whatever. Codeine!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:57 PM
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Eat some bread, fruit, and cheese. Drink a buttload of water. Then PURGE, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Well, no. Don't do that.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:58 PM
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your pee will smell different

Being able to smell this is apparently some sort of genetic thing, right? (Or is it just the production of the odor? I can't remember and I'm too lazy to google it). I can't smell it, and for some reason this makes me sad.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 8:59 PM
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If you spend a lot of time reading 18th and 19th century family history sources (as I do), you can become completely overwhelmed by how many children are lost or horribly maimed in accidents.

I once heard a story about a visiting assistant professor (or someone holding a similar title) who confessed to sometimes breaking down in tears thinking about all the dead children of the 19th century.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:00 PM
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585: Or maybe it's your pee. You should probably smell someone else's just to be sure.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:00 PM
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580: Dunno what the exact threshhold is.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:00 PM
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Aspirin and alcohol gives you stomach bleeding.

Ok, that's fine, then.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:01 PM
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Aspirin and me have always gotten along fine. It doesn't make the headache, aching muscles, and general malaise go away, but it helps a little and doesn't seem to have any scary side effects. (I assume I'd know if my stomach were bleeding because I'd shit or puke blood, right?)


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:02 PM
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Eat some bread, fruit, and cheese. Drink a buttload of water.

That's what I do. Then I feel really tired, like I'm getting over something, but hey. I keep thinking I should throw some roughage in there, know what I'm saying? Kale.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:03 PM
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586: And that professor's name was... Drew Gilpin Faust.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:03 PM
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585: I've never noticed it, for whatever reason.

586: an ancestor of mine bought a family vault in this cemetery in Manhattan that is, for various complicated reasons, still there. Pretty much 80% of the occupants are under 2.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:03 PM
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Or is it just the production of the odor?

Both. I know we've had this discussion here before.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:04 PM
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Also, take B-12.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:05 PM
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an ancestor of mine bought a family vault in this cemetery in Manhattan that is, for various complicated reasons, still there. Pretty much 80% of the occupants are under 2.

Why would you buy a vault full of dead children?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:07 PM
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596: you buy it empty and then fill it with your own dead children. It's like a stamp album that way.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:08 PM
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Aspirin and me have always gotten along fine. It doesn't make the headache, aching muscles, and general malaise go away, but it helps a little and doesn't seem to have any scary side effects.

Finding on the morning of an atrocious hangover that I had no regular pain pills, I discovered that cold medicine with ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine is hands down the best hangover medicine. Goodbye malaise! Hello manically cleaning my entire apartment!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:09 PM
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596: The price was right? They don't come up for sale very often, I can tell you that.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:09 PM
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597: Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "collect them all".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:10 PM
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598: I presume you've seen this?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:12 PM
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528: Not hard to do; most people are. (I'm 5' 2-1/2" but also sometimes get taken for 2 or 3 inches taller. Either it's force of personality or my width, and I'd prefer to think the former, so don't disabuse me of that.)


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:12 PM
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580: Liver damage is worse. You get stupid, you cough up blood, your belly swells with fluid, etc.

The transplant and its aftermath(s) aren't much fun either. Ask Dr. Oops. IMO a transplant just might beat dying if you had young children. Otherwise, probably not.

Stomach ulcers are a walk in the park by comparison.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:14 PM
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read's take on punishment seems to suppose that flagellation of a physical sort is the only form of suffering sufficient to cleanse the world of the sin at hand.
i don't think i thought anything about physical punishment, what i tried to say is one is better to be punished by someone else, the state, the jury, not by self
but i can't argue with people whose like main argument is their court expenses and cost efficiency something, not someone's lost life and moral suffering


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:20 PM
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Via comments at EoTAW, here is a graph from the Kids and Card folks (mentioned in the article) that shows a graph of child airbag deaths versus car hyperthermia deaths since 1990. It does illustrate the dilemma (I do wonder if the heat death data is complete from the early part of the period, but that is not really relevant to the later pattern.}


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:27 PM
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who confessed to sometimes breaking down in tears thinking about all the dead children of the 19th century.

Yep, I've cried over long dead children. Adults, too, though, so it's not as though they have the monopoly.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:28 PM
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Stomach ulcers are a walk in the park by comparison.

That was my gut (hah, hah) feeling.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:28 PM
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Magpie you did seem taller than that.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 9:32 PM
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Liver damage is worse. You get stupid, you cough up blood, your belly swells with fluid, etc.

PCA pumps really ought to be equipped with an "end it now" button.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-09 10:39 PM
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but i can't argue with people whose like main argument is their court expenses and cost efficiency something, not someone's lost life and moral suffering

read, I think what you're failing to confront is that not every fatality is somebody's fault. The article lays out a detailed argument that these particular deaths weren't the result of criminal negligence, but were instead the result of innocent lapses.

As I said before, I don't blame you for not reading the article, but if you're not going to read it, you probably err in trying to comment on it. And while I can understand why you might not grasp the content of an article you haven't read, it's a mystery to me how you can continue to mischaracterize arguments that have been made very clearly, and that you obviously have read.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 7:45 AM
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wouldn't you blame yourself for the innocent lapses if it would result in somebody's death? wouldn't you want to die? wouldn't you try to punish yourself as hard as possible if you choose to live nevertheless
just imagine it's your child and what you would feel in that situation
i'm sure you wouldn't blame the innocent lapse, like, it was not me, the lapse, and pledge not guilty and continue to enjoy life,
so the state should step up in that situation and relieve one's personal guilt, that enormous suffering, by punishing him/her according to the law honoring the life lost and enabling him/her the guilty to live on perhaps, however expensive the trial would be
well, it must be all sounding to you very primitive and outdated, but that's how i feel and please it's no use to tell me i'm wrong, i won't change my mind, so that i can stop arguing


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:18 AM
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relieve one's personal guilt, that enormous suffering, by punishing him/her according to the law honoring the life lost and enabling him/her the guilty to live on perhaps, however expensive the trial would be

Read, I'm sure you're not wrong about how you would feel if you had accidentally killed someone: you'd welcome punishment as a relief. Can you try to accept that (a) that your feelings in this regard aren't universal? Not everyone would want to be punished for innocently being the cause of someone's death? and (b) that not wanting to be punished (or to see other people punished) for innocently causing someone's death doesn't make you a bad person?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:26 AM
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your feelings in this regard aren't universal

I don't really know what I'm talking about, but I am under the impression that Western and Eastern concepts of shame/honor/guilt are very different.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:30 AM
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To be all more multicultural than thou, Western and Eastern is probably oversimplified -- there's a whole lot of different 'Eastern' cultures -- and I don't know jack about Mongolian culture on this axis. But yeah, that's why I'm still talking rather than throwing my hands up and saying 'troll' like I did with Bob.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:34 AM
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Our criminal justice system rarely results in punishments equaling the crime in any meaningful way.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:35 AM
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why can't you accept that not everything, what you say is right, is absolutely right, and acceptable for everyone, not universal as you say
for what is correct for me is correct for me, who first said you are wrong? did i said that?
why can't you leave it at that? should i say you are absolutely right and you win?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:37 AM
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say


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:37 AM
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616: Because you're advocating a universal remedy -- the application of the criminal justice system. If the criminal justice system doesn't punish people who innocently cause someone's death, and you accidentally kill someone and want to be punished, you can arrange that for yourself without the help of the criminal justice system, and someone who doesn't want to be punished (more than they are by the situation itself) can not be. If the criminal justice system punishes everyone who innocently causes someone's death, then when you kill someone, you're happy because you get the punishment you think is appropriate, but someone else who doesn't share your values has to be punished too.

You can feel however you like about the punishment you'd deserve for unintentionally causing someone else's death -- your values are your values. But once you advocate punishing other people because of those values, I'm going to vehemently disagree with you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:47 AM
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you are absolutely right and you win


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:49 AM
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I'm sorry I've been overbearing, and about the piling on from everyone else. I think you don't realize quite how horrifying what you were saying sounded to me, and I'm guessing to some of the other commenters here; my reaction wasn't just about being right, it was that what you were saying was very upsetting.

No hard feelings?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:53 AM
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I don't really know what I'm talking about, but I am under the impression that Western and Eastern concepts of shame/honor/guilt are very different.

I, likewise, won't make any claim to know what I'm talking about, but I reflexively find this sort of statement condescending.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:56 AM
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621: Mmm, yeah, kinda.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:57 AM
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621: Why? I feel like I've heard statements like "Western Culture is a Guilt Culture, whereas X is a Shame Culture" and while I don't really understand what that entails, it seems reasonable that different cultures would have different backbones.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:02 AM
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Condescending because it draws a broad generalization about the entire "East" -- all those Asians react the same way to stuff. If you know stuff about Laotian culture that you want to talk about, there's nothing necessarily condescending about that. But lumping half the world into a box and opining vaguely about what they're all like is a little off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:08 AM
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But lumping half the world into a box and opining vaguely about what they're all like is a little off.

Yeah, I hate that Westerners all tend not do that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:15 AM
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I hate that Westerners tend talk like Tarzan, myself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:16 AM
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tend *to* do that.

How much more could a typo destroy a joke? None more, none more destruction.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:17 AM
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New Yorkers tend to generalize.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:17 AM
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LB pwn self-correction. LB need more working on brief.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:18 AM
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LB certainly do. Yesterday's deadline was self-imposed, so I missed it, but no harm done. But external deadlines are swiftly approaching.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:20 AM
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There was an article in this week's New Scientist about empirical research that's been done on East/West cultural differences.

The picture is quite interesting, and quite nuanced.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126981.700-east-meets-west-how-the-brain-unites-us-all.html?full=true&print=true


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:34 AM
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I didn't mean to sound condescending. My opening "I don't really know what I'm talking about" meant "everything I know about Mongolian culture comes from Unfogged comments, so this might be pure nonsense." However, I didn't want to weigh a comment down with Farberesque disclaimers.

Still, read certainly seems to have a completely different take on those concepts than the assembled Westerners here, so.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:44 AM
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Condescending because it draws a broad generalization about the entire "East"

No more than it does about the "West".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:46 AM
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Yeah, I know you didn't mean it badly, and I think you're probably right about what drove the conversation off the rails -- there's some basic cultural gap that means that read wasn't getting how aggressively cruel she sounded to me, and apparently to everyone else but Bob, and we weren't really getting what sounded off about what we were saying to her. (Well, you don't need a cultural gap to think I'm overbearing, but other than that.) It was just the 'Eastern' thing -- I've been thinking about Orientalism a fair amount lately (and have come to the conclusion that if I can't figure out how to phrase what I want to say about it without sounding like a jerk, that may be an indication that it doesn't need saying), so I've been noticing things that trip my Orientalism radar.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:53 AM
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631: That is a really interesting article.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:57 AM
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I'm sorry I've been overbearing, and about the piling on from everyone else.

Honestly, once read declared anyone who would feel differently than she does amoral , inhuman, and not a "normal feeling person" and (taking it personally, because that's my thing) suggested my comments were equivalent to giving out medals to baby-killers, I have a hard time understanding "overbearing" and "piling on" here.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:01 AM
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633: Yes. I don't think there really is a consensus of opinion on this issue in that part of the West we call the U.S. There seems to be a consensus among the Westerners commenting on Unfogged, but we hardly constitute a representative sample.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:02 AM
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Further to 636 -- my point being, don't go hard core if you aren't prepared to get it back.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:02 AM
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I didn't mean to sound condescending. My opening "I don't really know what I'm talking about" meant "everything I know about Mongolian culture comes from Unfogged comments, so this might be pure nonsense." However, I didn't want to weigh a comment down with Farberesque disclaimers.

Still, read certainly seems to have a completely different take on those concepts than the assembled Westerners here, so.

I didn't mean to sound like I thought you sounded condescending. My opening "I, likewise, won't make any claim to know what I'm talking about," meant "everything I know about the validity of this observation is contained in this Unfogged thread." However, I didn't want to weigh my comment down with Farberesque disclaimers.

Still, an effort to excuse bad behavior by suggesting it's cultural strikes me as running a strong risk of being condescending.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:07 AM
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now it's only boring, but i don't believe if it happened to your daughter, for example, thphu- thphu, knock knock, you would blame the innocent lapse and would want consolement
but if you do, then we are different people and be it


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:08 AM
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637: I think there might be a fair amount of consensus on the underlying point. Americans who want these parents punished seem to mostly believe that leaving the kid in the car was the result of a culpable state of mind -- that the parents couldn't have made that mistake unless they were neglectful people. I don't think you'll find a lot of Americans who would want the parents punished if they believed as a matter of fact that the parents weren't neglectful.

I understood Read to believe that the parent's state of mind didn't make a difference.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:08 AM
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but i don't believe if it happened to your daughter, for example, thphu- thphu, knock knock, you would blame the innocent lapse and would want consolement

No, I would surely want to die and feel like I didn't deserve to live and want to drive everyone who ever cared for me away because I would feel that I didn't deserve them either. Truthfully, if anything ever happened to Rory, I feel pretty confident that "suicidal" would come up in discussions of my state of mind.

But that doesn't mean I think it would be just for me to feel that way and I would hope for my own sake that people who cared for me would try to help me to accept that as guilty as I might feel, I was not in fact guilty and that I remained a human being whose life remained valuable. Honestly, I would also hope someone would get me to recognize and acknowledge that focusing on my own feelings of guilt and desire for punishment would be selfish, me-focused, and not honoring the life of a child I would dearly miss.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:14 AM
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640: And how bad any of us would feel if we accidentally killed our children (honestly, Read, we'd all, every one of us, be just as tortured by it as you would be) has nothing at all to do with whether or not we should be criminally prosecuted for it. The two things are completely unconnected.

Saying, as you have been, that disagreeing with you about whether criminal punishment is appropriate implies that we'd shrug off accidentally killing a child as no big deal is both very unpleasant of you, and doesn't make any sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:16 AM
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624:Look, I can speak for read or the wisdom of the Orient, and I don't have a coheent alternative to the unfogged consensus, but we might go back to the classics for a hint.

All Thebes suffered because of Oedipus, and Oedipus had to do the expiation e'en tho it was the finger of fate that fucked him.

"A bad thing happened, and it's our fault."

There is also this Nietzsche riff I'm reading, I forget who, oh yeah Butler, about punishment being the pointing that creates an individual apart from community, so maybe a imputation of innocence (where guilt must exist, if not here, then there, somewhere) also fractures the community.

And from the comments I read around maybe that's what I am feeling, that a community ethos is being endangered by a consequence-less tragedy.

Let's blame the carmakers.

Haidt? Is this a purity problem?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:18 AM
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Is there any sort of negligence where unintentionally causing the deaths of one's children should be punishable? Maybe unintentional is the wrong word, but what about a parent who drives drunk, gets into a wreck and kills his kid in the back seat? Does the act of knowingly driving while drunk turn that into an intentional act?


Posted by: émigré | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:25 AM
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Does the act of knowingly driving while drunk turn that into an intentional act?

It's almost as if the rest of the thread never happened!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:26 AM
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I looked but couldn't find for that point being tortured to death. Forget it, then.

What if you forgot someone else's kid in your car? Did that one get covered?


Posted by: émigré | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:27 AM
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627:There are some who want the parents pubished, but I think most of us just need to make the damned event fit.

This isn't like a hurricane or the even drowning in a puddle. There are disturbing factors. There is the connection with our automobiles, where we like to believe we are in control and should be in control.

It is "Black Swan" thing, a major discontinuity. Like the stockmarket dropping 50% in one day. brokers really can't even accept the possibility and do their jobs. Even Taleb can't invest for Black Swans. It breaks us.

I was talking trial just for the comforting ritual, like all the rituals we had after 9/11. Maybe something else would be better.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:30 AM
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I was talking trial just for the comforting ritual, like all the rituals we had after 9/11.

Like torturing suspected terrorists!

I'm kidding, but I think you're right about the desire for a comforting ritual, and that I'm right that criminal prosecution, just like torturing terrorism suspects, might be comforting and satisfying, but isn't the right thing to do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:33 AM
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What if you forgot someone else's kid in your car? Did that one get covered?

If not here, then elsewhere. The tendency is to be more favorable to punishment if it is someone else's kid. The next question is about letting sympathy or empathy influence our sense of justice. Is this like the patricide crying for orphan mercy? Not really.

Also discussed was whether our attitudes would be different if Harrison had been driving to the golf course instead of the office.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:34 AM
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I was talking trial just for the comforting ritual

How the living fuck could it be comforting to have some asshole prosecutor grab control of your life at a time like that?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:34 AM
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I was talking trial just for the comforting ritual, like all the rituals we had after 9/11. Maybe something else would be better.

I can absolutely see the need for ritual -- and being just familiar enough with the criminal justice system, I can tell you it ain't the right one. People establish foundations after these sorts of events, memorial fundraisers, awareness campaigns, whatever. Things that can maybe be hoped to create some good. Prosecution just adds one more life destroyed.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:35 AM
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The thing about 'someone else's kid' and 'the golf course' is that they make this specific mistake much more unlikely. This happens to people running through their morning routine on autopilot; they're just going through the habitual motions, and something throws them off. Once you get out of that realm of routine, you're talking about a very different kind of event. (Like, the guy in the linked story way above who left his toddler in the car for just a few minutes while he was hunting, and the kid wandered off and froze? I can pity that guy, but he was negligent; leaving your toddler alone in the woods in the winter, even if they're sitting in the car, is a bad idea. He's not in the 'didn't do anything wrong at all' category I've been putting the rest of the parents in.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:42 AM
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What if the kid leaves the parents in the car and they suffocate and the kid becomes an orphan? We should punish the parents for abandoning their kid. Or punish the kid for patricide?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:44 AM
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I can pity that guy, but he was negligent

Right. I think the whole point that we're making is that there are shades and degrees involved here, and at one end of the spectrum, you've got a lack of criminal liability. At the other end is first degree murder.

I think there's a case to be made that, all other things being equal, we should regard a parent differently from an unrelated caregiver - but not much differently.

To shoot for an (admittedly rough) analogy: attempted suicide and attempted homicide are obviously different crimes. Similarly, the parents who have some culpability are victims as well as perpetrators.

But on the whole, I think it's a pretty small distinction. The big issue is culpability, and on that (again, all things being equal), there is no difference between a parent and another caregiver.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:54 AM
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Out of perverse fascination and procrastination, I read several other threads about this, and I'm more convinced than ever before that the vast majority of people are crazy. I need to find some nice, reasonable Israeli-Palestinian discussion to calm me down.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:55 AM
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that doesn't mean I think it would be just for me to feel that way
okay, that's the difference
if you further imagined what would be more acceptable for you, being punished or consoled, in that state of mind, then the question of how the punishment would work and be acceptable would arise perhaps, b/c noone would want you to commit a suicide, you just can't die after the dead, so the legal and just punishment would be better than anything else i thought, it is meant to help!
but if you feel it's unjust, then i accept people are different, sorry of course for medals, just when people accuse me of cruelty i got that, too irritated


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:55 AM
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+d


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:56 AM
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Have we discussed why this is a reason to have 12 children yet?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:07 AM
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12 children yet

I've felt irrationally pleased that Unfogged never engaged in a Nadya Suleman Takedown.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:12 AM
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Pregnant Basketabller thread|17: should not be allowed to ride in the beds of pickup trucks,

Don't know if this was at all triggered by my mention of having done this over in the Triathlon thread*, but as I was writing that, it certainly struck me that it was a great example of the tradeoffs of safety and "fun". Half-a-dozen young adolescents in the back of a pickup going over a high mountain pass, what could go wrong? In the actual event, nothing, but assuredly acts like that were part of the 4-5x higher death rates for children at that time. And if you did it today, and there was a tragic accident, the punishment would be justifiably much harsher for the responsible adult.

*Trithread linkage makes for strong minds.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:16 AM
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If Nadya Suleman had stopped at 12, there would have been no controversy. But 14 kids is just wrong.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:16 AM
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661: Yet.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:21 AM
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657: Okay, truce -- you are not evil and I am not a babykiller.

Here's the core of where I disagree with you -- beyond what is just and the appropriate use of of the criminal justice system. As I envision what it would be like to be in the role of the parent, I do not imagine that a criminal prosecution would make me less suicidal. A conviction, in fact, would reinforce my own feelings of guilt and perhaps make me even more certain that I deserved to die. Even if I considered making the parent feel better a good use of an expensive and burdensome process, I don't believe it would be effective.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:28 AM
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634

... and apparently to everyone else but Bob ...

I don't necessarily agree with read but I don't find her position outrageous.

And you have been referring to the parents as innocent. If by that you mean blameless I certainly don't agree.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:21 PM
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I certainly don't agree.

This fails to surprise me.

If you're interested in what I mean by innocent, search the thread for 'bad decision' -- that should catch all the comments where I talk about the sorts of state of mind generally necessary before we'll impose criminal liability.

If you want to talk about what exactly you're blaming the parents for in these cases, you can probably get another argument started. But I think you'd have to get fairly detailed; otherwise, this one's pretty much burned out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:25 PM
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644

Here's the core of where I disagree with you -- beyond what is just and the appropriate use of of the criminal justice system. As I envision what it would be like to be in the role of the parent, I do not imagine that a criminal prosecution would make me less suicidal. A conviction, in fact, would reinforce my own feelings of guilt and perhaps make me even more certain that I deserved to die. Even if I considered making the parent feel better a good use of an expensive and burdensome process, I don't believe it would be effective.

Is it so hard to imagine a culture in which by accidently killing a child you have assumed a crushing moral burden which can only be released by subjecting you to a harsh communally determined punishment. After which it was universally understood that you had paid your debt and need feel no further guilt.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:31 PM
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Is it so hard to imagine a culture in which by accidently killing a child you have assumed a crushing moral burden which can only be released by subjecting you to a harsh communally determined punishment. After which it was universally understood that you had paid your debt and need feel no further guilt.

I find this extremely hard to imagine.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:33 PM
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666

If you want to talk about what exactly you're blaming the parents for in these cases ...

I am blaming the parents for abandoning their kid in a hot car thereby causing his death. It may be an understandable mistake but they are still to blame. This does not mean I would impose legal liability but I would not tell them (or believe) that they shouldn't feel bad (more precisely fell worse than if the kid had died for some reason out of their control).

If this were someone else's kid, wouldn't they be clearly liable for civil damages?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:38 PM
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Clearly? No. A jury might come down either way. As I said above, though, it's a hard hypo to evaluate, because it's a matter of a daily routine going wrong, and you don't usually have someone else's kid as a matter of a daily routine. But you're right that the state of mind requirements for civil liability are much, much, much looser than for criminal liability.

You get day care cases like this, but my sense is that they're more commonly a matter of ten kids getting into the van, and nine kids getting out, and that's something that's much more easily framed as a dereliction of duty -- the argument is that they should count noses frequently. It's hard to make that argument with respect to a parent ferrying one kid around.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:46 PM
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669: Just curious, James: Did you read the Washington Post story?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:47 PM
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You get day care cases like this, but my sense is that they're more commonly a matter of ten kids getting into the van, and nine kids getting out, and that's something that's much more easily framed as a dereliction of duty -- the argument is that they should count noses frequently. It's hard to make that argument with respect to a parent ferrying one kid around.

I have to say I find this argument preposterous. Because it is so simple to keep track of one kid a parent is less neglectful if they forget?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:50 PM
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667: Yes. It is even harder to imagine a culture in which this moral code actually had the psychological effect of making criminal punishment an effective means of healing survivor guilt.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:50 PM
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668 After which it was universally understood that you had paid your debt and need feel no further guilt.

Are you sure you're human?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:51 PM
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Err, 667.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:51 PM
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I think it's killer guilt rather than survivor guilt that is being addressed by that system.


Posted by: émigré | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:52 PM
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676: Are you familiar with the concept of begging the question?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:54 PM
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This all seems pretty well played out, but I'm not done gnawing on this bone. I'd like to make a more provocative proposition. This is Lyn Balfour, one of the parents quoted in the story:

"I don't feel I need to forgive myself," she says plainly, "because what I did was not intentional."

It's not enough to say that Balfour is correct about this. Her efforts to live her life in recognition of this fact are admirable. Lyn Balfour is a heroic figure.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 12:56 PM
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you have been referring to the parents as innocent

Innocent of having committed a crime. Just like forgetting to turn off your stove and having your house burn down isn't arson.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:00 PM
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656: Truer words were never said.

664: A conviction, in fact, would reinforce my own feelings of guilt and perhaps make me even more certain that I deserved to die.

Maybe, since at a time like that pretty much everything would reinforce feelings of guilt, but it wouldn't necessarily even do that much. The criminal justice system is basically a matter of having strangers pick between two bogus stories of the defendant's life and deeds. Nobody cares about who the defendant really is or how things really happened. I can't imagine accepting a verdict coming out of a criminal trial as a meaningful expression of one's moral culpability. No doubt there are people who would, but I seriously doubt that any of those people comment here. For our sort, it would just be weird and alienating.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:02 PM
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678: I disagree oompletely!

I don't actually even believe that Lynn Balfour believes it.

I do see something heroic in Lyn Balfour's attempts to atone for her misdeed (although she claims to believe she doesn't need to atone).


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:04 PM
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I don't actually even believe that Lynn Balfour believes it.

I agree.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:06 PM
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But she's trying to believe it, and that's admirable.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:08 PM
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It's been bugging me all thread, what read's view on punishment is like, and I finally hit on it. It's like the ecclesiastical punishment of the early modern period in the West, in which being shamed in front of the community really is supposed to heal your soul (penance) and bring you back into good standing with the community.* For example, you have all these men in the Puritan colonies in the 17th century being punished for sexual transgressions (paying fines, public humiliation, corporal punishment), and as soon as it's over with, they're supposed to re-enter the community as though nothing had happened, and do. Of course, different sort of transgressions. It's not as though we don't have a similar set of ideals from Western tradition, it's just that we've largely left behind the ecclesiastical justice systems and have only state justice systems, whereas they used to work in unison.

*In case it isn't clear, I'm pretty radically simplifying things here.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:08 PM
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I can't imagine accepting a verdict coming out of a criminal trial as a meaningful expression of one's moral culpability.

Intellectually, I agree wholeheartedly. Emotionally, under those circumstances?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:09 PM
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I disagree oompletely!

Oompletely! I made up a word! I like it!



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:15 PM
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685: I think so, because even if the self-loathing part of you believes that guilt is the right answer, you're not going to accept as meaningful a process that gets there for the wrong reasons. You might want to be found guilty for being the horrible person you'd feel like, but there wouldn't be much meaning in a guilty verdict against some weird caricature of yourself.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:17 PM
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679: Just like forgetting to turn off your stove and having your house burn down isn't arson.

You know, this is interesting. For people who think the parents are blameworthy: say what Apo said happened -- you put the kettle on for tea, and then fall asleep on the couch. The kettle melts, the curtains catch fire, the house burns down; you get out, but your kid upstairs dies (you fight your way through the fire to get them out, but they're dead before you get there).

Do you blame that parent the same way, or less? I'm trying to figure if we're attaching blame on the pure basis of causing death as a result of inadvertent error, or if there's something about leaving the kid in the car that seems particularly culpable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:17 PM
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688: Now say it's an apartment building, and the settings on the stove have been tinkered with so that it's a really, really high flame on the highest setting. And you turn it on all the way, put your kettle down, fall asleep, etc. Should the landlord be held liable?

(I'll get a brief out of you people yet!)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:22 PM
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I'm trying to figure if we're attaching blame on the pure basis of causing death as a result of inadvertent error, or if there's something about leaving the kid in the car that seems particularly culpable.

Neither. We're attaching blame because it's really important to reassure ourselves that such things could only happen to bad people, not to us.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:26 PM
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Her efforts to live her life in recognition of this fact are admirable
she is a monster, and she needs to pay for the innocent child's life, in her case it's so simple
being shamed in front of the community really is supposed to heal your soul ....being shamed in front of the community really is supposed to heal your soul
nothing like that, it's human nature to endure more pain than pleasure
if one's existence is unbearable due to one's feeling guilt, punishing is more humane, then leaving alone to suffer guilt


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:26 PM
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We're attaching blame because it's really important to reassure ourselves that such things could only happen to bad people, not to us.

Hmmm. I might be able to work with this....


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:27 PM
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they're supposed to re-enter the community as though nothing had happened
i meant


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:27 PM
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Counteranalogy: What if a parent becomes so obsessed with a video game that they forget to feed their kid for several days and the kid starves?
(note -- this analogy is loosely based on a Spongebob Squarepants episode)


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:28 PM
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689: tinkered with by whom? The landlord, or the resident? If the resident did the tinkering, I don't see how/why the landlord should be held liable, unless of course the resident was buddies with the landlord and invited him over for beers and to see how if you messed with the stove you could use it to melt lead to cast miniature wargame figurines, and the landlord said "wow, cool" instead of "why don't you put that back the way it was so you don't burn the apartment down and kill everyone."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:28 PM
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695: Might have been the landlord, might have been the tenant. No one knows for sure, but it's been that way since they moved in. Of course, it's only abnormal if you turn the burner all the way up.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:36 PM
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694: Gary would want you to go on with your life.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:36 PM
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And 691 provides evidence to support 690! Keen.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:42 PM
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691: she is a monster, and she needs to pay for the innocent child's life, in her case it's so simple

read, you said you weren't going to read the story. Did you change your mind?

683: But she's trying to believe it, and that's admirable.

That's how I see it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:42 PM
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"thphu-thphu?"


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:44 PM
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694: Happened. Somewhere in central/northern California. I'll find a link when I get back from lunch.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:46 PM
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688: I think there does "seem" to be something more culpable about the kids in the car scenario. I think several elements contribute to it:
1) It is a relatively new phenomenon. Per some of the links upthread things like death by fire and many other accidents are down historically, but there is a long history of that form of foul-up, so we are a bit more inured to it.
2) Many other "foul ups" require further bad luck and in the end operate through some "exceptional" thing happening, while in the car case, the bad result is pretty much the inevitable result barring other intervention. (The car situation is more like leaving the bathroom while running the water in the tub for a young child.*)
3) And like the tub, the car involves directly forgetting about the *child* itself, not some other item or condition that might endanger it.

*Which really does seem a much more culpable situation because it is situation where the immediate danger is right there in your face. If you were constantly aware (and society reinforced that awareness) that kids in car seats is in itself an intrinsically dangerous situation (even when adults are in the car) since furhter action must be taken at some point or it will lead to death of the child., then it might be "harder" to have the distraction act as it does (although it still would on some very rare occasions.). As it is, child in a car seat is generally regarded as a standard "safe" state of affairs, that only turns dangerous when the parent leaves the car.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:47 PM
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689, 695: The landlord's insurer should suck it up.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:47 PM
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702: An interesting distinction between the car and the tub, though, is that when you're bathing a baby, you're paying continuous attention to the baby (or should be). When you're driving a car, you literally must ignore the baby for extended periods of time -- where the error comes in is not recovering from that absolutely necessary diversion of attention from the baby.

But your 'inevitability' point is a good one -- it's not quite true, because it's more like 50% chance of death depending on the season, but the error once made is much much much more likely to lead to death than something like falling asleep with the kettle on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:53 PM
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3) And like the tub, the car involves directly forgetting about the *child* itself, not some other item or condition that might endanger it.

So what if mom runs a bath thinking the kids are (finally!) asleep, leaves the room to answer a phone or get a towel or something, and the toddler climbs into the tub and drowns or is scalded or something? I.e., not directly *forgetting* about the child, just wrongly assuming the child is somewhere safe?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:57 PM
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Also, 703 is wrong.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:58 PM
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So what if mom runs a bath thinking the kids are (finally!) asleep, leaves the room to answer a phone or get a towel or something, and the toddler climbs into the tub and drowns or is scalded or something?

These are just campfire ghost stories, right? Everything's gonna be just fine...right?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 1:59 PM
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670

Clearly? No. A jury might come down either way. As I said above, though, it's a hard hypo to evaluate, because it's a matter of a daily routine going wrong, and you don't usually have someone else's kid as a matter of a daily routine. But you're right that the state of mind requirements for civil liability are much, much, much looser than for criminal liability.

Well of course juries can do anything but if you are paying someone to take care of your kid and they kill it in this way I expect civil damages would be typically awarded.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:01 PM
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656:Not only are many of the threads crazy, but crazy accompanied by moral certitude and high dudgeon on all sides, which is of course the usual case when a really difficult moral issue is discussed.

Or did you just mean that the people who disagreed with you were crazy? It wasn't clear.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:02 PM
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Every time you masturbate, God kills a baby, heebie.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:02 PM
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704

But your 'inevitability' point is a good one -- it's not quite true, because it's more like 50% chance of death depending on the season, but the error once made is much much much more likely to lead to death than something like falling asleep with the kettle on.

I was going to make this point also. If you place a child in a dangerous situation you are obligated to pay attention.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:03 PM
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706: Wrong in the sense that landlord's insurer actually isn't in the picture, or wrong in the sense that it would be a miscarriage of justice for either landlord or insurer (whose presence in the case is of course utterly irrelevant as a matter of law) to be forced to compensate tenant for damages caused by tenant's own contributory negligence [or, depending on jurisdiction, overwhelming degree of comparative fault], especially when landlord has not been shown to be at fault in the first place?


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:03 PM
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Every time you masturbate, God kills a baby, heebie.

Please let it not be a cute one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:04 PM
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civil damages would be typically awarded

Civil damages ≠ criminal conviction.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:04 PM
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707 is what I was going to say. Are you trying to scare the hell out of me?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:04 PM
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If *I* haven't killed a kid yet, y'all can probably rest easy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:06 PM
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As I've said a couple of times, it's hard to imagine the story playing out in a precisely similar way for a paid caregiver. The essence of the error here is forgetting you had the baby at all; thoughtlessly believing either that you'd dropped them off, or that they'd never been in the car -- I can't really come up with a plausibly similar fact pattern for a paid caregiver. If you could come up with a similar story, I don't know what a jury would typically do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:07 PM
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684

"... For example, you have all these men in the Puritan colonies in the 17th century being punished for sexual transgressions (paying fines, public humiliation, corporal punishment), and as soon as it's over with, they're supposed to re-enter the community as though nothing had happened, and do. ..."

Isn't this still the case among the Amish? I seem to recall complaints about this in sex abuse cases where if the abuser publically repents they are supposed to be forgiven and accepted back into the family.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:07 PM
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707:Everything's gonna be just fine, hg. You'll be the eldest in a four generation photo.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:07 PM
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I don't think the masturbating actually kills kids, Apo.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:07 PM
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If you place a child in a dangerous situation you are obligated to pay attention.

But if that dangerous situation is in the back seat of a car you're driving, you're obligated to pay attention to driving rather than to the child. The problem is returning your attention to the child.

And Heebie, I'm with Apo. I'm the ditziest person here, and my kids are fine, no scars even. If mine are still around, yours will do fine. Let me search the archives for my best "OMG I'm a bad mother" story.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:10 PM
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719: But then I'll have to store the photo somewhere! Aaaah!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:11 PM
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714

Civil damages ≠ criminal conviction.

True, but they generally do involve blame.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:11 PM
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If mine are still around, yours will do fine.

Mine'll be great. I was worried about mrh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:13 PM
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I don't think the masturbating actually kills kids, Apo.

You and I must do it differently, then.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:14 PM
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So, Newt is maybe 3. He wakes up before we do on Saturday morning. Buck goes out to the kitchen, and finds that Newt has decided to make himself breakfast -- there's an English muffin split in half with jelly roughly smeared on it. The tool he chose to spread his jelly with? An eight inch chef's knife. Buck freaked, causing Newt to look up at him beatifically and say "It's all right, Daddy. I was careful."

And with parents like that, he's made it all the way to seven.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:15 PM
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721

But if that dangerous situation is in the back seat of a car you're driving, you're obligated to pay attention to driving rather than to the child. The problem is returning your attention to the child.

Bearing in mind that if you forget the kid is likely to die you should not put the kid in that situation without taking measures to be sure you will remember.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:17 PM
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True, but they generally do involve blame.

Yes, but the question wasn't one of blame (as the story makes clear, the parents assign themselves lots of that), but whether criminal charges should be brought.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:18 PM
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Are we sharing OMG-bad-parent stories? If it helps, my spouse just dropped the (six-month-old) baby headfirst down the stairs (well, halfway down them). Baby cried for a few minutes, mostly I think because the spouse was crying, then got completely over it. One light bruise that was gone the next day, plus a little mark on her nose that was gone the day after.

Lesson: Small children are much more resilient than you think they are. Also, "this hurts me more than it hurts you"? Actually true, darn it. But you don't appreciate getting the benefit of it when you're a kid and then it turns around and bites you after you grow up.

(It's probably implicit but I should emphasize that I don't think my spouse is a bad parent, but an incredible one and way more attentive than I am. But stuff happens and generally it's OK.)


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:19 PM
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730

James, I'm really curious (as I was in 671) - did you read the Washington Post story? If you answered, I missed it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:19 PM
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731

725: I am a bit of a prude, it's true.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:19 PM
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732

Small children are much more resilient than you think they are.

They are almost all cartilage by design. I've watched my kids bounce up from falls that would have required a body cast if I'd taken them.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:21 PM
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733

So what if mom runs a bath thinking the kids are (finally!) asleep, leaves the room to answer a phone or get a towel or something, and the toddler climbs into the tub and drowns or is scalded or something? I.e., not directly *forgetting* about the child, just wrongly assuming the child is somewhere safe?

Now, after you answer that question.

Does your answer change if it is the Dad that ran the bath and then leaves the room?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:21 PM
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734

There was one particular category of horrifying child deaths in Ireland that made us all shudder during my growing-up years: children who drowned in slurry pits. Immediately one thought of the parents, frozen every day in the horror of what happened.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:21 PM
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735

Does your answer change if it is the Dad that ran the bath and then leaves the room?

Or what if it's a male obstetrician?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:23 PM
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736

Regarding technological aids, would it not be effective to automatically run the car's fan off a small solar panel whenever it heated up?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:28 PM
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737

727: taking measures to be sure you will remember

This is where we get into 'standard of care'. I can imagine habits that would make it impossible to forget a baby in the car -- never having the car seat in the car unless the baby was in it would be one; tying yourself to the car seat with a long piece of string every time you buckle the baby in; never leaving the car, regardless of whether the baby's with you, without touching the inside of the car seat; any such habit would work.

But you don't (legally, and I would say even as a matter of conventional usage) call someone negligent unless there's some precaution that you're willing to say it was wrong for them not to take beforehand, not in hindsight; something such that a reasonable person would have taken that precaution. And reasonable parents, as a rule, don't take precautions like the ones I've described -- they do leave the car seat in the car all the time, they don't tie themselves to their babies with string, they don't check the car seat every time they leave the car.

The difference between these parents and the ones who don't accidentally kill their children isn't that these parents failed to 'take measures' that other parents take. It's that the same level of care that we call reasonable when everything goes well wasn't sufficient in their cases.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:28 PM
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738

Regarding technological aids, would it not be effective to automatically run the car's fan off a small solar panel whenever it heated up?

This would be a great feature even without kids involved!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:29 PM
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739

738: Yeah, I just don't know how much air you'd need to move and how much power that would require.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:33 PM
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740

738, 739: do some empirical tests.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:40 PM
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741

I think a lot of the difficulty is sorting out what situation you think the parent is in. If you think of it as "Would a reasonable parent remember their child in the back seat?" you'd conclude that sure, 99.99% of the time reasonable parents remember that their kid is in the back seat. But if you think "Given that the parent had forgotten that the kid was in the back seat (which although rare, does happen to lots of people and can't really be considered negligent by itself), would a reasonable person have had some process in place by which to avoid this tragedy happening" then the obvious answer is, as LB says, "no, reasonable parents don't in general have mechanisms in place to deal with this event because it is so rare."

This is giving me flashbacks to my time on a jury. You put 12 people in a room and tell them "What a reasonable person would do in this situation" and you'll get 11 different opinions and one person who doesn't care what the standard of negligence is because someone got hurt.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:42 PM
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742

Somebody may have mentioned this upthread but if you pack the kid in dry ice they'll stay cool for a couple days even in the hottest car.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:45 PM
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743

671 730

James, I'm really curious (as I was in 671) - did you read the Washington Post story? If you answered, I missed it.

I hadn't when you asked, I have now. It was about what I expected.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:49 PM
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744

742: Especially if you get them really drunk first, to slow down their breathing. You can practically cryogenically store them!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:50 PM
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745

If it helps, my spouse just dropped the (six-month-old) baby headfirst down the stairs (well, halfway down them). Baby cried for a few minutes, mostly I think because the spouse was crying, then got completely over it. One light bruise that was gone the next day, plus a little mark on her nose that was gone the day after.

Dunno if I've told this story here before... My dad has a tall (~4.5 foot) chest of drawers. When I was a kid, I was crawling around in one of the higher drawers, leaned over the edge, and took a header. My mom thought I was okay, and maybe a day or so later she and I flew across the country to visit her parents (my dad was going to fly out to meet us a day or two after that). After we got to her parents', my mother was giving me a bath and shampoo and felt swelling on my skull. Understandably, she freaked out and took me to a doctor. The doc had some X-rays done, glanced at them briefly, and announced that I had brain cancer and that unless he operated immediately I at the very least would never acquire language and at worst would die. So my parents are separated by 2000 miles, and my mom's freaking out, and can't get a hold of my dad, who eventually finds out that something's horribly wrong with me but doesn't know anything beyond that. Luckily my mother's father had the presence of mind to take the X-rays to another doctor, who looked at them more closely and realized that I just had a hairline skull fracture that would heal just fine on its own.

A few weeks later, my parents received a bill from the first doctor. They didn't bother to pay it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:55 PM
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746

740: Everything has already always been invented. Although that one sounds like it doesn't work, and its deficiencies might be corrected with a built in version.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:56 PM
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747

728

Yes, but the question wasn't one of blame (as the story makes clear, the parents assign themselves lots of that), but whether criminal charges should be brought

As I said somewhere above I would be inclined to lenience in terms of criminal charges. But perhaps more on grounds of prosecutorial discretion than because I think they aren't actually guilty.

And I object to LB's (653)

... He's not in the 'didn't do anything wrong at all' category I've been putting the rest of the parents in.)

The parents may not be criminally liable but they surely did something wrong.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 2:59 PM
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748

the parent had forgotten that the kid was in the back seat (which although rare, does happen to lots of people and can't really be considered negligent by itself)

Are you sure about that? If you're in the sole position of responsibility for the kid and you forget about it for long enough to fail to take care of it, that's neglect, isn't it?


Posted by: émigré | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:05 PM
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749

Everything has already always been invented.

If only that were true.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:05 PM
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750

749 is very deep.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:11 PM
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751

Okay, my bad mom story.

Rory's maybe 2 or 3. She falls asleep at the dinner table, so I pack the little angel up and tuck her safe and warm in her bed. The next morning she toddles into our room. "Ah eed a akin." Huh? "Ahh eeeed a aaakin!" Still puzzled, I procure the napkin into which she then proceeds to daintily spit -- as we've taught her is the polite thing to do with unacceptable food -- a one inch cube of feta cheese. "Oh my God! Rory!!! You slept with that in your mouth all night!!!" "But I didn't like it."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:12 PM
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752

750: Foiled by quote marks inside quote marks. Should have gone here.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:25 PM
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753

Comment ending with 000000 decides what I name my hedgehog


Posted by: anonymous | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:29 PM
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754

what I name my hedgehog

IYKWIM.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:31 PM
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755

45 minutes since I posted my story and no one's piped up with "I *knew* you were dropped on your head as a child!"? You people disgust me.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:41 PM
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756

Kobe!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:42 PM
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757

751: That is adorable. (And terrifying. But mostly adorable).

Just in case you were all breathlessly awaiting my return for lunch, I link you to this article about parents reportedly so obsessed with video games their children nearly starved to death. (So, no, not actual death, as I had thought earlier). To me, it sounds like there was some deep depression in the parents, and that they weren't really capable of being good care givers, but I remember at the time of course that it was a completely sensationalistic story about the hazards of video games.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:42 PM
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758

Ah, right. Kobe. I was thinking, "I hope someone who is aware of all Unfogged traditions figures out the right thing to say for #1000000".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:44 PM
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759

756: whoah. Kobe Eternal, the hedgehog.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:44 PM
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760

759: I'm not *that* hairy.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:46 PM
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761

Kobe Eternal, the hedgehog.

The Kobe only knows one trick, but it's a good one date rape.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 3:56 PM
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762

I dropped my eldest down the stairs when she was about 16 months old - my fault too, as we were staying in a house with wooden stairs, and I was only wearing socks. When I slipped, I grabbed the bannister (which was only on one side) with the hand that was carrying her. I was 7 months pregnant, so I like to think that I was in fact being a *good* mother and attempting to protect my unborn child.

As for 732 - all 6 of us were in our attic one day. The youngest, under 2, managed to walk backwards into the open hatch. She actually stood just in front of it long enough for us all to notice and make choked "aaaahhhhh" noises, then stepped back and disappeared (in a cartoonish fashion). We all rushed over and looked down, and she was lying on her back, crying. She had a bit of a scrape on her face from the ladder, but apart from that she was ok. Every time I climb down that ladder I think about how horribly injured and how bloody painful it would be if I fell down there.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 4:12 PM
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763

a one inch cube of feta cheese..."But I didn't like it."

And that little girl grew up to be...ben w-lfs-n.

And now you know the rest of the story.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 4:19 PM
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764

"I don't really know what I'm talking about, but I am under the impression that Western and Eastern concepts of shame/honor/guilt are very different."

Y'all are cutting read too much slack based on a hypothetical East/West moral divide. I'm Asian, born and brought up and still living here, and no, there are always concerns of culpability, intention and so on in manslaughter cases. I can't see a different outcome to the case, if it happened where I live.

This is more about read's own judgment, which on this issue seems pretty warped to me.


Posted by: LordKrishna | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 5:02 PM
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765

747: Hey, new blog. Sorry to hear about your job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 5:14 PM
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766

764.2: Mm, at least it would be nice to be able to engage her arguments on the merits, as presented, rather than reverting to unbridgeable cultural difference. There's a language barrier that makes that almost impossible, so that's about it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 5:40 PM
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767

For example, you have all these men in the Puritan colonies in the 17th century being punished for sexual transgressions (paying fines, public humiliation, corporal punishment), and as soon as it's over with, they're supposed to re-enter the community as though nothing had happened, and do.

Huh. This resonates rather profoundly with me. Public confession, a bit of communal shaming, acceptance, and then re-integration.

I rather doubt that the experience of a courtroom would serve the spiritual mission here, though, and going through the process of retaining an attorney and mounting a defense would probably hinder the desired psychological dynamics.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 5:40 PM
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768

i used pledge instead of plead
yeah, it's my own interpretation, i said it multiple times, that's how i feel
panAsian cultural interpretation, i have no idea, perhaps people would pity and ostracise the unfortunate parent


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 5:55 PM
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769

I rather doubt that the experience of a courtroom would serve the spiritual mission here

Me too. They of course had a different legal system then we do (though they've got the same underpinnings of English common law that we have) since church and state were far more entwined.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 5:57 PM
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770

769: Yes, it's odd to me that read's spiritual orientation and moral intuitions intersect with our history in this way, but I haven't, I'm afraid, followed much about her beliefs as they've been gestured toward here via links and such.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 6:48 PM
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771

767 expresses my thoughts exactly.

If something like this that left me permeated with guilt happened, I would be hoping for some process by which society exacted some penance from me and then I could go on with my life. Instead of having to rely on myself to punish myself, which would always make me think I'm not punishing myself enough.

But the adversarial criminal justice system, accompanied as it must be by a prosecutor whose goal is to try to convince people that I am a person far more evil than Satan, and with me trying to say that I am not guilty at all, is not that kind of process at all.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 6:50 PM
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772

771: The external, or extrinsic, process takes the responsibility for punishment out of your hands?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 7:22 PM
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773

I swear to god I read 771 as "more evil than Santa".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 7:24 PM
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774

Well you know, Santa is pretty evil.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 7:26 PM
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775

I kind of think the only prison sentences should be 30 days and 20 years.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 7:28 PM
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776

The external, or extrinsic, process takes the responsibility for punishment out of your hands?

One intellectual history of the modern age postulates that the Romantics valued dark, shameful hidden secrets as that which truly made us into subjective individuals. People can get badly hurt in their lonely personhood though.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 7:32 PM
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777

People can get badly hurt in their lonely personhood though.

They make protective gear for that, dontcha know?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 7:38 PM
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778

THEY CALL IT A HARDENED HEART


Posted by: OPINIONATED PHARAOH | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 7:40 PM
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779

776: I'm fumblingly trying to work this out, a similar handful of ideas.

There's something about what I wanted to call agency, you're calling subjectivity. What's at stake, after all, in a case like the childrens' deaths, is the agency of the perpetrator, the parent: is he/she an involuntary actor?

I want to say that the notion that such tragedies should be referred to society at large for adjudication takes the perpetrator's agency out of the equation, which I can see might be considered a blessing.

What intellectual history of the modern age postulates that, by the way, Jackmormon?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 7:44 PM
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780

I can't believe you people can talk about LB's height for 800 comments.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:01 PM
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781

Ah, see, the fascinating bit isn't my actual height, but the height I appear to be. Clearly worth 800 comments.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:04 PM
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782

LB looks taller in an overheated car.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:08 PM
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783

Get locked in a car for a while and everything starts looking tall.

(What? I can reüse my own stupid joke. Shut up. There's 800 comments in the thread.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:08 PM
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784

Dammit!

I pwned you first, Neil!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:09 PM
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785

Neil

Heh. So that's not just me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:10 PM
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786

Oh my god. I went back and finished the second half of the article. Tears are streaming sown my face. When Phillipe asks Liebot "What is the saddest thing" and Liebot gives him a different answer each time, he is doing Phillipe an immense favor. Cuz no shit, that is the saddest thing.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:13 PM
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787

I may have to change pseuds again. This one made sense at the time.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:20 PM
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788

Cuz no shit, that is the saddest thing.

Yeah, christ.

I am glad I made myself read the whole thing, though.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:29 PM
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789

787: It continues to make sense. Pay no attention to the addled people over there. I've never confused you with anyone I know as Neil.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:31 PM
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790

Not even Neil Patrick Harris?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:36 PM
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791

And the association with Neil Patrick Harris is only pleasing; what could be better than reminding everyone (or at least me) of someone devastatingly appealing (albeit sadly unavailable due to sexual preference and, you know, being a celebrity I don't actually know in person).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:41 PM
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792

It's not like I called him "doogie".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:43 PM
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793

Meeither. Although if you were the Unfogged person I know as Neil, it would explain why he disappeared a while back, but is still around elsewhere on related blogs. Just how many damn people here are using different, Unfogged-specific pseuds because they don't want their regular handles associated with this seedy little back-alley cock-joke venue?


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:46 PM
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794

793 to 789.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:47 PM
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795

Just how many damn people here are using different, Unfogged-specific pseuds because they don't want their regular handles associated with this seedy little back-alley cock-joke venue?

(Raises hand meekly.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:48 PM
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796

This is why I hate namechanging. Hate hate hate hate hate. NPH isn't named Neil -- he posted here for a long time as [Common male first name]+Initial.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:49 PM
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797

795? Really? You, I didn't know were anyone else bloggy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:51 PM
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798

Neil Patrick Harris? What?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:53 PM
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799

796: I'm here for you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:55 PM
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800

796: Which I changed when that plus random personal tidbits became a little too easy to work through to the rest of my name. I don't necessarily care about that as much now as I did then, but most of the time I like this pseud, so what the hell.

AFAIK I've only met two Unfogged types in person.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:56 PM
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801

What intellectual history of the modern age postulates that, by the way, Jackmormon?

Damn, I was hoping nobody would ask me that. My most immediate source would be ">Von Mucke's book on the Fantastic, but I'm sure there are more generalized versions of it out there.

There's a great quote from Wordsworth's play The Borders that I was obsessed with for awhile:

Action is transitionary---a step, a blow,

the motion of a muscle--this way or that---

'Tis done; and in the after-vacancy

We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed:

Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark,

And has the nature of infinity.

That one has been talked over a good bit, but only by acolytes of Paul De Man, and nobody reads the DeManiacs.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:57 PM
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802

798: Depending on what the 'what' means -- Neil Patrick Harris is an actor. Attractive, gay, used to play a teenage doctor named Doogie Houser. Not Prince Hamlet shares the same initials as Neil Patrick Harris, and thus calls the actor's name to mind, causing me at least to visualize our NPH as Harris, in much the same way that I expect most commenters visualize a smallish reptile when they think of me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:57 PM
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803

797: Hush, people have alternative pseuds for a reason.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:59 PM
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804

Von Mucke's book on the Fantastic

s/b a link to that book. Instead, I'll say that it's Dorothea von Mucke's Seduction of the Occult.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:59 PM
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805

"Hauser", technically.

And Neil Patrick Harris was called "NPH" in the movie Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.

Movie is another term for a "motion picture", which is a series of photographic images projected onto a screen by means of a backlight in order to give an illusion of motion and tell a story.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 8:59 PM
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806

802: Standpipe has another blog over there, LB! Not Prince Hamlet never reminded me of Neil Patrick Harris, tha's all.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:02 PM
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807

But that's not important right now.

793, 795, 797: Periodically I get curious, but I'm too lazy to pay careful enough attention to ID people.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:03 PM
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808

807.1 to 805.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:03 PM
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809

801, 804: Thanks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:03 PM
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810

795? Really? You, I didn't know were anyone else bloggy.

You wouldn't. But if you ever happen to read any blog discussion of particle physics / cosmology / string theory or related topics and see a comment from "onymous", it's probably me, although other people occasionally steal it (and I occasionally use it on other random blogs). (And several years ago I was part of a group blog under my real name, but that disappeared quickly when I started grad school and discovered my advisor was reading it.) Comments by "onymous" are basically un-Googleable, so there's really no good reason for me to use a different handle here, but somehow it seemed like a good idea at the time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:04 PM
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811

802: Actually, I envision my friend Liz, who is not dissimilar in terms of personality to you, and who also happens to be convinced that she's much taller than she actually is.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:05 PM
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812

if you ever happen to read any blog discussion of particle physics / cosmology / string theory or related topics

Low risk, unless it's something that's filtered down to the Science Times level.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:06 PM
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813

dark, shameful hidden secrets as that which truly made us into subjective individuals

But this feeling soon gave place to irritation. And then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Phrenology finds no place for it among its organs. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart -- one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such? This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself -- to offer violence to its own nature -- to do wrong for the wrong's sake only -- that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute.


Posted by: "the black cat" narrator | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:07 PM
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814

Here's one that's me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:13 PM
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815

813.--Yes but see, The Borderers was written in 1799, so WW wins, Mr. Poe.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:27 PM
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816

using different, Unfogged-specific pseuds because they don't want their regular handles associated with this seedy little back-alley cock-joke venue

I'm actually Ann Althouse.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:36 PM
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817

Yet I am fascinated by 813. I took a course on Poe and Emerson with Cavell.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:37 PM
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818

I'm actually Ann Althouse.

The breast obsession makes so much sense now.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:45 PM
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819

The quantum of solace bit was delightful.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 9:59 PM
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820

Elsewhere on the internet I just use my name, which feels different from having an unfogged pseud and a non-unfogged pseud, but amounts to the same thing.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:16 PM
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821

"Hauser", technically.

"Howser", actually.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:42 PM
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822

821: Yeah. It was a dick move. That's why Sifu's buying us all breakfast.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 10:45 PM
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823

821: Homer, formally.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:08 PM
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824

Oh man. You guys like bacon?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:19 PM
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825

I was probably thinking of Rutger "Doogie" Hauer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:20 PM
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826

Maybe you were thinking about Doogie Hauser, the mysterious character who became a teenaged MD despite growing up chained in a cellar with no human contact.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:25 PM
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827

Maybe I was thinking of Doogie Hoser, the unlucky schmuck who....

(sobs)

oh! IT'S ME! I ADMIT IT! DOOGIE HOSER IS ME. CANADA, I WELCOME YOUR WRATH.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:29 PM
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828

Beauty


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:34 PM
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829

Doggie Hawser?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03-10-09 11:36 PM
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830

813 EAP described a case of toxoplasmosis
i hope people don't think my views are perverse something, though surely they are not scholarly
when i said pain could be more endurable,
just imagine the guy who got a 30 days term and killed him, if i imagine him right, he killed himself out of crushing guilt, not because he got convicted unjustly
just imagine what would you choose in his case and state of mind
30 days of sunshine would definitely kill him, whereas 20 yrs of intensive stupefying labor or any other external harshness would make him last however, it's like bringing down his suffering level to the endurable
i'm glad that i'm not alone in this thinking, thanks, CN, BMcM, JBS
the woman whom pf described as admirable, she sounds just so i killed my baby and i'm proud coz not guilty, really what an admirable ability to rationalize, she'll survive any situation, clearly she doesn't know how to empathise, so let her suffer plainly what suffering she caused, however innocently
and for these two different causes the law could serve justly and uniformly, in my understanding
i keep explaining all this b/c people now seem to accuse me not only of wrongness, but perverseness
okay, that's all


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 4:33 AM
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831

+self


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 5:16 AM
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832

i keep explaining all this b/c people now seem to accuse me not only of wrongness, but perverseness

Maybe you could stop being the first in every discussion to impute perverseness to the people here who disagree with you?

Alternatively, you could PASII.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 5:48 AM
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833

you know, MM, you can skip reading my comment if it that irritates you
would you, please, stop using your very witty abbreviation, it's really great, i acknowledge it
perhaps you could be a very effective censor in some other times


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 6:53 AM
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834

You give MM too much credit. I think he'd be a really crappy censor. I'd hire Irving Washington myself.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 7:17 AM
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835

Like I said, read, I certainly understand your decision to not read the story, but given your decision, its just pure horseshit to try to characterize what a person in the story "sounds like." To use your word, that's perverse.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 7:42 AM
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836

its just pure horseshit to try to characterize what a person in the story "sounds like." To use your word, that's perverse.

i perversedly don't like to be identified with the catkillers, yes
how my calling insensitive of an actual babykiller denying her guilt makes me that i really can't understand, if i'm perverse than no more than your admirable woman


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 9:47 AM
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837

read, it is "perverse" -- and just a little ironic -- in that you are judging a mother who lost a child as unempathetic with (given that you say you haven't read the article) little or no information about that mother upon which to base such a harsh judgment.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 10:04 AM
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838

"PASIIR" isn't my abbreviation, the esteemed Knecht came up with it. And it's not an attempt to censor you, it's an attempt to alert you to when you're acting insufferable, in the hopes that you'll gain enough self-awareness that you'll stop acting insufferable.

The fact that at least a significant number of people here at Unfogged find this abbreviation apt and useful with regards to you might tell you something too.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:12 PM
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839

While I'm still horrified by read's comments on this, I hate the PASIIR thing more, and wish that Knecht hadn't come up with it and that no one else had picked it up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:14 PM
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840

Alternatively, you can skip reading comments containing "PASIIR" if it irritates you.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:14 PM
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841

How about RYAIAISTITHTYGESATYSAI?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:16 PM
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842

Well I guess we now know the answer to WWLBPASI?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:17 PM
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843

840 not to 839.

841: I like it!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:19 PM
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844

841: What are you, summoning Chthulu?

843: No harm done.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:33 PM
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845

844: Sometimes, Chthulu would be an improvement as an interlocutor. Less madness-inducing anyway.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:37 PM
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846

well, if a not remorseful babykiller is a saint and hero for you, i'm a pervert and prefer it that way
her deed, her karma
and i won't read the article, no nerves to waste them on some soulless egotist's tribulations, according to the colourful comment of political football, that's more then enough for me


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:42 PM
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847

i'm a pervert and prefer it that way

Me too! We should compare notes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:43 PM
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848

See what I mean?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:43 PM
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849

848 re: 846 (but not to it, per se) & 845.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:45 PM
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850

well, if a not remorseful babykiller is a saint and hero for you

You've captured your opponent's opinion exactly in that sentence, read. What excellent discussion skills you have!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:47 PM
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851

Read, you should really read the article. You seem otherwise to be a compassionate person, and I'm certain you'll find that she's not the monster you think she is.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:48 PM
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852

If remorseless babykillers aren't saints and heroes, I don't know who is.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:49 PM
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853

Shouldn't that be in the abortion providers thread?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:50 PM
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854

a


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:54 PM
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855

854 to 850.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:56 PM
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856

fyi i skipped 850


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:58 PM
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857

855: Fine, heebie, I'll go get my sock. And try to summon Chthulu, just for good measure.

856: liar.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 3:59 PM
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858

HOW COME CTHULU ALWAYS GETS THE SUMMONS??!1!!??!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GOL-GOROTH | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 4:04 PM
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859

no nerves to waste them on some soulless egotist's tribulations

I am clearly not succeeding in my effort to arouse a little empathy in you for the parents discussed in that article and this thread. If only someone here could offer suggestions for mechanisms for responding to those who don't "know how to empathise."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 4:07 PM
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860

I understand a nice hefty jail sentence works wonders.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 4:12 PM
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861

Actually, I rather liked ordering from e-Mongol.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 4:14 PM
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862

860: I strongly advocate the use of socks as a cheaper, more humane, and more effective method.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 4:15 PM
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863

851

Read, you should really read the article. You seem otherwise to be a compassionate person, and I'm certain you'll find that she's not the monster you think she is.

I read the article and I did not find her very sympathetic. Her lawyer was wise to keep her off the stand.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 4:52 PM
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I have a feeling I wouldn't particularly enjoy her company (so I guess she's a bit unsympathetic in that way), but her actions post-accident are fucking incredible--the amount of strength that women possesses is downright amazing. I wasn't kidding when I said I was weeping last night--what she did for the other guy after his trial, and what she's offered to do for them if they can't adopt again--it just shattered me.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-11-09 5:07 PM
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865

Greasemonkey is your friend. http://pastebin.com/f732ff063 - opt-in helps keep your blood pressure down.


Posted by: pasiir | Link to this comment | 03-12-09 1:49 AM
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866

WITNER SPRING SUMMER OR FALL
ALL YOU'VE GOT TO DO IS CALL!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GREASEMONKEY | Link to this comment | 03-12-09 5:59 AM
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867

I can't install that here at work, so I'm curious: is it built to work only on one particular pseud, or can you customize it to any pseud, or even multiple pseuds?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-12-09 8:57 AM
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868

Can this script can be easily customized for pseuds with special characters, like slashes, in the middle of them?

That's just a hypothetical question. I have no particular reason for asking.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-12-09 9:55 AM
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869

I just realized that yesterday I misread 855 as saying "845 to 850" and so I thought heebie was asserting I was being madness-inducing.

857.1 doesn't make much sense with the correct reading. Therefore, I reject it.


Posted by: M\tch M\lls | Link to this comment | 03-12-09 10:10 AM
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870

I'm pretty sure it works on any non-crustaceous pseud.

/recruiting pitch


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-12-09 10:11 AM
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871

870: Good to know.


Posted by: M|tch M|lls, Lobster | Link to this comment | 03-12-09 10:18 AM
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872

WHAT ABOUT NON-CRETACEOUS PSEUDONYMS?


Posted by: OPINIONATED TYRANNOSAURUS REX | Link to this comment | 03-12-09 10:43 AM
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873

872: Well, if you're so opinionated, why don't you state your opinion? My opinion is UR DOIN IT RONG!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-12-09 11:36 AM
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874

It looks like the Greasemonkey script would work with any one hard-coded name that didn't have a link. It could match more names with a single line changed.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-13-09 3:12 AM
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