Re: Doc Robot

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The next-to-last doctor I went to was looking at his laptop for most of the ten minutes or so that I was in the room with him, and was visibly annoyed at having to talk to me. He ended up prescribing the wrong wrist brace, and nearly ruined my chances of getting workman's comp because he'd never even heard of my condition, even though I'd told him and the nurse what it was and pointed out to him the standard tests for it.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:09 AM
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No point in blaming technology here. If these doctors didn't have their digital gizmos they'd be staring at your paper chart rather than making eye contact.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:11 AM
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I don't know whether the technology is to blame, but I think it makes it a little bit easier to tune out and make mistakes. But it also makes it easier to catch them. Maybe? Last week I was at the doctor for something minor, and after the exam the doctor was typing all the information into the computer, and as I left the nurse wanted to check my phone number for the follow-up. Hmm, that's not the right number. Hmm, that's not the right birthdate. Hmm, the other girl in the waiting area has the same first name. Oooops.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:19 AM
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I have concerns about electronic records myself, but there is impressive evidence that they lead to mistake reduction in hospitals, e.g., on drug interactions, incorrect dosages (whether from doctor error or misreading), missed allergies. (I don't have a cite; my source is the health care guru at my union.)

my new doctor uses one of those handheld systems and I'm going to dump his ass because of it

Surely you're dumping his ass because he has crappy patient skills. I dumped my paper-only doc for the same reason, while I wouldn't care if my GYN chiseled my answers in a stone tablet, because she gives me her full attention.

I am forced to bring up questions in the order they appear, to ask the parents of a laughing 2-year-old if she is "in pain,"

This is a lame complaint. What's so hard about saying, "This might seem like a silly question, but we need to have a complete record: Is your daughter in pain?"

I feeling cranky, I guess. There are quite legitimate concerns about computerizing medical records, but this piece just made me feel argumentative. Could be having to get up early on a Saturday. Is there a pill for that?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:43 AM
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There are certainly pills that ensure you won't get up early.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:47 AM
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2: This is a lame complaint. What's so hard about saying, "This might seem like a silly question, but we need to have a complete record: Is your daughter in pain?"

Because it's a waste of time and makes you seem like an annoying idiot, and because this is just one example of a kind of problem, not the whole problem. And if you have someone who stubbornly asks stupid questions like that while refusing to listen to anything the patient volunteers that doesn't have a line in the protocol, the patient quite rightly decides he doesn't trust you.

I don't think that you can just assert (2, 4) that the computer makes no difference at all in these regards. It strikes me as something worth looking into.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:53 AM
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Strikes me as a two-sided problem: the protocols need to be designed with flexibility to reflect the realities of doctor-patient interaction, and medical types simply need to learn to accommodate the tech. There's no inherent reason that entering data on a handheld computer should be any more distracting than doing it on a piece of paper.

When you look at the cleverness poured into things like iPhone apps, it's maddening how poorly designed most software is. I understand the scaling differences, etc. - it's not literally a matter of getting the guy who made the clever novelty program to design the MedApp interface for the whole country - but I feel as if vast chunks of the software industry have never considered the benefits of really elegant interfaces (because they make programs more usable, not just more pleasant to use; or rather, that's a meaningless distinction).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:01 AM
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On the other hand, things like checklists have been shown to be more effective than relying on the doctor's and patient's intuition in reducing mistakes.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:01 AM
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All of my doctors have access to my various test records and diagnoses on-line. I presume that's a set of records shared between the local GPs and the main local health trust, rather than anything shared at wider level.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:36 AM
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7 - I think programmers have no idea how to make an elegant interface. Unlike most programming problems, it's not something amenable to ratiocination. It requires a lot of experimenting and testing.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:57 AM
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Medicine, on the other hand... My experience with doctors has led me to suspect they could be replaced with computer programs. Either you say the magic symptom words that trigger the memory of what your condition is and how to to treat it, or they just thrash aimlessly.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:59 AM
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ttaM, I was just checking your records - you're overdue for a colonoscopy. Let me know when, I schedule it for you.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:10 AM
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Was he muttering " ... trisomal juxtaposition, ... no, no ..uh, trichinosis jellybean... trepanation justified... yes!"?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:16 AM
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10: Do you mean in the sense that there's no strict codification, and each solution is unique, or that programmers aren't, as a general rule, good at this task? John at Daring Fireball has written some nice pieces exploring what it is that makes for elegant iPhone apps - it's a combination of stripping out unnecessary functions and understanding where in the program to implement the functions that remain. The iPhone, obvs., is a special platform, but people have done some truly clever and useful things within its constraints.

Point being, it seems like there are some more-or-less universal UI rules that nonetheless get ignored all the time, plus some slightly more sophisticated UI best practices that most software companies don't make any effort to implement.

I wonder how Google manages this. They are a rare company that applies a great deal of let's call it engineering cleverness without shirking UI*. Are the engineers/programmers being smart about UI, or is UI a separate group that rigorously implements best practices?

* I don't think they're perfect in UI, but they're pretty good, and seem to do a good job of ongoing improvement not only in function but also in UI.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:20 AM
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programmers aren't, as a general rule, good at this task?

Programmers aren't, as a general rule, even the people who should be engaging in this task. You need companies and project managers to budget sufficient time and resources to UI, good UI designers, UI testing, and so on.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:46 AM
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I'm skeptical that computerized medical records are All That (i.e. deserving of the fuss that is made about them in health care reform, cost reduction, etc.). They're more of a symptom than a cause -- a symptom of the organizational fragmentation that makes the U.S. medical system so hard to manage. The fragmentation has deeper causes. But uniform records would provide more technical capacity to impose higher-level bureaucratic control on the system, most likely for the no-patient-left-behind quality/cost controls that DC technocrats want to do.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:03 AM
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I was nothing more than a collection of symptoms to him, to be processed by a program, and assigned a prescription.

Sounds good to me. I fucking hate talking to doctors.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:06 AM
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it's a combination of stripping out unnecessary functions and understanding where in the program to implement the functions that remain.

A big problem is that knowing those two things can be very domain specific and the programmers aren't going to know how to do it well. If you are programming something that you are going to use such as in iPhone app you have some intuition as to what and how it should work. Most programmers don't know how a doctor would like their medical software to work because they don't ever do anything like what the doctor is doing. So you have to bring in a bunch of domain experts and do a bunch of testing and refinement which is not cheap.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:14 AM
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I don't understand why 99% of the people on the Internet hate all doctors, but it definitely makes me less likely to regret not becoming a doctor.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:16 AM
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16: There's the org stuff you describe, but there's also the simple coordination errors (as in Cala's example) that well-implemented electronic records go a long way in preventing. There's something like 10s of thousands of deaths a year caused by coordination issues (wrong organ transplants, giving meds that people are allergic to, etc), plus all of the extra sick time, pain, suffering, etc. You don't have to clean up all of that to net huge gains from computer records.

Just something as simple as prescriptions - instead of the doc scribbling a note for you to hand to the pharm, it goes out electronically, much less likely to be garbled, and with feedback to the doc - "Dispensed 100 mg of Regulasyl to Patient X on 1/2/09" - "Wait, that's the wrong meds/dosage!" Better communication, better records of what happens, all the rest.

Also, given the way specialization works, a single, minor incident may involve 4 distinct medical entities - PCP, clinic where blood is drawn, private office specialist, and pharmacist. That's a lot of paperwork flying around (or worse, not flying around), and no one gains from doing it that way.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:20 AM
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19: I love my doctor. I almost wish I were more sickly, so I'd get to see her more. It's a letdown when the babies pass a couple months old, and suddenly we don't get to see Dr. A every few weeks.

I suppose I could go get a physical.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:22 AM
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18: Ah. Starting to get it.

I still suspect that the underlying problem is not enough commitment to UI best practices, so that each project reinvents the wheel: "Oh, so doctors don't want to have to drill down through 3 menus to enter the date? Medicine is so fascinating!"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:26 AM
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or a colonoscopy


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:26 AM
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16, 20: Also the issue of moving around a lot, as Becks mentioned.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:27 AM
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My understanding is that as healthcare-reform measures go computerized records are the low-hanging fruit that can be implemented now, whereas other, more ambitious efforts will require more work to put into place.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:28 AM
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Just something as simple as prescriptions - instead of the doc scribbling a note for you to hand to the pharm, it goes out electronically, much less likely to be garbled, and with feedback to the doc - "Dispensed 100 mg of Regulasyl to Patient X on 1/2/09" - "Wait, that's the wrong meds/dosage!" Better communication, better records of what happens, all the rest.

Isn't there a bit of a to-do about color-coding dosages, and how groups initially find it condescending and insulting, but it cuts way down on mistakes? I remember reading the nurses were the first to get color-coded, and the ambulances were resisting it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:39 AM
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19: I don't hate doctors. It's just my experience that despite the mystique they don't have greater problem-solving skills than car mechanics, for example.

10: I don't believe the claim that there are universal rules on how to design a UI. I'm sure that you can learn how to be a good UI designer, just as I'm sure that you can learn to be a good writer, or a good movie director, but it doesn't mean there are rules you can learn. The fact that people write and give away programs that have terrible interfaces is almost an existence proof of this: if there's one thing programmers are good at, it's learning and following rules.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:01 AM
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25

My understanding is that as healthcare-reform measures go computerized records are the low-hanging fruit that can be implemented now, whereas other, more ambitious efforts will require more work to put into place.

This is the sort of thinking that leads to IT disasters.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:02 AM
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28: How so?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:13 AM
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26: and how groups initially find it condescending and insulting,

I think responses like this (to which we are all prone to) are closely related to the "never, no way, no how" response to cases of children left in the car. It runs counter to both common sense and professional (and/or personal) pride to think that we could ever make such a dumb mistake. Not that it would necessarily help, but it is the kind of thing that I think a course in basic "numeracy" and critical thinking might help, "Imagine if you yourself had to repeat this action 10 million times, can you envision maybe only getting it right 9,999,999s time? A 99.99999% success rate? So you fuck it up once and someone is dead and your life/career is ruined. So just get over the big red button with insulting warning labels, already."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:19 AM
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29

Thinking it will be easy leads to an overly ambitious (and often constantly changing spec) which proves impossible to implement (at least on anything close to the original budget and schedule). This happens a lot (perhaps especially with government IT projects).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:27 AM
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24 to 23 also


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:28 AM
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28,29: I know what kids! Let's put in an IT system!!

But I'd argue that just any thinking that leads to putting in an IT system is "the sort of thinking that leads to IT disasters". The monster is already inside the house. But maybe that's just my usual weekend free-floating cynicism.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:32 AM
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This happens a lot (perhaps especially with government IT projects).

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:33 AM
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I don't believe the claim that there are universal rules on how to design a UI. I'm sure that you can learn how to be a good UI designer, just as I'm sure that you can learn to be a good writer, or a good movie director, but it doesn't mean there are rules you can learn. The fact that people write and give away programs that have terrible interfaces is almost an existence proof of this: if there's one thing programmers are good at, it's learning and following rules.

Well, there are "rules" like "analogous UI elements should behave consistently across windows/programs/elements." That's very basic, eminently applicable, and frequently ignored. I'm not sure if you're thinking that that kind of rule doesn't really work, or if you're thinking of more proscriptive rules ("OK" button always goes on the right; Never use purple for an active element).

Speaking as an architect, there are lots of design rules that are out there, understood, yet frequently ignored. A good chunk of the building codes are just good practices regardless, but if they weren't in the code, they wouldn't always happen, and lives would be lost because some architect decided that in-swinging doors worked better for his special snowflake of a building.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:33 AM
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IT disasters are so horrifying that Stephen King wrote a novel about one.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:35 AM
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There's just so much miscommunication and self-delusion on both sides of the deal. As JP pointed out, doctors are insulted when you insinuate that they are capable of making mistakes despite blatant evidence that they do so on a regular basis. As a class, doctors seem more susceptible to this problem, having overinflated senses of self-worth.


On the other hand, patients always think that, of course the doctor should listen to them because they know what's most important. Many patients come to the office with a diagnosis already in hand; a large proportion of the time they are wrong too. Casual inspection of people you know rapidly puts the lie to this one too, see patients begging their doctors for antibiotics to treat colds among many other examples.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:36 AM
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21 - we loved our old doctor. So much in fact, that #1 child wanted to name #3 after him. Had to point out that 'Dr Plint' was not a great name for a baby. (His initial was 'S' - haha!)


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:38 AM
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Sorry, sloppy editing made my second paragraph totally confusing. Shorter me: People suck and are usually wrong.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:40 AM
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Thinking it will be easy leads to an overly ambitious (and often constantly changing spec) which proves impossible to implement (at least on anything close to the original budget and schedule). This happens a lot (perhaps especially with government IT projects).

It could be done right now by just making the system the VA uses universal.

What's interesting is talking to people in the medical field who do a rotation at the local VA hospital after working at other facilities. Typically they're big fans of the electronic charts and suddenly a hell of a lot more open to the idea of UHC.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:40 AM
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Had to point out that 'Dr Plint' was not a great name for a baby. (His initial was 'S' - haha!)

I was delivered by Dr. Bottoms.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:44 AM
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30: Which makes me want to institute some color-coding system for getting the kid out of the carseat each and every time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:46 AM
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It could be done right now by just making the system the VA uses universal.

I would be curious to see if anyone has done any study as to how feasible this actually is. From my not overly broad experience of moving complex software from domain A to slightly different domain B is that it doesn't tend to work very well. So I wonder how easy it would be to universalize the VA IT system without basically universalizing the rest of the VA along with it.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:50 AM
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16: I'm skeptical that computerized medical records are All That (i.e. deserving of the fuss that is made about them in health care reform, cost reduction, etc.). They're more of a symptom than a cause -- a symptom of the organizational fragmentation that makes the U.S. medical system so hard to manage. The fragmentation has deeper causes.

I'm skeptical that the Internet is All That; it's more a symptom than a cause -- a symptom of the disorganization fragmentation of libraries, the excessive costs of education and the monopolistic practices of newspapers and local telephone service monopolies.

14: Point being, it seems like there are some more-or-less universal UI rules that nonetheless get ignored all the time,

Shorter CJB: It needs to work. Programmers tend to design programs for entering and storing medical records, not programs useful to people actually doing medical work. Programmers actually use iphones, so they've got cause to do things in a way that turn out to be useful to actual people.

I also think Walt is correct; there is no real rule to hand, because you're not designing (in the case of medical records) a general purpose computing machine, you're designing a system to adapt a general purpose computing machine to a particular purpose. The UI rules that work on an iphone, don't work quite so well on a desktop/laptop, nor would they work well on a thermostat. (An electronic thermostat is a small embedded computer; it has an interface! An ipod is a walkman, is car stereo, is a home stereo, is a tape recorder, is an 8-track, is a record player, is a victrola, is a player piano; it just does more, in a smaller space.)

The kindle and PDF and things like that all have similar problems: they're trying to make a form factor for electronic books, but the hardware (still) isn't quite up to snuff, although it is getting there.

max
['A sticky answer.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:56 AM
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35: and lives would be lost because some architect decided that in-swinging doors worked better for his special snowflake of a building.

A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.
--Ludwig Wittgenstein

Who was that questioning what the disciples of philosophers had ever done? (actually it was PGD in comment 413 of the John Galt thread)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:59 AM
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Electronic health IT gizmos are likely to make doctors who are bad at patient interactions worse, but they aren't going to make doctors who are good at it bad. (Well, it's possible that before my awesome doctor got his tablet PC he communicated entirely in song, but I'm pretty satisfied with his current level of warmth and engagement.)


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 12:00 PM
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I was delivered by Dr. Bottoms.

My mom has a pathologist friend named Dr. Coffin.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 12:02 PM
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Portland had an OB doctor named Max Miracle 35 years ago, and there may be a Dr. Max Miracle Jr. still around.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 12:09 PM
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I think that electronic databases of medical records could be enormously helpful for medicine. I think that the real problem is that everything that is done in medicine is done with costcutting in mind -- but mostly from the points of view of the insurers and HMOs. Improving medical treatment is not the primary goal.

An electronic system could redflag a doctor's absentminded mistakes, spot rare diseases, and bring information to his attention from past treatment of the patient by other providers. If that's done right, it's all to the good.

But the beancounters run the show.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 12:18 PM
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I would be curious to see if anyone has done any study as to how feasible this actually is.

"What is generally not known is that the VHA's clinical information system, known as VistA®, and the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS) clinical user interface front end have been successfully transported and implemented to a number of non-VHA healthcare organizations across the U.S. including the states of Hawaii, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, New York, and California. VistA has also been deployed in various U.S. federal healthcare agencies including the Indian Health Service, Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), Department of Defense (DoD), NASA, not to mention State Veterans Homes and other healthcare organizations in many states across the U.S. "

http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:RVWmbUFCO10J:www.shepherd.edu/surc/cosi/VistA%2520around%2520the%2520world%25202008.doc+Nasser+Institute+Hospital+in+Egypt+vista&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 12:18 PM
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49

... I think that the real problem is that everything that is done in medicine is done with costcutting in mind -- ...

If this were true costs would be much less than they are. In fact many actors are trying to grab as much revenue as possible.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 12:24 PM
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FWIW, I know a friend of a friend who is a doctor who is convinced that the medical profession, as it currently exists, is incapable of intelligently managing patient's data and, so, has been working on this project as a way to have patient-managed health information.

Also, it's a couple of years old, but I thought this book had a nice analysis of why programmers are the wrong people to be writing UI. Essentially for the reasons given in this thread

1) UI design is a skill, and one that many programers don't have.

In Addition:
2) Many programmers are people who are comfortable with complex, feature rich, text heavy interfaces so they are not necessarily temperamentally inclined to build simple interfaces.

In Addition:
3) It is easy for a lazy programmer to build an interface that models the underlying format of the program. "There are six steps involved in the process, I'll build six forms."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 12:28 PM
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I wonder how Google manages this. They are a rare company that applies a great deal of let's call it engineering cleverness without shirking UI*. Are the engineers/programmers being smart about UI, or is UI a separate group that rigorously implements best practices?

Most any software company Google's size (and plenty that are much smaller) is going to have a dedicated UI/Human Interfaces group. That group won't necessarily *implement* the interface, but they'll set the design. Google also rolls out changes to its UI selectively before they get pushed out system-wide, so they can see how real users react to and interact with it.

* I don't think they're perfect in UI, but they're pretty good, and seem to do a good job of ongoing improvement not only in function but also in UI.

There speaks a man who's never used Google Groups.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 12:51 PM
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51: Agreed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 1:25 PM
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On the programming thing: of course programmers generally don't have a fucking clue about interface design. Just look at most software. In this respect they suffer from a variety of Engineer's Disease, the symptoms of which are an iron self-belief in one's personal intelligence, rationality and evidence-driven, scientific outlook on like coupled with an inability to believe there exist any problems -- any real problems -- that both lie outside one's expertise and can't be solved by just thinking about it for thirty seconds. Hence the tendency of programmers to blame everything on the stupidity of users.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 1:34 PM
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Good UIs cost money, and are often the first things to be sacrificed when the budget get squeezed. Organizations will pay for a UI that is "good enough." Convincing them to pay for "elegant" is a tough sell.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 1:39 PM
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wrt Doctors, I have less and less faith in their competence, especially in the U.S. Health Care setting, so I'm generally in favor of checklist-driven stuff. Checklists revolutionized air safety by basically emasculating the professional authority of The Captain and forcing him (it was always a him) to follow set procedures, procedures that included deference to other crew members (also following procedures) at various points. Same thing should happen for Doctors. I mean, when you see findings like in-hospital deaths being cut by large proportions simply by installing soap at every bedside and forcing doctors and nurses to wash their hands at every stop, you aren't left with a lot of confidence in the magical authority of Dr House. I think most people who have had a relative in hospital for something serious will likely have a story about how if they hadn't been present at the bedside acting as a de facto carer, something horrible would have happened to the patient. E.g., a friend of mine who had just had spinal surgery (and was out on morphine) would have been rolled over in his bed at 4am by a nurse and orderly had his wife not being staying with him in the room and forced them to stop.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 1:42 PM
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... I think that the real problem is that everything that is done in medicine is done with costcutting in mind -- ...

If this were true costs would be much less than they are. In fact many actors are trying to grab as much revenue as possible.

I think Shearer is interpreting "costs" in the first quote to be "prices". Both of you guys are saying that the medical business is operating with their eye on the bottom line.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 1:44 PM
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Also, I look forward to one day just entering my symptoms into WebMD, and having it print me out a prescription. Probably 75% of the crap you go to your GP for could be automated away. That would be excellent.

The monied interests would never stand for it, of course...


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 1:46 PM
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Most any software company Google's size (and plenty that are much smaller) is going to have a dedicated UI/Human Interfaces group. That group won't necessarily *implement* the interface, but they'll set the design.

And they seem to take this pretty seriously, as evidenced by this recent article with a bit about testing 40-odd shades of blue with varying amounts of green in them to see which one people click on most.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 2:21 PM
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But then, for Google getting the user interface optimized is pretty directly related to their bottom line. Not so much for some company contracted out to build some system for hospitals.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 2:22 PM
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Hence the tendency of programmers to blame everything on the stupidity of users.

In fairness, it really is impossible to overestimate the stupidity of users.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 3:02 PM
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"stupidity", faugh. Either something is intuitive or it isn't. And nothing is intuitive to everyone.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 3:07 PM
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I keep singing this post title to the tune of "Doctor Robert".


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 3:25 PM
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(With -tor added to the post title.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 3:26 PM
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47, 48 et al. I know someone whose orthopedist is named Dr. Smiley. She switched from one named Dr. Wack.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 3:33 PM
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||

The alcoholic friend is threatening to kill herself. Talked to her mom, who is at least with her and able to take care of the 3-year old. Freaking out.

|>


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 3:38 PM
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67: Ugh, that's horrible. I'm so sorry to hear that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 3:42 PM
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On the UI tip, rfts seems to have been the only person to mention the most important things, unless I'm missing something:
sufficient time and resources to UI, good UI designers, UI testing

There are definitely UI best practices, and there are "rules" which will probably make your program better, but the reason those rules exist is that somebody did a lot of testing of different approaches until they knew what worked best, and you won't know if you've correctly implemented the things those rules tell you to without testing, and you have to be willing to go back and start almost from scratch in terms of organization if your testing shows that it isn't working right.

The problem with a lot of software companies is that UI design isn't really built into the cycle; things are developed with a temporary programmer UI -- that everybody understands is going to be replaced, because programmers shouldn't do UI -- and then a UI designer is hired to put a pretty face on top of existing software. This pretty face can be relatively elaborate, and involve a lot of reorganization, but if you haven't been thinking about what the testable assumptions behind your UI are from the very beginning, you're not going to end up with something optimal.

It adds a lot of time and money to the process, and you can fairly easily get something that looks usable and easy to understand, so it doesn't happen that much.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 3:43 PM
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67: Does she have a sponsor of some sort?

Does she have a plan?

Would she be willing to go to an ER, preferably at a hospital with a dual diagnosis unit?

I know that you're trying not to be over-involved, but is there a friend or relative who could go with her? ERs are not necessarily nice places for people with mental illness and having someone there to navigate for you can be really helpful.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 4:00 PM
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She is not in a program. We did the ER thing a few weeks ago and the jackass doctors wrote it off as a panic attack. I emailed/texted another friend of hers who seems to have his head on straight. Mom doesn't seem to be taking it seriously. Fuck.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 4:10 PM
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Yeah, UI should be part of the design from the get go on anything remotely client-side. But of course the skills of a)getting the business people to tell you what they really want, b)understanding the code, and c)talent for UI design are very rarely found in the same person.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 4:11 PM
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72: even if they are, you still to budget for testing. Generally, just too many moving parts to have it happen that often, especially if you're selling into a small market.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 4:14 PM
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Still to budget for grammar also.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 4:17 PM
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74: What do you want good grammar or good UI?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 4:23 PM
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72: Budget? For testing? It is to laugh.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 4:26 PM
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On the subject of UIs (and I suspect the debate on specific examples of good or bad ones could chew up a few hundred comments), I have a question for those who read and post here from their iPhones. Is there a quick way to get to the bottom of a very long web page like an Unfogged thread? I find it rather onerous (maybe I just don't give good flick). From searching I find that others have noted this, and there is a "bookmarkerlet" that supposedly does it. Anybody use that?

Overall, I am debating whether or not to keep the thing; I find it to be a nice enough yuppie toy, but the traditional phone functionality is rather sucky.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 5:20 PM
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I have the same problem as stormcrow


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 5:22 PM
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Is there a quick way to get to the bottom of a very long web page like an Unfogged thread?

Not that I've figured out, which is really annoying.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 5:22 PM
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a)getting the business people to tell you what they really want,

First problem being that business people rarely, if ever, know what they really want.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 5:26 PM
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Can't you click somewhere on the page and then use the "end" key*?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 5:27 PM
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Oh, never mind. I should read down the thread instead of up. Didn't see that it's an iPhone question.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 5:27 PM
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First problem being that business people rarely, if ever, know what they really want.

Money?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 5:31 PM
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I'm so sorry, Di. That is terrible.

I don't understand why 99% of the people on the Internet hate all doctors

I hate doctors because they look at my fat slovenly body and assume a) I am an uneducated moron who has no idea she's a bloated wreck of a woman and b) all my health issues are related to the fact I'm not a size four. Even, say, an allergy or a funny mole. And since it is so patently obvious that my problem stems from my girth, they ignore everything I say, panting with eagerness to break in and say, 'You should go to Weight Watchers and lose some weight.' I am sorry that I am a fat white woman whom nobody loves, mister doctor mans, but that is my business, not yours and Frances Cornford's. Give me a prescription for my damn hayfever and shut up.

My car mechanic doesn't give me an attitude, so there's no reason for the mechanic who works on my body to give me an attitude, either. And yet, somehow, body mechanics think they are entitled to swan about as if they were the most rare and beautiful creations of heaven.


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 5:47 PM
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78: Turgid Jacobian

Really? So that's it? Dude, "TJ" worked for me! This is just going to make me call you "Jac."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 5:49 PM
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77: For unfogged in particular the following hack works. Instead of refreshing, go back to the main page and click on the "comments" link in one of the things on the "Latest Comments" panel, and it will send you to the end of the thread.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 6:08 PM
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She is not in a program. We did the ER thing a few weeks ago and the jackass doctors wrote it off as a panic attack.

Very typical.

I emailed/texted another friend of hers who seems to have his head on straight. Mom doesn't seem to be taking it seriously. Fuck.

Mom may have excellent reasons for not taking it seriously. Mom has quite possibly heard all this before a thousand times. Mom may also be a fruitcake and (unconsciously) hoping to become the tragic rescuer in the drama of her daughter's mental illness.

If she calls you up and threatens to commit suicide, tell her to call the suicide hotline, since you are not equipped to deal with it. Or she can go to the hospital, I wouldn't go anymore than that.

max
['You do have to take care of yourself.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 6:18 PM
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86: Thanks, yeah that works well for the specific case. Should have figured that one out myself.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 6:23 PM
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strange advice, max, one can't tell to a friend call the hotline, you are her hotline, so you have to listen and try to distract her however long and tiresome it would get
sorry, DK, she's lucky to have you


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 6:40 PM
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Di, I don't know what you mean by "threatening to kill herself," and don't know how much you want to intervene, but back when I worked in community mental health services -- a while back -- there was something called "First Call for Help" in many areas, at least on the east coast.

A general phone number you called to explain the situation and ask what organizations were equipped to address it: your friend's would be an emergency situation. There are emergency mental health centers, not unlike a medical emergency room, but with intervention staff (social workers) on staff 24 hours a day.

Maybe it's extreme to call a place like that, but I don't think they'd be freaked out to receive your call and hear your explanation and give advice as to what, if anything, you should do. They might just say your friend should stay put at her mom's but be encouraged to come in for help, blah blah blah. It's mostly an experienced voice for you to check with.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 6:42 PM
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though if probably she threatens, nothing will happen i guess, i f.e never was like seriously thinking about it, just idly what if like, but if i thought of it seriously i wouldn't tell to anybody i guess, first, to not make people worry, secondly, to not have any interference, perhaps


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 6:46 PM
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If she calls you up and threatens to commit suicide, tell her to call the suicide hotline, since you are not equipped to deal with it. Or she can go to the hospital, I wouldn't go anymore than that.

This is incorrect. If you are in-area you go collect the patient and escort her to an ER in a hospital that has both psych and detox units. If you are out of area, you try to establish contact with a reliable person who is closer. Failing that, you establish an activity that will occupy the patient until you can get in area (e.g. going to a meeting point). But that's kind of the maximum response.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 6:47 PM
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probably, if


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 6:50 PM
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I suspect that Max has had occasion to deal with severe drama queens before, and is sensitive to the whole being manipulated, being forced to be an enabler, before. Just a guess, but that would be enough to teach you to say "no" eventually.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:05 PM
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||
New stylish trend!
|>


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:20 PM
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There are special categories of disturbed persons whose whole syndrome is serially pushing others to their wits' end in order to assure themselves, for the moment, that they're really loved. Munchhausen is one and Borderline is another -- they seem very similar to me but aren't treated that way in the biz, I don't think. How to distinguish them from gneuinely depressed, genuinely suicidal people, I don't know. I may well be that the gameplayers evolve their tactics in synch with the increasing sophistication of caregivers, so that they're always able to get in line ahead of the genuinely suffering people who are in too much pain to make a good presentation of their problem.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:41 PM
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92: This is incorrect.

Di already did that. If I am repeating the story correctly (please to correct me, Di), Di's friend from work had issues with drinking way too much and would be calling Di up drunk and blubbering, but refusing to This went on for awhile and Di cut off contact. Friend came back and things were briefly ok, and then friend started acting up again, Di went to a bar with friend and got talked into drinks which turned into a weekend-long drama that ended in the ER. Then friend had an treatment appoint, but skipped out to go drinking with a boy. Now we have this. Friend has a three-year-old, but friend's mom is present.

If it's really out of hand, I would call 911, tell them the situation and ask them to send a cop car and an ambulance. Which will auto-generate a call to CPS from the police, if they pick friend up. That may be why friend's mom is playing it down. The situation looks and smells like somebody deciding Di is the perfect target for an emotional vomiting upon, said emotional issues being self-medication and just generally swanning about.

Experience suggests that it is generally unwise to stay involved with this situation, because the person with the issues will continue testing the limits to see how far they can go. When the limit is reached, the 'friend' will start screaming about being betrayed and abandoned. After that, things tend to get ugly, sometimes very ugly, as the 'betrayed' person (who was suicidal, but now has hateon) then runs about getting revenge... for not having been 'saved' that last time. None of that means the person doesn't have issues, but the actual issues aren't suicide threats or, I expect, alcoholism.

max
['So.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:49 PM
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Very dejavu-ish. It reminds me of "The Harrad Experiment", a book I read about two pages of which may or may not have been fiction (don't quote me on that).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 7:58 PM
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Damn, I hadn't realized Alcoholic Friend had a 3 year-old. Since she actually had DTs last time we heard about this, I think it's really time she went to a closed, supervised treatment center of some sort. Maybe it'll take a call to the cops or to that outreach group parsimon suggested in 90. This shit is way too dangerous to be dealt with in a patchwork, "best of intentions" way.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:01 PM
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Changing the topic slightly, people who need to be saved, and who engineer things such they apparently need to be, repeatedly, can be bewildering.

I thought of this recently in connection with AWB's male friend who's in a relationship with the woman he wants to break up. I'd recounted the story of an ex of mine who found himself in a similar position with his new girlfriend, but I didn't mention, because it seemed irrelevant, that the new girlfriend was always needing to be rescued!

It was fucking bizarre: he'd just have resolved to break up with her, say, this week, and lo, she was in a car accident. Another time, she broke her foot. Another time it turned out that she was being evicted from her apartment (she had not paid her rent for 4 months). Yet another, he and I were about to go out for lunch, and he received a call that she had just gotten back from the dentist and had thrown up, and had had to leave the dentist's office and was really upset. He had to go see her to hold her hand, right now.

I swear, this was just weird.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:13 PM
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I'm siding with Max here. Not to totally ruin my credibility, but according to Dr. Drew on Lovelines, the *only* thing a friend or family member can do to affect a downward spiral of someone is cut off contact with them. (And he is an addictions medicine specialist!) Once or twice you call the ambulance and hold their hands, but if it threatens to become a pattern, its ineffective. Whereas apparently alcoholics and addicts do sometimes wake up when a loved one or someone they've ensnared cuts off contact with them. But the point being that you really can't save them by sticking by them, as heartbreaking as that is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:19 PM
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which may or may not have been fiction

Uh, it was fiction.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:22 PM
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97, 99, & 101: I agree. If it's all coming apart the thing to do is call the police and let CPS or mom take care of the kid. Getting sucked in doesn't help at all but sometimes there's escalation in an attempt to force the "rescuer" into the situation. It's best to get ahead of that curve.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:28 PM
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Sifu outed himself as having read more than two pages. The perv.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:32 PM
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I'm just reading the end of this, so I've probably missed some crucial details and am therefore giving horrible advice, but I saw three year old and DTs and ER admittance based on my skimming. Based on the above, I'd say that about the only thing that counts as non-enabling behavior would be either a direct trip to rehab or kidnapping her and showing up at an AA meeting, neither of which is actually that uncommon. Of course, neither rehab nor AA will work without the alcoholic themselves getting committed to a program, but it sounds like at this point that would be about the nicest thing one could do. Again, apologies if I've missed something critical.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:33 PM
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FWIW, the diagnosis of manipulation of Di by the friend is premature. We don't know from what Di has said whether the friend called her, or whether the mom did.

That said, obviously the friend needs treatment of some sort, and it may be the case that a friend needs to help her into that. Maybe mom can take care of the 3-year-old while the friend goes on hiatus for a bit, and there doesn't need to be any cutting-off-of-ties, just some plain talking.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:42 PM
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100: I think there are certain people who often find themselves in relationships with people who constantly need saving. I'm one of them, and have to curb that tendency in myself. It's awful, and a very bad habit. When I got out of a truly horrible 1-year relationship like that in college, I remember feeling awful because I knew he was so much worse off for all the "help" I thought I'd been giving him. Very sad.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:53 PM
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i agree with parsimon, cutting off ties is too much
such really quickly disposable relationships, never could understand that, it's like same with those movies like one loses his job and immediately gets like devaluated, his wife initiates their break up something and people's reaction to that seems as if it is going as expected, as if it's like natural sequence of events


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 8:54 PM
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If you are in-area you go collect the patient and escort her to an ER in a hospital that has both psych and detox units.

That can get dangerous, which is why it's better to call the cops to do it.

I don't know about CA, but up here the cops have the option to "pink sheet" someone. If I think that person is a danger to themselves or others due to a mental condition, I can have them forcibly transported to the hospital for a mental health evaluation. If the doctor agrees with my assessment, then that person gets admitted for a 72 hour observation and treatment period. I'd also get family services involved so that we can get some protection for the three year old.


Posted by: Teddy Roosevelt | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:06 PM
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The Mom may be downplaying because she's heard it all before, and looking her daughter in the eye, can make a sound assessment. Or she might be terrified into denial.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:12 PM
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104: hey, I was 11.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:26 PM
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110: Right, and the thing to do is to get both of them, the daughter/friend, and the mom, to talk to professionals in the mental health community. There are people trained in this sort of thing, and guess-work about the level of stability of the various parties is for suckers at this point. Talking to mental health professionals doesn't mean that CPS will automatically become involved.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:30 PM
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11 is awful young to become a perv. Your full flowering must have been something to behold.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:40 PM
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I don't know about CA, but up here the cops have the option to "pink sheet" someone.

Yeah, the cops here can do that same thing, only it's called a 5150 hold.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:43 PM
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In Florida it's called Baker Acting someone.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:52 PM
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Around here, it's called Forcibly Removing Someone You Don't Know How to Deal With.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 9:58 PM
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max gets the basic history more or less right in 97. Quite possibly gets the diagnosis of manipulation right, too.

She called around 2, upset about her ex's visitation this morning. I told her I'd call back later as I was with Rory. Called back at 4 -- I more or less knew from the earlier call that she'd be drunk by then. She asked why I was calling, I told her I was calling back because I said I would. I asked if she'd been drinking, she lied. Then she put her mother on the phone. I told her mom I was worried and that I thought we needed to get her into an in-patient program. Her mom said they'd let me know if that was an option and gave the phone back to my friend. I told my friend that she needs an in-patient program. She said, no, the 3-year-old is going to the grandparents' house tonight and then tonight would be the night to just off herself because the baby'd be better off with out her and the grandparents could take her. She put her mom on the phone again and I told her what was said and she responded, "Okay, are you done talking to [friend] now? [Friend] says she's done talking to you." And that was that.

fm, I did the "get myself in the area" thing a few weeks back. Even if I wanted to tonight, I couldn't. My own daughter is my first priority. I thought about calling the police, but great friend that I am, I don't know the house number.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:07 PM
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Also, appreciate everyone's input. Don't think there's a right answer, but the insights are helpful.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:10 PM
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And heebie, 101 is especially helpful as that may well be the choice I need to make for my own well-being and it's surprising how far "this person on the internet said this guy on the radio said it would be okay" goes to easing the guilt.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:15 PM
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Hey, good! He really does say it all the time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:21 PM
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117: The mom sounds like a MAJOR part of the problem, based on the way she ended the conversation.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:28 PM
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113: Reading 60s soft pron barely qualifies as perving, John. It's that Tweety ran away from home looking to join a sex commune that had his parents worried.

Re: Computerised records: All of my doctors are somehow connected to Cedars-Sinai, so they can all pull up files on me at their various offices. This makes life considerably easier. OTOH, I do a printout of my current meds that I take with me to visits and greet any new doc with a whole history printout, thereby avoiding having to fill in those annoying pages of history questionnaire. If they'd take a text file, I'd do that instead.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:34 PM
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Parents are not good with this kind of thing, generally speaking. They have a tendency to treat ongoing serious problems as "a rough patch," something created by external issues and not, like, underlying disorders that may in some way implicate themselves.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:36 PM
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I haven't all caught up, and I suspect that there are more comments in this category, but:

69 and 72 are nauseatingly reminiscent of architect-type discussions. Like the idea that an interior designer can make a space pleasant at the end of the process, or that "design" is something to be applied after the fact, or that figuring out what people want/need is somehow extraneous to the process.

To put it simply: 95% of the value added by an architect is identifying what the client wants/needs* and then making it happen in an aesthetically pleasing and functional way. Engineers can make buildings that meet codes, but architects are the ones who make them meet the clients' needs. It drives me insane how often this is subsumed in fucked up incentives/priorities.**

Back on the UI thing, what this says to me is that projects should be driven by people whose job is to identify how the client will use the program, and then force programmers to provide this. I understand (through my sister who did some of this stuff) that this is sometimes theoretically the process, but from comments here and my experience using programs, it doesn't seem to be anything like the norm.

* and obvs this is a careful balance

** Wright was famous for ignoring his clients, but people who've interviewed his actual clients have found a very strong tendency for them to say things like, "I didn't realize I wanted X, but since I've lived here, I couldn't be without it." Architects are not merely there to translate the client's stated desires into a structure; you need to understand where the client is coming from. A good architect is a skilled active listener.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:39 PM
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On the original topic, I once ordered a pair of contacts from the same medical center where my optometrist worked, and they managed to get my previous prescription rather than the one I'd just had updated. Turned out I had forgotten to hand them a copy of the new prescription and there was no communication between the doctors and the contact lens department, so there was no way of them knowing anything had changed. It was my mistake, of course, but I was surprised the records were kept that separate. (I believe the law now requires a prescription to be verified every year, so this couldn't happen again even without computerization.)

On the subject of the Alcoholic Friend, I don't have anything to say that hasn't been said. Except that Dr. Drew's advice quite often sounded pretty good back when I listened to their show all the time. Thanks to him and that other guy, I can identify when a smoke alarm battery is low by the sound it makes in the background of a phone conversation.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:45 PM
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you know, sometimes the doc knows _less_ than the little PDA. right now i'm trying to get my doctor to prescribe what should be the algorithm-called-for drug. he thinks its dangerous, which means its been a decade or two since he's read any journal articles on it. so while i'd really like to find a doc who i could just discuss options with intelligiently, at second best i'd like someone who can follow a checklist. checklists aren't that bright; they're just some "key opinion leader's" take on the data. but such libertarianish-solutions aren't going to lead to the best outcomes for most, i know. still i'm a bit selfish.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:45 PM
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I would be really hesitant to call the cops or "mental health professionals" on a friend. My sense is that things have to be really unbelievably bad before our public safety/mental health bureaucracy will make them better instead of worse.

but according to Dr. Drew on Lovelines, the *only* thing a friend or family member can do to affect a downward spiral of someone is cut off contact with them.

This strikes me as total garbage. We all have the right and often the need to be selfish -- even the best people, it's how human nature is designed to work -- but I hate the excuse that it's for the other person's good. It isn't.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:48 PM
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And on the UI side of things, when I did very minimal work with google spreadsheets, I thought they were great. And if I needed to use them so much that I really put a lot of time into learning how to use them, I'd probably think they were fine. But the stuff I've done recently has led me to believe that they kind of suck and it's easier to use excel and/or open office for anything involving moving rows/columns.

Google reader has some inexplicable problems, like inability to rename folders rather than create a new folder and then move everything from an old to a new and then delete the old.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:55 PM
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Thanks to him and that other guy, I can identify when a smoke alarm battery is low by the sound it makes in the background of a phone conversation.

Oh my god, me too. And I compulsively count the seconds between chirps. And I'm appalled at how often people don't hear the low-battery chirps.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:57 PM
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My first action in a new home is to disable all the smoke alarms. Only then can I cook anything.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:59 PM
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We all have the right and often the need to be selfish -- even the best people, it's how human nature is designed to work -- but I hate the excuse that it's for the other person's good. It isn't.

There's a difference between a person rationalizing their own decision as being for the other person's good, like in a break-up, and a professional saying "This may make you feel horrible, but here's what's going on with the other person's disease, and here is the only thing addicts ever respond to."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 10:59 PM
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Heebie, based on my recent research telling me that frat boys do indeed listen to Peter Tosh, I have to tell you that you may now be Downpressor Man. Are you a strict grader? Do you ask for work to be handed in on time?

If so, where you gonna run to? The rocks will be melting and the sea will be boiling. I wouldn't want to be a flea on your collar.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:02 PM
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And to think you claim you're disabling the smoke alarms for their own good...hypocrite.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:03 PM
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I hate the excuse that it's for the other person's good. It isn't.

So what is? I am open to suggestions.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:03 PM
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I think I'm a pansy grader, but I do not accept late work. Actually what I say is "If you can get it to me before the grader picks it up, I'll slip it in the stack. But I'm not going to track down the grader or make them come back for your paper."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:05 PM
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(I grade tests, but I have homework graders.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:06 PM
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I hate the excuse that it's for the other person's good.

I read the advice not as an excuse and not necessarily as for the other person's good, but as a recognition that at some point you reach a limit in what you can do for someone in this kind of situation. The advice is about the only way to affect; there's no guarantee it will be for the best, sadly. And depending on the situation, you might not want to try to have another effect, maybe you think it's for the best to keep doing what you've been doing (or maybe you don't, but you think it's better than the alternatives and you're ok with that). In that case it still might be better, for your own sake, to recognize that things are almost certainly going to continue to be how they've been.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:12 PM
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127: My sense is that things have to be really unbelievably bad

Well, there's only one step left after threatening suicide. It's not as if anyone here other than Di has any solid knowledge of the real person doing the threatening.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:24 PM
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We'll have to put you on Downpressor Man probationary status for now, I'm afraid. But the fleas on your collar will be safe until 2010.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:25 PM
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I have no useful advice, but damn, DiK, sorry you have to deal with such a shitty situation.

I had a much milder version of this sort of thing happen a while back, with someone sort of obliquely threatening to harm herself if I didn't drop everything to help her sort out her life (a couple hundred miles away from my location at the time). But I was pretty sure she was just being manipulative and wasn't really in danger of going through with anything, so I ignored the threats and cut off all contact. I spent a while wondering whether I should feel bad about this, but I didn't feel it. Every so often, though, I think of it and wonder if I was just being horribly insensitive somehow.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:26 PM
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We'll have to put you on Downpressor Man probationary status for now, I'm afraid.

I'll put you on double-secret probation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:31 PM
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138: On the other hand, I thought it was really unbelievably bad when I took her to the ER a couple of weeks ago and they sent her home with advice to "cut back" and a diagnosis that it was "probably" just a panic attack rather than alcohol withdrawal (though the doc wanted me to stay with her the rest of the night "just in case" it was withdrawal).


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:32 PM
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140: It's a tough judgment call, no question.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:49 PM
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I read the advice not as an excuse and not necessarily as for the other person's good, but as a recognition that at some point you reach a limit in what you can do for someone in this kind of situation.

sure, sure, this is pragmatically true and it's also pragmatically true that peoples' psychodramas sometimes involve their family/friends in ways that can make it actively counterproductive for the entangled family/friends to help them try to break out of it.

But I also think the "they're diseased, cut 'em loose" line plays a specific role in validating and encouraging the transfer of authority, capability, and power from informal social support networks to professionals and institutions, and thus replacing community with the market and bureaucracy. Of course capitalism has already weakened informal support networks by the fragmentation of the family, the mobilization of everyone into the labor force, etc. so to some extent it's a response to that.

Sorry, Di, I'm really off making a more abstract point...I have no idea what you should do. To be honest, I'm not sure how anyone here really could know, given how little real knowledge we have of the situation. To the extent you're here for reassurance that you're a good person even if in a practical sense you aren't capable of helping your friend -- of course. It sounds like you've already done a great deal for someone who isn't a family member.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-14-09 11:59 PM
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To be honest, I'm not sure how anyone here really could know, given how little real knowledge we have of the situation. To the extent you're here for reassurance that you're a good person even if in a practical sense you aren't capable of helping your friend -- of course. It sounds like you've already done a great deal for someone who isn't a family member.

I'll be darned. Up until that I was all like "geez, PGD, wrongity wrong wrong wrong. Way to dismiss everything mental health professionals do" but then I was all "god, I know, right? There's a reason I haven't been contributing to this discussion; to wit, none of us know a fucking thing about what's happening, and this is a lot more serious than e.g. should AWB tell some twit he's a twit."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:03 AM
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142: Your choices are to:

Attempt to somehow save someone from themselves when you don't have the training or resources, and do have a competing higher responsibility.

Let Mom handle it. That's reasonable if you have some confidence in Mom's competence.

Let the cops and docs handle it, not that the ER people have given you reason to feel all that confident in them. On the other hand, they most probably take suicide threats more seriously than they do general being-out-of-it.

You're probably going to lose a friend (at least for some time) no matter what you do. The question then is, which choice lets you look in the mirror later without cringing?

I'd go for the second or third choices, depending on my knowledge of the particular situation.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:08 AM
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||

http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab003581.html

I'm on limited activity and not bed rest. And we don't really know if we're worried about preterm labor or something more serious.

But these treatments just smack of 19th century murmurs about getting the vapors and needing seaside air, don't they? I have a really hard time believing in prescriptions to take it easy, when you feel fine. Can excercise really be bad for me? It just seems like all the books describe labor as an endurance athletic event, and it seems royally stupid to stop exercising a month before taking on a big athletic event.

I am looking for validation, btw, that I ought to blow off the doctor's prescription.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:12 AM
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Why don't you know which one you're worried about?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:16 AM
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No one has any good answers as to why I was bleeding earlier this week, basically. It's not a clear sign of any typical complication, but some complications are scarier than others.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:18 AM
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I admit that I would have a hard time advising a friend to blow off the doctor's advice. But I want you all to step up to the challenge anyway.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:19 AM
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So you're wanting validation to ignore a doctor's order to do something because of the risk of another thing by pointing to a web page about how doctors who are worried about something else shouldn't order women to do something yet else?

I'm going to go ahead and not give you that validation, selfishly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:21 AM
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150. If you were bleeding earlier this week then follow his advice. You have absolutely nothing to gain by ignoring it. The Cochrane info isn't relevant to whatever is going on.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:24 AM
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You have absolutely nothing to gain by ignoring it.

Well, this is not true. I'd feel much better if I were active. It certainly has its costs or I wouldn't be asking for you guys to encourage me to be irresponsible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:25 AM
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151: ....yes...except I just fundamentally don't believe this treatment is anything except a holdover from the Victorian Age. That's what I want validation on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:27 AM
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Just comment more for exercise!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:36 AM
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Aha!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:44 AM
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In fact, when you google "studies effectiveness bed rest pregnancy" you don't find anything that indicates that it's worth a hill of beans. (And while I'm not on bed rest, the "limited activity" is clearly intended to be a diluted, practical version of bed rest.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:47 AM
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I'm not saying anything either way. You should do what your doctor says. Talk to dsquared or something.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:48 AM
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Honestly, the best way to express your disapproval is probably to bring a whole stack of studies to your doctor and make them justify it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:50 AM
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This one makes me happy. Maybe I will bring it in to my next appointment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:53 AM
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The link in 160 being from 158, for the record.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:54 AM
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161: it's old, but yeah, I noticed that one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:55 AM
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Oh yeah, it is a little dated.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:57 AM
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I've worked with the lead author. He's careful and he had lots of data available from a very high risk population in Birmingham in a big medical record database,

My problem is, "bed rest" isn't anywhere near the same as "limited activity". If there's bleeding then some tissue connection is damaged. Increasing your blood pressure or putting physical strain on the weakened area cannot make it any better.

It would make sense to bring the study in and then ask the doc for some more precise guidelines.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:45 AM
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I told her I'd call back later as I was with ..
My own daughter is my first priority

i think if you spent 15 min, any time longer on her first call trying to distract her, sharing whatever she wanted to share with you, later development of the story could be a little different, no?
perhaps it's better for your daughter to witness mom occupied with something important, matters of life and death, being a true friend to someone in trouble, you are her role model, kids being shielded from everything could end up being insensitive egotists like your as you say manipulative friend, perhaps it's true you know her better
but i really never can get you people right, that's why perhaps keep reading here
i also can't understand, you were bleeding and trying to ignore your doctor's advice, shouldn't one be scared for the baby and do whatever the doctor says is right just in order to not blame self if anything happens, not imagining the labor pains and trying to continue exercising, for what, in order to be more fit for the labor, have less pain? that's selfish approach too, i think


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:26 AM
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My local practice went completely computerised the day I showed up for my first appointment when I registered, and I kept being greeted by apologetic, smiling personnel who would say (whether doctor, nurse, or receptionist) "Sorry, the system isn't quite working yet..."

But the system, now it's working, is awesome: I can book non-urgent appointments online (and decide whether I'd prefer to see Doctor So-and-so, who is free two days from now, or my usual doctor, who isn't free till next week), or one of the practice nurses; I can get my prescriptions renewed online: the local pharmacy is hooked in and can get renewable prescriptions for me with a 48-hour turn-around; and I love the electronic check-in system when I arrive, which avoids all the hassle of queuing to tell the receptionist "I'm here now!" or the worry of wondering if the doctor will lose track of you.

And of course it's neat that any doctor or either nurse can just look up my records on their computer, and check my current prescriptions and what I've been in for recently.

Some things never change, though: the doctors use the intercom to tell you which room to come to, but the nurses come through to the reception area to find you.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:35 AM
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147: My general understanding is that doctors in the ER/psych residents take suicide threats and suicidal ideation seriously if someone actually has a plan to kill themselves.

Someone I know who works at the School of Public Health had an old colleague who now worked on anxiety attacks at MGH who said that they really won't do anything in the ER unless you have an actual plan. Of course, if you're acting out in a way that gets the police involved it's different.

This same friend had a lab tech who was clearly using drugs and was about to get fired, so after discussing it with his chairman, one day, he said (and it was very hard), "You're going to get fired if you don't do something about this drug problem. I've found a spot for you in a residential program. My car's out back, and I'll drive you there."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:58 AM
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But these treatments just smack of 19th century murmurs about getting the vapors and needing seaside air, don't they? I have a really hard time believing in prescriptions to take it easy, when you feel fine.

A friend of ours, who is herself a doctor (GP, I think) and mother of four, spent a good chunk of her final pregnancy on bed rest. I don't know what her underlying condition was, but I kind of trust that if she, herself, thought bed rest was appropriate (and, whatever she does in her own practice, I know her to be close personal friends with our doctor, who has delivered a hundred babies or more in family practice), then it's legit.

Do you see all the appeals to authority in there? I can develop more, if need be.

Keep your ass settled down there, Heebs.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:16 AM
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165: I dunno, read, I figure I set a pretty good example for Rory of tending to important things when I made her stay at her dad's a few weeks back so I could spend the night with this woman in the ER taking care of her child rather than mine. What exactly do you think would have been accomplished by me ditching Rory's play, hoping UNG would take her another night, and driving an hour away without knowing whether the friend and her mom would even be there when I arrived?

i think if you spent 15 min, any time longer on her first call trying to distract her, sharing whatever she wanted to share with you, later development of the story could be a little different, no?

That's it, read. She got drunk and decided she wanted to kill herself because I didn't spend enough time on one fucking call. I mean, I did talk to her for 15 minutes -- maybe 14, maybe 16. But what if I'd stayed on the phone for 17 or 18 minutes? Would that have cured her? What if I left Rory in a hot car because I was so distractedly trying to save this woman? Should I go to prison or get a medal?

Honest to God, your capacity for gratuitous and ill-informed moral judgment is fucking amazing.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:01 AM
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gratuitous and ill-informed moral judgment

On the Internet!?? Now, I'm getting the vapors.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:31 AM
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168: Keep your ass settled down there, Heebs.

I'm inclined to agree, given the little we know, and the bleeding thing might be a hint, but hey! "it's your body, yourself" to coin a phrase. I'll just weigh in with personal experience on the pressures that can be involved. My wife was "ordered" home to bed with our first child somewhat late in term (she was beginning to dilate, and it was explicitly to avoid preterm labor, so when she reached subsequently passed some closeness threshold it was up and at 'em). At the time we were living in the LA area and I was training for triathlons and hanging out with that crowd. I was shocked at the intensity of the social pressure to ignore the advice; everyone assumed it was some manner of patriarchal vapors overreaction, with the advice always accompanied by a raft of "marathoner squats briefly at mile 15 to give birth, but finishes race with new PB" narratives such as you linked the other day. As it was, she followed the advice and the baby actually came two weeks "late". But as I look back on it, it was not so much the external pressure as our own mindset that we had to overcome. When she called from the doctor's office, our conversation consisted of a lot of "Are you/Am I really just going to go home and go to bed?", before we got down to the practical arrangements to do just that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:33 AM
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now you sound defensive
i mean perhaps you could burst your friend's tension with minimal efforts on her first call with some sympathetic words, so that there is no any further dramatic development, couldn't that be possible even just like hypothetically?
you can't ditch your child's play, but find it's natural to forget your child in the carseat, i think you people's sense of what is important and not is kinda very twisted


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:33 AM
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172.last: read, I think that you need to entertain the thought that for whatever reason you are reading people's word very differently than they are intending them. Very, very few people would grant your that your summation of the two situations has any validity whatsoever. You might stop and think of how many times you have probably felt misunderstood about items in your life or background on this very forum. I suspect it happens frequently.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:39 AM
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i also can't understand, you were bleeding and trying to ignore your doctor's advice, shouldn't one be scared for the baby and do whatever the doctor says is right just in order to not blame self if anything happens, not imagining the labor pains and trying to continue exercising, for what, in order to be more fit for the labor, have less pain? that's selfish approach too, i think

Who can resist an appeal loaded with as much compassion and understanding as this?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:40 AM
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i was talking about DK's attitude towards forgetting babies in the carseat in the other thread not in her sentence in 169
in case you were wondering whether i got like fully the meaning of what she wrote


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:45 AM
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174 your body, your baby, your decision, right
and it's said as you say non-ironically


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:46 AM
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My problem is, "bed rest" isn't anywhere near the same as "limited activity". If there's bleeding then some tissue connection is damaged. Increasing your blood pressure or putting physical strain on the weakened area cannot make it any better.

This is true. I'm using it as a proxy because "limited activity" searches turn up a lot of abstinence studies.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:47 AM
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Yes, but your characterization of that attitude, and of its relation to her reluctance to choose deliberately to skip an event that is important to her child, suggests that you did not get fully the meaning of what she wrote before.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:48 AM
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Honestly, I'm not planning on heading back to the gym, (although you guys probably could have talked me into it. I'm delightfully susceptible to peer pressure when it's a risk I already wanted to take.) I probably will take long walks, however.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:49 AM
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178 to 175, obviously.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:49 AM
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or that thread i got like fully, i assure you
you may keep relying on your car seat mirrors to not forget your babies, and it's naturally natural


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:50 AM
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Digressing from Heebie's actual situation, I suspect (based on the existing studies) that bed rest is indeed no help at all in preventing most instances of pre-term labor, and it really does have a huge cost. A woman I supervised ran through all of her paid maternity leave before she even had her baby, and then some, went very deeply stir-crazy in the meantime as well as wracked with financial anxiety, and was made by her doctor to horribly guilty all the time for even daring to chafe at the restrictions. But who, doctor or patient, dares to defy the traditional precaution when it comes to the specific case? Very few.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:55 AM
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you can't ditch your child's play, but find it's natural to forget your child in the carseat, i think you people's sense of what is important and not is kinda very twisted

Wow. Words fail me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:56 AM
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try though


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:58 AM
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One of my cousins had two horrible pregnancies (resulting in very lovely, very desired children), both of which were mandated bedrest for like five or six months. The first time she had a serious blood clot and had to take blood thinners and all kinds of weirdness. The second time she was still on blood thinners (and I think also some fairly hefty anti-depression medication), and she had developed uterine fibroids. Or something. Thank God she hasn't tried for another child.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:04 AM
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My point, if I had one, was that there are some circumstances where bedrest is necessary. My cousin really rolled the dice when she decided to continue with her pregnancies. (My father muttered darkly the entire time about how abortion was the most reasonable option.)


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:06 AM
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I guess I was marvelling at how you seem to interpret Di, (and many of us), as being totally one-dimensional and bad. (The word "twisted" is what makes me think you think we're bad people).

The text that I quoted takes two situations - one a hypothetical from a week ago, the other something Di is actually dealing with - and cherry-picks extreme versions of Di's position in order to juxtapose them and conclude that her judgements on what's important are twisted.

The quote doesn't allow for the possibility that Di could have any intense conflicting emotions, or that Di is a good person wrestling with a difficult situation.

I said "wow" because I was struck by your perception of Di as such a cruel person, and you're willingness to misphrase her words on two disparate situations to justify it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:10 AM
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The thing is, if exercise is a really big part of your life, you think a month without it is a really long time. But it isn't. You'll even keep a reasomable amount of your conditioning (unless you literally stay in bed 24/7, which isn't in the cards here I take it).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:11 AM
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there are some circumstances where bedrest is necessary

Yes, certainly. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:12 AM
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' e


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:12 AM
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187: Wow, that was really good, heebie. Thanks. All I could come up with was "Fuck off, read."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:15 AM
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(Morning report. She called another friend at 6 am to say she was checking herself into the hospital. Other friend called mom who said she'd last talked to her daughter at 7 am and the daughter was on her way to the hospital. She didn't know if she'd gotten there or not. Other friend called hospital and got confirmation that she's checked in at the ER.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:18 AM
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you think a month without it is a really long time. But it isn't.

This is true. I get carried away feeling like it's forever.

Exercise helps me stay easy-going and keeps my pretty intense case of restless leg syndrome at bay. I think I'm 50% being petulant, and 50% genuinely suspicious that it bedrest (and by extension, limited activity) are over-prescribed out of Victorian age nonsense, when the consequences - like rfts describes - are really quite costly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:19 AM
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191, that's a very easy solution to everything


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:30 AM
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Heebie, but how limited is the prescribed limited activity? I get that running the length of a soccer field for ninety minutes continuously is right out, but can you do a less strenuous exercise to keep your restlessness at bay, without greatly elevating your risk level?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:33 AM
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Read, don't you find it surprising that at a website where you have enjoyed commenting for many months, it turns out that 100% of the commenters are evil and cruel idiots and not a single person shares your belief in basic morality? And now that you have discovered this, don't you find it an unpleasant to be (electronically) surrounded by such people?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:34 AM
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Hey, how'd that but get in there?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:34 AM
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Ask if jumping jacks are an appropriate form of exercise. And if not, they could at least help deliver the baby when the time comes.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:38 AM
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195: My doc and I were debating (in a friendly way) whether long walks vs. short walks were kosher. I'm definitely allowed to keep teaching at school, although I have not told him that twice a week I teach from 12:45 - 4:10, which leaves me totally exhausted.

(It would be a big hassle to change my teaching schedule, and my rationale is that it's not aerobic exercise, just that my knees and joints that are tired afterwards.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:40 AM
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The word "twisted" is what makes me think you think we're bad people
who said anything about being bad? people are not good or bad, what they do has that, good or bad consequences only
two situations: DK can't "ditch her child's play" to answer her friend's call with all the following drama - what is more important in this situation? she could perhaps listen to the woman and try to calm her and DK's daughter would surely understand
What if I left Rory in a hot car because I was so distractedly trying to save this woman? now, what is important in this situation
like reasoning i'd follow if it was me
but all is good what ends well, just me got told to fuck off, well, deservedly, perhaps


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:41 AM
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196, i want me to leave?
things are better communicated directly


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:44 AM
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you it was, okay, again
if you want me to leave, say it directly, that's better


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:47 AM
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192: that sounds really good actually -- like your friend, her mother, and her other friends are all at some level trying to act responsibly, so you're not at all alone in this. You should probably be talking to her mom and other friend a lot, sounds like you are.

In re read: if someone is from another culture, particularly a more traditional one, then American culture itself can seem pretty twisted. The level of general social fragmentation presupposed in (especially) the child/car seat stories and to a lesser extent this one is pretty high. Americans can function rationally / morally in that context and still seem wacked out to a foreigner used to different arrangements.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:49 AM
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who said anything about being bad? people are not good or bad, what they do has that, good or bad consequences only

I agree with this.

two situations: DK can't "ditch her child's play" to answer her friend's call with all the following drama - what is more important in this situation? she could perhaps listen to the woman and try to calm her and DK's daughter would surely understand

In my opinion, you've phrased yourself much more tactfully here, and this is a more useful contribution to the discussion - how might Di weigh the different directions that she's being pulled?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:49 AM
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203: PGD, there's been little evidence to support that the difference of opinion/expression at issue here arises out of cultural differences.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:56 AM
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The level of general social fragmentation presupposed in (especially) the child/car seat stories and to a lesser extent this one is pretty high.

I don't really get what you mean here. Wouldn't any culture with cars, where temperatures get sufficiently hot in the summer time, be susceptible to the car seat tragedies?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:58 AM
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205: What exactly would constitute "evidence"?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:58 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:01 AM
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207: I dunno, something other than baseless conjecture?

I understand that Read is the only regular commenter here whose English is limited; and also that she is one of only a few who did not grow up in the U.S. or western Europe. But that's not a sufficient reason to assume that any difference in opinion arises from differences in background.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:09 AM
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I don't really get what you mean here. Wouldn't any culture with cars, where temperatures get sufficiently hot in the summer time, be susceptible to the car seat tragedies?

the social aspect of car seat tragedies usually involve harried, time-constrained parents dropping their kids off at a distant (requires driving) day care center before going to work. Even in cases where the parent was shopping, you can ask why the parent had the kid strapped in the back seat while doing errands -- probably involves not having someone at home they could easily leave them with.

Likewise, Di's story has a background context of a single mother with a demanding job who has limited time with her child and lots of demands on her time, a situation that puts her under pressure and forces tough choices.

I think the U.S. is a society where people are wealthier, but also more isolated, time-constrained, and pressured than most other countries. These stories reflect that in certain ways. This is not an individual issue.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:14 AM
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really, jms, i wonder what was your opinion on these two, like, conflicts?
an emancipated wordly or 'the backward' traditional
that i'm 'the other' is not news, you know, even for me


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:14 AM
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s


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:18 AM
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probably involves not having someone at home they could easily leave them with.

True. If you live with the grandparents, the kid probably is not at risk for this kind of tragedy. But the kid is more at risk for being smothered...by love. So it's a trade-off.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:20 AM
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DK can't "ditch her child's play" to answer her friend's call with all the following drama - what is more important in this situation?

read, part of the point of Di's dilemma is that this isn't an isolated situation, a simple choice between child's-play vs. helping-friend-in-need. The situation with the friend is ongoing, and that makes it more complicated.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:33 AM
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But the kid is more at risk for being smothered...by love, or monologues.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:35 AM
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They told me that pedantic monologues are the scientific unit by which we measure love.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:38 AM
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Sure, and it's commutative; "If you really loved me you'd do exactly as I instruct you in my monologues".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:42 AM
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Exactly. Obedience is the scientific unit by which we measure reciprocity of love.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:44 AM
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Which is how Jammies and I settled on our daughter's name, Obedienta.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:44 AM
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"Always wear a sweater, and remember to monologue your children when they get older."


Posted by: Es-tonea-pesta | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:44 AM
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"These monologues are actually subtle performance art in which I dissuade you from making the mistakes I did in life by coming across as an insufferable pedant."
[Note to directors: This line is actually never voiced.]


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:54 AM
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214 rationalizations are useful afterwards, but in the real life situations you just have to make your choices and those are not that many and pretty direct, yes or no kind of decisions
'the friend got checked into rehab, great, hopefully she'll be her usual self whom i befriended, until then i have to discard our relations, coz she's alcoholic' kind of thinking is revolting, to me, and that i'm expressing here, sorry of course that it doesn't match your sophisticated sensibilities
'emancipated/sophisticated' explanations are usually something like that, rationalizations to cover one's egoistic acts IMHO of the insufferable pedant


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:56 AM
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read, I obviously wasn't trying to say that other people were emancipated/sophisticated and you weren't.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:04 AM
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i was responding to Jms's 209, PGD
i usually can't get Asians in America all acting that, emancipated white, you know, why one can't be true to what one holds are one's true values and try to be not all that, like, assimilated


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:12 AM
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Is there a quick way to get to the bottom of a very long web page like an Unfogged thread?

In FF3 under XP (I think any browser, any Windows), Ctrl+End works for any page.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:16 AM
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224: But what are "true values", read? Last night I was at my usual spot, which has been hosting a Hmong play for the past couple of weekends. There I witnessed the very touching reunion of a lesbian couple, who had been apart for awhile when one was out of town. One was Hmong, one was Vietnamese. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that there's pretty much no "true values" from Asia being adhered to there. Rather there was a higher value at play - freedom. As much as I despise many parts of our culture, one of the things that gives me some hope is that people come to the US with the express desire to throw off those shackling "true values". There are missteps along the way, sure, but if there is any positive narrative to American history, it's that however the people in power try to impose their values on others, there's always people who refuse that, whether they're queers or punks or Abolitionists or suffrage campaigners or Wobblies or whatever. Again, they may not get it right every time, but they do create spaces of liberation, the best of which can extend over the whole society. It's grueling, it's incremental, and it would be better if we had another revolution, but it's something to cling to, to gird ourselves for the next battle.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:22 AM
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being loyal to one's friend, to one's family, parents are 'shackling" true values"'?
and not putting self always into the first place like, it's my pleasure, my time, my money, my freedom, what i deserve etc


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:29 AM
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For some of us, interpreting other people's actions and words charitably is a good value.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:31 AM
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well, if i say charity is deprecated i don't know perhaps i'll burn all the bridges here which i don't want to do somehow
charity is humiliating to both sides imho, for the receiving end sure more, for the giving side it is like very easy indulgence and excuse to not get involved further


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:40 AM
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227: Just the other day you were saying you approved of "rugged individualism" -- pray, what do you mean by that exactly if not the subordination of filial, fraternal and friendship bonds to the desire to be free? Put another way, if your family and friends were loyal to you, would they stand in the way of your happiness?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:40 AM
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if your family and friends were loyal to you, would they stand in the way of your happiness?
sure not, knowing that they, one's family, are happy is a part of one's happiness, it works both way, were the both sides aware of that there wouldn't be those kind of conflicts, like, my family against me something


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:45 AM
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It seems like the conflict stems both from a cultural conflict, and from read's individual, personal decision to be aggressive and abrasive in stating her opinions. I don't find it all that surprising that she takes this tack. The decision to use non-standard punctuation and to forgo any effort even to write grammatical sentences when she already has a lot of other communication barriers also seems indicative of a lack of commitment to working towards mutual understanding, let alone newcomer's deference or openmindedness.

I'm not a minority of any kind, so I'm hardly in a position to comment authoritatively about minority experience, but I have the impression that sometimes minority group members choose an uncompromising, even abrasive stance to let the world know they won't be bullied or pushed around. But then, this is common enough behavior everywhere on the internet, from everyone.

On one hand, it's salutary for people to get an outsider's perspective on their culture. On the other, that perspective would be better informed if the outsider made more of an effort to actually empathize with people in that culture, and to learn about the social context as they experience it. This would probably result in a more insight both for the observed (the dominant culture) and the observer (the minority). (Of course, it works the other way around, too.) PGD and Ogged of yore are more persuasive critics of the fragmentation of American life because they can empathize with people who live in that context.

As it happens, I'm not persuaded by either of them, because I tend to value freedom to form new associations more than strong traditional communities. But I recognize that my preference is a product of my own situation (I am the kind of person who is fairly--maybe extremely--well-rewarded by the current structure of American life), and if there were an approach that could persuade me, it would be PGD's and Ogged's, not read's.

Previewing, I'm not sure that I'm really saying anything not understood. Back to lurking.


Posted by: observer | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:47 AM
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Read? You know what seems bizarre about what you're saying to me? It's not a difference in values, as far as I can tell -- I think people should care for their children, and help their friends, just like you do. What you seem to me to be saying, though, is that if you're not successful in caring for your children or helping your friends, the only explanation is that you were selfish and didn't try hard enough. Parents who leave their children in hot cars should be blamed for it because it's a selfish and uncaring thing to do; whatever Di did for her friend wasn't enough because if she'd done enough, the friend would be okay now.

Don't you recognize that sometimes bad things happen that can't be blamed on selfish people not trying hard enough?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:49 AM
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the subordination of filial, fraternal and friendship bonds to the desire to be free
desire to be free for what, to make everyone, including self unhappy?
i thought one pursues freedom to become happy, freedom itself does not have any that added value if it's not leading to one's feeling happy
i wouldn't feel happy and free if i knew that it makes someone whom i love unhappy


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:51 AM
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i wouldn't feel happy and free if i knew that it makes someone whom i love unhappy

Do you think Di made her alcoholic friend unhappy? Do you think it was practically possible for her to make her friend happy? I don't think the answer to either of those questions is yes, but I can't understand what you're saying unless you do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:53 AM
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I was going to say that toxemia is a specifically diagnosed condition for which bed rest is specifically prescribed, and shouldn't be lumped in with generic recommendations of bed rest for pregnant ladies. As far as I know, the cast for bed rest with toxemia is well-established -- if anyone has other information, please post it.

If Heebie doesn't have toxemia, this is irrelevant to her case, but it still needs to be said since we're talking more generally too.

I'm surprised that this specific topic hasn't been raised so far. There are many kinds of different diagnoses of difficulties with pregnancy, but we seem to mostly be lumping here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:54 AM
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234 was a response to minneapolitan's question which i cited


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:55 AM
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excuse to not get involved further

Seriously, read? You believe this was my motivation for mentioning this situation here? Will you at least try, if at all possible, to consider the possibility that I brought this up here because it is an incredibly troubling situation involving a woman and her daughter who I care very much about and because there are an awful lot of very smart and thoughtful people here whose opinions I value and who I thought might have some insight into what type of involvement might be most helpful to all involved? Could you just pretend that you believe that, and then go re-read the damn thread and maybe see if you don't interpret my comments a little differently. Or at least get the fucking facts straight?

For example:

DK can't "ditch her child's play" to answer her friend's call with all the following drama - what is more important in this situation? she could perhaps listen to the woman and try to calm her and DK's daughter would surely understand

Had you read carefully, you might realize that I did listen to this woman. That I talked to her the first time she called -- before there was any overt indication of the developing drama. That I needed to tend to my child's needs and told my friend that I would call her back. That I did indeed call back as promised, whereupon I found her to be wasted and suicidal and in the company of her own mother, who more or less hung up on me. That I have since been in touch with some of this woman's other friends in an effort to determine that she is okay. The my reference to Rory's play was not an "excuse" for not talking to my friend, but an explanation for why I couldn't just up and drive an hour into the city to fly to her side. To do so would literally have meant abandoning my child.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:57 AM
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Observer, I think you make several excellent points.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:00 PM
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Yeah, back to the alcoholism, a subject with which I am intimately familiar on many levels, do we really suppose that any action on Di's part at this point is going to have some magical curative effect? Whatever her friend's problems (and they would appear to be legion) they're the result of a lifetime of stimuli and acculturation. An extra 15 minutes on the phone, or even a really well-timed intervention isn't ever going to be sufficient to get someone to deal with their addiction seriously. Getting out of an addictive pattern of behavior is a long, hard process, and no one, no matter how loyal they are, can "make" someone else do it. Maybe Di, and her friend's mother, and the other people in her friend's life could do more, maybe they couldn't. There's no guarantee that it would significantly help Di's friend. Placing a moral value on the extension of that help then, becomes pointless, counterproductive and reactionary. It was the reactionary element that I was responding to before.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:03 PM
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I summarized the Di-related parts of this thread to a close relative, an RN who managed a psych hospital that did detox; he has a lot of experience with substance abuse patients and now teaches a substance abuse class to future social workers.

He agreed that the basic concept in 97, 101, etc. is sound practice: the jargon term for letting go is "care-taking," and the perspective is that if you're continually helping someone through recurring crises, they're likely not learning to help themselves. Of course, care-taking is never just letting go; it has to be accompanied by bringing them to some other kind of help.

Also, I mentioned Di's problem with the ER care to him, and he said that many ERs basically suck at dealing with substance abuse (better at heart attacks etc.), and a better method for getting some kind of longer-term assistance is through a referral from a primary-care physician.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:06 PM
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excuse to not get involved further
i was talking about charity in general, not about you
That I needed to tend to my child's needs and told my friend that I would call her back
and i said, perhaps if you were just al ittle bit patient right in that moment, perhaps hypothetically, things would have developed differently, but your friend is checked into rehab thanks to that development, so perhaps your response was right
i heard your friend's news and thought that discussion was over, why would you pick up it again?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:07 PM
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238

... in the company of her own mother, who more or less hung up on me. ...

Perhaps her mother thinks you are a bad influence.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:08 PM
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242: i heard your friend's news and thought that discussion was over, why would you pick up it again?
Jeez read, maybe because you were being deliberately provocative and insulting and it rankled people to see you have the last word? This is the internet, after all.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:10 PM
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Perhaps her mother thinks you are a bad influence.

I heard that Di tried to get the 3 year old to start drinking, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:10 PM
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236: Yes, I believe that bed rest is still considered necessary in some cases of toxemia/pre-eclampsia, just because standing up and moving around raises blood pressure, which in turn can make you die. The concern there is specifically the health of the mother, though, and helping her to stay healthy long enough to carry the baby to term -- because delivering the baby is the only cure for pre-eclampsia, not because the condition itself leads to pre-term birth.

The issue, as I understand it, is with rest prescribed as a strategy for decreasing the likelihood of premature delivery. The practice guideline itself doesn't seem to be available to the public online, but here's what I am seeing quoted. It's from a 2004 publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Bedrest, hydration and pelvic rest do not appear to improve the rate of preterm birth, and should not be routinely recommended."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:11 PM
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203: Cultural difference isn't the topic of this thread, but if we want it to be, ample evidence that Read's opinion is the result of cultural difference could be produced.

Even though our tastes in food, dress, movies, and sex objects are diverse, Unfogged represents the entire gamut of American educated upper-middle-class liberal opinion from A to B, with a few slightly lefter educated upper-middle-class Euros coming by to kibitz now and then. I wish we had ten Raeds here.

I do not see Read's statements as aggressive either. She seems to have rather tentatively stated an opposing opinion while acknowledging that not everyone would probably agree. She did violate a taboo against getting very deeply into other people's shit that is supremely American. Minding your own business and letting others do their thing is not an unspoken iron law everywhere in the world.

I don't necessarily agree with Read on what she said -- probably I don't since I'm more aware of the codependency / borderline personality pathologies -- but I'm not outraged.

Maybe it's a cold-weather problem. My sister the drug-alcohol counselor knows someone who chose to start practicing tough love in the middle of the winter, and his drunken friend froze to death right on his doorstep.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:12 PM
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well, if i say charity is deprecated i don't know perhaps i'll burn all the bridges here which i don't want to do somehow

Read, when essear speaks of interpreting someone's words and actions charitably, that does not mean what you seem to think it means, telling them whatever they want to hear. A "charitable" interpretation is one of tow alternatives to interpreting a situation when you don't have all the facts -- you can fill in the blanks with a "charitable interpretation" which means simply giving the person the benefit of the doubt and assuming they are doing their best to say or do the right thing. Or you can fill in the blanks by maliciously assuming the person to be a selfish, twisted deviant. Assuming someone to be selfish and twisted when a more positive assumption is equally plausible is generally deprecated in our culture.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:13 PM
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and i said, perhaps if you were just al ittle bit patient right in that moment, perhaps hypothetically, things would have developed differently, but your friend is checked into rehab thanks to that development, so perhaps your response was right

Do tell, how exactly do you know how patient I was or wasn't at that moment? And no, she did not check into rehab. She went to the same fucking ER which once again ultimately sent her home.

i heard your friend's news and thought that discussion was over, why would you pick up it again?

Because you are pissing me the fuck off.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:17 PM
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She seems to have rather tentatively stated an opposing opinion while acknowledging that not everyone would probably agree.

Consistently criticizing the content, quality, and length of a telephone conversation she was not party to and knows nothing substantive about -- particularly in the face of more than one patient attempt to explain that she is misunderstanding the content, quality, and duration of that call -- is hardly what I'd call a "tentative" approach.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:19 PM
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I do not see Read's statements as aggressive either.

You don't see anything aggresive in the statement "i think you people's sense of what is important and not is kinda very twisted"?

She seems to have rather tentatively stated an opposing opinion while acknowledging that not everyone would probably agree.

Her premise for her conclusions often implies that Di's or my behavior is selfish and cruel. Or she says it outright, like in "i also can't understand, you were bleeding and trying to ignore your doctor's advice, shouldn't one be scared for the baby and do whatever the doctor says is right just in order to not blame self if anything happens, not imagining the labor pains and trying to continue exercising, for what, in order to be more fit for the labor, have less pain? that's selfish approach too, i think"

The tentative acknowledgment that others might disagree rings really hollow when words like "twisted" and "selfish" are tossed around.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:20 PM
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For the love of god let's not drag read's punctuation into this. That's getting into"I hate him because his nose is in the middle of his face" territory.

Read is not a minority, either. She's a foreigner.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:21 PM
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Sometimes I think Shearer and read should move in together and have their own reality show.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:23 PM
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She did violate a taboo against getting very deeply into other people's shit that is supremely American. Minding your own business and letting others do their thing is not an unspoken iron law everywhere in the world.

Yeah, again, this is not the problem. Both heebie and I mentioned our "shit" because we wanted input. And no one was offended by anyone else tossing their two cents in. The problem is read's apparent need to impute the worst possible character and motivations to anyone who makes a choice with which read does not agree.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:25 PM
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I would be fascinated to hear Shearer's opinion of charity, too.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:25 PM
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Perhaps her mother thinks you are a bad influence.

Entirely possible.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:27 PM
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"Too deeply" is the key phrase. In America advice must always be given in the "of course, this is only my opinion" mode. For better or worse, this is not true in most of the world.

Oddly, America is increasingly authoritarian with regard to education, policing, medicalized personal problems, weird celebrities, and foreign leaders who wear red underwear. If the authorities are professionals, anyway, and not just people.

At this moment there's a scandal because Britney Spears, who is under some kind of court order, has sneakily found a cell phone and is illegally talking to bad people.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:32 PM
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In America advice must always be given in the "of course, this is only my opinion" mode. For better or worse, this is not true in most of the world.

What are you talking about? Read gives this qualifier with every statement. This is not the litmus test of whether the content of the opinion is offensive.

It's not about getting in too deeply into other people's business, it's about the underlying assumption about whether the other people are kind-hearted and well-intentioned, or twisted and selfish.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:35 PM
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Read came here to figure out what Americans are really like, and she's doing that. She's already done that in Japan and Russia, so she's got a lot of data now. I'm looking forward to reading her writeup of her researches, though I fear that it will be in Russian or Mongol.

Now we know what it feels like to be othered by an imperial social scientist. We have been made the objects of Mongol science. Edward Said's revenge.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:46 PM
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255: Totally off-topic, but I'm pleased to see you using Turgid (even if it wasn't because of my suggestion). I always thought of you as Thomas Jefferson before the switch ... somehow Turgid Jacobian isn't that far off.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:46 PM
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Many languages use paragraph structure, not just those used most often in the United States. Of course, this is my only opinion; I have no others.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:46 PM
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And the subjects of imperial science are not allowed to get offended? An interesting gloss on Said.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:47 PM
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"Tumid" is better than "turgid". No one knows what it means, for one.

I would caution Read that Unfogged is a very thin slice even of the American educated upper-middle-class -- the snarky, highly-verbal, left-liberal slice.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:48 PM
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In his grave Said is laughing at us motherfuckers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:49 PM
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Unlikely. I stole his body to venerate as my intellectual ancestor.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:51 PM
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In all seriousness, if Read were a real imperial social scientist, she'd be in the seat of power sending people or jail or to mandatory treatment. She's actually just a helpless gadfly like the rest of us. Heeby's doctor is the real imperial scientist, and Britney's probation officer.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:51 PM
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But so what? Maybe in Mongolian culture it's okay to say to someone, "You are an unfeeling, inhuman monster", but that doesn't make Di's or Heebie's twinges of pain any less real.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 12:55 PM
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Emerson, cultural differences in mind, I think it's a bit much to have a medical doctor coming around to shame people about their response to pregnancy or addiction, two topics where our debased discourse already stigmatizes and pathologizes people's ordinary experiences. And all in the name of "true values" to boot!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:01 PM
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I don't think that Read ever said that. She was saying that Di and Heebie were were standing on the "selfish / individualist" rather than the "altruistic / self-sacrificing / communal" side of the line. In fact, Americans generally do, and large sectors of American culture and ideology explicitly and strongly advocate that people should do that. She didn't use the words "inhuman" or "monster" at all, and "twisted" described American culture generally, I think. In colloquial English a twisted person is a creepy evildoer and I don't think that Read meant that.

For better or worse, my bet is that 70-80% of the world would agree with Heebie. Minneapolitan's patriotic Americanism partly addressed that by saying that our way is better.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:03 PM
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Without having read past 232: I'm reminded of Ogged as well in this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:03 PM
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She was saying that Di and Heebie were were standing on the "selfish / individualist" rather than the "altruistic / self-sacrificing / communal" side of the line.

Let's not forget that she also said that she approved of Objectivism. I find these positions difficult to reconcile.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:06 PM
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She was saying that Di and Heebie were were standing on the "selfish / individualist" rather than the "altruistic / self-sacrificing / communal" side of the line.

Gosh, why would we feel judged and insulted by such an even-handed assessment? It's merely descriptive.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:06 PM
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Let's not forget that she also said that she approved of Objectivism. I find these positions difficult to reconcile.

How so? They both antagonize the bulk of the commenters here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:07 PM
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Americans do stand on that side of the line, Heebie. It's the American way of life. Minneapolitan picked up on that. There are arguments in our favor.

I don't think that Read's reading of Ayn Rand is very deep.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:08 PM
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It's not "patriotic Americanism", it's resistant Americanism. I don't even believe in that civil society crap. I believe in all of the refusal, resistance and rebellion that has characterized popular response to elite power over the centuries. We're in the belly of the beast, and for those of us who were born here, there's no obvious out. Likewise those who've fled oppression elsewhere. It falls to us to embrace the cultural traditions of resistance that we inherit from Tom Paine and Harriet Tubman, from Lucy Parsons and Sitting Bull. And one of the ways we resist that is by contesting the assertion that everyone would be happier if they just kept quiet, worked hard, made money and stuck by their families. Conversely, we also have to resist buying in to the mythology of capitalistic aspiration and excess, but that wasn't really at issue here.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:14 PM
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Americans do stand on that side of the line, Heebie.

Sure, we do. But she didn't say it as a general observation about American culture, it was a pointed judgement about how Di and I are handling our lives. Furthermore, both situations are emotionally-laden: You're being selfish about your unborn child; you're being selfish by not taking care of your friend in need. This is not a "too deep" reading of our lives, it's an uncharitable cherry-picking of the worst possible interpretation of each of us, when we've presented the ourselves as being conflicted and torn.

Furthermore, presenting yourself as being conflicted and torn is to make yourself vulnerable, and it's cruel to use someone's words to whip them when they're making an effort to be vulnerable.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:15 PM
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Come on, John. Heebie made it perfectly clear why she was tempted to ignore the medical advice -- not because she was selfishly uninterested in the welfare of the baby, but because she thought it was bullshit. And you're just wrong about the cultural implications. American women go to unusual lengths for the welfare of the baby during pregnancy -- they don't drink (unlike Europeans), they don't eat tuna (unlike the Japanese). The US is not the most extreme (I've heard of some cultures that prescribe bed red for the last month of pregnancy), but it's not particularly selfish and individualist either.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:15 PM
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271: Let's not forget that she also said that she approved of Objectivism

read doesn't understand what Objectivism is. In endorsing "rugged individualism" she was rejecting the state in favor of the tribe.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:21 PM
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275: Garsh, I love ya, minneapolitan.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:23 PM
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Whether Americans generally are more individualistic than other cultures generally, I fail to see what that has to do with anything. While read may wish to interpret my efforts with my friend as choosing individualism over community, that is entirely contrary to the actual situation. I'm not ever sure *how* one would go about framing heebie's medical decision as having to do with individualism vs. community.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:24 PM
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203: All our lives we have studied up on these minorities and have tried to be nice to them. But now a minority has shown up and is mouthing off. What do we do? What do we do?

Ogged, PGD, and I'd add myself and Mary Catherine usually are appropriately tactful on these questions, but we really are standing at a major cultural divide here. I'm not as sure as everyone else is that Read has been as nasty as people think, though.

I do think that it's extremely unfortunate that this discussion has taken place in response to Heebie and Di's personal situations, rather than in response to a Modern Love article.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:24 PM
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Seriously, Minny, this has nothing to do with Sitting Bull. I'm pretty sure he'd be on Read's side on this question.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:26 PM
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Is "individualism vs. community" not another way of saying "selfishness vs. otherpeopleishness"?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:27 PM
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But now a minority has shown up and is mouthing off. What do we do? What do we do?

You honestly think people are pissed off at read because she's a minority? The only reason her culture even came up is because generous souls were seeking out a charitable explanation for her insistence on saying unkind things. Which they should stop doing as read herself has made it quite clear that she finds this sort of charity to be deprecated.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:28 PM
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Let's also not forget that this is the woman who showed up out of nowhere scolding us for being insufficiently respectful of the Leader. Just try and scrut read; it ain't happening. Edward Said can eat a dick.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:29 PM
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284 is exactly right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:31 PM
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I do think that it's extremely unfortunate that this discussion has taken place in response to Heebie and Di's personal situations, rather than in response to a Modern Love article.

unfortunate s/b antagonistic


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:32 PM
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Oh, and lest it get lost, thanks to Minivet in 241 -- helpful.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:34 PM
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281: John, for what it's worth, the prices we've paid for social fragmentation in this society aren't opaque to all but a few. This blog has danced around the issue repeatedly, and obviously political/social theory refuses to let the question lie, rightly so.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:34 PM
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I'm not as sure as everyone else is that Read has been as nasty as people think, though.

She's suggested repeatedly that my friend would not be suicidal/alcoholic if only I had spoken longer/more patiently/something on the phone. This is, in fact, nasty and reflects a startling lack of insight into mental health and addiction for someone who has been represented here as a medical doctor.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:37 PM
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284: I was responding to 203.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:38 PM
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I think that what she said was that maybe you should have talked to your friend longer. It didn't strike me as terribly harsh.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:40 PM
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Anyway, I am going to let this thread go now. Just thanks again to the many, many of you who had useful, compassionate advice to share.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:40 PM
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292: Really? In context, it didn't?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:42 PM
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A lot of Read's stuff sounds like brainstorming and guessing in the context of trying to figure out what's going on in this country. For a variety of reasons, most people here affirmed your and Heebie's choices, and she didn't.

In general, unless I can speak entirely positively or want to troll, I do not respond to abstract questions here even when they're asked, if they obviously have serious bearing on the personal life of the person putting the question on the table here. That's a rule of American life that I've learned that Read hasn't. In this case I don't think that she's following a Mongol custom; I think that she's guessed wrong about where the American dividing line is.

Remember the horrible episode with Tia when a question that was very personal to her came up on the anonymous thread?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:50 PM
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It didn't strike me as terribly harsh.

Even the word "revolting"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:53 PM
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290

Your initial account (in 114) of the phone call was:

She called around 2, upset about her ex's visitation this morning. I told her I'd call back later as I was with Rory. Called back at 4 ...

which did make it sound like you had just blown her off.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:53 PM
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That's a rule of American life that I've learned that Read hasn't.

FIXED THAT FOR YOU


Posted by: OPINIONATED CORPSE OF EDWARD SAID | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:56 PM
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297: James, you should shut up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:57 PM
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most people here affirmed your and Heebie's choices, and she didn't.

Nobody affirmed my choice to exercise. Most people gently chastised me to respect the doctor's recommendations. Most people refrained from calling me selfish, and seemed sympathetic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 1:58 PM
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i don't approve obejctivism fyi, i approve individualism, what i'm doing here if not being me myself and not conforming to your accepted norms of communication
i only defended AR as an honest intellectual being who tried to make sense of her world however it was possible for her, maybe you people need to accuse her thoughtless followers discrediting her thoughts by their 'movements', not her for writing books, bad or good, whatever quality


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:00 PM
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Edward Said can eat a dick.

265 has addressed this already.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:05 PM
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for someone who has been represented here as a medical doctor. oh, i disagree with your doctors too and on many issues, so what, sometimes i'm ignorant, sometimes they are too mechanistically detached, as i feel, at least i'm working on myself


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:07 PM
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for someone who has been represented here as a medical doctor. s/b italics until


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:08 PM
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Read, your conduct is indefensible. Your comments here are both foolish and unpleasant. Please take Di's and Heebie's criticism to heart and learn from it.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:21 PM
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perhaps i won't, i learn at my pace and will, you know, coz cherish that, individualism


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:26 PM
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298: No, the rules are different here. We say all kinds of rude and personal things, but not the kinds she just did.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:28 PM
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I would like to thank The Other for visiting us here today.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:30 PM
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thank you, JE, for your understanding, it's great to be not all alone


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:32 PM
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read, I don't want you to be all alone, but you do realise you crossed a line here? Gratuitous judgment of others who are pompous strangers in Modern Love columns = ok. Gratuitous judgment of others who have made themselves vulnerable and thus have placed in you a degree of trust = not ok. To some extent I think you are getting a bum rap, as, as best I can decode, you've exhibited an extraordinary kindness in many other posts, but you're not doing it here. Oh, and since Heebie is in charge, you should be more respectful towards your leader.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:41 PM
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306 is pretty perverse.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:43 PM
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It's a form of aggression read, a kind of test and contest, this ritualistic display of victimisation. "X did/does/is doing this horrible thing to me. How do you feel about it?"

"You" better feel and react in the "correct" synpathetic and supportive manner or else you become the oppressor and victimizer and an appropriate target du hour. Like a game of tag, it is, or "dozens" or any other verbal, emotionally competitive status game.

It really works best in mixed crowds where there are some relative strangers to humiliate and ostracize.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:44 PM
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Funny, I don't remember that Leader thing that read apparently led off with in early days.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:45 PM
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310

... Gratuitous judgment of others who are pompous strangers in Modern Love columns = ok. Gratuitous judgment of others who have made themselves vulnerable and thus have placed in you a degree of trust = not ok. ...

And why haven't the people in Modern Love columns also made themselves vulnerable?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:49 PM
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There is some truth in #312. There is no way that any comment that didn't at some level affirm Di Kotimy's decision would have been acceptable. Because we don't know her personally and certainly don't know her friend, so we shouldn't presume to criticize the handling of the situation. The default response is to endorse the handling of the situation.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:52 PM
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313: Parismon, start here. It's kind of a classic.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:53 PM
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i would repeat it again, i didn't like how you treated your then president, try that attitude towards your president now, what has changed?
if you respect your country you at least nominally would respect your head of the state whom you yourselves elected


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:55 PM
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But our then president was a cunt, read.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:56 PM
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Our new president has done fewer hilariously stupid. breathtakingly offensive and unprecedentedly murderous things than our last one had done when you first saw The Onion.

Give him time. (Although I suspect he'll always fall short on "hilariously stupid.")


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:57 PM
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Oh, how the Jesus-pwn burns.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:58 PM
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315(b) -- No, not at all. It's perfectly permissible, I think, to suggest to Di that course a, b, or c might have been more effective. And indeed there was some of that. What's over the line is aspersions on Di's character for the choice she made. Even then, one could handle it respectfully.

314 -- A number of us do know each other, at various levels. That makes it completely different. And, well, we're saying stuff to each other's faces. Which is obviously very different from commenting about some poor soul who thought that ML column would help people understand her/his motivation, or criticizing the President.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 2:59 PM
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315: My comment didn't, but I somehow managed.
And yes, the thread is a classic. It's one of the reasons I'm so desperate for read to understand how to express her ... unorthodox views without hurting people. For what it's worth, read, Obama can eat twenty dicks.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:03 PM
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317 -- I didn't elect him. I, like a majority of other people in my country, voted for the other guy. I was prepared to respect him though, if he would have even tried, once, for a minute, to earn it. Instead: nothing but contempt. Which I'm resigned to returning.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:04 PM
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i don't know and follow politics, but i don't see what he has done that different from the previous one up to now, and that NY post's cartoon with police shooting monkey was equally offensive


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:05 PM
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If Obama keeps doing his stretches, he can eat fifty goddamn dicks without leaving his room.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:10 PM
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I had an offensive imaginary dialogue between read and Di's friend ready to go, but it looks like we've moved on.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:15 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:16 PM
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If you weren't so busy feeding dicks to Edward Said's corpse, you might have been timely with that, Walt.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:16 PM
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Subject:"Isn't X horrible"

A:Yes, try alpha (wink)
B: Of course, maybe beta (wink)
C:Poor thing, Gamma might work (wink)

D:That's terrible, have you thought of Delta?

Subject, A, B, C in unison:"How can D be so callous and insensitive!"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:17 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:21 PM
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324: i don't know and follow politics

This means that you are in no position to comment on the remarks of people who do follow politics.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:23 PM
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||
Speaking of imaginary dialogues, can anyone tell me whether the Julius Exclusus was Erasmus or not? I've heard propaganda both ways, and you all seem like the right people to ask.
|>


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:23 PM
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you too could make a decent censor, parsimon


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:24 PM
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I suspect that read's sarcastically dismissive comments come across as more blunt and belligerent than she intends. Not that there aren't genuine sources of conflict, but linguistic (and perhaps other cultural) complications come into play.

rather than in response to a Modern Love article

Or another style section item like this. I'm all about the female orgasm (...laydeez), but this

He invited her to lie down unclothed, set a timer and, while stroking her, proceeded to narrate in tender detail the beauty he saw, the colors that went from coral, to deep rose, to pearlescent pink
sounds really fucking annoying.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:25 PM
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i don't know and follow politics, but i don't see what he has done that different from the previous one up to now

You see, Bush caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths and vast amounts of suffering, which Obama has not done yet, and seems rather less likely to do. If you weren't such a selfish individual, maybe you would appreciate why altruistic, communally-minded Americans like us care about these things.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:25 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:25 PM
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95 to 334

But really, thanks for re-point it out so it can be the new focus for mockery.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:26 PM
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||

Unexpected update: My OB just called me, because he's going on vacation for the next week and will miss my follow-up appointment, (which I knew - this came up at the hospital), and he wanted to see how I was doing and if I had any questions.

I asked him if the limited activity was specific to impact activities, or increased heartrate activities, and he said "Impact activities." I asked him if swimming would be okay, and he said yes.

I'm very happy about this development. I can barely swim and can't stand the maternity suit I own, and can't listen to my podcasts while I swim, but I will make it work.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:26 PM
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337: You expect me to read the thread? That way lies madness.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:28 PM
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the underlying assumption about whether the other people are kind-hearted and well-intentioned, or twisted and selfish.

In my experience most people are all four of these things. Sometimes all at once. Or it could be just me.

the subordination of filial, fraternal and friendship bonds to the desire to be free

"freedom" is an individualist mystification. People are social animals.

the jargon term for letting go is "care-taking," and the perspective is that if you're continually helping someone through recurring crises, they're likely not learning to help themselves. Of course, care-taking is never just letting go; it has to be accompanied by bringing them to some other kind of help.

Wow, could "care-taking" be any more newspeak? The "helping professions" just might have a certain ideological and material stake in devaluing non-professionalized care.

Many people can be shocked into taking healthier responsibility for themselves by being cut off from supports. Others never can fully learn to "help themselves", at least not up to the demanding standards of American personal autonomy, and will always be something of a pain in the ass to people close to them. Cutting them off won't teach them to be good, but it can make them more miserable or sometimes (as in Emerson's 247) kill them.

The U.S. has by far the highest prevalence of mental health disorders in the world, so tossing the detritus over to the professionals doesn't seem to work too well.

Is "individualism vs. community" not another way of saying "selfishness vs. otherpeopleishness"?

um, no. One is a moralistic descriptor of individual character, the other of social organization and ideology. There are selfish people in communal societies but their selfishness takes a different form than it would in an individualist society, likewise for other-oriented people in individualist societies.

I'm off on an abstract tangent and in a sense was threadjacking here -- from what's been said here Di seems to me to have been pretty generous and engaged with her friend, certainly more so than I generally am. Even if she hadn't been I wouldn't be able to judge that because there simply isn't enough info here to do so. And none of this has anything to do with Heebie's choice that I can tell.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:28 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:32 PM
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To me this has been a welcome and interesting thread, but I'm not everyone, and I'm sorry that it effectively became personal between Read v. almost everyone else, and between Read v. Heebie + Di.

We aren't bad people here, but we're very conventional upper middle class educated left liberal Americans. And to a degree Read misread the situations of Di and Heebie.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:37 PM
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340 was me, as if you couldn't tell.

341 is ToS, as if you couldn't tell.

re 95 and 334, I would never mock an orgasm cult. It sounds like a great form of social experimentation.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:44 PM
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333: you too could make a decent censor, parsimon

read, you're free to say whatever you wish to say.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:53 PM
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This is not about Di.

My sister is an experienced and trained substance abuse counselor, and she's good at it and justifiably proud of the work she does (as far as I'm concerned), but besides enabler / martyr caregivers and other substance abusers, the big problems she talks about are dysfunctional, abusive families, loneliness and the entire absence of a support group, and lifelong poverty. I'll ask her, but I doubt that "tough love" would be the answer for more than 10-20% of her clients, and in many cases, "treatment" is just a second-best substitute for a healthy family and community that just doesn't exist for the client in question.

For this reason churches, regardless of their negative traits, can be good for rehabbing abusers. And I think that the frequent liberal preference for professional care rather than supportive communities is a sort of sore point in liberal ideologies.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:54 PM
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and i'm doing so, any complaints?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:55 PM
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334/343: Wilhelm Reich smiles a little smile from inside Edward Said's grave.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 3:58 PM
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338: there may be a point to doctors after all!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:05 PM
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How many dicks must a dead man eat / before he's full for the day?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:18 PM
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345.2: And I think that the frequent liberal preference for professional care rather than supportive communities is a sort of sore point in liberal ideologies.

I'd like to clarify my 90, way upthread: the First Call places specialize in triage. Specifically, is this best addressed in-home, in-community, or should it be referred to the professional bureaucratic structure? My experience is that they do not want to feed people into the system who don't need to be. They treat calls as anonymous until such time as it seems something official is called for.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:23 PM
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346: and i'm doing so, any complaints?

Ha. Nope. I reserve the right to disagree publicly with you if I think you don't understand, say, a political situation that's being described.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:26 PM
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I'd just like to take a moment to salute all the people trying so hard to make this thread funny and not endless and unfortunate. Your labors are hard, and though they may be futile, know that they're appreciated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:30 PM
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Read, we're seven weeks in, and if you can't tell the difference between the former President and the current one, you're really not paying attention. There are plenty of things I'd like to see the new guy doing, and there is plenty to complain about regarding the speed at which policies are changing. But there's a huge difference between going the wrong way fast, and too slowly in the right direction.

Just to take a small example from an area of federal policy I've been following, on Friday, the government was required to file, as part of a number of lawsuits, it's legal justification for holding certain men prisoner in Guantanamo. If you look around on the internet, you'll find plenty of people arguing that the new policy is the same as the old policy, or that the new policy isn't the big change they expected. I can't say much about the second, except that I never thought there was any chance that the government would exclude members of Taliban or AQ forces from the definition of who may be detained, or those who provide substantial support. To the first, though, I guess it really depends on who you are. Under the old definition, foreign residents of the United States, like foreigners anywhere, could be arrested for even unwitting help to Al Qaeda, and held incommunicado, without trial, indefinitely.

Suppose a doctor unwittingly treated a member of AQ for a bacterial infection in New Jersey: that doctor, if not a US citizen, was liable to be imprisoned for life, without trial or any other recourse. (I don't believe there are any Mongolian doctors in GTMO right now. There is, however, a doctor who was a civilian refugee in Afghanistan, and who apparently gave medical attention -- and nothing more -- to some fighters. He's been in jail for 7 years, accused of no crime). This is contrary to centuries of tradition, to the Constitution, and to international law.

Did Obama let him out? Not yet. But I wouldn't bet on this doctor still being in jail a year from now.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:37 PM
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you're really not paying attention

Oh sure, now everybody has to pay attention to have an opinion? Some individualist you are!

On the other hand, Carp, thanks for your informed opinion of that decision. My instincts had run in about the same direction as you seem to be moving, but I had wondered what you thought.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:39 PM
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sounds really fucking annoying.

Exactly my thought. And, um, maybe I've just been brainwashed by the patriarchy, but it seems to leave out the joy of returning the favor to the men involved.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:50 PM
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There was a female masturbation camp at Burning Man one time. Big dome tent, no men allowed, just women getting themselves and each other off. I thought it was kind of an entertaining idea for a drop-in Burning Man thing, but it's hard to imagine that as, like, a lifestyle.

Also hardly live in the most peaceful, zen neighborhood in the world.

But whatever, it (being, in this case, New York Times trend pieces about wacky Californians) takes all kinds.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:52 PM
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355 seems a fair concern. But I'm thinking the patriarch isn't too worried. After all, we control the media and use it to train enough biddable replacements for these dropouts.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 4:58 PM
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355: House rules note: I realize that merely italicizing previous comments that weren't too far upthread is the technical rule, but really can we add a comment number for it? Because doing a Find for the words "fucking" or "annoying" doesn't really cut it.

Thx.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:02 PM
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358: if you search for the full text she italicizes, there's exactly one hit on the thread.

Happy to help!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:03 PM
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"Exactly one other hit", that should be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:04 PM
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re:"New York Times trend pieces about wacky Californians."

You always get these quasi-parenthetical insinuations of wrongdoing. Case in point, this article:

MS. DAEDONE'S inspiration and mentor as a sex guru was Ray Vetterlein ...
Mr. Vetterlein, now in his 80s, was inspired by Lafayette Morehouse...
Morehouse's founder, Victor Baranco, was a former appliance salesman who called his philosophy "responsible hedonism." By some accounts, Mr. Baranco, who died in 2002, used coercive techniques of mind control.

See? Female orgasms == brainwashing. They sure do let em run wild in SF.

P.S. I want no more in this life than to be posthumously referred to in print in the following manner: "By some accounts, Mr. Foolish Mortal, who died in 2067, used coercive techniques of mind control."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:06 PM
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As opposed to cooperative mind control techniques?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:08 PM
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Is it too late for you to take "Lafayette Morehouse" as your pseudonym? It really sounds like a blaxploitation actor.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:11 PM
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359: Righto. It's an extra step to search instead of clicking up a bar or 3 or 5.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:16 PM
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358: Sorry, I thought from the context of the rest of what I said that it was obvious.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:25 PM
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365: It was a subject change. I still prefer the comment reference number along with the quoted text (unless it really was quite recent), but I'll live.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:32 PM
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Trust me, Sifu, there's nothing funny about the venerated corpse of Edward Said's appetite for dicks.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:34 PM
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353 his stance on the Israeli siege of Palestine Gaza strip not long ago and this stimulus plan seemed not that different from Bush's approach, i really don't follow politics, so i can't tell
it's great, of course, that the Guantanamo situation is changing for the better, 7 years for innocent people to be imprisoned without trial, that's really outrageous and scary
thank you for your comment, CC, you do a lot of actual good in the world


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:38 PM
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It's kind of a classic.

This comment from that thread certainly made me laugh.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:42 PM
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i really don't follow politics, so i can't tell

You don't say.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:49 PM
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370 yes? is my grammar wrong?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:51 PM
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Sifu, Read isn't the only one unimpressed by Obama. I've written your opinion of Obama for the next eight years down already, so you don't have to tell me what it is.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:51 PM
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Most people refrained from calling me selfish

You're selfish!

(Just doing my part to even things up...)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:52 PM
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372: yeah, well, I think you're a simplistic fool, too. So I guess we're even!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:52 PM
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"You don't say" means "I'm not surprised". I find it kind of a dumb expression.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:52 PM
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374 it's very simple and easy to label someone, if it relieves your stress, i'm happy to serve


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:55 PM
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I was talking to Emerson, read. You're a mystery wrapped in an enigma embedded in a spambot, not to worry.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:57 PM
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libel


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:58 PM
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Libel, really? You meant libel?

That's hilarious. What does that word mean, do you figure?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 5:59 PM
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you don't like it? label, then
i mean, to call names


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:02 PM
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Just rereading the old thread, and I'm struck: read's english has got monumentally better.

P.S. Don't fuck with her, Sifu. She's sensitive about the bot thing.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:03 PM
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All spambots are sensitive.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:04 PM
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Read has learned a lot during her time here, which was her goal. Sifu, not so much.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:06 PM
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I was made sentimental for stras the other day when I saw him at Saisegly's, explaining to the stupid commenters why they were, indeed, stupid.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:06 PM
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All spambots are sensitive.

How do you feel about all spambots are sensitive?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:06 PM
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Both active threads have devolved into petty sniping, which would be okay if it were entertaining petty sniping, but it's not.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:08 PM
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Emerson has a laser-like focus on when I'm irritated enough that he can likely troll me. It is impressive but, I agree, not really entertaining.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:11 PM
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386 sucks.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:11 PM
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388: Yeah, I guess Jesus didn't build my hot rod after all.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:13 PM
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I hope that the bat that was on the space shuttle fuel tank flew off before it was burned to a crisp.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:13 PM
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385, on the other hand, is pretty good. But 388 and 391 suck.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:16 PM
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Actually, I rather like 386.

Meanwhile, I have yet to hear about AIG executives being dragged from their homes and publicly flogged, which might be entertaining.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:16 PM
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383 Read has learned a lot during her time here, which was her goal. Sifu, not so much.

What about your goals, Emerson? Are they being met by Unfogged?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:17 PM
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I resign. Sifu's posts are not 100% free of trollery, I will say upon my departure:

{Sifu's posts are not 100% free of trollery}

{MY DEPARTURE}


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:17 PM
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392: Indeed. I want a list of names and bonus dollars. Let the public shaming begin.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:18 PM
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I like cheeseburgers.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:18 PM
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Cheeseburgers are for assholes.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:19 PM
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I'm a troll, essear, as you know. The depth of my trollery is yet to be plumbed, as you yourself have noticed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:19 PM
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397: Huh. I guess I've been doing it wrong all these years.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:19 PM
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The depth of my trollery is yet to be plumbed, as you yourself have noticed.

There are those who would say your trollery could either decline or increase, but they're trying to make people forget about entropy. And that is what's wrong with economists.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:21 PM
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||
I ran out of cigarettes and am too tired to go to the store. But! I found, in the bottom of one of my jewelry case, an old cigarette case that I used to carry around. Like, years ago, in college. Lo and behold, a single cigarette, of a brand I have not smoked in ten years.

I smoked half of it. I think I'm going to puke.
|>
This thread now returns to its regularly scheduled petty sniping.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:23 PM
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397 made me laugh pretty hard. What's wrong with me?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:24 PM
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The internet holds no updates for me on the status of the bat. I fear the worst.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:29 PM
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I have yet to hear about AIG executives being dragged from their homes

OK, the end (?) of this benighted thread is a good place to ask, and you lot have enough lawyers etc. among you to be able to tell me: Is there ANY way this garbahge about "we have to pay them bonuses, it's in their contracts" is in any practical way true?

I mean, I believe it's written down, and I believe it's also social custom, and I believe there are about 18-1 odds that this work actually involves some kind of expertise which is "worth" rewarding.

But is there any reason not to say to these folks, Sorry, you got on the merry-go-round just as the ride was ending? Those are the breaks? Better luck next game?

(Gratuitious profanity and additional moralistic remarks are left to the imagination of the reader.)

Really?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:34 PM
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{MY RETURN}

Actually it is, Essear. Books have been written about it (Georgescu-Roegen, Mandlebrot, Hodgson, Mirowski). But I'm not a physicist or an economist, and I fail to entertain you, and am a troll, and you needn't care.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:37 PM
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404: I wondered the same thing. The feds have demanded that AIG agree to reduce its 2009 bonuses by 30%, so clearly there is some wiggle room here. So why not bargain a little harder and withhold bailout money unless AIG agrees to a more substantial reduction?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:40 PM
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100% would seem quite moderate to me.

Those shitass beggars are still issuing ultimatum after ultimatum:

"Well, just you see if I'm going to accept your silly hundred billion dollars, you impudent wretch! Who do you think you are, anyway? I've never heard of sucj a thing!"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:46 PM
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I don't mean to jump in too late, but as someone with no oar in this, a lot of the emotion that flared up seems to have come from language misunderstandings.

I'm 99% sure that when read wrote "twisted," she meant "priorities in the wrong order," and not the heavily pejorative connotation that we all associate with it in American English. But Di and Heebie reacted very emotionally to the "twisted," as if that was part of read's intent. Her English isn't colloquial in that way.
read also didn't understand the meaning of "charitable." She tried to deduce it in a logical understandable way, and in this case the logical guess wasn't the right one. Languages are quirky.

Someone upthread suggested that because read uses lowercase letters and has erratic grammar, she must not care about being misunderstood. That's just wrong and shitty. It's hard to communicate in a foreign language, and even harder to write correctly in a foreign language. It's fine to disagree with her opinions, or tell her she's hurting feelings, but don't act like there isn't a language barrier, & don't assume she gets all of the cultural assumptions you are making and is just trashing them. She probably genuinely doesn't have the same cultural assumptions and hasn't fully figured out what yours are yet.

If that seems so wildly improbable, consider that most of you have never had the experience of being immersed in an extremely different culture with different values as a place to live for years, not just to visit. Different =more than the cultural difference between America and Europe.

Please stop ignoring the other thing John Emerson pointed out. She's not a minority member. She's a foreigner.


Posted by: murphy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 6:55 PM
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by the way, Heebie, I'm SO glad you are not on bed rest! Bed rest is terrible for your body. It's unbelievable how quickly the body degenerates. Limited activity is totally different, even if it's still annoying. Yay for going swimming!

(bikini? to avoid the no-good maternity suit?)


Posted by: murphy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:01 PM
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They don't think the bat made it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:05 PM
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410: What's this about a bat? Like, the animal, right? And it was hanging on to the fuel tank? First I've heard of it, is all.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:06 PM
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Yep. Bat.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:08 PM
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The whole thing with the banks is making me feel like I'm taking crazy pills. Like the argument that they have to pay big bonuses or else the people who've lost billions of dollars will quit. That's a threat?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:09 PM
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Dracula hitching a ride to his moonbase, mark my words.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:09 PM
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412: No worries. Some initial research has turned up the existence of a NASA Happyplace Bat Retiree Farm, so I'm sure the bat's just now settling in for the nightly gnat feast.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:11 PM
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409: Me too! Thanks!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:13 PM
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Like the argument that they have to pay big bonuses or else the people who've lost billions of dollars will quit. That's a threat?

I know. I keep wishing so badly for a reporter to just burst out laughing and refuse to print the quote. But the tyranny of "both sides" journalism is pretty powerful.

I'm seriously thinking about whether there's a visual protest I can make against AIG.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:14 PM
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At least the bat had no wom, or else we'd be doubly sad.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:14 PM
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If there were a wombat clinging to the shuttle, do you think they would have delayed the launch?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:16 PM
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After all, a wombat couldn't be that high up, and it would be incredibly cute. So surely they would pause the countdown, send a wombat wrangler out to give the wombat a nice cuddle and lead it away. Then they would bring the wombat to my house and it would hug me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:18 PM
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413: Unfortunately it kind of is. By "quit" they mean "take my personal funds with me while I dump everything else while I can." It's a collective action, or rather a threat of it. It's a spontaneous unionization; Debs would be proud.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:20 PM
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420: I dunno, seems like wombats can't catch a break.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:22 PM
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421: FM, I'm not being snarky, but I honestly don't understand what you're saying. Can you explain using really literal descriptions?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:23 PM
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Given that UAW workers had to make concessions in conjunction with the Ford bailout, I'd think that AIG execs' contracts aren't sacrosanct. Larry Summers seems to disagree, and IA, of course, NAL. Still, if there's not a torch-wielding mob surrounding AIG HQ tomorrow, then I will have to conclude that New Yorkers are pussies, and suck.

414: See? Moonbats. Just like Malkin said.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:24 PM
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||

My sister is watching "House" in a room I keep passing through. Is the whole point of the show giving us a chance to hate on that stancing, megalomaniac bastard, or are my sister and I weird?

Thx.

|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:26 PM
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In case anyone doesn't appreciate Sifu's 414.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:27 PM
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425: You'll have to take that up with Kotsko.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:28 PM
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I will have to conclude that New Yorkers Americans are pussies, and suck.

All Americans except ignorant rightwing militia crazies, who happen to be in my secondary social circle (friends of friends). Neither the right nor the left has shown anu interest of my proposed new hybrid American, the infuriated and slightly crazy liberal. It's just me, McManus, Stras, and Ethel the Blog, and McManus, Stras, and I don't get along.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:30 PM
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421, 423: I haven't followed this today. The best explanation I've heard is that "high-level talent will be lost," which does not say a thing. Apparently I'll have to look around about this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:32 PM
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John">http://www.philly.com/inquirer/currents/41273352.html">John Yoo, in an American newspaper today:

Recently, the Justice Department released legal memoranda, written in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, that outlined contingency planning for further attacks on the United States. Civil libertarians are deliberately creating the misimpression that this, along with the Patriot Act and electronic surveillance of terrorist targets, was the product of a Republican administration chafing at the bit to take away civil liberties. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:34 PM
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$^*(@$%!Y^*$@^@$

I'm so angry, I screwed up the HTML.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:34 PM
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427: Brief summary?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:39 PM
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428: I put the onus on New Yorkers only because that's where AIG is headquartered. I'll have to wait until Nike or Adidas commits some equally egregious offense before I get my torch-wielding on.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:39 PM
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There's always something around to burn down, Jesus.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:41 PM
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Brighten the corner where you are!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:42 PM
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Fire begins at home.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:43 PM
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423:Do not, by any means, take my bitching as informed analysis.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:47 PM
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432: No way. He talks about House on the Weblog. I gather he's a fan. Don't you read that? I've only watched episodes here and there and have no developed opinion. Just look at the Weblog's weekly Thursday (or whatever it is) tv roundup: discussed this week: House.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:49 PM
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I'll have to wait until Nike or Adidas commits some equally egregious offense before I get my torch-wielding on.

I guess here in Boston we'll have to wait for the big revelations about New Balance wrong-doings.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:55 PM
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AIG has multiple offices in bob's hometown, if he and his dogs are looking to burn some shit down.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 7:56 PM
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It was the London "money is a social construction not backed by reality so we don't have to cover our deals" division of AIG that's really responsible for the AIG mess, wasn't it?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:06 PM
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(The money wasn't backed by realty either.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:07 PM
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441: yes. We can therefore put the onus on dsquared.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:11 PM
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Someone at Jim Henley's just cited me as McManus even though I'd posted under my own name.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:26 PM
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This was a first?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:30 PM
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430 -- If I was one of the people urging folks to move on, and stop getting exercised against Yoo, I'd be annoyed at just how unrepentant he is. I'm not, so I'm not. What's the saying -- beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:32 PM
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||

No more masturbating to Ron Silver.

I link to the New York Post because I saw the news while reading about one of my mother-in-law's cousins in Cindy Adams.

They're kind of exciting cousins.

|>


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:34 PM
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There's always something around to burn down, Jesus.

Be the arsonist you wish to see in the world.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:35 PM
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444: Huh, that would bother me if I were you. NTTAWWMcM.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:41 PM
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I think even McM acknowledges that TSWWMcM.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:43 PM
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446: These people are unrepentant and shameless. The media are enabling them, and Democrats seem afraid to call them out. Obama above all.

I would be perfectly happy for Obama to make my naysayer schtick look silly, but it hasn't happened so far. It looks silly to some people, but the less said about them the politer.

Every goddamn good thing the Democrats have done since 1860 has been done under pressure from militant outside movements, third parties, and dissident Democrats. None of which exist now, and Obama is cruising along smoothly in full awareness of this.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:44 PM
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I was perfectly happy, because McManus is right a lot.

I'm a troll, not because I'm wrong or misinformed, but because I'm rude, unprofessional, off-topic, and uncollegial, and because I talk about things that aren't supposed to be talked about. Likewise Bob.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:48 PM
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Once you a problematize the apodictic, you're dead meat, see.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:51 PM
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451 -- I'm annoyed too, John, but I don't think you have a basis to ascribe Obama's choice of priorities here to fear. Of all the battles he might have, this is the least productive to his agenda. I'm ok with that, so long as he doesn't obstruct Congress from going into it.

Yes, there should continue to be pressure of congressional Dems to get to the bottom of things. I'd like to that that NYRB piece Hilzoy linked to gets some people talking and thinking.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:52 PM
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CC, check your e-mail.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 8:53 PM
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404

OK, the end (?) of this benighted thread is a good place to ask, and you lot have enough lawyers etc. among you to be able to tell me: Is there ANY way this garbahge about "we have to pay them bonuses, it's in their contracts" is in any practical way true?

If you put AIG in bankruptcy then I think they would have to wait in line with the other creditors. I don't where in line employee bonuses get put. Otherwise you may be legally obligated to pay them (depending on how ironclad the contract is which current management may be misrepresenting). If I was an AIG employee and I was legally entitled to a bonus I would not give it up. Perhaps you have some leverage on employees who may have committed crimes or even just been grossly negligent. But that won't be everybody.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:02 PM
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Sure, Charley, but he's weenie on the bailout / stimulus too. His people have even snapped at Krugman, who's smarter than the whole lot of them and understands much better what needs to be done. But he was never not part of the problem and doesn't expect money from anyone who was.

A refuted pessimist is a happy pessimist. An unrefuted pessimist makes do with the small satisfaction of being right while society collapses and everyone is miserable except the malefactors, who have moved to the Caimans.

Bush backloaded many problems, and we are just starting to see them now. Obama will be blamed for everything unless someone else is, and he has seemed to be unwilling to cast blame. Maybe he has a fiendish long-range plan, in which case I'll be happy and wrong.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:04 PM
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"he was never part of the problem"

Fuck.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:05 PM
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But that won't be everybody.

Serious question: Why not?

(Btw, just finally watched some of Jon Stewart's takedown of CNBC. Highly recommended for cartharsis and blood-pressure *lowering.*)

Argh, I need to go write a proposal. Someone tell me to get back to work.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:07 PM
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Huh, you people succeeded in making me actually read the damn stories on the AIG bonuses. Looks like the money in question was entirely going to people in the Financial Products division (the place that lost all the billions), when I expected at least a good portion of it would be fairly legitimate bonuses going to the people on the other sides of the company that are still afloat.

Blargh.

They claim they need to pay the people in the FP division to stay, since they're the only ones who know the portfolio and all its complicated bespoke contracts well enough to try and unwind the company's exposure. It will be interesting to hear what exactly these troublesome derivatives are someday, since the stuff I've heard thus far sounded like fairly standard bond insurance, just written for absolutely crazy structured debt and a lot of the financial firms whose default insurance now costs 20-30 times as much as AIG originally wrote it for. The bespoke stuff might need some expertise to understand enough to try and unwind it, but it sounds fishy to me because there can't be many buyers out there willing to take the really complicated debt insurance positions off AIG's hands, so there's not much unwinding that even can be done.

Tim Geithner sounded more concerned that the employees could end up getting punitive damages in court if AIG tried to hold back the guaranteed bonuses, making it less costly to just pay the money than to take the chance of losing big.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:08 PM
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Obama will be blamed for everything unless someone else is, and he has seemed to be unwilling to cast blame.

John, I know Saturday's paper is often considered the least-read edition, but sure an Obama-blames-Bush story on yesterday's WaPo front page counts for something, no?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:10 PM
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CC, is your email working, then?

Anyway, nah, John, Obama is stepping super carefully, because as you know perfectly well, you can't make the system work by force.

Also there's that thing about how the financial world has us by the balls, and a lot of us knew it during the Clinton administration if not before, but we didn't stop it, and here we are; and now it's kind of too late to overthrow everything all at once. One step at a time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:15 PM
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If I was an AIG employee and I was legally entitled to a bonus I would not give it up.

Tell it to the autoworkers, whom you demonize.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:17 PM
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OK, the end (?) of this benighted thread is a good place to ask, and you lot have enough lawyers etc. among you to be able to tell me: Is there ANY way this garbahge about "we have to pay them bonuses, it's in their contracts" is in any practical way true?

first, I don't think this was a benighted thread. Second, of course the contract law argument about the bonuses has truth to it. I don't know quite how to put this, but we live in a capitalist society and therefore capitalists are powerful. If you start passing laws to abrogate contracts and confiscate money from individual capitalists, the capitalist class will become frightened and angry. They may "go Galt", any try to take their money with them, and that really is a problem. As Larry Summers said this weekend:

The easy thing would be to just say ... off with their heads, violate the contracts. But you have to think about the consequences of breaking contracts for the overall system of law, for the overall financial system.

It's only $165 million total. From the overall perspective, that's not much -- it's probably less than one-tenth of AIG's bonuses in one of the boom years Why pick a fight with the capitalist class over that? You have much more important things to bargain with them about later.

The other side of the argument is that capitalism is wobbly right now, the capitalists themselves are scared, the power structure will need more public/taxpayer money to bail them out, even the Republicans sense an opportunity in angry populism right now, the optics on this thing are horrible, preventing moral hazard is a defensible principle...add it all up and the capitalist class as a whole might decide they can jettison AIG's contracts as a defensible exception to contract law.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:19 PM
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Wow, Parsimon's 462.3 summed up my entire post in just one sentence. Totally pwned.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:20 PM
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They claim they need to pay the people in the FP division to stay, since they're the only ones who know the portfolio and all its complicated bespoke contracts well enough to try and unwind the company's exposure.

In plain English: "We have to pay proven liars and possible criminals to keep working for us, because they're the only ones who can sort out the lies?"

Seriously, that's the claim?

To paraphrase Teresa Nielsen Hayden unforgivably, one of the things I most resent about these people is the way they make me feel like an inarticulate two-year-old having a temper tantrum.

Also, I don't believe them. Researching is a skill that a lot of people beyond those guys have.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:20 PM
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My 462 was argumentative. Ignore.

460: That was my understanding of the story. While it's jaw-dropping, I haven't heard anyone sketching a way out of it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:20 PM
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I'm a troll, not because I'm wrong or misinformed, but because I'm rude, unprofessional, off-topic, and uncollegial

Little of both, really. But mostly you're a troll because you're a crank, and like all cranks, you have your pet crank subjects on which you're unable to talk in a thoughtful or reasonable manner, or listen to what other people say. You also make wild generalizations about other people based on nothing or not much -- again, a hallmark of the crank. On subjects that aren't your personal grudges and bugaboos you're perfectly pleasant and informative, by and large.

Happy to help!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:21 PM
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And further to 451, it's not that Dem politicians are afraid of Republican politicianss, or that they might say mean things. They've been worried about the public. For damn good reason, IMO.

My congressman could be talked into leading a charge on this stuff, if he thought yours would back him up. McManus' rep, of course, is probably a dead loss. (Or maybe not, if he lives in the Texas 30th . . .)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:21 PM
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I don't believe them. Researching is a skill that a lot of people beyond those guys have.

You don't get it. It's not the skill, it's not their job, it's that they are members of a genuinely powerful class and running roughshod over property rights and established process sends a particular sort of message to that class. They have *clout*, far more than the automakers.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:23 PM
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Tim Geithner sounded more concerned that the employees could end up getting punitive damages in court if AIG tried to hold back the guaranteed bonuses, making it less costly to just pay the money than to take the chance of losing big.

This is what I understand to be the issue.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:24 PM
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462.1 ??


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:28 PM
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471: I don't think that's the issue. You think if all concerned could get a big political win by stripping the bonuses and *the only political risk* was that someone might win a few tens of million in punitive damages a few years from now, then that would stop the political class? It's the message it sends to other rich people.

There's some group of the population -- somewhere between a tenth of a percent and a half of a percent -- for whom "going Galt" could do real damage to the economy. Things need to get worse before government starts to truly ignore that group.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:30 PM
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Why would it be a political win if the net result was that (a) the people got their bonuses and (b) it cost the government more money? I don't really get that. Especially because you'd end up keeping the story in the news for, what, years?

I think there's probably a solution here that can keep them from getting the money, but I'm willing to entertain the idea that the executive branch doesn't have a good way to go at it without the cooperation of (at least a bunch of) congress.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:33 PM
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471 and previous: Right, it's cheaper to pay the fuckers off than face court proceedings.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:34 PM
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of course the contract law argument about the bonuses has truth to it.

But this is the part that to me is the gist. I've written contracts. (Sshh! Don't tell the lawyers.) There are always, ALWAYS words you can argue over. I say I hired you to write a "curriculum," and you tell me that that mess of 10 handwritten pages you handed me IS a curriculum, and then I'm stuck trying to argue that no, it really isn't, and Lots of People Including the Judge Will Agree With Me.

As best I can tell, AIG has asserted in their letter to Treasury that "We had outside lawyers look at these contracts and they say there's no way to break them." I'm trying to assess the veracity of that claim.

I am NOT arguing for the government to step in an invalidate contracts. One of the reasons I prefer to live here rather than, say, most of the Baltic Republics, is that we have actual enforceable and rather predictable legal structures in this country.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:35 PM
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If you start passing laws to abrogate contracts and confiscate money from individual capitalists, the capitalist class will become frightened and angry.

Sometimes I wish I actually did some real research on Fletcher vs. Peck, which apparently was some kind of big deal case for laws repealing contracts.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:35 PM
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472: Don't worry about it, a snotty remark on my part about people telling each other on-blog to check their email. It was uncalled for.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:36 PM
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You can't make the system work by force.

Dubya and Reagan could. They didn't step carefully. Gingrich and Delay could too. Democrats can't.

With all due respect, it sort of pisses me off when people repeat 20 year old cliches mostly heard from losers and triangulating sellouts as though they're deep wisdom.

Most people studying the presidency say that the President's first X number of days is the time when he's able to accomplish anything.

I don't count Obama's enormous bailout / stimulus bills because they were just efforts to repair some of Bush's cunningly backloaded damage.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:36 PM
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Clearly the only court that can settle this is Judge Judy's.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:37 PM
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456: Shearer is really the creep of the universe, isn't he?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:38 PM
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468: y'know, Sifu, you're one of the wittiest / funniest people on Unfogged, but sometimes you can be a little nasty.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:38 PM
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The thing that's frustrating to me about all of this (well, one thing) pace Atrios, is that in a Bankruptcy these people would be by definition wiped out, and if somebdy in power had thought to make the stripping these bonuses a condition of the original bailout, that would have been relatively straightforward, too. But since OH NOES DEUTSCHBANK NEEDS THEIR COUNTERPARTY MONEY and OH NOES WE HAVE TO GIVE THE MONEY NO STRINGS ATTACHED BEFORE OBAMUNISM TAKES OVER, they now actually have a pretty good argument to make. Which isn't to say there's not some way to fuck them, but they manuevered themselves into a fairly clever spot, at least from where I sit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:39 PM
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482: unquestionably. I almost added to that comment that my particular brand of trollishness is that I can be kind of bratty and mean in a way that doesn't particularly encourage reasonable debate. It's not something I'm particularly proud of, and it's part of why I've (mostly) stayed out of the various bitching-about-Obama threads -- while I have issues with the guy, too, something about the tone of those threads brings out that side of me, and it's not that pleasant for anybody involved.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:42 PM
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Even Only the Republicans sense an opportunity in angry populism right now.

The Democrats couldn't out-populist Emily Dickinson. Haven't you read your Hofstadter? Populists are Luddite lumpen Stalinist-Nazi Luddites. The Democratic Party is about competence and nice shoes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:44 PM
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At least I'm not a fucking Brahmin frat boy between jobs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:46 PM
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Researching is a skill that a lot of people beyond those guys have.

Well, even excellent finance people and researchers would need to have data to start working off of. From what I've heard, the documentation on a lot of these insurance contracts and the underlying portfolios being insured was pretty damn sloppy. These people who entered into the deals may be the only people who can somewhat get out of them, because they might be the only people who remember all the details of what those deals entailed.

As I said though, the bigger problem with their reasoning is that the market for credit derivatives has dried up to an incredible extent. The very simplest and most useful stuff, the insurance on a single company's bond issuances, still has a sizable market, but it wouldn't take any particularly special skills to unwind those contracts.

The really complicated contracts that insured one-off portfolios of various crazy assets and promised-cash-flows-that-may-not-exist? There's just no market for them anymore, you won't find anyone willing to take on their risk, and a lot of the underlying portfolios may be worthless if they were based on sliced-and-resliced cash flows. Without someone else willing to take on the risk for the right price, these positions would be nearly impossible to unwind, no matter how talented, knowledgeable, or even honest the employees may be.

And then there's PGD's point about not fucking the rich too badly, since they tend to fuck people for fun and profit on a daily basis.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:47 PM
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I am NOT arguing for the government to step in an invalidate contracts. One of the reasons I prefer to live here rather than, say, most of the Baltic Republics, is that we have actual enforceable and rather predictable legal structures in this country.

Well, OK then, you get it, and Larry Summers agrees with you:

"We are a country of law. There are contracts. The government cannot just abrogate contracts," Summers told ABC's "This Week."

I'm pretty sure that the administration lawyers must have agreed that the bonuses could not be retaken through the original contracts.

Dubya and Reagan could. They didn't step carefully. Gingrich and Delay could too. Democrats can't.

Reactionaries have more power than the left, this is surprising?

I don't count Obama's enormous bailout / stimulus bills because they were just efforts to repair some of Bush's cunningly backloaded damage.

Obama's budget was really far left by DC establishment standards, a daring document in many ways. He may not get it through Congress, though. That to me signals what he's willing to take risks on -- global warming, health care reform, increasing the tax burden on the rich. In other words, the Democratic domestic agenda pre-crisis.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:53 PM
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O, managerial class! When will you ever learn?

The biggest seller at the radical bookstore nowadays is Urban Homesteading. I'm not saying that'll work, but putting in a garden and an extra blanket of insulation is probably a lot more useful than the navel-gazing we engage in around here.

I stimulated the economy today by getting my tattoos touched up! The tattoo-and-piercing parlours are still doing pretty good business. Might seem like a damn sight better investment than muni bonds in a coupla years.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:53 PM
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If no one remembers the details of a deal, can't people just come up with a compromise to agree on? "We're not sure what we contracted to do, but if you pay us bonuses we might figure it out" only works if there are consequences for uncertainty beyond negotiating some new settlement. And if the counterparties do know what the deals say, then what do you need the AIG losers for? You've already got your answers. Or have contracts become autonomous beings able to exact obligations on the parties involved without the parties knowing or agreeing on what the contracts say?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:57 PM
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Who's the person on this thread who's supposed to be convincing me that my naysaying is wrong?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:58 PM
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I'm not entirely happy with every single thing Obama has said and done, but I don't think he gets nearly enough credit around here for the things he's doing right. Proposing a budget with carbon cap-and-trade and no free pollution permits, just this last week giving Van Jones a special advisory position: these and other choices he's made indicate to me that he gets it. I know not everyone agrees with me that climate change is the single most important issue to deal with, but I think depending on how things go in the next 8 years, it's these choices that are going to be remembered, and whether some bastards at AIG get more money than they deserve is just not going to be important in retrospect. We can afford to give in on small things if we succeed in building momentum to take on the big things. And while that's a long, slow process, I think there's every reason to think Obama is committed to doing it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:58 PM
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I read 489.3 as suggesting investing in tattoos, and wondered how you cash out. Obviously, time for me the head for bed.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:59 PM
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I see 488.last got there while I was typing that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 9:59 PM
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I'm pretty sure that the administration lawyers must have agreed that the bonuses could not be retaken through the original contracts.

%^&!$($#!*($, you're right. I was going off of this earlier Yahoo News story:

In a letter to [Treasury Secretary] Geithner dated Saturday, [AIG's] Liddy said outside lawyers had informed the company that AIG had contractual obligations to make the bonus payments and could face lawsuits if it did not do so.

But the NYT says:

The administration official said the Treasury Department did its own legal analysis and concluded that those contracts could not be broken.

Don't they have Acts of God provisions in these things? Argh.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:00 PM
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PGD, that's the Rove-Bush genius. Obama might even push his far left budget through, if we hold enough guns to the Blue Dogs' heads and maybe kidnap a few of their children, but all that will do is bring us back to zero, if we're lucky.

Nobody badmouth Karl Rove in front of me. He's not as great as Hitler himself, but he's as capable of any one of Hitler's many brilliant subordinates.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:02 PM
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486: I assume you think those things apply to me, which is hilarious. If I'm equally wrong in my preconceptions about you, I'd be fascinated to know what you're really like.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:03 PM
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Obama might even push his far left budget through, if we hold enough guns to the Blue Dogs' heads and maybe kidnap a few of their children, but all that will do is bring us back to zero, if we're lucky.

How to do you figure? Pre-Bush/Rove, we were not so close to dealing with global warming or with health care.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:04 PM
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As I've said, if these were ordinary times, Obama would be a great President. But he'd have to be a Roosevelt or a Lincoln to get us through this, and I don't think that he is one or is willing to try to be one. He still seems to want to be a normal politician of the centrist sort. Even though there's no center and the other party is staffed by mad dogs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:06 PM
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Kobe!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:06 PM
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So you have a job now? Wonderful!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:07 PM
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492:Okay, okay, Obama is off to one roaring start at being the most progressive President at least since LBJ. He does or says something wonderful every single day.

I'm not even going to qualify this, or add any irony.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:08 PM
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He still seems to want to be a normal politician of the centrist sort.

I just don't see this. All the evidence I see points to Obama wanting to pursue a very aggressive, ambitious policy agenda. It might not be precisely the policy agenda you want to see, but it is ambitious. I agree that the state of the economy makes it a hell of a lot tougher for him to push through what he wants to do, but I think we have to wait a bit longer before concluding that he's just going to muddle through doing as little as possible.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:08 PM
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490.last was insufficiently appreciated.

Dude, Emerson, you're being kind of a jerk. And I say that even though I agree with you that Sifu, despite my fondness of him, gives off a definite frat-boy vibe at times.

Right, now I'm going to bed. 'Night all.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:11 PM
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498: I'm pretty much obsessed with the economic collapse. Nobody seems to know what to expect or what to do, and nobody seems to think that Obama is trying to do the right thing, and many think that even Obama's too-little too-late won't make it past the Hooverist (Mellonist) Republicans / Blue Dogs / DLC.

Economic collapse is enough to cancel out a lot of good intentions.

Nobody seems to have learned anything. Fiscal hawks are still repeating their Perot slogans. What a fucked up country.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:11 PM
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501: dude Emerson what I can't figure out is why you want to have a boring-ass bitch fight between the two of us all over unfogged. I know nobody else wants to see it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:12 PM
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I'm a crank (per Sifu) and a jerk (per you), Sifu's a fratboy Brahman (per me).

So be it. I'd rather be me. He'd rather be him.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:14 PM
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505: You're obsessed with the economic collapse, I'm obsessed with climate change. I realize this means we're looking at things from very different points of view. But seriously, we have (hopefully) most of 8 more years of an Obama presidency, and I don't see the economy shutting down his entire agenda for that long. I'm with you on being pissed off by the half-assed stimulus and the utterly insane economic opinions that are repeated endlessly in the media.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:14 PM
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I'm pretty sure that the administration lawyers must have agreed that the bonuses could not be retaken through the original contracts.

So you publish amounts, names and addresses. The simplest, most elegant solutions are generally the best.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:14 PM
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So be it. I'd rather be me. He'd rather be him.

Some variant of comity, I guess.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:15 PM
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468, 506: Takes two.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:15 PM
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490: "We're not sure what we contracted to do, but if you pay us bonuses we might figure it out" only works if there are consequences for uncertainty beyond negotiating some new settlement.

It feels like that, doesn't it? As though it's going to come back and bite us in the ass if we don't understand it going in. As with your concluding question:

Or have contracts become autonomous beings able to exact obligations on the parties involved without the parties knowing or agreeing on what the contracts say?

I have the sense that this is how it is. Once these local issues are gotten out of the way, it would be good to correct this problem.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:19 PM
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Who was th moron, by the way, who wrote contracts that require the payment of bonuses as the company is collapsing? A bonus is supposed to be based on the company's success. These were bonuses for which all the people had to do was show up?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:25 PM
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He still seems to want to be a normal politician of the centrist sort.

Depends what you mean by centrist. His budget was exactly at the left bound of pre-crisis liberalism. He's not going to seize the opportunity the remake the system -- he's going to try to patch up the crisis and then get on with a liberal agenda that assumed a well functioning capitalist system, in fact depended on taxing away the surplus from that system. But that's liberalism; the left was simply not intellectually prepared for this moment.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:27 PM
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513: this seems to have been quite the fashion in finance.

Actually if I remember Liar's Poker, it's been that way for a long time now.

A-holes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:27 PM
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506: I got a momentary thrill thinking someone had found a job and congratulations were in order. Because, really, given how rarely I hear that phrase of late, it makes me tingle with happiness to think that even if I'm going to be unemployed forever, someone else has a job!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:28 PM
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513 -- there was real work to be done, the idea was to break up the company and sell off the parts for enough to pay back the taxpayer, and to minimize the losses on all the contracts that could still be managed. Trying to salvage the pieces of a collapsing company is probably tricky.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:28 PM
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Who was th moron, by the way, who wrote contracts that require the payment of bonuses as the company is collapsing?

Maybe one of the people in line for a bonus? Might this not be an Atrios question.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:29 PM
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516: I'll be sure to let you know. I'm actually a little too early in the process to have given up hope, and there's at least one job I know is likely to be there for me, so.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:31 PM
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514 strikes me as completely right.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:32 PM
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490: To be honest, I'm not sure. The problem may also be that the deals aren't particularly well cataloged, so the only people who know all the various exposures are the current employees. Trying to get all the potential counterparties to come out of the woodwork and help AIG piece out its exposure would also be hell (there were something on the order of tens of trillions of notional values on these contracts being written, so there's a hell of a lot of them out there to search through), not to mention that AIG would want to verify all these people coming up and claiming they're owed now-very-expensive protection on these various debt portfolios.

The fact that no one else could puzzle out these exposures aside from the current employees doesn't sound particularly far-fetched to me. Just seeing a lot of how methodologies and storage works within my company, which is very above-board and pretty well-run, it's clear that much of supposed corporate knowledge is not actually carried by the institution, it's carried by employees. Companies have to work damn hard to get everything written down and documented, because employees like new ideas and new business but hate filling out paperwork and documents on them. If very little is standardized (which most credit derivatives weren't), then it's even harder.

None of this changes the fact that it may sometimes be worth it to scrap the fuckers and start over, if only to prove a point. How can AIG's exposures really get so much worse than they currently are if no one's writing new debt protection, and how much of the current exposure are the employees actually cutting? These answers may well be out there somewhere in the required disclosures under the various government bailouts, or somewhere in the latest filings, but I really doubt it.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:32 PM
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517: How is that not encompassed under the category "showing up"? If that's the job, it's still just the job, tricky or not. Or do you mean that they didn't know what their job involved and took on extra work and deserve bonuses for extra credit? Or maybe AIG didn't require people to do what the job should have involved, leaving the necessary remaining work to be done on a voluntary basis?

Or maybe a payment structure involving bonuses has certain tax benefits and bonus is just a word.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:32 PM
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505:I am in a mood tonight. Reading up on 1900-1914, stuff like male sexual dysfunction during the period, and I got this sense of inevitabiity. Like 30-50 years of threatening the patriarchy, and they will go postal. They will.

This is much bigger than Obama could handle or change, anymore than Hoover or FDR could stop WWII. Obama is just a phase of reactionary desperation, like Coolidge or a fultile technocrat. But not Carter, we are way more fucked than that.

We're going down, all the fucking way. 10-20-50 years, who knows? Probably more like ten, then billions dead. Just relax and stock up on popcorn.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:35 PM
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While you are all being bitchy, Mexico and Korea are playing a pretty good baseball game. The Korean outfielders are playing endearingly deep; it's like they have nightmares about balls flying over their heads. 2-2.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:35 PM
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the left was simply not intellectually prepared for this moment.
As opposed to whom? Bob?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:37 PM
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Or maybe a payment structure involving bonuses has certain tax benefits and bonus is just a word.

I think this may be the case, based on my vague memory of, like, something I read one time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:38 PM
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I still think that this (rather hefty, ongoing) episode can be pretty well summed up as "Tom and Daisy always win". Very few of those who caused these problems will suffer much, beyond selling one of their summer homes or something like that. They won't suffer economically, legally, or socially. All of their friends will still love them as much as ever, except that the ones who most successfully protected their net worth will drop those friends who were less successful.

And why should any of them suffer? There's no such thing as agency -- shit just happens. It would be self-righteous and peasantish to blame anyone.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:40 PM
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FM, if you're not bitchy, you're not paying attention.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:41 PM
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525: the left goes beyond Bob!

Anyway, if the left had been prepared, there would be enough Bob types to control thinktanks and university departments, and would be issuing slick white papers instead of blog comments. They would be fatter and happier Bobs too, with less visceral need for blood in the streets, and a public relations subsidiary that made their radical message sound common-sensical and soothing.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:43 PM
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A Bob with no visceral need for blood in the streets is no Bob at all.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:44 PM
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It isn't mental preparation. The Democratic Party has been marginalizing its base and keeping them out of the process, for decades. More recently they've just shit on them. Remember "pandering"? Republicans did it like crazy, but Democrats were forbidden to do it at all. Them were the rules. The Democratic Party is a professional party of paid, trained political experts. And every good thing that the Democrats have done since 1860 has been in the face of the party pros.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:47 PM
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519: Woo! I'm not actually on the job market myself just yet, but my god, the forecast is dreary.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:47 PM
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528: Perhaps not, but it really is a hell of a ballgame. Korea had scored off a delayed steal, and now they're leading off a solo homer.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:49 PM
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Here, an argument that this banking crisis is the same as the S&L crisis; the premise, fundamentally, seems to be that the bubble-bust cycle we've been in is symptomatic of larger regulatory failures, and the fixes have really been basically cosmetic and not done anything to restrict the misuse of debt instruments.

Doesn't really offer solutions, although he seems to think they exist. Sounds plausible enough to me, and it certainly fits the facts of the bubble-upon-bubble lunacy of post-dotcom Greenspan-ism.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:51 PM
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532: I don't have to deal with that (academic) job market, thank god. I can just look for a regular job, if nothing relevant to my forthcoming degree presents itself. But I still have some optimism something relevant to my degree will present itself.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:53 PM
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530:There will be blood, there will always be blood.

Ours in Vietnam, Iraq, Iran maybe Venezuela or Taiwan.

Or theirs under the guillotines on the mall.

I don't really need it, I just don't turn away.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 10:56 PM
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But thanks to essear and Obama and moderate sane well-meaning people, there won't be any guillotines, so there will be another Somme or Anzio.

The guillotines would be less bloody. I think. But I don't care that much, I would rather the rich sociopaths go than the worker sociopaths.

It's a class loyalty thing.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:02 PM
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463

Tell it to the autoworkers, whom you demonize.

I don't remember demonizing the autoworkers. You have a cite?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:04 PM
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539

Go away, Shearer. You routinely make anti-labor comments.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:06 PM
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540

Jesus Christ, this is depressing. Good night.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-09 11:06 PM
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I am really curious about how those AIG bonuses were structured. There was no performance component involved. I thought bonuses were supposed to incentivize money making.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-16-09 7:23 AM
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http://d-squareddigest.blogspot.com/2002/08/were-forever-blowing-bubbles.html

This is D2's second ever blog post. AFAIK neither he or anyone else has pointed to it recently.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03-16-09 7:24 AM
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Didn't read 513. How dumb of me.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-16-09 7:25 AM
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At least I'm not a fucking Brahmin frat boy between jobs.

Sometimes, I don't get you people. Sifu is the farthest thing from a Brahmin. There must be some Irishness in him. That alone could disqualify him.

On my mother's side I am descended from Brahmins, so I understand these things a bit. I don't think that I'd qualify anymore.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-16-09 7:31 AM
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I'm unclear. Is the allegation that Sifu is a fucking Brahmin fratboy when he happens to be between jobs, or that he's a fucking Brahmin fratboy who is currently between jobs? This is an important distinction.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03-16-09 7:56 AM
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410: It's almost certain the bat is dead. Very sad. Bats are teh roxxorz.

When the Shuttle solids light the sound level in the vicinity of the launch service tower is enough to cause tissue damage. There's no way our little friend could have had enough warning to get away, since the shock due to the solids lighting would have stunned the little fellow into passivity.

I'm a little annoyed that they didn't try to wake the little guy up - poke it with a stick or something. It's not like NASA can't afford a bat-poking stick.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-16-09 8:49 AM
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From some of this thread I think I was wise to install that Greasemonkey script from the other day. (http://pastebin.com/f732ff063)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-17-09 1:11 AM
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Your very brave to say that, 547.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-17-09 1:33 AM
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It's not like NASA can't afford a bat-poking stick.

It's not that they couldn't afford the $113 million, it's that they didn't want the mission delayed eight years.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-17-09 3:06 AM
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